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Keeshond Dog Breed Information

General Information:

Average Height: 16-19 in
Average Weight: 30-50 lbs
Average Life Span: 12-15 yrs
Coloring: Always a mix of black, gray, and cream; black-tipped
Area of Origin: Netherlands
Similar Breeds: Finnish Spitz, Norwegian Elkhound, Chow Chow, Pomeranian

History and Origin:

Largely the same breed today as it was two hundred years ago, the Keeshond is of Arctic origin, closely related to other Spitz breeds such as the Chow Chow, Pomeranian, and Finnish Spitz. Up until the late eighteenth century, the Keeshond was used as a companion dog on the Dutch rijnaaken, commerce barges that traveled up and down the Rhine River. In 1787, political unrest in the Netherlands and surrounding regions known as the Dutch Patriot Revolt caused the breed to nearly become extinct; the dog had become a symbol of the Patriot political party, however when the Prince of Orange declared ultimate power of his party, only the most devout enthusiasts risked social ramifications in order to keep their beloved dogs. It remained in fairly low numbers until the 1920s, when a Dutch baroness took such a keen interest in the Keeshond that she tracked down all of the old-type dogs and re-established it as a thriving breed.

Personality and Temperament:

Known to be a fantastic companion for children, the Keeshond is active, loyal, and friendly. It is an extremely loving breed, however it can become timid and shy if it is not socialized as a puppy. It is a playful dog, and has an exceptional ability to jump. The Keeshond has an extremely high level of intuition, and can get extremely mischievous; living with the Keeshond is always an adventure! While its outgoing nature makes it ill-suited as a guard dog, the Keeshond does make a good watch dog as it loves to bark at sounds and approaching people. This breed would make a good dog for the first-time owner, as its positive personality can be extremely reassuring.  The breed is intelligent and has a tendency to timidity, however, it requires strong leadership for it to blossom as a loyal companion.

Exercise & Training:

The Keeshond is an active breed that requires a lot of exercise to be happy and healthy. Its surefootedness makes it a fantastic candidate for agility and other fitness and obedience trials; participating in these activities is a perfect way to bond with this dog. If it does not get enough exercise, the Keeshond will spin in tight, quick circles, and while it may be comedic to watch, it is an indicator that it needs exercise, which must be recognized by its owners. The Keeshond is exceptionally intelligent, and is a joy to train. It excels at obedience trials, and enjoys constantly learning new commands. It can adjust to life in an apartment or smaller home, but its drive to work off excess energy (by spinning, or by becoming destructive to its environment) and its tendency to be a loud barker makes it best suited to a detached home with some space for it to stretch its legs.


The Keeshond’s frizzy coat is thick, and needs daily rigorous grooming to keep it tangle-free and healthy. It does shed quite excessively in the spring and fall, and further grooming may be required to help it shed out. Overall, the Keeshond is a clean dog, and does not give off a strong “”doggy odor”.” As such, it should only be bathed as needed.

Similar Breeds:

The Keeshond is a descendent of other Spitz breeds, such as the Finnish Spitz, the small Pomeranian, and the Chow Chow. According to the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (international federation of kennel clubs), the Keeshond is also closely related to the American Eskimo Dog, frequently considered to be a smaller version of the Keeshond.

Interesting Facts about the Keeshond:

1. Upon its revival, the Keeshond wasted no time to travel to England. It was well-received in 1925 in Britain; five years later, it was accepted into the American Kennel Club. Most of the early Keeshonds in North America were from breeding stock that had traveled from the Netherlands and Germany to Britain.

2. The Keeshond was originally known as the “German Spitz,” “Wolfspitz,” and the “Dutch Barge Dog” (in Britain); it was renamed the Dutch “Keeshond” in 1926 Britain and North America. The name comes from the leader of the Dutch Patriot Party during the Patriot Revolt, Kees de Gyselaer, and literally means ““Kees’ Dog”.”

3. Among the dogs deployed to Ground Zero after 9/11 to comfort the emergency and rescue support workers was a Keeshond named Tikva.

4. Is known as a “Shadow” or “Velcro Dog” due to its strong attachment to its owner.

5. While many other Spitz breeds (such as the Finnish Spitz, Akita Inu, or Alaskan Malamute) are working dogs, the Keeshond is classified in the non-sporting group of the American Kennel Club; it has always been first and foremost a devoted friend.

Organizations dedicated to the Keeshond:

Keeshond Club of America
Keeshond Club of Canada
Keeshond Resuce – Keeshonden.org
Keeshond Puppy Mill Rescue
Keeshond Rescue of North America

Breeds Similar to Keeshond Dogs:

Breed Information Keeshond

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