The amiable Keeshond is a medium-sized spitz dog of ample coat, famous for the distinctive ‘spectacles’ on his foxy face. Once a fixture on the canal barges of his native Holland, the Kees was, and remains, a symbol of Dutch patriotism.
These square, sturdy companions descend from the same ancient stock as other spitz types, such as Pomeranians and Samoyeds. Typically ‘spitzy,’ Keeshonden have a foxy face, pointed ears, an abundant coat, and a plumed tail carried high over the back. A unique breed characteristic and one of the most charming hallmarks in all dogdom is the ‘spectacles.’ These shadings and markings around the eyes give the impression that a Kees is wearing designer eyewear. The specs draw attention to an alert, intelligent expression.
The Keeshond (“kayz-hawnd”; Keeshonden, plural) was a hardy, nimble-footed barge dog long kept as a guard and companion on Dutch vessels that sailed the manmade waterways of the Low Countries. An unpretentious “people’s dog,” the Keeshond was a symbol of the 18th-century Dutch Patriots Party in its long opposition to the royal House of Orange. There’s historical disagreement over why the breed is called Keeshond: The name might refer to a Patriot mascot dog called Kees, or to two different Patriot leaders nicknamed “Kees.”
Temperament: Outgoing / Lively / Friendly
Height: 18 inches
Weight: 35-45 pounds
Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
Keeshonden in general are a healthy, active breed that can live a happy life from 12 to 15 years of age. The Keeshond Club of America recommends certain health tests for every Keeshond before it is bred to help breeders identify any health concerns. These tests include X-rays to screen for hip and elbow dysplasia, an exam for patellar luxation, a CERF eye exam, and genetic screening for primary hyperparathyroidism. Because the breed has been screened for these diseases by reputable breeders, the conditions have been reduced in the breed, and most Kees are free of them. When purchasing a puppy, it is the buyer’s responsibility to ask for the test results of the pup’s parents and discuss them with the breeder.
Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:
- Hip Evaluation
- Elbow Evaluation
- Patella Evaluation
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation
Keeshonden do require regular grooming, but going through their coats once a week with a pin brush usually does the job. This will keep the undercoat brushed out, and keeps shedding to a minimum. The only trimming needed is tidying around the feet, pads, and hocks. Pet owners can brush weekly and take their dogs to the groomer for a bath and blow-dry every four to six weeks, or they do it themselves. Show dogs are bathed a few days before the show weekend.
Keeshonden will adapt to many environments. Historically they have had homes ranging from farms with lots of space to run to barges having little room to move around. They do need regular exercise and like being with their families. A free run or a nice walk daily will benefit them physically and mentally, and then they will be glad to climb up on the sofa with you while you read or watch TV. An essential thing to know about Kees is that they are happy dogs and will smile every day if you just spend time with them.The amiable Keeshond is a medium-sized spitz dog of ample coat, famous for the distinctive 'spectacles' on his foxy face Click To Tweet
A well-kept secret is that Kees are very smart and highly trainable. They excel at obedience, where some of them are nationally ranked, as well as agility, where the first multiple MACH was a Keeshond named Molly. Many Kees have also distinguished themselves in therapy work. Kees learn things quickly and are motivated to please their trainers. However, the trainer has to keep up with them, as they can become bored. It is important to start with your Kees as a puppy between 10 and 14 weeks. They will learn fast and move to the next level. Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended. Without training, they will learn things, but not necessarily what you had in mind!
Keeshonden should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Like most Northern breeds, they also do well on a fish-based diet that is low in carbs. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.