All About Keeshonds

About This Breed

The Keeshond originated in 16th century Holland, where they were bred and used as guardian dogs for river boats. In modern times the Keeshond has become a popular family dog.

Physical Characteristics

The Keeshond is a medium sized dog with small erect ears and round black eyes. The eyes usually have rings around them, making it appear as if it is wearing a pair of eye glasses. The tail is bushy and curls over the back. It has a medium muzzle and large mouth, which when open gives them the appearance of smiling.

COLOR(S)

Most commonly seen in black and silver or black and cream. The undercoat is most commonly seen in a cream or pale gray.

COAT

The Keeshond’s outercoat is long, straight, and very dense. The undercoat is thick, with a down like texture. The hair on the legs and feet is relatively shorter, while the hair around the neck is longer and fuller then the body.

Personality and Temperament

ACTIVITY LEVEL

Moderate

POSITIVES

Keeshonden are lovable dogs. They enjoy being with people, kids, and other dogs. They are gentle natured and like to learn and play games.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

The breed requires regular grooming.

Care

IDEAL LIVING CONDITIONS

The Keeshond will do well in the country or city.

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

Due to its heavy coat, the Keeshond sheds a lot. Daily brushing may help to control the amount of shedding inside the house.

Health

The following conditions are commonly seen in the Keeshond:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Heart disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Epilepsy

 

History and Background

Belonging to the spitz group of dogs, the exact origin of the Keeshond has not been recorded. However, in the 18th Century, the dog functioned as a watchdog and companion in Holland. Later, the breed was called the barge dog, as it was frequently kept on small boats on the Rhine River to function as a watchdog. Fatefully, the Keeshond became involved in a political uprising in Holland, prior to the French Revolution. Cornelis (Kees) de Gyselaer, the leader of the Dutch rebellion, owned a barge dog that came to be known as Kees. The dog would be seen in so many political caricatures at the time that it became an icon of the Dutch patriot.

Sadly for this breed, the Patriots did not succeed, resulting in numerous Keeshond owners discarding their dogs for fear that they would be identified as former members of the opposition. Even worse for the breed, as barges on the Rhine became larger, the need for the Keeshond diminished. With the efforts of some devoted farmers and river boatmen, many of whom kept records of their lines of Keeshond, the breed survived and even maintained its original character.

Baroness van Hardenbroek initiated an effort to save the breed in 1920, and within five years she had managed to inspire a new generation of devotees in England. In 1930, the American Kennel Club recognized the breed, and today the Keeshond is Holland’s national dog.