Keeshond Complete Guide: The Perfect Family Pet? - PawSafe (2024)

Keeshond Complete Guide: The Perfect Family Pet? - PawSafe (1)

The Keeshond is a breed that might grab your attention with its striking appearance and lush coat. If you’re curious about these friendly and fluffy dogs, they’re known for being great companions. With their origins tracing back to the Netherlands, Keeshonds were originally watchdogs on boats and barges. Today, they are much loved for their sociable nature and distinctive “spectacles” — markings and shading around their eyes that give them a bespectacled look.

But a Keeshond is more than just a pretty face, according to Keeshond expert Martin Weil. These dogs are highly intelligent and eager to please, which makes them relatively easy to train. They enjoy being part of family activities and are known for their cheerful demeanor. Given the right socialization and training, they fit into family life seamlessly. Just be prepared for a good deal of grooming; their thick double coats require regular brushing to keep them looking their best and to minimize shedding.

So, What Is A Keeshond?

The Keeshond, with its distinctive silver and black coat, is a medium-sized dog known for its rich history and amiable nature. Often called the “Smiling Dutchman,” this breed has become a beloved companion in homes worldwide.

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Development of the Breed

Developed from its Wolfspitz ancestors, the Keeshond’s roots can be traced back to 18th-century Holland and Germany. The breed took its name from Cornelis de Gyselaer, a figure associated with the Patriot Party during a time of political unrest in the Netherlands. Once used as a Dutch barge dog, the Keeshond was frequently seen along the waterways, symbolizing the rebellion against the House of Orange. With the threat of extinction stemming from political changes, the breed’s survival was championed by enthusiasts who established clubs such as the Nederlandse Keeshond Club in 1924.

The first breed standard was established in the late 19th century, leading to the flourishing of the breed in both Holland and England. It wasn’t until 1930 that the Keeshond gained recognition by the American Kennel Club (AKC), thanks to the efforts of breeders like Carl Hinderer from the Schloss Adelsburg Kennel.

Role in Dutch Culture

In its Dutch homeland, the Keeshond is known as a symbol of heritage, reflecting an era of struggle and perseverance. The breed’s likeness was used as a mascot for the Patriot Party, uniting citizens during periods of upheaval. Today, the Keeshond remains a national treasure, representing the friendly and enduring spirit of the Dutch people.

Associations like the Peak to Peak Keeshond Fanciers, Inc. and the Keeshond Club of America continue to preserve the breed’s rich narrative and promote its role in the history of Dutch culture, contributing to the dog’s lasting significance in the collective memory of the Netherlands.

Keeshond Physical Attributes

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When you first set eyes on a Keeshond, their distinct appearance immediately captures attention. Picture a medium-sized dog with a plush two-layer coat and a confident stance. Known for being well-proportioned, a male Keeshond stands at about 18 inches, while females are generally around 17 inches at the shoulder. It’s okay if they’re an inch taller or shorter; their charming look isn’t just about the height.

Their most striking feature may be the luxurious ruff around their neck, more pronounced in males, giving them a regal lion-like air. Along with the ruff, the “trousers” — the abundantly covered hind legs down to the hocks — add to their distinctive silhouette.

Here’s what else stands out:

  • Head: A Keeshond’s head is adorned with a ‘spectacles’ look, thanks to markings and shadings around their expressive, almond-shaped eyes.
  • Ears: They have small, triangular ears that stand to attention, complementing their foxlike facial expression.
  • Coat: Their long, straight outer coat contrasts beautifully with their dense undercoat. The outer hairs are tipped with black, which gives them their characteristic color shading from light gray to black and cream.
  • Tail: A bushy plume that arches over their back, sets the finishing visual touch to their profile.

For their coat colors, expect a blend of gray, black, and cream — a palette that can vary from lighter to darker shades. The Keeshond is artfully marked, sporting a lighter ruff and ‘trousers’ in comparison to their body, and a dark tip accentuating their tail plume.

In motion, you’ll notice something else: they move with balance and grace. This poise is all thanks to their body structure. They have straight forelegs and well-muscled, slightly angled hindquarters, making their movements smooth and coordinated.

It’s easy to spot the love and care that breeders and enthusiasts put into maintaining the Keeshond breed standard. To dive deeper into what distinguishes these dogs, the American Kennel Club’s detailed breed standard document provides even more specifics.

Your Keeshond’s coat will require regular grooming to stay beautiful. But care for these delightful dogs goes beyond their stunning looks; it’s about preserving the keen, friendly essence that so many have come to adore. So when you’re brushing that thick mane or admiring their distinctive ‘spectacles,’ you’re not just caring for a pet — you’re tending to a piece of living art.

Keeshond Behavior and Temperament

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Keeshonds are known for their lively and playful nature. These agile dogs have a knack for jumping and enjoy staying active. They’re smart, picking up new tricks readily — so watch out for the unintentional ones too! Training them can be a joy as they excel in agility and obedience training, showing off their intelligence and sturdy physique.

When it comes to family, Keeshonds are all heart. They adore children and thrive in a family setting. Always keen to be part of the action, they might just stick to you like glue. Their social demeanor extends to other dogs, and they love to romp around the yard with their canine buddies.

Expect a furry companion that tunes into your emotions effortlessly. Keeshonds are often used for comforting roles due to their empathetic nature. And yes, their attachment might mean they’ll patiently wait for you, even when other people are around — a true “velcro dog.”

Their bold bark has historical roots; their ancestors served as vigilant watchdogs on barges. This innate alertness persists, making them excellent at letting you know about newcomers. But don’t worry, once you’ve welcomed someone in, your Keeshond will too, with plenty of affection. Just remember, to keep their barking in check, they need to be part of the family action, not left alone in the yard.

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Keeshonden Common Health Issues

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Keeshonds are lovely dogs but like any breed, they’ve got their share of health issues. It’s crucial to know these so you can provide the best care for your pup.

As a Keeshond owner, it’s important to be aware of certain health issues that can affect this breed. Keeshonds may be prone to genetic health issues, including inherited cardiac problems like conotruncal heart defects and early-onset, insulin-requiring diabetes. Awareness and regular check-ups can help ensure that any such conditions are caught early and managed effectively, keeping your pup healthy and happy as part of your family for years to come.

Heart Conditions

If your Keeshond is a lady, she’s more likely to have heart issues like an open blood vessel from birth, known as Patent Ductus Arteriosus. They can also have complex heart defects right from when they’re born. It’s a good idea to have a thorough heart check-up.

Skin and Hair

Does your Keeshond have bald spots and there’s no itch? Alopecia X might be the culprit. Age-wise, it can hit as early as one year old.

Sugar Levels

Watch out for signs like excessive thirst or frequent peeing, as these could suggest your Keeshond has diabetes. This usually starts showing up before they’re six months old.


Keeshonds can experience hormone imbalances due to an underactive thyroid or overactive parathyroid glands, resulting in symptoms like fatigue or high calcium levels.

Bones and Movement

You might notice your Keeshond limping or having trouble with stairs. This could be due to hip dysplasia or a kneecap that moves out of place.


If your Keeshond starts having seizures, it might be due to this genetic condition. It often affects males and can kick in anywhere from six months to six years.


Ever seen sores in their eyes that don’t heal fast? Keeshonds can get these annoying corneal sores that just don’t budge.


Males especially have to watch out for kidney stones, which are not just painful but can cause other urinary troubles.

Life can be great for your Keeshond if these issues are caught early. Regular vet visits and testing can help your pal live a long, happy life. And, if you’re considering adopting, always check for health clearances — The Kennel Club offers solid advice on Responsible Dog Breeding and health check-ups for little ones.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so keep up with check-ups and enjoy every moment with your Keeshond!

Keeshond or Wolfspitz Training and Exercise

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Keeshonds, known for their intelligence and eagerness to please, are often easy to train, making them great companions for various activities. Their exercise needs are moderate but essential to keep them happy and healthy.

Training Techniques

When you’re training a Keeshond, consistency is key. Since they are intelligent dogs, they pick up on commands quickly, but they’ll need you to be clear and consistent with your expectations. Start with basic obedience training; these dogs excel in rally and agility, which can be fun ways to bond. Keep your training sessions short and sweet to hold their attention — about 10-15 minutes is ideal. These dogs respond well to positive reinforcement, so be ready with plenty of praise and treats.

  • Consistency – Stick to a routine to build good habits.
  • Positive Reinforcement – Use treats and praise to reward good behavior.
  • Short Sessions – Maintain focus with brief, engaging training periods.

Remember, Keeshonds can have a tendency to bark, so it’s wise to include “quiet” commands in your training to manage their vocalizations.

Exercise Requirements

Your Keeshond will need moderate exercise daily. Think about incorporating walks into your routine, ideally a couple of times a day. Despite their fluffy appearance, they’re quite active and enjoy a good play session, whether it’s fetch in the backyard or a puzzle toy indoors.

  • Daily Walks – At least two walks per day to keep them fit.
  • Play Time – Interactive games help with mental and physical stimulation.

Ensuring they get enough physical activity is essential to prevent boredom and the barking that might accompany it. Plus, the exercise will help maintain their health and strengthen the bond between you both.

Grooming a Keeshond

Keeshonds are known for their lush, double-layered coat which requires regular grooming to maintain their health and appearance. Here are some key aspects to consider when grooming a Keeshond:


Frequent brushing is crucial for Keeshonds to prevent matting and to distribute natural skin oils throughout their coat. Aim to brush your Keeshond at least two to three times a week with a pin brush or a slicker brush. During shedding seasons, daily brushing may be necessary to manage the increased shedding.


Keeshonds do not require frequent baths, but a monthly bath will help keep their coat clean and reduce any doggy odor. Use a dog-specific shampoo that will not strip their coat of essential oils. Ensure that you thoroughly rinse out all the soap to prevent irritation and drying of the skin.

Ear Care

The ears of a Keeshond should be checked regularly for signs of dirt buildup or infection, particularly because their thick fur can trap moisture in the ear canal. Clean the ears gently with a vet-approved ear cleaner and a soft cloth or cotton ball.

Nail Trimming

Regular nail trims are essential to keep your Keeshond comfortable and prevent overgrowth that can lead to pain or difficulty walking. If you can hear the nails clicking on the floor, it’s time for a trim. Use appropriate nail clippers and be cautious of the quick, which can bleed if cut.

By maintaining a regular grooming schedule, you can ensure your Keeshond’s coat and skin remain healthy, while also reducing the amount of fur around your home. Plus, grooming sessions can serve as bonding time between you and your pet.

Breed Integration

When you bring a Keeshond into your home, you’re adding a furry member that’s naturally affectionate and enjoys being part of the family unit. Whether it’s fitting in with your children or getting along with other pets, the Keeshond has a predisposition for being an excellent companion.

Keeshonds and Families

Keeshonds are known for their love and devotion to their families. They are typically child-friendly and exhibit a gentle nature, making them a potential match for households with children. You can expect your Keeshond to crave attention and desire to be involved in family activities. They often emerge as family dogs, visibly enjoying the companionship that comes with being a family pet. They are eager to please and relish in the time spent with their human relatives.

  • Affectionate – Your Keeshond will often seek out cuddles and may show a lot of affection towards family members.
  • Attention-Seeking – They enjoy being at the center of family life and don’t like to be overlooked.

Socialization with Other Pets

Socialization plays a key role in how well your Keeshond will integrate with other pets. Keeshonds can be friendly and social with other dogs if properly introduced. They seldom have issues in companionship with other family pets, provided that the introduction and joint activities are handled with patience and positivity.

  • Early Introduction – It’s important to introduce your Keeshond to other pets early to ensure easy acclimatization.
  • Other Animals and Dogs – They usually get along well with other animals, showing a gentle and affectionate approach rather than aggression.

Remember, your Keeshond thrives on companionship, so the more time you dedicate to facilitating positive interactions with all family members, the happier and more well-adjusted your pet will be.

Keeshond Activities

Keeshonds are not just a pretty face; they’re active, intelligent, and love to stay busy. Whether you’re looking into competitive events or thinking about therapy work, your Keeshond is up for the task. Let’s jump into the activities that can keep your Keeshond’s tail wagging!

Competitive Events

If you’re looking to team up with your Keeshond for a challenge, consider diving into the world of competitive events. As a member of the non-sporting group, Keeshonds might surprise you with their versatility in various competitions.

  • Agility: Keeshonds might seem like fluffy couch potatoes at first glance, but they’ve got some serious moves! Agility courses are like obstacle courses for dogs, and your Keeshond can dash through tunnels, weave poles, and balance on teeter-totters like a pro. It’s not only fun but it also keeps their minds sharp and their bodies fit.
Agility EventKeeshond Participation
TunnelGlide through with ease
Weave PolesZig-zag like a boss
JumpsSoar with excitement
  • Rally: If you’re working on obedience but want to mix in something a bit more dynamic, take a look at rally. It’s a team sport where you navigate a course with signs indicating different skills to perform, like turning in place or sitting. Your Keeshond is sure to excel with its keen intelligence and eagerness to please.
  • Obedience: This classic event is all about how well your pup follows commands. Keeshonds are wicked smart, so they can really shine when it comes to sitting, staying, and showing off those impeccable manners that obedience trials demand.
CommandKeeshond Capability
SitNailed it!
StayRock-solid staying
HeelRight by your side
  • Therapy: Maybe competition isn’t your thing, and that’s totally okay. Keeshonds make excellent therapy dogs because of their friendly demeanor and soft, pettable fur. Taking your Keeshond to visit schools, hospitals, or elder care facilities can spread joy and provide comfort to those who need it most.

Remember, the key to a successful activity with your Keeshond is training, patience, and lots of praise. They live for your approval and will do their best to make you proud, no matter the challenge!

Choosing a Keeshond

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Selecting a Keeshond as your new furry companion involves understanding costs, finding a trustworthy breeder, and preparing your home. These steps ensure a smooth transition for both you and your puppy.

How Much Does it Cost to Adopt a Keeshond Puppy?

The cost to adopt a Keeshond puppy can vary widely based on the breeder’s reputation, geographical location, and the puppy’s lineage. Prices typically range from $1,000 to $1,500. It’s essential to consider additional expenses like initial veterinary visits, vaccinations, spaying/neutering, and proper care items when budgeting.

Finding a Reputable Breeder

Finding a trustworthy breeder is crucial when bringing home a Keeshond puppy. Look for breeders who provide comprehensive health information and prioritize the welfare of their dogs. It’s recommended to consult the Keeshond Club of America for a list of reputable breeders. Make sure they are transparent, willing to answer all your questions, and provide a healthy environment for their puppies.

Preparing for a Keeshond Puppy

Before your Keeshond puppy arrives, prepare your home to ensure it’s a safe and welcoming space. This includes puppy-proofing areas where the puppy will roam, setting up a sleeping area with a comfortable bed, and purchasing necessities like food and water bowls, a leash, toys, and grooming tools. Additionally, read up on the Keeshond breed for specific advice on training and care. For those considering adoption, check out opportunities with Keeshond Rescue through the Keeshond Club of America. Adopting can be a rewarding way to give a Keeshond a second chance at a loving home.

Living with a Keeshond: Ideal Environment

Keeshond dogs are known for their happy demeanor, often called the “Smiling Dutchman,” and they thrive in environments where they can share their playful and lively personalities with their families.

Daily Life and Behavior

Your Keeshond is alert and makes an excellent watchdog, always keen to let you know when strangers are near. Despite this trait, they are not typically used as guard dogs due to their outgoing and friendly nature. Keeshonds are happiest when they can be a central part of family life, showing confident devotion to their owners. They don’t like being left alone for long periods, as they can develop separation anxiety.

To ensure your Keeshond stays joyful and doesn’t get bored, you should provide:

  • Ample Space: A spacious environment where they can play and explore, ideally with a secure backyard.
  • Mental Stimulation: Toys and puzzles to keep their active minds engaged to prevent boredom.

Keeshonds benefit from regular interaction with people, and while they can adapt to living in an apartment, they typically prefer a home where they have more space to move around.

Training for Home Life

Training your Keeshond should start early to take advantage of their intelligent and eager-to-please nature. Here’s how you can foster a home environment conducive to their learning:

  • Consistent Training: Use positive reinforcement methods to encourage good behavior, as Keeshonds respond well to praise and treats.
  • Socialization: Introduce your Keeshond to various people, animals, and situations to maintain their confident and outgoing demeanor.

Remember, Keeshonds are sensitive to climate extremes, preferring quieter, more temperate settings where they won’t overheat or get too cold. Keeping your home at a comfortable temperature is important for their well-being.

Cultural Impact and Recognition

The Keeshond, with its distinctive appearance and sociable temperament, has made a notable mark on cultures where it’s found. This spitz-type dog not only shows up in various forms of media but also garners recognition from prestigious organizations.

Keeshond in Popular Culture

American Kennel Club (AKC):

The Keeshond is part of the AKC’s non-sporting group. With its fox-like expression and plush coat, this breed often turns heads, securing its spot as a beloved member in shows and families alike.

Spitz Breeds:

As a member of the spitz family, which includes the Norwegian Elkhound, Pomeranian, and Samoyed, the Keeshond shares the characteristic fluffy coat and curled tail. This family resemblance means you might spot these friendly-faced breeds in advertising and branding efforts, often used to evoke a sense of warmth and comfort.

Life Span:

A Keeshond typically enjoys a long life span, around 12-15 years, which means they have plenty of time to leave paw prints on our hearts and culture. Your Keeshond could be by your side for many memorable moments.

By understanding the Keeshond’s cultural presence, you’ve now gotten a glimpse of why this breed isn’t just another pretty face in the dog world but a cherished companion with a legacy of endearment.

Miscellaneous Information

Before diving into some interesting tidbits about the Keeshond, you should know these dogs have some pretty unique features that set them apart from other breeds.

Interesting Facts

  • Dark Line: You’re gonna love this – Keeshonds have a distinctive dark line that runs down the middle of their backs. It’s so sharp it looks like it’s drawn with a ruler!
  • Plush Fur: Their coat is more than just soft and fluffy. It’s like wearing a deluxe winter coat, perfect for cooler climates.
  • History: Those twinkle-toed little furballs are part of the Spitz family and have been hanging out in the Netherlands for ages. They were like the mascot for the Dutch Patriot political party way back in the 18th century.
  • Cuddly Companion: A Keeshond isn’t just a pretty face with a plush coat; they’re total love bugs. They’re the kind of pals that stick to you like glue and are always up for a snuggle session.

Isn’t it cool how just one breed can have so many standout features? Keep these fun facts in your back pocket — you’ll be the life of the dog park!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

In this section, you’ll find answers to some common curiosities about Keeshonds, perfect if you’re considering welcoming one into your life or just want to learn more about this fluffy companion.

What kind of personality can I expect from a Keeshond?

You can expect a Keeshond to be an affectionate, friendly, and very loyal dog. They thrive on companionship and are known to be excellent with children, which makes them a beloved family pet. Their sociable nature means they’re usually keen on being part of all your family activities.

What’s the average size of a full-grown Keeshond?

A full-grown Keeshond typically weighs between 35 to 45 pounds and stands about 17 to 18 inches tall at the shoulder. They are a medium-sized breed that’s sturdy and balanced in appearance.

What are the common color patterns seen in Keeshonds?

Keeshonds are admired for their striking coat that primarily showcases shades of gray, black, and cream. The hairs are a mixture of colors, giving them a distinctive “spectacles” appearance around their eyes and a well-defined, plush double coat that features a lion-like mane around the neck.

Are Keeshonds considered a good choice for families with kids?

Absolutely! Keeshonds are known for their gentle and playful temperament, making them a fantastic choice for families with children. They are patient and usually get along well with everyone in the household, including other pets.

How frequently do Keeshonds tend to bark?

Keeshonds tend to be vocal dogs and can be alert barkers. If they sense something unusual in their environment, they’ll likely let you know with a bark. However, with consistent training and socialization, you can manage their barking tendencies effectively.


When you bring a Keeshond into your life, you’re not just getting a pet — you’re gaining a lifelong companion. These fluffy bundles of joy are synonymous with love and loyalty, traits that they eagerly extend to their human families. Their friendly demeanor means they’re quick to form strong bonds, making Keeshonds the perfect partner for those seeking companionship.

Remember, adopting a Keeshond is a lifetime commitment. They rely on you for their care and well-being, just as you’ll come to rely on them for their unconditional affection and uplifting spirit. They adapt well to family life, often becoming an integral part of your daily routine and happiest memories.

Your Keeshond will look to you for guidance and structure. In return, you’ll be rewarded with a faithful friend who’s always there to greet you with a wagging tail and a bright-eyed expression. These dogs don’t just fill your home with fur; they fill it with heart and soul.

Take the journey with your Keeshond. It’s a path sprinkled with playful barks, cozy cuddles, and joyous companionship. Cherish every moment with your furry pal, and you’ll find the bond you share grows stronger with every passing day.

References and Resources

When you’re keen on knowing more about Keeshonds, starting with the right resources is key. Here’s a quick guide:

Veterinary Studies:


Health Complications:

Engagement with the Community:

  • To dive into the Keeshond community, join forums or Keeshond-specific Facebook groups where members discuss everything from health to nutrition.

Remember, when looking for information, it’s important to rely on reputable sources. You might find websites or forums led by Keeshond enthusiasts who are always ready to help new Keeshond parents.

This section is just to get you started on your Keeshond journey. Happy learning!

Meet Your Experts

Keeshond Complete Guide: The Perfect Family Pet? - PawSafe (7)

Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Keeshond Complete Guide: The Perfect Family Pet? - PawSafe (2024)


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