We are Dutch in origin and olden times were used as a watchdog for the Dutch bargemen. We were in fact known as the Dutch barge dog. However our name originates from the Dutch patriot Cornelius de Gyselaer who was the leader of the rebellion against the House of Orange. If you know your European history then you will know this all took place around the 1500s. Anyway Cornelius’ nickname was ‘Kees’ and around 1920 our name was changed to reflect his association with us. We were also the mascot in the years before the French Revolution.
What do I look like?
We very closely resemble the German Spitz and do in fact have a long history of breeding within the spitz group of dogs. This means out coat is bushy, head is fox-like and we have small upright triangular ears. Our coat is a mixture of black and grey and has a thick undercoat. Our eyes are dark and almond shaped whilst our nose is black. We have muscular legs that terminate in cat feet. From a show perspective ‘specs’ and shadings are characteristic of our breed and must be present to some degree. Our legs and feet are to be cream; feet that are totally black or white are severe faults.
What do I need from you?
With a thick bushy coat it is natural that we will require considerable grooming – an hour a week will keep us comfortable and handsome! Our coat sheds dirt when dry so frequent bathing is unnecessary and undesirable. The coat acts as insulation and protects us from sunburn and insects, so shaving or clipping is not desirable either. We do have a tendency to become especially clingy towards our owners, even in comparison to other dogs. This means we don’t make a great pet kept in isolation. Aside from our own unhappiness, the combination of this and our very loud bark is likely to drive neighbours to distraction. Many behavioral problems with Keeshonden stem from us inventing our own activities (often destructive ones, like digging or chewing) out of boredom. Like most of the independent-minded spitz breeds, us Keeshonden respond poorly to heavy-handed or forceful training methods.
What I will give in return
We’re a fabulous dog – able to adapt to various surroundings. We are good with children so make a great family dog. Equally, we make a good companion for people who live on their own. We are a typically happy and cheerful to be around. Due to our intelligence and patience, many Keeshond dogs have been successfully trained to serve as guide dogs for the blind. Only our lack of size has prevented us from being more widely used in this role. We are very intuitive and empathetic and are often used as comfort dogs. Most notably, at least one Keeshond, Tikva, was at Ground Zero on 9/11 to help comfort the rescue workers. We generally get along with other dogs as well and will enjoy a good chase around the yard. We are very alert and make a great watchdog. Our thick coat means we can handle very cold temperatures.
How big will I get?
We grow to around 18in (46cm) and weight about 43lb (19kg).
How long should I be around for?
We have a good lifespan – usually around 13 to 15 years.
How big is our litter?
Litter size for a Keeshond can vary from 3 to 8 puppies.
We’re currently recruiting breeders and adopters to go here. Could that be you?
Our own special community
The Dutch Barge Dog Gang
Disclaimer: the views expressed on this page and any comments below are only a guide to typical traits and views on the breed. Individual circumstance and traits will always vary so we can be in no way responsible for any of the information provided.