Dog of the month September 2022: the Keeshond

The Keeshond (pronounced Kayshund in English), is a stunning dog that makes you want to scream “It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die”. Their plush coat is the first thing you’ll notice with its beautiful grey, black and cream markings. They have a mane around their neck and a curled tail that curves over their back. Next, you’ll probably notice their lively almond-shaped eyes framed by black markings that look like glasses. This breed seems to have a constant smile on their face. 

The Keeshond (pronounced Kayshund in English), is a stunning dog that makes you want to scream “It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die”. Their plush coat is the first thing you’ll notice with its beautiful grey, black and cream markings. They have a mane around their neck and a curled tail that curves over their back. Next, you’ll probably notice their lively almond-shaped eyes framed by black markings that look like glasses. This breed seems to have a constant smile on their face. 

How to recognise a Keeshond? 

The Keeshond stands at around 43-55 cm at the shoulder and weighs around 15 to 20 kg. As mentioned the coat should be dense with a gray and black topcoat, and a cream coloured undercoat. Their face is surrounded by a black mask. Their curled tail should be light underneath and shaded on top so that when it curls over their back it creates a contrast with their dark back. 

When born the pups are mostly black, at around 4 months they have their “ugly duckling” phase where they are completely light gray with a black mask before their true coat colours come through. The fur on their paws is short whereas the fur on the back of the legs is long with cream coloured feathering. They often have what is known as “pants” on their hind legs, which is where the hair on the hind legs and buttocks has long fur that resembles the shape of fluffy trousers. 

What is their character like? 

They are known for their friendly demeanour and curious nature. Keeshonden (yes that is how the plural is written), are very focused on their owners and love their family, although they can be a bit suspicious of strangers, though they remain friendly. Because they are an intelligent breed, they excel at obedience, though they do have a stubborn streak. At home they are calm dogs, they love to play and need one good walk a day to keep them happy. Generally, they will adapt to your lifestyle so if you are an active family they will be quite happy to join in your activities. Another perk is that they are good with children, provided that the children are taught how to properly treat and respect the dog. 

They don’t wag their tails very often but will let you know how they are feeling by using their body language. When they are happy their tails are up over their backs and they seem to almost smile with their mouths open. Their ears are also erect and they generally look happy. 

During the breed’s history they were used as guard dogs so they bark a lot. If you start off training them from a young age, it is possible to train them to bark less. Even so, a keeshond will still alert you if someone is at the front door and if they hear something suspicious. 

How do you take care of a Keeshond? 

For such a fluffy dog, their coat is relatively easy to maintain. They need a quick brush every other day and at least once a week, or once every two weeks, for you to spend a longer session brushing them. In places where their fur rubs together such as their armpits or groin, it tends to get matted so pay extra attention to these areas when brushing. Never shave or cut the fur except for the paws. To avoid “grinch feet” you can trim the paws so they have a rounded appearance. Even though it’s not breed standard I do trim the fur around his anus to prevent clingers. Now and again you will have to wash your dog’s rear end as little bits of feces stick the long fur on their buttocks. 

The tools I use on my dog to brush him are the following:

  • an undercoat rake
  • A wide-toothed comb
  • A slicker brush
It’s shedding season!

During hot weather, it is important that you provide them with plenty of water and shade as they can overheat. Avoid walking them during the hottest parts of the day and keep their walks short. 

What is the history of the breed? 

It is highly likely that the Keeshond descended from spitz breeds of Northern Europe. This breed is also known as the Dutch barge dog, as they were kept on board ships. They were used to guard the boats, bark during misty weather to indicate to other ships where they were and look after the children on the boat. Very few records exist before the 18th century as hunting dogs were more popular amongst the nobility.

They are named after the Dutch Patriot Cornelis (Kees) de Gijselaar, who led the rebellion against the House of Orange during the 18th-century. Because of this they were almost wiped out as a lot of the dogs were killed when the House of Orange returned to power due to them being a rebel’s symbol. 

The second part of their name is hond which is Dutch for dog. They are related to the German Spitzes and another name for them is the Wolfspitz. 

During the reign of Queen Victoria, Pomeranians became fashionable when she kept them as companions. It wasn’t until the 1920’s that Keeshonden rose in popularity and were mixed with Pomeranians, Samoyeds and Chowchows to increase the breed’s size and gene pool. 

Nowadays they are used as companion animals. 

I’m probably biased as I own this breed but if you asked me if they were a great breed to have then I would say 100% yes. 

Summary

Trainability🐾🐾🐾🐾 / 5
Energy level🐾🐾🐾 / 5
Coat maintenance🐾🐾🐾🐾 / 5
Friendly with children🐾🐾🐾🐾 / 5
Health issues🐾🐾🐾 / 5

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