The Keeshond, originally called the Wolfsspitz, is a medium-sized breed from Germany. It is closely related to the German spitzes. The breed was named after Cornelis (Kees) de Gyselaer, the leader of the Dutch rebellion against the House of Orange during the 18th century. The breed was the symbol for the rebels, and today it is still sometimes call “the Smiling Dutchman”. The first breed standard was posted in 1880 in Berlin, and the breed was brought to America in the late 1920s, and recognized in 1930.
The Keeshond stands 17 to 18 inches tall and weighs 35 to 45 pounds. It is a sturdy breed with a wedge shaped head, pointed ears, and other spitz-like features, such as the curled tail. The breed has a plush double coat with a very thick ruff around the neck. The Keeshond’s coat should be straight and be a mix of silver, black, and cream. The breed has dark brown, almond shaped eyes with black rims and a spectacle type marking which runs from the eye to the ear.
The Keeshond is a very playful breed which can make a very loving family pet. The Keeshond loves its family and prefers to be close to its owner to the point of sometimes being slightly clingy. The breed is so eager to please its owner that it tends to learn quickly. Proper training with consistency and fairness is necessary to ensure that the breed does not learn incorrect behaviors unintentionally. The breed has been known to be a guide dog for the blind; it also excels in competition. The breed needs plenty of activity, and therefore needs a responsible owner to give it what it requires as well as train the breed against behavioral problems. The Keeshond has a very distinctive bark which can become a problem if not handled properly. The breed is slightly territorial, but is generally friendly toward strangers as long the visitor is accepted by its owner.
The breed is relatively average to maintain. It needs a brushing every other week in order for its undercoat to stay groomed and not matted. This also assists in ridding the dog of odor. The Keeshond blows its coat twice a year. The breed also needs to be bathed only twice a year, due to the lack of oil in its coat. Its coat is essential for temperature regulation and protection from the elements and should not be clipped or shaved.
A healthy Keeshond can live for 12 to 15 years, but the breed is prone to several health issues. These include: hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, epilepsy, Cushing’s disease, hyperparathyroidism, hypothyroidism, bloat, and von Willebrand’s disease.