(aka: Wolfsspitz, Dutch Barge Dog, Smiling Dutchman, German Spitz, Chien Loup)
The Keeshond is a medium sized dog, with a very distinctive appearance and a sturdy build. The double coat of the Keeshond is dense, straight, and long, and these dogs have a beautiful, regal looking ruff of dense hair around the neck. His small ears stand erect on his head, adding to his alert expression. The coloring of the coat is a beautiful, rich gray, with black and cream, and he has a luxurious pluming tail that cascades over his back. The weight of the Keeshond is around 35 pounds for females, and between 40-45 pounds for males. The height of these dogs is around 17-18 inches.
Affectionate, loving, and good natured, the Keeshond is a dog that loves to be around his human family. These dogs thrive on attention and love, and enjoy getting involved in the family fun and activities. Some can be quite demanding in terms of the affection and attention that they require, and without it can become bored and start barking a lot. Spirited and happy, the Keeshond is a sociable creature, and is very friendly towards just about everyone. He will bark to raise an alarm, which can make him a fairly effective watchdog, but he is too friendly to qualify as a guard dog. Known as the 'smiling Dutchman' because of the way that he bares his teeth in a cheerful, grinning fashion, this dog makes for a great family pet and companion. The Keeshond is fine for inexperienced dog owners as well as for the more experienced, but he can have a willful and independent streak - although training using positive methods should not prove too much of a problem.
The Keeshond is an intelligent breed, and is quick to learn obedience commands. These dogs get on very well with children, and most will be fine around strangers. Early socialization is important in order to reduce the risk of increased timidity in some Keeshonds, and a peaceful environment is essential as these dogs are very sensitive and have very powerful hearing. When it comes to other pets, the Keeshond tends to get along well with them, which means that he is ideal for families that already have pets in the household. The Keeshond's eagerness to please his owner along with his intelligence and learning rate means that he will usually do well in terms of obedience training.
When it comes to grooming the requirements for the Keeshond are quite demanding. He must be brushed for one or two hours every week otherwise matting will occur which can stop air getting to the skin and it can become infected. The coat must be brushed thoroughly to the skin to prevent matting. This breed should be clipped only when necessary for medical reasons, such as surgery. The Keeshond is prone to a condition called "post-clipping alopecia," which can happen any time they're clipped. The fur in the clipped area falls out completely and the dog becomes completely bald in that area for some time until the hair eventually grows back. The Keeshond is quite a high shedder, and will shed more heavily on a seasonal basis, so he is not the best choice for those with allergies.
The Keeshond origin can be found in the Arctic or Netherlands. During the eighteenth century the Keeshond was known as "a dog of the people." The Keeshond was bred from the Samoyed, Chow Chow, Elkhound, and Pomeranian. At the beginning of the French Revolution it became a symbol for the common and middle-class Dutchmen. They were led by the Patriot Kees de Gyselaer. Afterwards the breed endured and suffered a long period of neglect. It was introduced to the United Kingdom by a woman named Mrs. Wingfield-Digby. However, the Keeshond did not become popular again until it was introduced into the United States in the 1920's. They are part of the Spitz family and therefore were originally bred to guard canal boats. It was because of this that it was named the Dutch Barge Dog. However, rather unkindly, in Victorian England the Keeshond was nicknamed the Overweight Pomeranian. Although it is known to have originated in the Netherlands it has been cited as being part of the German Spitz Family along with the Pomeranian and the American Eskimo dog.
Training the Keeshond can be quite the difficult task. They are independent thinkers and can have a manipulative streak in them. They often have a mind of their own and get bored with repetition. However, they are excellent at obedience and are highly intelligent. When training the Keeshond it is essential to use positive, consistent, but firm training. They do best with fairness and structure. It is important that the Keeshond knows that the owner or handler means what they say.
Keeshond training should start at a young age to reduce some of the problems that can occur into adulthood. Socialization training should start when they are very young puppies to ensure they do not become suspicious adults. It is also important for them to be taught manners at a young age so they learn not to bark or destructively chew when they get bored. They are eager to learn new things and this makes them perfect for obedience and learning new tricks. This will keep them learning new things and prevent them from being bored. Training also is a great way for the dog and owner or handler to spend time together. This will fill the dog's desire for human contact and affection.
The life expectancy of the Keeshond is around 12-15 years, and there are a number of health problems that have been linked to this breed. This includes diabetes, thyroid problems, autoimmune disorders, cataracts, luxating patella, HD, MVD, vWD, heart disease, and seizures. The parents of the Keeshond puppy should have OFA and CERF certificates.