The Keeshond is a member of the Non-Sporting Group in the United States, although it resembles the spitz or northern breeds in the structure of its head, ears, its balance and proportion, tail and coat.


The country most responsible for the evolution of the Keeshond is Great Britain, based on imports from Holland. The breed name came from Kees de Gyselaer. It was Dutch riverboat and barge captains, and farmers, who kept the breed alive and in its original form. This required thought and planning by those interested in breeding these useful animals in order to preserve the look and the temperament of this delightful breed.

As the breed became popular in other parts of the world, that same care was taken in selective breeding so that today the breed is virtually unchanged from its original form. It is depicted in a picture painted in 1794 which shows the children and dog of a burgomaster mourning his tomb. The dog clearly resembles today’s Keeshonden or the German Wolf spitz.


The Keeshond is a typical house dog, watch dog and companion. As a watch dog it has a sharp clear bark and is not afraid to give the alarm. With those who it knows, it is affectionate and loving. It makes friends easily, since it is naturally inquisitive. If raised with children, it accepts them well and is therefore a wellloved member of the family. As an Obedience dog, it learns quickly but may wish to imprint its own style on its performance.


The Keeshond is a square breed, meaning that it is as long as it is high at the shoulder. The ideal height under the British and American Standards for males is 18 inches/45 cm with females 1 inch/2.5 cm shorter. The German Wolfspitz should be 17-21 inches/45-55 cm — and 20 inches/50 cm in a perfect specimen. Its coat should be long, profuse, and double. It tends to stand off from the body and to form a ruff about the head and neck. The outer coat should be a combination of gray and black, and the undercoat light gray or cream. Lighter markings with cream-colored bands running from the shoulders to the elbows are usual.

The head is wedge shaped and in balance with the size of the dog. The eyes should be dark brown or black, definitely almond in shape, and must be surrounded by dark lines or spectacles that give the characteristic expression of the breed. The tail should be tightly curled, carried up and over the back. It is barely noticeable unless it is wagging. All its legs have good feathering, which should resemble breeches on the rear ones. Taken as a whole, the Keeshond is a stylish, self-confident, attractive breed.


As with most “natural dogs,” the Keeshond is quite healthy. Its long double coat must be groomed frequently to stave off potential problems of skin trouble caused by hot spots or fleas. There have been cases of hip dysplasia, epilepsy, as well as some congenital heart problems. The best plan is always to purchase the Keeshond, whether for a pet or a show animal, from a reputable breeder who will have taken all the precautions and applied all methods in testing for health problems.

Special Care and Training

The Keeshond’s crowning glory is its coat. It must be thoroughly brushed at least twice a week, and more frequently if it is to be shown. Constant grooming — with either dry shampoo that is sprinkled in and then brushed out, or a water spray, sprayed on to its coat and then brushed through — should suffice to keep it clean and well groomed. Baths should be infrequent, as they tend to soften the coat. Both the teeth and nails require weekly attention. The Keeshond is not a breed that is trimmed to excess; in fact the American Standard expressly forbids this. Trimming around the foot to neaten up the back of the hocks is allowed and smartens the dog’s appearance. The whiskers may also be removed but this is optional.


As the Keeshond continues today to fulfill the role for which it was bred centuries ago, that is one of companion and watchdog, it adapts readily to almost any situation. Since it is heavily coated, care must be taken in very hot, humid weather to prevent it from becoming overheated and collapsing with heat stroke. Its sharp watchdog bark may become annoying, particularly if it is left alone for long periods and starts barking from boredom. It thrives on human companionship and will relish good walks, ample playtime and good nutrition.

Gallery of Keeshond