Breed Profile: Keeshond

The Keeshond is an active and lively dog that is great with children. They do require maintenance, though.

The keeshond is an active and friendly dog great for children.





Physical Description

The keeshond is an active, medium-sized dog with a fox-like expression. The double coat is thick and comes in colors of grey, black, and cream in marked variations throughout the fur.


The average height is 17–18 inches, and weights vary from 35 to 55 pounds depending on which breed standard is followed. The keeshond lives an average of 10–15 years, but some have lived longer.


The breed comes from the Arctic and descended from the lines that also created the Samoyed, Chow Chow, Pomeranian, Norweigan elkhound, and Finnish spitz.

The dog was used as a symbol for the Dutch Patriot political party run by Kees de Gyselaer, who also gave the breed its name. The political party was not successful, and people started disposing of the breed as a result.

The popularity of the breed diminished until around 1920 when a Baroness started breeding them again. Within 10 years the breed was re-established and popular in England. The Dutch Keeshond Club was established, and dogs were exported to the United States.

The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1930.


The keeshond was originally used as a watchdog on barges and farms and was known as the “Dutch Barge Dog.”

Today they are companion pets and appear in dog competitions and trials, such as conformation and agility.



Outgoing, friendly, and affectionate, the keeshond is an active dog great for children.

They are usually good with other animals and as a watchdog. They can bark, sometimes too excessively, but they can be trained since they are also intelligent.

In this video, Jedi the keeshond demonstrates typical keeshond agility and activity:

Exercise Needs

Keeshonds need daily walks to expel energy and appreciate a small yard. They are also active indoors and communicate stored energy by spinning in circles.

Be careful to observe the dog while outdoors. Their thick coats can make them prone to overheating.

Many people report their keeshonds love digging in their water bowls with their front paws after a session of running around.

Grooming Requirements

Although twice per week is deemed sufficient, keeshonds should be brushed daily. The undercoat sheds twice per year.

Bathing can be done with dry shampoo or as necessary. Clip the dog’s nails regularly, brush the teeth and clean the ears.

Common Health Problems

The keeshond is susceptible to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, patella luxation, skin problems (alopecia and coat loss), primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) and heart disease.

They can also become overweight or obese easily, so regulate their food intake.

Is the Keeshond the Right Dog for You?

Medium in size but full of energy, the keeshond is a lively and active dog great for families. The dog needs to be walked daily and enjoys a small yard. They can have pent-up energy and will let you know by spinning in circles. The coat will require consistent maintenance and needs to be brushed a few times per week.

The breed is intelligent and can be trained. Some people report their keeshonds can do tricks and perform when asked.

If you’re ready to groom and can meet the exercise requirements, a keeshond could be a great addition to your family.

Adopt, Don’t Buy

If you consider getting a keeshond, please check rescues and adoption resources. Even purebred animals can end up in shelters. Try Petful’s adoptable pet search.

Finding a keeshond through adoption resources may be difficult. You can also check with rescue groups and breeders. If you do choose to go to a breeder, make sure the breeder is reputable and doesn’t exhibit any of the puppy mill warnings.

Additional Resources

Photo: MarilynJane/Flickr


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