The Keeshond (pronounced ‘Kaze-hond’) has long been a favourite dog in The Netherlands, where it is often referred to as the “barge dog” because of its use as a guard dog on barge trips on the Dutch and middle-European waterways.

This long-haired dog with his double coat is related to the Pomeranian, but is larger at 43-46 cms (17-18 inches) tall and about 16-18 kgs in weight. He makes a good family and companion dog, being fond of children and having a good temperament and friendly disposition. Being intelligent he is very trainable but can also become easily bored if not kept active. He will bark to alert of visitors, but tends to be welcoming once he sees his owners accepting them and then act without timidity or aggression.

This breed has a combination of grey and black fur with the body hairs each having black tips, and the undercoat being lighter grey or cream but not tawny or yellow. The Breed Standard is very particular; all markings must be very definite and not blend into each other. Shoulder markings must be very clearly defined. The hind-leg “trousers” are a light grey and forelegs and hocks a cream colour and a light-coloured ruff surrounds the head. The coat is coarse rather than woolly or silky.

Other particular markings include black “spectacles”, which refers to a fine black line running from the outer eye corner to the lower corner of the ear, and short eyebrows, giving the dog a peculiarly expressive look. The head is fox-like in appearance. The eyes are dark and almond-shaped, the ears small, dark-coloured and shaped like an ivy-leaf and the tail, which curls up over the back, has a distinctly dark tip. The feet are cream in colour, have a cat-like appearance and black nails, with the toes fitting together tightly.

Only the grey and black varieties are considered suitable for shows and breeding, but the Keeshond can come in a variety of colours such as orange and cream, as well as piebald.

History of the Keeshond breed and its introduction into Australia

The Keeshond  became the National Dog of The Netherlands in the 1700s, after being seen as the symbol of the Patriots prior to the French Revolution. This occurred because the leader of the Patriots, (a man named Cornelius, often shortened to Kees or “Kaze”), had a dog called Kees which often appeared in cartoons and pictures at that time. Keeshond developed its name as a breed thereafter. Four of these dogs were initially brought to Australia in 1949, and the breed was exhibited at the Sydney and Melbourne Royal Shows in 1952 and 1954 respectively. Keeshond Clubs were founded in some Australian states from 1967.

How to care for your Keeshond:

This breed is relatively high maintenance and does require quite a bit of grooming, as follows:

  • Every couple of weeks, give your dog a good brush up to the skin, to help prevent fur matting and skin problems.
  • Shedding of the coat happens twice a year and the undercoat should be brushed out as soon as this occurs.
  • A bath every six months or so, along with regular brushing, helps keep the dog clean and healthy.

The coat should not be clipped as it may affect regrowth causing it to lose its protective ability from dirt, insects, cold and heat and the top coat may lose its characteristic black tips.

Teeth and ears should be cleaned regularly to prevent infections or other problems.


Other care:

  • Training: This breed of dog is intelligent and therefore easy to train but may easily become bored. He is a natural watch-dog and should be given an area to guard, as well as plenty of activity to keep him content and cheerful.
  • Exercise: A daily walk or run in the park is important to keep the dog fit and occupied.
  • Barking: The Keeshond has a loud, distinctive bark and this should be well-managed so that it does not become a nuisance.

Guide for showing a Keeshond:

  • The dog should have the appearance as set out above according to the Breed Standard.
  • The coat should not be trimmed in such a way as to alter markings, or form a “parting” down the middle of the back. It should not be wavy or curly.
  • Hair on the feet and pasterns may be lightly trimmed.

Other factors about the Keeshond breed

If well cared for this breed may live 12-15 years. However the Keeshond are prone to various problems such as hip dysplasia, epilepsy, Cushings disease, trick knee and some other conditions. When purchasing, it is important to check the history of the breed stock. In Australia there are imports brought in at times from overseas to help widen the gene pool and sometimes frozen semen is imported and/or exported.

The Keeshond is a very handsome dog with a temperament that can make him an excellent family pet and watch-dog. He is a shedding dog though and therefore may not suit those with allergies. He may also not be suitable for owners who do not have the time to keep him occupied and exercised, or for frequent and regular grooming. However with good care, attention and training, he should bring years of joy to his owners.