15 Unique Characteristics Of Keeshond Dogs

Keeshond unique characteristics

What’s in a name?

The Keeshond, pronounced KAYZ-hawnd, is a medium-sized dog with an impressive grey, black, and cream coat and a massive, plumed, and curled tail. For years they have been known as the “Dutch Barge Dog.”

As the name says, they are called Dutch Barge Dog because of their role as a companion, watchdog, and guardian on barges and small boats on Holland’s canals and rivers.

Introduction: time to know me!

Introduction of Keeshond

These nimble-footed, hardy barge dogs have earned their keep as companions and guards. They are people-lover and are willing to participate in all family activities. They are lively, affectionate, attentive, cuddly, friendly, extrovert, smart, and intelligent. The most beloved dog in Holland is Keeshond only!

What do I hide beneath my coat?

Keeshond is a double-coated breed, consisting of a woolly undercoat and a longer guard coat. The undercoat is usually a pale grey or cream colour and the outer guard hair is a mixture of grey and black with black tips. Twice a year, Keeshonden “blow” or shed their undercoats completely, and this can last up to three weeks. Keeshonden appear larger than they are because of their full, thick coat.

The average height of a mature female Keeshond is 17″, and a male is 18″. The weight is ideally between 36 and 40 pounds. Except during the time of shedding, the Keeshond coat is fairly easy to care for.

Where my awesomeness comes from!

The natural tendency of the Keeshond is to act as a watchdog. So, usually, they require no special training. They rarely bite; however, once a person is welcomed into a home, the Keeshond will readily accept them.

The Keeshond is very friendly to people and other dogs. They demand high affection; prefer to be included with the family rather than be left outside on their own.

Want to know more about my ancestors?

keeshond history

The Keeshond is an ancient breed. It was originated in Holland as a breed used as a family companion and watchdog. It descends from the same dogs that contributed to the Siberian Husky, Finnish Spitz, Chow Chow, and Pomeranian. The Keeshond’s ancestors, reportedly, arrived in Europe centuries ago, along with the travellers from the far North. During the 1400s and 1500s, they were favoured by farmers for their instinctive watchdog and guarding capabilities, as well as for their playful and protective nature.

They have an interesting political past. Historically, there is little agreement as to the origin of the name “Keeshond.” Popular beliefs differ as to whether it was in reference to the Mascot dog of the Patriots named Kees, or two Patriot leaders who shared the name, Kees.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Keeshonds were used extensively as jack-of-all-trade dogs on European farms, barges, and riverboats. They also were skilled at herding livestock, killing rats and other vermin, guarding cargo, and even guiding barges through foggy waters by swimming capably out in front of the boat.

keeshond swimming

In the 1800s, commercial transportation began to be modernised. As barges got bigger, and so did the breeds of dogs that were preferred as companions and watchdogs.

The breed was rediscovered in 1905 by Miss Hamilton-Fletcher (later to become Mrs. Wingfield-Digby). She convinced her parents to let her take home two puppies. These dogs were taken to England and became the foundation stock for the breed’s introduction outside Holland.

Keeshond at Holland Par Dog Show, c. 1923

Keeshond at Holland Par Dog Show, c. 1923

Mrs. Wingfield-Digby with her Keeshonds

Mrs. Wingfield-Digby with her Keeshonds

The first Keeshond that was registered with The American Kennel Club in 1930, under the breed name “Keeshonden.” Purebred dog fanciers, including conformation exhibitors and performance enthusiasts, also became increasingly aware of the Keeshond’s wonderful temperament, traits, and talents. Today, Keeshond continues to be regarded as a loyal house pet and an outgoing “people dog.”

My Unique Characteristics

 1. Activity Level: what do I do?

The Keeshond is a sturdy, nimble, game dog that enjoys accompanying its owner on any outing. They enjoy going for long leisurely walks at parks, beaches, or just around the neighbourhood. They are very playful and super adventurous. They don’t need a lot of exercises, only regular walks and activity. Keeshonds can also be timid dogs. It is important to train them to respect, but not fear their owners and family.

2. Adaptability: that’s my forte!

keeshond adaptability

Keeshond is a family dog who is very adaptable. Being quiet, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents are all the good qualities of a Keeshond which makes it a suitable apartment dog.

3. Affection: family first. 

Keeshonds are affectionate

Keeshonds are independent and aloof, even if they’ve been raised by the same person since puppyhood. Nowadays, they are being raised inside a home with people around, and so, they feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily. For them, family comes first.

4. Appearance: check how handsome I look!

keeshond dog appearance

The Keeshond is a naturally handsome dog. He is a sturdy, well-built, has a fluffy coat and an endearing, fox-like facial expression. They are distinguished by a thick, wolf-ish grey coat, with a spectacular ruff of fur around their neck with darker shading on their face. Keeshonds have fully-plumed tails that curl tightly over their backs. A double curl is usually preferred. They have pointed muzzles and tiny, velvety pricked ears.

5. Attention: you cannot ignore me!

They are the kind of dogs which demand a lot of human attention. Even if you have another dog or two for your pup to play with, your Keeshond will not want them to be near you. You cannot simply ignore you Keeshond.

6. Care: love me or just love me!

The breed was first bred for life at barges, and later, as companion dogs; thus, they know how to remain happy in a rather little place. They can cheerfully adjust to a home that has a large yard, an apartment, or even a boat. Basically, they need your love and care, and nothing else.

7. My coat and colour. 

Keeshond coat and colour

The Keeshond’s body is covered with long, straight, and fairly harsh hair. It gives a look of a dense, downy undercoat. Its head is covered with smoother, softer, and short hair. The coat is usually long around the neck, shoulders and chest; forms an impressive, lion-like mane that is quite prominent in males.

The coat colour of this dog breed is a mixture of grey, black, and cream colour. The Keeshond’s undercoat is a pale grey or cream.

8. Exercise: take me out!

Keeshond exercise

Keeshond can adapt to any environment. They are quite used to farms with lots of space to run to barges having little room to move around. However, they do need regular exercise. They are clever, resourceful dogs and will be best behaved when given meaningful mental and physical stimulation daily.

9. Grooming: please take me to a salon!

Despite their dense coats, Keeshonds, really, are not high-maintenance dogs. Nail and dental care for Keeshonds are the same as that for most other breeds. Keeshonds do require regular grooming, but going through their coats once a week with a pin brush usually does the job. They also have sensitive skin; their fur protects them from the elements of dirt, as well as pollution, and should never be cut or shaved, even in the summer.

10. Health: check how fit am I. 

keeshond health

The average lifespan of a Keeshond is 12 to 14 years. They are generally a very healthy breed and is a fan of cool weather.

11. Nutrition: feed me, please.

Keeshond require love

The dogs have an individual identity just like humans, and they do not want the same amount of food. This dog breed requires high-quality dog food, commercially manufactured or home-prepared with the veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Keeshonds should be made available clean, fresh water.

12. My personality says it all! 

They are not hunters, nor do they have an inborn tendency for performing any specific task. They are smart, in fact, they can be a little mischievous too. We can expect the unexpected with these fellows. They easily learn proper canine manners and can do very well in the obedience ring. The dog breed is smart and trainable as well. A Keeshond is full of personality. Their easy-going personality makes them quite popular with kids and adults alike.

13. Temperament: Oh, you so are going to love it!

Keeshond, being a lively, outgoing and a friendly dog, is affectionate with its family and will welcome strangers, following the lead of their owner. When happy or excited, it is more likely to spin in circles and likes to share its joy with one and all.

14. Training: Oh my skills.

Since the Keeshonds are smart, they can be easily trained. They are obedient and have known to engage themselves in therapy works. They are eager to learn things and are motivated to please their trainers. They are thoughtful which means they are also quick to learn things their owners do not intend to teach them. What’s required to train them is positive reinforcement, treats, praise, and other techniques. Their human companions need to encourage them so as to make Keeshond follow them. Repetition with a healthy dose of patience is the key to successful training.

15. Veterinary Care

Vet care can be a little expensive. Keeshonden live for a long time as compared to some other breeds. The only problem is that they are prone to many skin diseases. They do require a high level of preventative and reactive veterinary care.

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