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Country/Date of Origin: Netherlands/1500s

The Keeshond is named after Cornelis "Kees" de Gyselaer, the leader of the Dutch rebels who rose up against the House of Orange in the late eighteenth century. The King used the Pug as his symbol so de Gyselaer chose his own dog to be the symbol of the revolution. The dog became known as "the dog of Kees" or Keeshond. It made the Keeshond famous. Of course, being the symbol of a political movement can have its drawbacks too. When the monarchy regained power the Keeshond disappeared from the cities. A few of the barge captains kept it as a guard dog and as a result it got its other name, the Dutch Barge Dog. The present day Keeshond, was first shown at a dog show in Holland in 1891. A breed standard was drawn up in 1933 in its native land but the US club did not approve one until 1949.

Other Names Body Type Personality Coat Health Concerns

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Dutch Barge Dog, Wolf Spitz, Chien Loup

AKC Group: Non-Sporting

Breed Club: Keeshond Club of America

Rescue Club: Keeshond Club of America Rescue Organizations

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Body Type:

  • Typical Northern sled dog type of medium size
  • Height: 17-19 inches (at shoulder)
  • Weight: 55-66 pounds
  • The fairly long plume tail is tightly curled over the back and is not altered. A double curl is most desirable
  • The high set ears are small and erect. They are not altered


  • A delightful little companion
  • Loyal, alert and protective
  • Highest marks for love of children
  • Intelligent but quite stubborn


  • The bushy double coat consists of a thick, downy undercoat and a long, straight outercoat that stands well away from the body
  • Reflecting the dog's oft used descriptive name, Wolf Spitz, the Keeshond is gray - sporting a pale gray or cream undercoat with an outercoat that is a mixture of gray and black hairs
  • The neck has a heavy ruff of longer hair and the long feathering on the legs resembles britches
  • The feet and face have short soft hair
  • Characteristic dark markings frame the face with "spectacles"
  • Requires frequent brushing
  • Seasonal shedding may overwhelm the owner not prepared to buy vacuum bags by the gross

Health Concerns:

  • Congenital heart disease
  • Some skin problems
  • Does not do well in hot, humid climates
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Tasty Tidbits:
  • Pronounce the name kayshond
  • The plural of Keeshond is Keeshonden, utilizing the Dutch form
  • Puppies are born black or seal brown and fade to white by four months. The wolf markings may take eighteen months to develop

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