Keeshond Dog Breed: Facts, Traits, Character and Look

Keeshond Dog Breed Facts, Traits, Character and Look

The Keeshond is a member of the Spitz, or Nordic, family of dogs. It is a Dutch breed that served as a watchdog on barges and is named for an 18th-century political figure, Kees de Gyselaer, who owned one of the dogs. The word “hond” means dog in Dutch, and the plural is honden. So, when you refer to Keeshonden, there’s no need to add “dogs,” which would be like saying Keesdogs dogs.

Ideally, Keeshond males should weigh between 40 and 45 pounds and stand 18 inches at the shoulder, while females should weigh 30 to 35 pounds and stand 17 inches at the shoulder. The life expectancy of the Keeshonden is 12 to 14 years, and they have 3 to 8 puppies per litter. Other names for this breed include Dutch Barge Dog, Smiling Dutchman, Chien Loup, German Spitz, Deutscher Wolfsspitz, Wolfsspitz, and Kees.

The breed is very adaptable, but it is definitely not for everyone. Keeshonden require twice-weekly brushing, although they don’t need frequent bathing. A Keeshond left in the backyard gets bored.  If they do, they’ll put their intelligent brains to use, typically in undesired behaviors. These medium-height and active little dogs need plenty of engagement and interaction with their humans. 

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What are the Breed Traits and Characteristics of Keeshonden?

The bespectacled Keeshond always wears a smile. This happy-go-lucky dog is affectionate and funny. More than earning the 5-star “Velcro dog” award, Kees sticks closely to his people and demands their attention. He can be a good choice for families with children, friendly toward strangers, and generally getting along well with other animals, especially when raised together.

Keeshonden have interesting spectacle-shaped markings around their eyes, emphasizing the innate trait of alert watchfulness, as their ancestors worked as watchdogs on the barges. Keeshonden retained the stern bark that still makes them excellent watchdogs. The bark isn’t the only distinguishing feature of Keeshonden. This breed is well-known for its dense, long, three-layer fluffy coat.

With their needs for companionship and activity met, Keeshonden are happy dogs who generally get along well with everyone from children to strangers. They’ll bark at noises, making them excellent watchdogs, but don’t expect them to be fierce guard dogs if an intruder enters your home.

Keeshond Breed Traits

Keeshond Information


Males 17 to 19 inches

Females 16 to 18 inches


Males  35 to 45 pounds

Females 35 to 45 pounds

Relation with family

Loyal, Affectionate, Guardian, Strong-willed

Relation with children

Playful and lovable

Relation with other dogs


Shedding level


Drooling level


Coat type 

Double Coat

Coat length

Very thick with a short wooly undercoat Topcoat, Long hair 5”- 6”

Coat grooming frequency

Brush twice-weekly

Reaction to strangers

Friendly but wary

Playfulness level


Adaptability level


Openness to strangers


Trainability level


Energy level


Barking level


Mental stimulation needs level



12 -14 years 

How Does the Keeshond Interact with Family?

Keeshonden make great family dogs and are good options for families with kids. Its medium size is not overwhelming for kids to run and play with, and they are alert and observant of strangers. They’re good watchdogs but not good guard dogs, meaning they will bark at any new person or sound, but they aren’t aggressive. The Keeshond is a dog that truly loves nothing more than spending time with its family and can experience severe separation anxiety if they are left alone for long periods.

A Keeshond wants to be with people and around people no matter what happens. If you’re having a movie night or a barbecue or are just washing the dishes, your dog will be right there next to you. They’re kind to strangers if their family accepts them into the house but might be timid at first. The Kees is a good dog for a family of any activity level because they can adjust and adapt to the energy of their people.

How Does the Keeshond Interact with Other Dogs?

Keeshonden are good with other dogs, and they usually also love to play with cats if adequately socialized or raised with them. Any other animal is fine, but as with any pet introduction, be sure to do it slowly and in a controlled environment to make sure that they like each other. 

If you are a multi-pet household, make sure you know that all the animals get along well before you commit to the Keeshond. As long as the Keeshond is socialized as a pup, he will get along with most other pets.

How are Keeshonden with Older People?

Keeshonden are okay with older people. Although these furballs do not need a lot of exercise, they should go for a daily walk or engage in play in the backyard or a dog park. Keeshonden shed a lot, which might be too much for older people living in apartments.

When Seniors move into apartments after many years in the suburbs, it is often a traumatic experience because they may have to leave many cherished possessions behind due to the lack of space.

In many cases, the fact that a beloved canine companion can come along eases the transition. If the daily walks and the grooming are overwhelming, they might want to reach out to dog walkers who may agree to give the Kees a good brushing twice a week.

How are Keeshonden with Children?

The outgoing, playful and affectionate behavior of Keeshonden and their medium-sized stature make them an excellent fit for families with small children. Socialized Keeshonden are even good with cats, and they make wonderful companions for children. They are observant and friendly and rarely display aggression towards people.

Keeshonden are not large, heavy dogs, so they are unlikely to cause accidental injury to young kids. Owners should note that many dogs have a particular fondness for soft toys, and some are even possessive of their toys. Therefore, it is crucial to spend equal amounts of time socializing the kids with the family dogs from an early age. Train the dogs to stick to their own toys to prevent situations where the Kees chewed the child’s favorite soft toy or the risk of the pup reacting with aggression toward a child who gets hold of the dog’s soft toy. 

Regardless of the breed’s reputation as loveable playmates for kids, it can never be guaranteed. Parents should always supervise dogs when they’re around young kids. That way, the dog can get to know your kids. It also helps if you have kids when you get a young Keeshond so that the dog can grow up around kids. The earlier you socialize your Keeshond with kids, the better they will be around children later.

If you get a Keeshond before you have children, make sure you train it to behave around smaller kids and babies. That way, once you start to build a family, your Kees would know how to react to the antics of a baby and later a toddler, who can grab a handful of hair or pull the dog’s tail at any time. 

That way, the Kees will already be familiar with kiddies when you start to build a family. Likewise, parents should teach children how to interact with dogs early. That way, your children will be comfortable when you take them visiting families with dogs even before you introduce dogs into your family.

How are Keeshonden with Neighbors or Guests?

Keeshonden, as a breed, are very affectionate, thinking everyone is their friend. If they are familiar with neighbors and frequent visitors or guests, they will snuggle up with anyone invited into the home by their owners. Neighbors and familiar guests will be welcomed as part of the family.

What are the Physical Traits of the Keeshond?

Referred to as the Dutch Barge Dog, the Keeshond is a breed from the Netherlands with pointed ears, a double coat, and a tightly-curled tail. It is a medium-sized dog and a member of the Spitz group of dogs. Kees stands at 16 to 19 inches in height and weighs 35 – 45 kg.

He has a 2-layered, dense coat that is pretty long, straight, and coarse, and the colors are grey, silver, black, and cream. His undercoat is a very light cream color. He has erect ears, a medium-length muzzle, and a feathery, plumed tail that curves over his back. The hair on his legs is relatively short, accompanied by some feathering.

 A typical marking feature of the Keeshond is the dark line that runs from the outer corner of each eye to the lower corner of each ear. It’s what gives the dog his well-known keeshond expression. The eyes of the dog are dark brown.


Trait information




Males 17 to 19 inches

Females 16 to 18 inches


Males  35 to 45 pounds

Females 35 to 45 pounds

Skull and Head

In good proportion to the body.


Medium, diamond shape, dark brown color


Small ears are triangular set high on their heads 


Medium length





Exercise Needs



12 to 14 years


The outer coat is long wiry, standing away from the body

The undercoat is soft, short, and dense.

Coat color

A mixture of gray, black, and cream, which may vary from light to dark


The moderately long, well-feathered tail is set on high and tightly curled over the back.


The forelegs are straight from any angle

Hindlegs – pasterns are perpendicular to the ground.

How to Feed a Keeshond?

Your Keeshond’s adult size determines its dietary needs through all life stages. Thus, base your Keeshond’s diet on a medium breed’s unique nutritional and digestive needs throughout its different life stages. Most dog food companies have breed-specific formulas for small, medium, large, giant, and even toy breeds. 

It is always a good idea to discuss your dog’s dietary needs with your vet to ensure you are prepared to deal with age-related issues as your Keeshond grows. A veterinarian can advise on diets, portion sizes, meal frequencies, and all nutrition matters to ensure your furry friend lives a long life with optimal health. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times, and some essential nutrients are listed below:

  • Protein
  • Fatty acids
  • Carbohydrates
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins

Avoid feeding your Keeshond from the table; all it does is add weight; instead, follow the advice below to ensure your furry friend’s optimal health.

Despite the Keeshond’s medium size, it is an agile, athletic breed that needs food containing animal proteins and carbohydrates for energy, vitamins and minerals for digestive and immune health, and omega fatty acids for coat and skin wellness. A dog of this size, activity level, and demeanor will thrive best on premium dry food because this food type contains balanced portions of the above-listed ingredients.

However, your Keeshond’s daily portion depends on life stage, health, metabolism, activity level, and the brand and formula of food it eats. Feed your Keeshond food formulated for a medium breed with recipes for puppies, adults, and seniors, or look for a brand developed for all life stages.

Keeshonds’ daily cups of food should be spread over 2 to 3 meals per day. Feeding Keeshonden several meals instead of one meal per day can prevent life-threatening bloat. However, fresh drinking water must always be available for your furry friend. When in doubt, consult your veterinarian. 

An example of premium food specially formulated for Keeshonden and its benefits is listed below: 

The best dry dog food for Keeshonden is Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Grain-Free Dry Dog Food recipes.

Merrick dry dog foods offer a wide array of exotic protein options for an ancestral dog food diet, including a unique combination of freeze-dried raw-coated kibble with real freeze-dried raw pieces of meat, fish, or poultry. Choose from grain-free options and recipes with healthy grains for a balanced lineup that provides the nutritional benefits of a raw diet. You can choose the Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Grain-Free Dry Dog Food formula that works best for your Keeshond.

Below is a list of the benefits offered by the six Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Grain-Free Dry Dog Food formulas in this range:

  • Protein-Packed: With responsibly sourced real meat meal, containing almost 300% more protein than fresh meat, as the first ingredient, these recipes are packed with animal protein for strong, lean muscles in small breed dogs.
  • Omegas 3 and 6: Naturally occurring omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids support skin and coat health. And glucosamine and chondroitin help maintain healthy hip and joint function through all your dog’s adventures to keep your canine companion running healthy for many years.
  • Antioxidants: Antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits help support immune health.

When Keeshonden are healthy and active, every day is an adventure. That’s why Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Grain-Free Dry Dog Food formulas are crafted with everything dogs need to thrive, starting with real protein as the first ingredient.

How Much Should a Keeshond Puppy Eat? 

The Keeshond is a medium breed whose puppies need high-quality puppy food formulated for a medium breed dog like the Keeshond. It is essential not to feed puppies all their food at once, and they should have it spread over the day. When Keeshond puppies become three months old, owners can provide them with three meals per day until they reach six months, reducing the food intake to 2 meals per day. Only high-quality and branded puppy food is acceptable. Guidance for feeding puppies is listed below.

  • Keeshond puppies need slow, sustained growth to help prevent orthopedic problems, such as hip dysplasia. Raise them on a diet designed for medium-breed puppies. Whatever diet you choose shouldn’t overemphasize protein, fat, and calorie levels.
  • Keeshonden should be fed according to a schedule, spreading meal times two or three times per day. Getting the puppy accustomed to meals at specific times is better than leaving food out to allow feeding through the day.
  • The exceptions are Keeshonden with medical conditions like hypoglycemia or low blood sugar because they need to nibble bits of food throughout the day.
  • Never feed your puppy from the table. It only encourages begging. Everyone in the family must follow this rule.

What are the Health Tests that Keeshonden Should Take?

Keeshonden can be affected by several genetic health problems. Not all of these conditions are detectable in a growing puppy. It can be hard to predict whether an animal will be free of these disorders, so you must find a reputable breeder committed to breeding the healthiest animals possible.

The Keeshond Club of America, the American Kennel Club parent organization for the breed in the United States, participates in the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) Program. Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database. You can check CHIC’s website to see if a breeder’s dogs have these certifications.

Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with independent certification that the parents of the dog (and grandparents, etc.) have been screened for genetic defects and deemed healthy for breeding. Having the dog’s vet checked is not a substitute for genetic health testing.

For potential Keeshond puppy buyers, CHIC certification is a good indicator that the breeder responsibly factors good health into their selection criteria. The breed-specific list below represents the basic health screening recommendations, and it is not all-encompassing. There may be other health screening tests appropriate for this breed. And, there may be other health concerns for which there is no commonly accepted screening protocol available. 

  • Elbow Dysplasia OFA Evaluation
  • Eye Examination by a boarded ACVO Ophthalmologist, Results registered with OFA
  • Hip Dysplasia OFA Evaluation
  • Patellar Luxation OFA Evaluation
  • Additional tests General Health Check, including Heart, Vaccines, Fleas, and Worms

What are the common health problems of Keeshonden?

All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. The Keeshond has some health conditions that can be a concern. However, even healthy Keeshonden should have regular veterinarian checkups. Owners should ensure the following list of health conditions are monitored throughout the dog’s life.

  • Hip dysplasia is a deformation that occurs and develops as Keeshond puppies grow. It is caused by loose joints that prevent the ball part of one bone from sliding smoothly in the socket of the other joint bone. Instead, it grinds and rubs in the joint, causing painful wear and tear damage as the Keeshond ages.
  • Elbow dysplasia happens when the growth of the elbow is disturbed. A condition called elbow dysplasia may ensue. While this condition is generally inherited, other factors, such as nutrition and exercise, also play a role in its development. Most dogs will display symptoms before the age of one – though some may not show any signs until several years old.
  • Patellar luxation occurs when the dog patella (kneecap), which normally sits on the groove of the femur (thighbone), shifts out of alignment. When luxation of the patella occurs, your dog may experience intermittent hind limb “skipping,” lameness.
  • Addison’s disease in dogs (also called hypoadrenocorticism) occurs when your dog’s adrenal glands aren’t producing adequate levels of corticosteroid hormones. If diagnosed and treated appropriately, these dogs can live a long, happy life. The adrenal glands are two small glands next to the kidneys.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy, also called PRA, is an inherited progressive disease of the retina that leads to blindness in affected dogs.
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease is a platelet disorder affecting blood clotting in affected dogs.
  • Hypothyroidism: Insufficient production of thyroid hormone, causing hair loss, dry skin and coat, and susceptibility to other skin diseases in affected dogs.

What is the Exercise Need of a Keeshond?

Keeshonden love to run and play, but they don’t require much exercise to be happy. A good long walk each day or a chance to play fetch in a backyard will keep them healthy and provide mental stimulation. They’re delighted being active, but they’re also happy to relax with you at home.

What are the Nutritional Needs of Keeshonden?

The nutritional needs of a Keeshond include high levels of specific nutrients. The essential nutrients for the Keeshond are listed below.

  • Protein: Keeshonden need natural animal protein, valuable for the amino acids essential for Keeshond’s health. Equally important is the fact that protein builds lean muscles and provides energy.
  • Fat: Animal protein provides adequate fat, an additional energy source that boosts the Keeshond’s metabolism. However, there is a fine line between enough and too much. Excessive fat levels in the dog’s daily diet could result in weight gain and, ultimately, obesity. Most importantly, adults and senior Keeshonden need lower fat levels than puppies.
  • Carbohydrates: Although carbs are not essential nutrients, they are crucial energy sources. Giving the Keeshonden sufficient carbs will provide energy, encouraging the body’s protein absorption to build lean muscle. Beware, though, too much carbohydrate can lead to obesity.
  • DHA: It is one of the components of omega-3 fatty acids. It promotes proper eye and brain development in Keeshond puppies, and DHA develops cognitive development in puppies and slows cognitive decline in older dogs. Furthermore, omega fatty acids benefit aging Keeshonden by treating chronic kidney disease and canine arthritis. Omega-3 oils improve the coat health of the Keeshond.
  • Micronutrient: Taurine is one micronutrient that aids heart health, and other valuable micronutrients for promoting strong joints in Keeshonden are chondroitin and glucosamine.
  • Minerals: Beneficial minerals for a Keeshond’s growth include a healthy balance of phosphorus and calcium. Pre- and probiotics and chelated minerals provide additional health to the diets of Keeshonden.

What is the Shedding Level of Keeshonden?

Keeshonden shed throughout the year and blow their coats in the spring and the fall. At those times they shed excessively and need significantly more grooming than during the rest of the year.

What is the Coat Grooming Frequency of Keeshonden?

It takes some work to keep your Keeshond’s glorious double coat in perfect condition throughout the year. Although it may seem an overwhelming task, it is not too difficult. The most important job is to brush your furry friend twice a week. You’ve got to get to the undercoat to get all the loose hairs out, which will prevent matting and the development of hotspots and infections. 

You’ll also have to schedule baths every 4 to 6 weeks. If it is too much, make an appointment with a professional groomer to bathe, all-over light scissor trim, and a blow-dry. Do that once a month, keep up the brushing, and your furry friend will turn the heads of humans and other Smiling Dutchman dogs.

Puppy fur is much finer than adult fur, and it is similar to lamb’s wool. Five minutes after you finish grooming a puppy, he will probably look like before you started. However, it would be best to brush him regularly to remove the major tangles and get him used to grooming. 

A young puppy will squirm while you brush him and try to hold him still while you brush him and talk soothingly. A Kong or hollow bone filled with peanut butter or some other food can keep him occupied while you brush. Keep the session short and try to make it a pleasant experience.

Keeshond owners who live in warm climates must never cut their dog short to help him cope in the heat. Shaving the undercoat could do the opposite because the undercoat is the insulation that allows the pup remains cool in summer and warm in winter. 

Coat grooming is essential for various reasons, as listed below.

  • Grooming gives your dog a healthy look and promotes hygiene. 
  • Proper grooming lowers the risks of skin infections.
  • Grooming promotes the growth and development of a lustrous and shiny coat.
  • Grooming allows you to check for fleas and take early preventive and treatment measures.
  • Proper grooming lowers the risks of ear infections since you can check the ears and wipe them dry after regular grooming.
  • While grooming, you can check the skin folds for any skin problems and alert the vet before they worsen.
  • Grooming boosts the bond between you and your Keeshond.

Your dog should be calm during grooming. If your Kees seems anxious during brushing sessions, take her for a short walk, spoil her with her favorite treat, and help her see it as a time to bond.

What is the Drooling Level of Keeshonden?

As a Keeshond owner, you could expect to find your furry friend’s drooling is below average. However, drooling is a natural process, and the primary triggers of drooling are listed below. However, if drooling becomes excessive, a trip to the vet is recommended.

  • The thought of delicious meals like a favorite treat or meat
  • Mouth and throat problems like fractures in the mouth, throat, or esophagus.
  • Plaque build-up can also irritate the mouth and cause excessive saliva.
  • A foreign object stuck in the throat prevents swallowing, thus causing drooling. 
  • Growth in the mouth also stimulates drooling.
  • Stomach upsets.
  • Excessive heat, especially during summer
  • The main symptom of diseases like kidney disease, liver problems, seizures, botulism, and rabies is drooling.
  • Motion sickness and anxiety. Dogs who do not like traveling will get anxious whenever they board a car. Stress makes a dog pant and breathe with an open mouth, thus causing drooling.
  • Excitement and agitation make dogs drool.
  • Sexual excitement, like when a male Keeshond spots a female Keeshond in heat, causes drooling. Likewise, a female in her heat cycle might drool if she picks up the scent of a male.

What is the Coat Type of the Keeshond?

The Keeshond has a double coat. The undercoat is short and dense, while the topcoat is wiry and stands away from the body.

What is the Coat Length of the Keeshond? 

The Keeshond has a water-resistant double coat. The undercoat is dense and short, but the topcoat is long and straight. 

What are the Colors of the Keeshond’s Coat?

The Keeshond is a dramatically marked dog, a mixture of gray, black, and cream, which may vary from light to dark. The length of black tips on the outer hair coat produces the color shadings that are a characteristic of the breed and must be present to some degree. Puppies are often less intensely marked. The undercoat is a very pale gray or cream, but never tawny.

The hair on the muzzle is dark, and the ears are very dark, almost black. The mane and trousers are lighter. The shoulders have light-gray line markings, and the legs and feet are shades of cream.

What are the Social Traits of the Keeshond Breed?

The social traits of the Keeshond are affection, playfulness, and friendly nature. Keeshonden are intelligent and learn fast, but they can be bored with long training sessions. Keeshonden are fun-loving and have the charm to lighten you up when you are not in a happy mood. Other social traits of Keeshonden are listed below.

  • Elderly-friendly: Keeshonden love playing with their family, from children to grandparents, but seniors who live in apartments away from their families might struggle to keep up with the Keeshond’s energy. Hiring a walker might be a good idea if the owner can’t take them for 60 to 90-minute walks, play in a dog park, or both. If the Keeshond is exercised enough, it will spend several hours of calmness and sleep. 
  • Children-friendly: Keeshonden enjoy running around or chasing after children, and playing catch is one of their favorite games. Keeshonden are sensible enough to take care when young children are part of the play. However, supervision is essential in such circumstances. Socialization is crucial for kids and dogs.
  • Family-friendly: Keeshonden are the perfect canine companions for active families. They could become couch potatoes if you let them. They love romping with the kids outside, but they need your encouragement.
  • Pet-friendly: Keeshonden are tolerant of other animals in the house, and they can get along with any other pets, especially if the animals are raised together. A Keeshond puppy will love everyone in the home right away. An adult Keeshond might take a little more time to come around to other pets, but they are social and happy dogs and friendly with other animals.

How Do Keeshonden Interact with Strangers?

Keeshonden love people, and anyone their owners invite into their home would be welcomed by the Smiling Dutchman. However, Keeshonden are alert even when they don’t seem so. They are always aware of anything around them, and they will bark to alert their owners when strangers approach. It must be mentioned that your Kees might not always be good at distinguishing good from evil and welcome the wrong ones with a wagging tail.

Is the Keeshond Playful?

The Keeshond needs companionship just as much as she needs her daily exercise. In fact, she prefers if those things happen together.

She is very playful because she knows it gets her the attention she so desperately craves. Kees will even play with strangers, and Keeshonden have a nickname: “The Smiling Dutchman” because of the way they curl their lips and “bare their teeth.” While a dog barring its teeth usually serves as a warning to tell you to stop what you’re doing, when your Kees snarls, it is a smile that says, “do that again.

Is a  Keeshond Protective?

Keeshonden are good watchdogs, but the most you can expect from them is to warn you of anything suspicious. That is how far their protection goes. Likewise, their friendly disposition prevents them from being effective guard dogs.

What is the Adaptability Level of Keeshonden?

Keeshonden are highly adaptable. Even if relocating from a farm or a ranch to an apartment in the city, they will quickly adapt as long as they are not separated from their human families. They would even live happily in an apartment with limited outdoor space. They are calm enough to live happily in an apartment if they are taken for a daily walk. Boredom can lead to destructive behavior.

What are the Personality Traits of Keeshonden?

The Keeshond is an outgoing and friendly dog. He’s lively, but his exercise needs are moderate. A daily walk will satisfy him. He’s affectionate with his family and is likely to welcome strangers of which his owner approves. His alert nature makes him an excellent watchdog. The Kees is smart and learns quickly. Dog sports in which he excels include agility, obedience, and rally.

There is a downside to having a Kees companion. If not properly trained, Keeshonden tend to bark incessantly. It has driven many Keeshond owners to do the inhumane thing and have their Keeshonden debarked. The best way is to prevent excessive barking is to address it during early training.

How is the Temperament of the Keeshond?

The Keeshond temperament is playful, obedient, and intelligent. These traits make them a joy to be around. Keeshonden love people, young and old, strangers, family, and family friends. They love spending time playing with her people during the day, then curling up with them on the couch at night.

When she is properly trained and socialized, she can be one of the most friendly and well-behaved dogs out there. The Keeshond’s temperament is why they are sought-after canine companions and family pets. The unique combination of their characteristics is possible because they were not bred to hunt, herd or attack anything.  

Can Keeshonden be Aggressive?

Keeshonden crave attention and are friendlier toward other people and animals than most pets. The Keeshond has a stable temperament, making a playful and lively family companion with innate watchdog qualities but without aggressive traits.

Can Keeshonden be Dangerous?

Unlike most other breeds, the Laughing Dutchman is not likely to pose a danger to anybody. They are friendly toward all people, dogs, and other pets. The closest a Kees will come to being dangerous is its bark, which is more often warm and welcoming than a warning to back off.  

Do Keeshonden Ever Attack?

Keeshonden are more standoffish than aggressive with people they don’t know. If they weren’t properly socialized as pups, they could be aggressive towards other dogs. But for the most part, Keeshonden stand their ground. They won’t go on the offensive unless clearly provoked or sense immediate danger to themselves or their family.

Parents of small children should note the risks of leaving young children alone in the company of dogs. Kids too young to understand that grabbing a handful of the puppy’s coat or its tail, falling onto the dog to dish out unsolicited hugs, and other unexpected actions by a toddler could have the pup misunderstand the child’s intentions. Even then, the Kees would likely do no more than snarl and move away.

Can Keeshonden Kill Humans?

Keeshonden are not known as dogs that would threaten a human’s life. However, that does not mean this breed will never find a reason to attack. So, even knowing that your canine companion is known as the Smiling Dutchman, it would be wise to socialize both pup and children and take all the precautions they would with any other dog breed. Prevention is better than cure.

Do Keeshonden cope with being left alone?

Keeshonden are averse to spending time alone and will turn to barking and destructive chewing to convey their displeasure. If you must leave your Keeshond alone for an hour or so, it’s ideal if they have their favorite toys like puzzle toys filled with a favorite treat to keep them occupied.

Can I leave my Keeshond at home?

Keeshonden tend to become anxious and withdrawn when left alone for some time, but they will cope if some family members remain behind. When they are left in isolation, they display signs of separation anxiety. Some Keeshonden tend to form strong bonds with one family member. When that person has to go somewhere, the Kees will find it tough to cope, even for less than an hour.

Can Keeshonden be left alone for 8 hours?

Keeshonden need company, and they do not enjoy spending time alone for more than a few hours because they are predisposed to separation anxiety. More than most other breeds, Keeshonden need a great deal of companionship. They tend to express their unhappiness through destructive chewing and barking. Isolation for more than a couple of hours could cause separation anxiety, withdrawal, and depression.

How to Train a Keeshond?

The intelligence of Keeshonden, along with their curiosity and sensitive nature, make them a reasonably easy to train breed. You’ll need to work on basic commands like to sit and stay, leash-walking, and other skills specific to your family and home, such as behaving with small children or getting along with the other pets.

Like all dogs, early socialization and training are essential. Starting when they’re a puppy, introduce your dog to many new people and situations to help them understand this is a normal part of life. Take them on walks and let them meet and sniff other dogs and people. You may also consider enrolling them in puppy school. They’ll learn to play nicely with other puppies and meet other pup parents all in one location.

It’s also important to remember that Keeshonden often struggle with separation anxiety. So, setting them up for dealing with this is critical. Work on alone time for Keeshonden by doing it slowly, leaving for short periods frequently, and praising them when they’re quiet and well-behaved in your absence. You must get this right as an agitated Keeshond will bark continually and fairly loudly, which is no fun for you, your family, or the neighbors. Below are a few tips to ease the training process.

  • Praise good behavior by making a fuss. Your Keeshond will know if you fake it.
  • Time commands wisely because corrections after the fact will confuse your Kees.
  • Be consistent and persistent. Never let it slip because your Keeshond will learn to obey is optional.
  • Be the pack leader and show happiness while training your Keeshond.
  • Making your Keeshond sit and wait for your command to start eating will confirm your status as pack leader.
  • Training your Keeshond with love in your heart will avoid your Keeshond seeing training as punishment.

How Frequently does a Keeshond Bark?

Keeshonden bark a lot, but what is a lot? Their barking is loud and high-pitched, but with good training, they needn’t be frequent barkers. Their reputation for excessive barking comes from their high risk of separation anxiety. Kees’s parents may not know that their Kees can lean when to bark. However, anxiety is often the trigger for continuous barking, and training should also address the cause of the dog’s anxiety. It’s important to remember that, while you can train your pup to know when it’s OK to bark, you’ll never train the instinct entirely out of the breed. After all, barking is the only way they have to communicate. Learning to identify the different bark sounds could help understand the reasons for your Keeshond’s barking.

Keeshonden do not bark without reasons. Training and socialization can control excessive barking, but Keeshonden will always bark when necessary.

Below is a list of bark types that owners will learn to recognize. 

  • Keeshonden hate being left alone, and one way of coping with loneliness is barking. 
  • A lack of exercise and anxiety can also trigger barking.
  • Alarm barking is when your Keeshond barks to alert you of approaching danger. Alarm barking can save you from danger; however, Keeshonden may bark before ascertaining that there is a real danger. 
  • Another type of barking is demand barking, where a Keeshond feels entitled to something or your attention and would bark as a way of demanding their rights.
  • The Keeshond uses arousal barking to show their frustrations.
  • Boredom barking signals that your Keeshond is tired or bored due to being left alone or infrequent exercises. 
  • Frequent barking can be a nuisance to both the owner and neighbors. Some types of barking tend to be monotonous and continuous. 

Continuous barking without an apparent reason might signify a health problem to discuss with the vet.

What is the need for Mental Stimulation of a Keeshond?

Constant stimulation throughout the day is required to keep your Keeshond happy. Brain games are a great and easy way to stimulate his mind, so be sure to rotate a few of these games throughout the week to keep your Keeshond occupied.

Keeshonden are smart and learn fast, and they need regular mental stimulation. Keeshonden’s playful and intelligent nature further calls for frequent mental activity. There are different ways of mentally stimulating your Keeshond, and some of them are listed below.

  • Playing with interactive games or toys, including dog puzzles and canine board games.
  • Encourage sniffing during regular evening walks.
  • Provide healthy chews like dehydrated sweet potato strips. Chewing for more extended periods calms the brain, thus lowering stress levels.
  • Hide and seek games
  • Drop and fetch games
  • Regular walks

These mental stimulation techniques should start at an early stage. Keeshonden who are six years and older tend to have problems with their thinking ability. The primary signs of mental disorientation are listed below.

  • Excessive anxiety.
  • Frequent accidents.
  • Failure to recall previously learned commands.
  • Changes in sleep and wake patterns.
  • Low interest in physical activities.
  • Poor social skills.

What are the Breed Standards of Keeshonden?

The Keeshond is a natural, handsome dog with a well-balanced, short-coupled body. The Kees attract attention by its coloration, alert carriage, and intelligent expression. Its stand-off coat, richly plumed tail well curled over his back, his foxlike expression, and small pointed ears are equally spectacular. 

His coat is very thick around the neck, forepart of the shoulders, and chest, forming a lion-like ruff-more profuse in the male. His rump and hind legs, down to the hocks, are also thickly coated, creating the characteristic “trousers.” His head, ears, and lower legs are covered with thick, short hair.

Some breed standards of Keeshonden are given in the table below.

Breed Standards 

Keeshond Breed Information 


Acceptable coat colors include cream, black, gray, and silver.


Keeshonden are classified as a medium breed

Eye Color 

Dark brown with black rims


Weight is 35 to 45 pounds.


Height 16 to 19 inches at the withers

Average lifespan 

Keeshonden have a lifespan of 12 to 14 years

How Big Does the Keeshond Get?

An adult Keeshond weighs between 35 and 45 pounds and grows to stand between 16 and 19 inches at the withers. Any other breed without a coat as voluminous as the Keeshond’s and similar measurements will appear significantly smaller than the Kees. 

The Smiling Dutchman appears much larger because of his beautiful double coat that stands out from his body. The Keeshond’s head is framed in a magnificent lion-like mane around its neck. The coat fits closer around the body, head, legs, and feet, and the richly plumed curled tail adds several inches to the picture, making the Kees look bigger than what it is.

What is the General Information about Keeshonden?

The Keeshond is a medium-sized dog with a plush two-layer coat of silver and black fur with a ruff and a curled tail. It originated in the Netherlands, and its closest relatives are the German spitzes such as the Mittelspitz, and Kleinspitz or Pomeranian. Originally called the German Spitz, more specifically the Wolfspitz, the name was officially changed to Keeshond in 1926 in England, where it had been known as the Dutch Barge Dog.

The fact that the Keeshond was the 18th century Patriot Party’s symbol, and the Pug represented the Orangists is comparable to the roles played by the donkey and elephant in United States politics today. 

It is believed that after the suppression of the Patriots’ rebellion, many Keeshonden were done away with for fear that possession of the dogs would indicate affiliation with the defeated rebels. Thus, this beautiful and popular breed paradoxically became the victim of its own fame. However, some barge captains and farmers retained their dogs and kept informal stud records for their use. 

More than a century later, the Keeshond again came to public attention. In 1923, Carl Hinderer, a German, came to America, and soon after two Keeshonden followed in 1926. The Keeshond breed became recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1930 as a Non-Sporting breed. 

Where to Buy or Adopt a Keeshond?

A purebred Keeshond puppy’s price can range between $1,000 and $2,000. Lower prices are generally available within shelters and rescues, but it is possible for puppies can cost as much as $5,000 from top breeders. The cost of a puppy from a registered breeder could vary, depending on the breeder you select, the location, the sex of the puppy, and, of course, the demand for the breed at the time. The bloodline of the puppy and its parents could also affect the price.

If you want to bring a Keeshond home, you should not rush. The only “purebreds” available upon request are not the real thing and are likely bred on puppy farms. The more realistic way is to put your name on a waiting list, and while you’re waiting, learn as much as you can about this furball with a heart of gold.

Finding a reputable breeder or rescue facility is crucial. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy and will, without question, have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. They are more interested in placing pups in suitable homes than making big bucks. 

Be wary of breeders who only tell you only the good things about the breed or make irrational promises to promote their puppies. Be especially suspicious when you are offered a two-for-the-price-of-one deal. 

Keeshond puppies are adorable, and it’s one of the reasons they are so popular. Cute puppies sell, making the Keeshond a favorite of puppy mills and greedy, irresponsible breeders. Do your homework before buying one of these little dogs, and you’ll be well rewarded with a beautiful companion dog.

The best way to ensure you get a healthy Keeshond puppy from a breeder or a rescue organization is to reach out to the registered organizations for the specific breed, if available. The Keeshond is recognized by the AKC, UKC, and FIC, listed below, along with other registered kennel clubs that might put potential Keeshond owners in touch with reputable breeders. 

  • Fédération Cynologique Internationale (International)
  • United Kennel Club (International)
  • The Kennel Club (United Kingdom)
  • American Kennel Club’s list of reputable breeders
  • Canadian Kennel Club
  • Continental Kennel Club
  • Keeshond Club of America, Inc. Breeders Listings Organizations
  • Keeshond Welfare UK
  • Keeshond Club UK
  • The North Of England Keeshond Club

If you manage to track down Keeshond breeders, make sure you go to the facility and insist on meeting both the puppies’ parents so that you can get a feel for their temperament. Keeshond puppies are often peppy and playful, all should have cheery expressions and kind eyes. 

It might take some time to find a legitimate breeder, and travel may very well be in the cards. Steer clear of backyard breeding by avoiding sales sites and ad pages. When you select a breeder, make sure they have proof of successful, healthy litters with any documentation necessary.

You might find a Keeshond puppy or a rescued adult to adopt or buy from abroad, but not all countries allow importing adopted dogs. Those whose countries will enable the importation of Keeshonden may find the logistics challenging. 

Procedures include obtaining certification from a vet to prove the Keeshond is fully vaccinated and providing all the additional required veterinary documents before the travel. Furthermore, your country must approve the veterinarian to authorize the importation, and it will be your responsibility to ensure you use the services of a certified vet.

What are the Rescue Clubs for Keeshonden?

There are millions of homeless dogs worldwide; many are purebreds needing homes. Adopting a Keeshond can be life-changing, not only for the dog but also for the adopter. If you prefer adoption to purchasing a pup from a breeder, then your first stop should be the National Keeshond Rescue website. A Keeshond rescue group is an excellent idea if you want to adopt an older dog or even a Keeshond mix.

Keeshond mixes adopted from a shelter may share physical characteristics of the breed, but their temperament may not match the breed standard. Shelters and rescues attempt to determine each dog’s personality through a series of evaluations; even if the dog’s temperament does not follow the breed standard, you can get the dog that suits your home. 

The adoption fee for a Keeshond from a rescue group or animal shelter will probably be between $200 and $300. Most dogs from rescue groups and shelters will be vaccinated, microchipped, spayed/neutered, and vetted before adoption

You can also reach out to your local rescue organization or animal shelter and ask if they have any Keeshonden or related mixes available for adoption. If not, you can always put your name on a list so that when one comes in, you’re the first one they call.

Below is a list of registered rescue centers and kennel clubs to reach out to for guidance.

  • Bay Area Rescue Keeshonden, Inc.
  • North American Keeshond Welfare
  • Keeshond Welfare UK
  • National Keeshond Rescue Of Canada
  • Southern Ontario Keeshond Rescue Society
  • Southern California Keeshond Rescue, Inc
  • Old Dog Haven, Oak Harbor, WA (For Rescue of older Dogs)

Facebook is another resource for pet adoption. You can search for Keeshond rescue groups in your region.

You can also search for adoptable Keeshonden online on reliable websites such as

  • AnimalShelter 

Keeshond mixes may be available for adoption in shelters and rescues. If you want to adopt an AKC registered or a mixed breed Keeshond, the best first step is to contact shelters and breed-specific rescues to let them know you’re interested.

Below is a list of several Keeshond mixes.

  • Keeshond x Great Pyrenees mix = Great Keeshees.
  • Keeshond x Neapolitan Mastiff mix = Neahond.
  • Keeshond x Norwegian Elkhound mix = Elk-Kee.
  • Keeshond x Pomeranian mix = Pom-Kee.
  • Keeshond x Shetland Sheepdog mix = Sheltie-Kee.
  • Keeshond x Siberian Husky = Siberian Keeshond.

What is the History of the Keeshond?

The Keeshond’s earliest roots are unclear, though the breed is known to be related to the spitz dog group that migrated south from the Arctic with ancient nomads. By the 18th century, the Keeshond worked as a watchdog on barge boats on the Rhine River in Holland. The Keeshond is a special breed with a thick black, gray, and cream fur coat, a pronounced mane and chest ruff, and a fox-like face. 

Keeshonden make excellent companion dogs, loving, loyal, playful, intelligent, and respectful towards strangers. They are so devoted to their families that they won’t tolerate spending time away from them and will demand constant company. Keeshonden are prone to separation anxiety and problem behaviors such as excessive barking and chewing without attention and activity. They are laid-back and fun-loving dogs when they get enough exercise and company.

What is the Average Maintenance Cost for Keeshonden?

The prices of Keeshonden range between $1,200 and $1,800. The cost of a puppy from a registered breeder could vary, depending on the breeder you select, the location, the sex of the puppy, and, of course, the demand for the breed at the time. 

The bloodline of the puppy and its parents could also affect the price. You will be hard-pressed to find this breed in a shelter, but if you do, the price could be $300 to $500, based on the cost of care provided while keeping the Keeshond and extras like vaccinations and sterilizations. 

It is always best to consider annual expenses related to maintaining your Keeshond and its wellbeing before making the purchase. The first year will be the most expensive, as puppies require extra vet care and more one-time purchases like microchips, sterilization, licensing, etc. You can expect to spend about $6,900 for your dog’s first year. After that, the price will go down to about $2,100 a year. 

Food and medical only, excluding toys, food and water bowls, cages, doggy blankets, beds, etc., could cost an average of $850. The most regular annual expenses for dogs similar to the Keeshond are listed below.

  • Food items
  • Veterinary care
  • Vaccinations
  • Preventive medicine
  • Toys
  • Pet insurance
  • Pet Supplies

Other potential expenses include training, socializing, doggy daycare, dog sitters, dog walkers, etc. Grooming would likely add a significant amount to the maintenance costs of Keeshonden because they need occasional professional grooming to trim and bathe the Keeshond.

How to Name a Keeshond?

Choosing a name for your Keeshond involves essential building blocks, including the significance of the sound. The Keeshond’s name will mean something to the humans in the dog’s life, but for your canine companion, only the sound matters. Keeshonden respond best to two-syllable names that are not short enough to be confused with single-syllable command words like “sit,” stay,” “come,” and “down.” However, the names should not be long enough to become puzzling.

It is always a good idea not to rush into choosing a name. Spend a week or so with your new Keeshond pup, and its character traits might be all the inspiration you need. Call out any name-ideas, using different tones and sounds for the two syllables, and watch your puppy’s reaction to the sound. Remember, you must compose a sound that your Keeshond will recognize from a distance, among many other sounds.

Choose a name that could sound different in regular interaction and yelling or calling your Keeshond. Below is a list of suggestions of names for Keeshond’s

Keeshond Breed Names

Keeshond Boy Names

Keeshond Girl Names


The Greek god of music, poetry, art, medicine, sun, and knowledge


A beautiful fragrance


Japanese for the beach or the seashore; it is a good choice for a happy pup


A wished-for child is the meaning of this name, and your dog has fulfilled this wish


A Latin word meaning greatness


With that beautiful coat and ruff, your Keeshond looks like a mini lion


A great name for a Keeshond, it means wolf


The mysterious and mythical Queen of Sheba


Like a shadow, the Phantom moves through the wilderness


This musical sounding name means murmuring rock

What are the Different Types of Keeshonden?

Keeshond owners will agree that the Kees is one of a kind. However, the Keeshond is one of the many Spitz breed types worldwide, some of which are listed below.

  • German Spitz 
  • Wolfsspitz
  • Großspitz (Giant Spitz)
  • Mittelspitz (Medium Spitz)
  • Kleinspitz (Miniature Spitz)
  • Zwergspitz
  • Pomeranian

What Dog Breeds are Similar to the Keeshond?

Keeshonden may not be too difficult to find, but purebreds are expensive and involve long waiting lists. Finding a Keeshond at a rescue center might be equally challenging because they are so popular. However, as wonderful of a dog as the Keeshond may be, they aren’t for everyone. Here are some dogs that are similar to the Keeshonden.

Below is a list of similar breeds that might be a good match for your family.

  • American Eskimo: The American Eskimo belongs to the non-sporting group and is kid-friendly, just like the keeshond. However, this dog has a pure white coat while a keeshond has a mix of tan, black and gray in its coat. more about American Eskimo social life, care & diet information.
  • Chow Chow: A Chow Chow has a fluffy coat like the keeshond and is highly intelligent. A big difference between these two breeds is the Chow Chow is not particularly kid-friendly.
  • Finnish Spitz: Similar to a keeshond the Finnish Spitz has a face like a fox. It’s every bit as friendly and energetic as a keeshond. But the Finnish Spitz can easily be distracted during an obedience training session

Michael Brady

Michael is an animal-lover who specializes in marketing. He started running Dog Food Care with his mother, Sarah, after leaving his office job. Michael gained enough flexibility in his schedule to be able to adopt a dog of his own and welcomed Emmie the dachshund into his home in 2020.