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Adopt a Keeshond

Keeshond Dog Breed

Picture: Kent and Donna Dannen


Spitz, Northern (companion)

Area of origin:

The Netherlands

Original function:

barge watchdog

Average size of male:

Ht: 17-19, Wt: 45

Average size of female:

Ht: 16-18, Wt: 35

Other names:

Wolf Spitz

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    Friendliness towards dogs

  • Friendliness towards other pets

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    Friendliness towards strangers

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    Ease of training

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    Watchdog ability

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    Protection ability

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    Cold tolerance

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    Heat tolerance

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Keeshond Dog Temperament

The Keeshond combines many traits of the best house dogs: fairly energetic and playful, very attentive and loving, and ready for adventure yet content to take it easy. He is sensitive and learns readily. He makes a good companion for a child or adult. He is friendly to all but, nonetheless, an alert watchdog.

Keeshond Dog Care

This is a lively breed that can have his exercise needs met with moderate exercise, such as a good walk on leash, combined with a vigorous game. He is such a sociable dog that he prefers to share his life with his family. The double coat needs brushing once or twice weekly, and more when shedding.

Keeshond Dog Health

Major concerns: none
Minor concerns: CHD, epilepsy, skin problems
Occasionally seen: renal cortical hypoplasia, tetralogy of Fallot,
mitral valve insufficiency
Suggested tests: hip, (cardiac)
Life span: 12-14 years

Interested in the history of the Keeshond dog breed?

The Keeshond (plural: Keeshonden) is one of the family of Spitz dogs, although his exact origin is undocumented. He seems to have been well-established in Holland at least since the 18th century as a companion and watchdog. The breed later became known as the barge dog because he was often kept as a watchdog on the small vessels navigating the Rhine River. By a stroke of fate, the breed became entangled in the political events of Holland in the years preceding the French Revolution. The leader of the patriot faction was a man named Kees de Gyselaer, who in turn owned a barge dog named Kees. The dog Kees appeared in so many political cartoons that he and his breed 'a dog of the people' became the symbol of the patriots. Unfortunately for the Keeshond, the patriots did not prevail, and many Keeshond owners disposed of their dogs lest they be identified with the losing party. To make things worse for the Keeshond, the barges that floated the Rhine became larger, and the small Keeshond became less favored as a barge dog. Nonetheless, the breed did survive, although with a low profile, through the efforts of a few loyal river boatmen and farmers. In 1920, Baroness van Hardenbroek began an effort to rescue the surviving members. She was so successful at winning friends for the breed that the Keeshond was in England by 1925. AKC recognition soon followed in 1930. So much did the Keeshond recover in his native land that he is now the national dog of Holland.

Copyright © 1998, 2005 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. based on

Shelters with Keeshond Dogs

Some animal welfare organizations with Keeshonds ready for adoption:

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