Keeshonden are small dogs covered in long, thick coats with manes around the neck, looking a little like their ancestor the Samoyed. Their wedge-shaped heads have medium-length muzzles and erect, triangle-shaped ears. They have dark, chestnut eyes with thin rims that look like glasses, and their long, straight coats—always looking newly blow-dried—usually come in mixed patterns of gray, black and white. Overall, Keeshonden have an alert and eager posture.
Keeshonden are very easy to live with. Happy, cheerful and bursting with energy, they love everyone—children and other pets included. Easy to train and very obedient, Keeshonden are gentle, mellow and totally fun.
Keeshonden were bred to guard river barges along the Rhine, and those instincts survive to this day. They are extremely alert, protective and cautious—little things can easily get them barking. Keeshonden, in this sense, make excellent watchdogs.
These dogs form deep bonds with their masters; so deep that they develop an almost human-like understanding of emotions and moods. If you’re having a really bad day, or if a family fight ensues, your Keeshond will probably sense the tension and react in some way.
Keeshonden need lots of attention and family time. If neglected, they can get very emotional and distraught. During family gatherings or when company comes over, make sure your Keeshond feels like part of the gang.
Keeshonden can easily adjust to apartment life, but they need several vigorous walks every day. Ideally, they should have a fenced yard to run around in. Due to their bushy coats, they prefer cooler climates. On hot days, make sure they get plenty of shade and, if possible, air-conditioning.
A healthy Keeshond can live as long as 15 years. They are considered a healthy breed, but common issues could include hip dysplasia, heart and eye disorders. Their thick coats need daily brushing, and they shed pretty heavily in the spring and fall.
The Keeshond comes from Arctic stock with traces of Samoyed, Chow Chow and Pomeranian. For many years, they worked on Dutch riverboats along the Rhine River, winning the hearts of the working class for their sturdiness, intelligence and resourcefulness. During an 18th century rebellion against the Dutch royal family, the Keeshonden became a mascot for the patriots. When the rebellion failed, the Keeshond suffered a serious drop in popularity. A small group of diehards maintained the breed and, years later, the Keeshond returned to popularity.