Keeshond Overview

Dog Breed:
Breed Group:
Outgoing, friendly, lively, alert, and adaptable.
17-18 inches
35-45 pounds
Life Span:
12-15 years
Coat Colors:
Mixture of grey, black, and cream
Area of Origin:
Best For:
Families/ Someone at home most of the day/Owner with a keen interest in training
Adult Food:
Best Dog Food for Keeshonds
Puppy Food:
Best Puppy Food for Keeshonds

Keeshond Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Keeshond

  • A medium-sized robust dog

  • From the same ancient lines as other spitz breeds

  • Love to be involved in everything going on

The Keeshond, which is pronounced KAYZ-hawnd originally came from Holland, where they took on the role of companion and watchdog while living on the barges. They come from the same lines as Pomeranians and Samoyeds and are instantly recognizable with their pointed ears, big coat. A unique feature is their ‘spectacle’ markings around the eyes, which makes them look as if they’re wearing designer eyewear!

The breed is affectionately known as the Kees for short and as the Keeshonden when there’s more than one. The Keeshond is a happy and friendly breed. They love to be involved in everything that’s going on and adore meeting new people. The worst thing for them would be to be separated from their family, this is not a dog who does well in a kennel environment.

Keeshond Breed History

  • From Holland

  • Kept as a companion and watchdog on the barges

  • First litter bred in the US in 1929


Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, the Keeshond was a frequent site on the barges making their way up and down the Rhine River. These medium sized dogs took on the role of being both a companion and a watchdog.

At that point, Holland was divided into two warring factions: the followers of the Prince of Orange, and the patriots who were led by Cornelius de Gyselaer. Cornelius was accompanied everywhere by his dog Kees, who was a spitz type.  In time the Keeshond was adopted as their symbol with the breed then becoming popular among the working class.

However, the rebel party were overthrown, and the Keeshond suddenly became a symbol of their failure.  Sadly, many dogs were destroyed. A few who lived on farmlands and on the barges managed to survive, and so the breed continued but in much lower numbers.

In 1905 Miss Hamilton Fletcher spotted the dogs while on a yachting holiday. She became so enamored with the breed that she decided to take two pups home with her to England. These two dogs later began the first breeding line Keeshonds outside of their home country.

Meanwhile in Holland, the breed numbers were still low until 1920. This was when a Baroness van Hardenbroek fell in love with the Keeshond. She developed her own line of dogs, and 10 years later, the Dutch Keeshond Club was formed.

1929 saw the first litter of Keeshonden’s to be born in America with the breed being recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1930.

Keeshond Size & Weight

  • Males 17-19 inches in height

  • Females 16-18 inches

  • Weigh between 35 and 45 pounds


The Keeshond is a medium-sized, sturdy dog with a tail that curls right over their back.

The ideal height for an adult dog is 17-19 inches for males and 16-18 inches for females. The Keeshond generally weighs between 35 and 45 pounds with females at the lower end of the scale and males at the upper end.

Keeshond Personality & Temperament

  • Friendly and great with children

  • Outgoing and loves everyone!

  • Can be vocal


The Keeshond is one of the very few breeds of dog raised to be both a family companion and a watchdog. This combination of roles which required no hunting or chasing, probably plays a large part in their gentle, intelligent devotion to their owners. Their fondness for children is a trait that the breed is well known for.

The outgoing personality of the Keeshond does mean that they love to say hello to everyone, and they quickly become excited when there are people around to play with. The breed can adapt to apartment living as long as they have the opportunity to go out several times a day. You do need to consider that they can be quite a vocal breed, which might create problems with neighbors.

Cold weather is no problem for the Keeshond with their thick double coat. They can cope with warmer weather but will appreciate the coolness of aircon in the summer months.

Keeshond Health & Grooming

  • A healthy and active breed

  • Some conditions which breeders should screen for before breeding

  • Weekly grooming needed to avoid mats


Keeshonden are generally a healthy and active breed. This is helped by breeders testing their dogs for genetic conditions before they are bred from. This should include:

  • X-rays for hip and elbow dysplasia. These are conditions which affect the joints and can cause lameness and pain
  • An exam for patellar luxation which occurs when the dog’s kneecap becomes dislocated causing lameness
  • An eye exam to check for a range of genetically based eye problems
  • Genetic screening for primary This condition is caused by a tumor in the parathyroid gland. This then produces high levels of a hormone called parathyroid, which leads to increased blood calcium levels and a condition called hypercalcemia.

The Keeshond has a double coat, made up of a soft downy undercoat and a longer and harsher outer coat. To keep the Keeshonds coat in perfect condition, they’ll need regular grooming. Using a pin brush through the coat once a week will ensure that the wooly undercoat is mat free and that will also reduce shedding.

Keeshond Training

  • Smart and trainable breed

  • Learns best when training is fun and reward-based

  • Tends not to be a breed to go hunting


The Keeshond is super smart and very trainable. Not only do they excel at basic pet obedience, but many also go onto advanced training for obedience and agility. Do be warned though, a smart dog who doesn’t have training will soon come up with their own games, and they’re probably not going to be the ones that you’d choose!

The breed’s love of people helps with the training. They want to be with their people and be involved in what’s going on. This makes it so important to only use reward-based methods to keep the training fun and enjoyable for everyone.

The Keeshond tends not to be a breed who disappears to go hunting, however ever dog can be tempted at times. With that in mind, it’s essential to train a great recall so they can have the freedom to be off-leash and called back safely when needed.

Keeshond Exercise Requirements

  • Smart and trainable breed

  • Learns best when training is fun and reward-based

  • Tends not to be a breed to go hunting


As with all breeds, the Keeshond needs daily exercise to keep them fit and healthy. An hour a day split into two walks with the opportunity to run free is likely to best combination for most dogs. Walks provide not only physical exercise but also mental stimulation as well, which is essential to keep your Keeshond in top condition.

If you’re off into the hills or trail walking at the weekend, they’ll love to come along and will have no problem keeping up.

The Keeshond loves to play and will be up for a game whenever you can provide the time. They tend not to have the intensity of some of the working breeds, so you may find ten minutes or so is enough before they lose interest.

Keeshond Diet & Feeding

  • Talk to your vet for personalized feeding advice

  • Feed a specially formulated puppy food up until around 6 months

  • Select food for the age, size and exercise intensity of your dog


For individual feeding advice for your dog, chat to your vet or pet nutritionist.

Most Keeshonden will be fed a puppy diet up until they’re around 6 months old. These specially formulated foods ensure that your youngster gets all the nutrients that their growing body needs. Then they’ll move onto an adult feed that needs to be selected based on your dog’s age, size, and level of exercise.

Generally, its recommended to avoid foods with unnecessary colorings and additives, which have been known to cause behavioral issues and skin problems.

You may also be interested in:

Keeshond Rescue Groups

If you’re interested in offering a rescue Keeshond a new home, we recommend chatting to one of the many breed rescue organizations, including:

Bay Areas Keeshonden Rescue –

Florida Keeshond Rescue –

Suncoast Keeshond Rescue –

For further information on the breed, check out the website for the Keeshond Club of America –