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The Keeshond is an old breed used for centuries as a family companion and watchdog. This spitz breed with its distinctive grey coat and typical harness markings, was used as a watchdog on barges in Holland and which, when the breed was first introduced to the UK, earned it the epithet “Dutch Barge Dog”. The breed had been the mascot of the Dutch Patriots’ Party in the 18th Century, as a dog of this breed was owned by one of the prominent party leaders Cornelius (‘Kees’) de Gyselaer – hence it was known as Kees’ dog – or Keeshond. When the party was defeated in 1787, the breed went out of fashion and the population declined dramatically. A few breeders made concerted efforts using the best of the remaining dogs to revive the breed and, fortunately, interest in the breed was restored. The first Keeshonds were imported to the UK in 1905 and the first breed club formed in 1925. The breed became very popular and successful in shows of this era. The enthusiasm of English breeders rekindled more interest in the Keeshond in its native land and by 1933 the breed was recognised by the Dutch Kennel Club.

They are excellent with children, loving and playful. These dogs love to part of the family life; they are loyal and devoted to their family and need to be included in all the activities to keep them happy. One of their most noticeable traits is their ability to guard and be a watchdog. They will warn you immediately if they hear a sound. They are an active dog and need exercise to burn off their abundant energy. They are a very smart breed, and sometimes can be a little mischievous. Socialisation early in life, getting your dog used to meeting lots of different people, and taking them to new places will all help your Keeshond to grow into a well-rounded, sociable canine. With a history as a barge or riverboat dog, these dogs adapt well to small spaces like an apartment. They are true companion dogs, and as such, it is essential that they live inside with the family, or loneliness and boredom may turn their natural propensity to bark into an annoying habit.

Read about the history of the Keeshond – HERE


Most of these stats are from the UK Kennel Club. You can view stats from kennel clubs around the world at the links below, which may have different standards and classifications.

Group – UKUtility
Bred ForWatchdog
Rare BreedNo
Country of OriginNetherlands
TemperamentConfident, Alert, Friendly
Exercise NeededUp to 1 hour a day
Size of Home NeededSmall
Height at Withers – Females43 cm / 17 in
Height at Withers – Males46 cm / 18 in
GroomingEvery day
CoatMedium, straight, double coat
ColourGrey, Silver-Grey with black
Life Span10 – 14 years
  • They are often referred to as the “Smiling Dutchman” thanks to the fact they always have a happy, smiling expression on their faces.
  • Because of their thick coats living in a hot, humid climate is not recommended.
  • The dog’s gentleness and devotion suggest that he was never intended as a hunting dog, but rather as a companion.
  • A Keeshond will dig a hole to lie in the ground where it is cooler during the summer and warmer during the winter.
  • Stone Age fossils suggest that spitz-type dogs resembling today’s Keeshond co-existed with cavemen back as far as 5000 B.C.


Breed standard varies throughout the world, these links will inform you of those standards and give further information about The Keeshond.


Click on any picture below to view it larger and in a slideshow, it’s worth it! 😃


Enjoy this video about The Keeshond, you can view the entire playlist of videos about this breed on our YouTube Channel by clicking the button below:


Here’s some websites specifically dedicated to the Keeshond breed. I am not affiliated with any of these sites, they’re just here for further information. Please note I will not advertise breeders on this site and as many websites dedicated to a specific breed are run by breeders, sometimes there’s fewer sites listed here.

Thanks for reading!

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