This guide provides a detailed overview of the Keeshond, a breed renowned for its vibrant personality and distinctive appearance. Known for their lush silver and black fur and expressive eyes, Keeshonds serve as excellent companions. They are highly intelligent and adaptable, traits that make them suitable for various living environments.

This manual not only highlights the breed’s physical attributes but also delves into their social behaviors, shedding light on how they interact with children and other pets. Additionally, practical advice on training and healthcare will equip potential owners with the knowledge to ensure a happy and healthy life for their Keeshond.

Keeshond – Size & Life Expectancy

Keeshond Height

18 inches (male)
17 inches (female)

Keeshond Weight

35-45 pounds

Keeshond Life Expectancy
Life Expectancy

12-15 years

About the Keeshond

The Keeshond, often recognized for its striking appearance and vibrant personality, has roots deeply embedded in the history of the Netherlands. Originating in the 18th century, the Keeshond was traditionally used as a watchdog on riverboats, farms, and barges. This breed is named after Cornelis “Kees” de Gyselaer, the leader of the Dutch Patriot faction, who made the dog a symbol of the common people’s political movement during that period. The Keeshond’s friendly demeanor and robust build made it an ideal companion for working environments, always alert and responsive to its surroundings.

Historically, Keeshonds were not merely pets but part of the daily lives of their owners, offering protection and companionship. Their thick, plush coat, which was perfect for enduring the damp, cold climate of northern Europe, also contributed to their status as a beloved watchdog. Over time, as the industrial landscape changed and the need for such watchdogs diminished, the Keeshond evolved from a working dog to a companion animal.

The Keeshond in Modern Times

Today, the Keeshond is cherished not just for its historical significance but also for its role as a devoted family member. This breed has maintained its popularity, particularly among those who appreciate a sociable and affectionate canine companion. The Keeshond’s adaptable nature makes it suitable for various living conditions, thriving equally in apartments and houses with yards, as long as there is sufficient daily interaction and exercise.

Keeshonds are particularly noted for their ‘spectacles’—distinctive shadings and markings around their eyes that enhance their expressive, alert expressions. This feature, along with their lush double coat, mane-like ruff around the neck, and curled tail, makes them stand out in any crowd. Despite their robust appearance, they are medium-sized dogs with a balanced and compact body, reflecting their agility and strength.

In terms of popularity, the Keeshond has a loyal following. They are often sought after by individuals and families looking for a pet that is both interactive and manageable. Unlike some breeds that require vast amounts of space and exercise, Keeshonds are more flexible, needing regular but moderate exercise to stay healthy and content.

The typical owners of Keeshonds are those who can invest time in regular grooming and who enjoy the companionship of a lively and loving dog. The breed’s temperament makes it an excellent choice for families with children and other pets, as they are known for their gentle and friendly nature. Training a Keeshond is usually a pleasant experience, as they are eager to please and quick to learn, which makes them suitable for both novice and experienced dog owners.

In summary, the Keeshond has transitioned smoothly from a utilitarian role in history to a beloved companion in homes today. Their adaptability, combined with their need for human interaction, makes them particularly suited to a lifestyle that can provide affection and engagement. As they continue to spread joy and companionship, the Keeshond remains a testament to the enduring bond between humans and their canine friends.

Traits & Characteristics of the Keeshond

  • Affectionate and Friendly: Keeshonds are known for their loving nature, often forming strong bonds with their family members.
  • Alert and Watchful: Historically watchdogs, they are vigilant and perceptive, making them excellent at guarding the home.
  • Highly Sociable: This breed enjoys being around people and other pets, thriving on interaction and companionship.
  • Intelligent and Trainable: Keeshonds are smart and eager to please, which makes them relatively easy to train.
  • Expressive: They are famous for their distinctive “spectacles” — markings and shading around their eyes that give them an expressive look.
  • Moderate Exercise Needs: While active, they don’t require extensive physical activity but do need regular exercise to stay healthy.
  • Adaptable: Keeshonds can live comfortably in various settings, from apartments to large houses with yards.

Owning a Keeshond

If you are considering the addition of a Keeshond to your family, you are in for a delightful companionship with this fluffy and affectionate breed. Known for their vibrant personality and striking physical traits, Keeshonds make excellent family pets. This section will delve into various aspects of caring for a Keeshond, ensuring you are well-prepared to meet their needs.


Keeshonds are generally healthy dogs with a lifespan of 12 to 15 years. However, like any breed, they have predispositions to certain health conditions. Owners should be aware of potential issues such as hip dysplasia, heart problems, and primary hyperparathyroidism. Regular veterinary check-ups are essential to catch any signs of illness early. Preventative care, including vaccinations and parasite control, plays a crucial role in maintaining their health. Additionally, mental health is just as important; Keeshonds thrive on companionship and can develop anxiety if left alone frequently. Providing a loving, engaged environment is key to their overall well-being.


Despite their moderate exercise needs, Keeshonds are energetic and require daily activity to stay healthy and happy. A combination of physical exercise and mental stimulation works best. Daily walks, coupled with play sessions such as fetch or agility training, help keep their minds and bodies active. Keeshonds are very social, so activities that involve interaction with other dogs or people are highly beneficial. It’s recommended to keep exercise consistent but varied to keep your Keeshond engaged and prevent boredom.


The Keeshond boasts a luxurious double coat that requires regular maintenance. Brushing several times a week is essential to prevent matting and manage shedding. During shedding seasons in spring and fall, daily brushing may become necessary. Bathing should be done every few months or as needed, using dog-specific shampoo to protect their skin’s natural oils. Attention should also be given to their nails, ears, and teeth to prevent common issues like overgrowth or infections. Grooming sessions are not just for cleanliness but also offer a great opportunity to strengthen the bond between you and your pet.


Proper nutrition is vital for a Keeshond’s health and well-being. A balanced diet suited to their age, weight, and activity level will support their overall health. High-quality commercial dog food, which meets the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO, is usually a good choice. Owners should avoid foods high in fillers and artificial additives. Treats should be given sparingly to avoid obesity. Always ensure fresh water is available, and be cautious about foods that are toxic to dogs, such as chocolate, onions, and grapes.


Keeshonds are intelligent and typically easy to train, responding well to positive reinforcement techniques such as treats and praise. Early puppy training and socialization are crucial for this breed, as they help prevent timidity and overprotectiveness. Training should begin the moment the puppy arrives at your home. Socialization includes exposure to various people, pets, and environments, which helps develop a well-rounded dog. Consistency in training is key; regular, short training sessions will yield the best results, keeping your Keeshond mentally stimulated and eager to learn.

The Keeshond Standard

The Keeshond, with its distinct appearance and charismatic temperament, adheres to a breed standard that highlights both its physical and behavioral traits. This standard serves as the blueprint for breeders and judges, ensuring that the essential characteristics of the breed are preserved and promoted.

Physical Characteristics

The Keeshond is a medium-sized dog, well-balanced and compact in structure, exuding strength without bulkiness. The ideal height at the withers ranges from 17 to 18 inches for males and slightly less for females, with the body slightly longer than tall. This proportion supports agility and robust health. The breed features a wedge-shaped head with medium-sized eyes that are dark and almond-shaped, conveying an alert and intelligent expression. The ears are small, triangular, and erect, enhancing their vigilant demeanor.

A distinctive characteristic of the Keeshond is its luxurious double coat. The undercoat is dense and soft, providing excellent insulation, while the outer coat is long and harsh, standing away from the body. The color is a mix of grey and black with definitive cream shadings. Notably, the facial markings include the characteristic “spectacles” — shadings and lines that emphasize the keen, friendly expression of the eyes.


The Keeshond is known for its lively and outgoing personality, reflecting a friendly and affectionate nature. It is exceptionally sociable, which makes it an excellent family pet, and it thrives on being part of household activities. The breed standard emphasizes the Keeshond’s need for companionship and its ability to form strong bonds with its owners. While they are alert and make good watchdogs, they are not aggressive; their temperament is gentle and adaptable.


The gait of the Keeshond is distinctive and important in the breed standard. It should be smooth and effortless, with good reach in the front and strong drive from the rear. The movement reflects the breed’s historic agility and stamina, vital for its traditional role as a watchdog on boats and farms. The Keeshond moves with confidence and elegance, indicative of its well-balanced and sturdy build.

Overall Impression

The breed standard for the Keeshond emphasizes a dog of harmonious build and delightful temperament, marked by a striking coat and expressive features. Judges at dog shows look for these characteristics, assessing the dogs’ physical structure, coat, movement, and temperament, to determine how closely each dog aligns with the ideal standard of the breed. The Keeshond should not only excel in physical attributes but also exhibit the cheerful and engaging personality that makes them so beloved as companions. This breed thrives on interaction and affection, qualities that are as important as its physical traits in maintaining the integrity of the breed.

Keeshond – FAQ

Explore the world of the Keeshond with this comprehensive FAQ. Here, you’ll find answers to the most common questions about this friendly and fluffy breed, covering everything from temperament and care to training and health concerns, helping you understand what makes the Keeshond a unique companion.

Alternatives to a Keeshond

Several dog breeds share similarities in size, traits, and characteristics with the Keeshond, offering potential owners a variety of options if they appreciate the Keeshond’s qualities but are exploring different breeds.

The Samoyed is comparable in size to the Keeshond and features a fluffy, white coat that is equally striking. Renowned for its friendly “Sammy smile,” this breed exhibits a gentle and playful nature, much like the sociable Keeshond. Both breeds excel in family environments and thrive on human interaction.

The Chow Chow also mirrors the Keeshond in terms of its lush double coat and distinct facial markings. Though typically more reserved and independent than the Keeshond, the Chow Chow shares the same need for regular grooming and moderate exercise, making them suitable for owners who appreciate a less demanding but equally affectionate companion.

Similarly, the Finnish Spitz resembles the Keeshond in both appearance and spirit. Known for its fox-like face and lively demeanor, this breed shares the Keeshond’s alertness and is also historically used as a watchdog. Both breeds are intelligent and respond well to training, making them a joy to teach and interact with.

The Norwegian Elkhound, another breed of similar size and robustness, offers a comparable temperament, being friendly and protective. Like the Keeshond, the Elkhound has a thick coat that requires regular maintenance and is an energetic breed that loves to be part of family activities.

These breeds, while each unique in their own right, provide similar levels of companionship and shared physical traits with the Keeshond, making them attractive alternatives for those drawn to the Keeshond’s charming characteristics.