The Keeshond (pronounced KAYZ-HOND; plural: Keeshonden) is a medium-sized dog with a plush two-layer coat of silver and black fur with a 'ruff' and a curled tail, originating in the Netherlands. Its closest relative is the Pomeranian. more...
Originally called the German Spitz, the name was officially changed to Keeshond in 1925.
A member of the spitz group of dogs, the Kees is 17 to 18 inches (about 45 cm) tall and weighs 35 to 40 pounds (about 16 to 18 kg). Sturdily built, they have a typical spitz appearance, neither coarse nor refined. They have a wedge shaped head, a medium-length muzzle with a definite stop, small pointed ears and an expressive face. The tail is tightly curled and, in profile, should not be carried as so to be distinguished from the compact body of the dog.
Like all spitzes, the Kees has a profuse double coat, with a thick ruff around the neck. The tail is well plumed, and feathering on the fore and hind legs add to the soft look of the breed. The coat is shown naturally, and should not be wavy, silky, or long enough to form a natural part down the back.
The Keeshond is a color-specific spitz type; the very names of the dog refer to the distinct wolf color of the breed. The color is a mix of grey, black and cream. The top coat is tipped with black, while the undercoat is pale grey, white, or cream (never tawny). The color can range from very pale to very dark, but the Kees should neither be black nor white, and the ruff and "trousers" of the hind legs should be a distinctly lighter grey.
The other important marking is the "Spectacles", a delicate dark line running from the outer corner of each eye toward the lower corner of each ear, which, coupled with markings forming short eyebrows, is necessary for the distinct expressive look of the breed. All markings should be clear, not muddled or broken.
Keeshonden tend to be very playful, with quick reflexes and strong jumping ability. Keeshonden can be stubborn, but they are quick learners and eager to please. Because Keeshonden are quick learners, they also learn the things you didn't necessarily wish to teach them - very quickly. However, Keeshonden make excellent agility and obedience dogs. So amenable to proper training is this bright, sturdy dog that Keeshonden have been successfully trained to serve as guide dogs for the blind; only their lack of size has prevented them from being more widely used in this role.
They love children and are excellent family dogs, preferring to be close to their humans whenever possible. They generally get along with other dogs as well and will enjoy a good chase around the yard. Keeshonden are very intuitive and empathic and are often used as comfort dogs. Most notably, at least one Keeshond, Tikva, was at Ground Zero on 9/11 to help comfort the rescue workers.
They are known by their loud distinctive bark. Throughout the centuries, the Keeshond has been a very popular watch dog on manors in the Netherlands and middle Europe, as well as famously being a watch dog on barges. This trait is evident to this day, and they are alert watch dogs that warn their owners of any new visitors. Despite being a loud and alert watchdog, Keeshonden are not aggressive towards visitors. They generally welcome visitors affectionately once their family has accepted them. Unfortunately, excessive barking may become a problem if not properly handled. As with other watchdogs, Keeshonden have a distinct territory that they want to guard. Therefore, a happy Keeshond should have a yard to watch out for.
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