A Canine Political Figure: Keeshond

Pet Type


May 6, 2020

Dogs are known for a variety of things over their lengthy history of domestication. Some dogs are known for pulling sleds through the tundra and the arctic. Other dogs are known for defending farmland and homes from both people and wild animals alike.

There are plenty of dogs out there that have made a name for their breed as being vermin hunters for homes. However, there aren’t that many dogs out there that have made themselves the face of a political party. That is, besides the Keeshond.

Whether you are simply interested in the keeshond’s cloud-like appearance or you want to own a dog that has its roots in political history, there are many reasons why you should consider looking into adopting one of these dogs. For one, they are very adaptable to different home situations with their lively and outgoing personalities. Their small size means that they are more suitable for apartment living than many other dogs out there.

Depending on the other pets in the house, these dogs also have the potential to live well in multi-pet households. They also tend to do well with children, meaning that they are good dogs for families as well. These are just a few of the reasons why you should consider looking into the Keeshond as your next dog to adopt.

Where Did the Keeshond Originate?

Before its extensive history in Holland, this dog was originally bred to be a watchdog and a companion on vessels, barges, and other boats that went through the Rhine River. These dogs are a close cousin to similarly fluffy breeds, such as the Samoyed, Pomeranian, and the Chow-Chow. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, this dog did well for itself and its life on the river. As time went on, Holland experienced a bout of political unrest, being divided into two factions known as the Followers of the Prince of Orange and the Patriots.

The Patriots were led by Cornelius de Gyselaer, who was believed to have a spitz-like dog who was named Kees. It is believed that this dog was a Keeshond, although it is impossible to know for certain. This dog was constantly at de Gyselaer’s side, which earned his party the name “Keezen” from the opposing side. Because of this, the Keeshond dog became a symbol of this rebel party, which sparked the popularity of the bred among people all throughout Holland.

Unfortunately, the Followers of the Prince of Orange overthrew the rebels, which spelled bad news for the Keeshond breed. Now that the dog was heavily associated with the rebel party, which had lost, it became a symbol of a lost cause. This prompted many people to get rid of their dogs and the population of Keeshond dogs dropped dramatically.

A few different dogs managed to survive on Dutch farms and lived on the barges around Amsterdam. For a long time, these dogs lived in silence until they were effectively rediscovered in 1905. This also means that the bloodline of the Keeshond had been combined with many other breeds of dog over these years.

When the dogs were rediscovered, they were taken to England and they became popular around the country from there. After all, nobody had known about the Keeshond outside of Holland. In Holland, the history tied to the breed’s name meant that it kept declining in numbers until about 1920. Here, a Baroness became interested in the breed when she had found some that were kept by riverboat captains, farmers, and other working people. She began to breed the Keeshonds and spread their story throughout the entirety of Europe, and six years later, the English breed club was formed.

Within four years after that, the Dutch breed club was formed. In 1929, the first litter of Keeshonds was born in the United States and within a year later, the American Kennel Club registered the Keeshond. Five years after that, the American club was formed for the breed, where it continues to have moderate popularity throughout the world.

What Does the Keeshond Look Like?

The Keeshond is a medium dog, although the sheer amount of fur that it has makes it look quite a bit bigger than it really is. Typically these dogs are between 17 and 18 inches in height and weigh between 35 and 45 pounds. They are considered to be spitz dogs. They share a similar build with its cousins, the Pomeranians and the Samoyeds, although it is a fair bit smaller than the Samoyed. These dogs can be described as having a fox-like face, pointed ears, and a plumed tail that is carried over the dog’s back. On top of their compact stature, they have an abundant coat of fur.

Their fur is several inches long, and is usually longest around the face, chest, and tail. The fur can come in a variety of colors and patterns. Some dogs might be a solid color, while others could be tan and black. Their coats have a harsher texture than you might expect, and their adult coat of fur usually comes in between 18 and 24 months. It is a high-maintenance coat, which is something you will need to consider when you are adopting this type of dog. You can estimate that you will spend about one hour per week caring for your dog’s coat of fur.

How Does the Keeshond Behave?

Keeshonds, while originally watchdogs for ships and barges, have a personality and temperament that make them some of the best house pets that you can own. They are somewhat energetic, playful, and are very attentive to their family. They thrive off attention and simply being around the people that they care about. Many of them can adapt to either a calm lifestyle or an adventurous one, and they are almost always ready to learn something new.

Despite being watchdogs, they do not require as much exercise as you might expect, which makes them more suitable for the average household. They are good with children (as long as the child is old enough to play with dogs), and they are generally decent around other animals once they have been properly introduced to each other. In many ways, the Keeshond is one of the ideal dogs to have as a simple family companion. Because of their nature as watchdogs, they can inherently make a good watchdog if you need one as well.

What Kind of Care Does the Keeshond Need?

For exercise, the Keeshond only needs a moderate amount of exercise to keep them satisfied. You should aim to give your dog between 20 and 40 minutes of exercise per day. This exercise could be a rigorous game with your dog, or it could be briskly walking around the neighborhood. Some dogs might even be content to take a slow walk around the park as their form of exercise.

The main area you will need to pay attention to is the fur. They have a lot of fur, and that fur is going to require a lot of care. You are going to need to brush the dog either once or twice weekly on a regular basis, if not more. You will need to brush both the over and the undercoat.

This dog has a tendency to shed as well, so you should be prepared for shedding season. In fact, these dogs have a bi-annual period of shedding out their entire undercoat. This is a very intense period of shedding that lasts for about three weeks, where you will need to brush your dog on a near-daily basis if you want to keep its coat looking good. Taking care of a Keeshond’s coat is a commitment that you will need to think about when you are adopting one.

How Is the Keeshond’s Health?

The keeshond has a fair few health conditions that you will need to be aware of when you plan on adopting one. The main issues include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, epilepsy, a variety of health problems, primary hyperparathyroidism, Addison’s disease, progressive retinal atrophy, hypothyroidism, and many problems that can affect the skin or coat.

While not every dog will develop these conditions, it is always a good idea to be aware of the potential. You can always discuss the health genetics of your keeshond puppies when you talk to the breeder, as a reliable breeder should be open about this.