The Friendly Keeshond
"Wolf Spitz"

photoDog breed info
Weight: Male 40 — 45 lbs
Weight: Female 30 — 35 lbs
Height: Male: 17” — 19”
Height: Female: 16 — 18”
AKC Rank 2008 #93
Lifespan: 12—14 yrs
Group Non Sporting
Origin: The Netherlands

Dog Breed Info - The Keeshond

A good looking Keeshond!

Breed Overview

Origin: 1700’s. Original function: Barge watchdog. Today, Companion dog.

The Keeshond established itself as a worthy companion and watchdog on the small barges on the Rhine River in the 1700’s.

The dog is likely descended from the Pomeranian and Norwegian Elkhounds and maybe the Samoyed, but records are unclear. At one time the breed was a status symbol of the middle and upper class citizens. In the eighteenth century, the leader of the Dutch Revolution was Kees de Gyzelaer who owned a barge and dog. The barge was named “Kees.” The name of his dog and the breed comes from Kees. By 1920, Baroness van Hardenbroek began an effort to rescue the breed. She was successful and by 1930 the AKC registered the breed in America. The dog has since become the national dog of Holland.

A Keeshond with a bone
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Trainable with a little patience. She’s a bit sensitive so use clicker training with positive reinforcement and lots of praise. She can be taught just about anything using that method.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Keeshond puppy? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

The Keeshond puppy can be a little difficult to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.


Keeshond’s are one of the better family dogs available among the medium size breeds. This is a playful, affectionate and tolerant breed that does very well with the children in the family. The dog gets along quite well with just about everyone, is intelligent, friendly and loves to be part of anything the family is doing, indoors our out. As a spitz-based dog, the Keeshond needs to be well socialized starting very young as a puppy and continued through her life. She is trainable with a little patience and a clicker. This energetic, companionable playmate is a fun dog to own.

If you happen to get a dog with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Friendly Toward Other Dogs

Somewhat accepting. Will pick and choose dog friends. Not very aggressive though.


Friendly Toward Other Pets

Yes, does well with pets. Introduce other dogs on common ground, cats gradually. This breed is know for acclimating with household pets.

Friendly Toward Strangers

Yes, friendly. Bring on the relatives, neighbors and friends. Have a party and be sure the Keeshond is in the middle of it all.


Yes, quite playful.


Yes, VERY affectionate.

Good with children?

Yes. Excellent with children, but supervise very young children and make sure all the kids know how to respect the rights of a dog.

Good with Seniors over 65?

Yes, The Keeshond and seniors are a good match. The dog has plenty of affection and love to give and the senior has plenty of time to maintain the beautiful double coat. If longevity or training are an issue, find a Keeshond Rescue group or dog kennel and adopt a 2 or 3 year old dog that is house trained and knows a few commands. This will save some headaches for the senior.

Living environment

Apartment, house, farm, ranch, all okay as long as she gets outdoors for her exercise and some air. The Keeshond is a very social dog and needs to be indoors with her family most of the time.

If y9ou can, provide the Keeshond with a medium size fenced yard so she can play fetch with a ball or Frisbee. Good exercise.

6 year old Keeshond/Sheltie mix.
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Energy level

Moderate. Score her 6 bars out of 10.

Exercise needs, daily

Moderate. A good walk or two on leash and a vigorous game of fetch will keep her in good shape mentally and physically.


Yes. She’;s a great watchdog with a big voice.

Guard dog

No, not so good here. Just not aggressive enough.


Yes, definitely sheds.


She has a double coat and needs brushing three times a week…. More when shedding to keep the dead hair from accumulating. She’ll love the extra attention. Get a stiff bristle brush from the pet store.



Suggested Reading For The Keeshond
Click on the cover photos for more book information.

The book on the right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog emergencies, illnesses and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners to keep close at hand.


Keeshond Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Keeshond puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training..
Keeshond Breeders with puppies for sale.

Keeshond Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of an older dog and are looking for a Keeshond Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Keeshond Rescue - (Nationwide)At the time of this writing, Petfinder is showing only 156 Keeshond's available for adoption in the country. That figure can vary, of course. If you do adopt, try to locate past dog health records for possible future use.
Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site but it appears this is a difficult breed to locate. Go online and search for Keeshond Rescue groups or kennels. Try your local newspaper classifieds too and dog kennels too.

Dog Health Issues For The Keeshond
Below are the dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the Keeshond by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical problems this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Cataracts—Hazy or cloudy vision similar to humans and can lead to blindness if not treated.

  • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain and difficulty walking. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

  • Epilepsy—A serious seizure disorder that appears around 2 to 4 or 5 years of age in the dog.

  • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the Keeshond's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the dog’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

  • Diabetes—The pancreas manufactures the hormone INSULIN. If the pancreas stops making, or makes less than the normal amount of insulin, or if the tissues in the body become resistant to the insulin, the result is called “diabetes.” The dog can NOT control her blood sugar without injections of insulin on a regular basis, but given the insulin, the Keeshond can live a normal life like a human can. If the dog does not receive the insulin injections at the same time each day of her life, the dog will go into a coma and she will die. Some causes of diabetes may be chronic pancreatitis, heredity, obesity or old age, but no one is sure. Symptoms are excess drinking and urination, dehydration, weight loss, increased appetite, weight gain, and cataracts may develop suddenly. Treatment is in the form of the insulin injections daily and a strict diet low in carbohydrates and sugars. Home cooking may be suggested in some cases. Frequent trips to the vet for blood monitoring will be needed but diabetes is not a death sentence.

  • Addison’s disease—Hypoadrenocorticism—Inability of the adrenal gland to produce several important hormones.. One of them is cortisol which the body needs to regulate the conversion of proteins and fat into glucose. Some symptoms: Not eating, depression, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, excess drinking, and in advanced cases, fast heart rate, and collapse. This kind of mimics kidney disorders and other problems but can be detected by a sharp vet through blood work. The solution for this is to give the dog with Addison’s disease replacement supplements. As long as the dog gets the replacement supplements every day, she can live a fairly healthy life. Fairly rare disease.

  • Patellar luxation—Limping, Hind Leg Held Up, Can’t straighten back leg. Caused by an unusually shallow spot on the femur, weak ligaments and misalignment of tendons and muscles that align the knee joint and allow the knee cap (patella) to float sideways in and out of position. This can be caused by injury or be present at birth and can affect both rear legs. If your dog has trouble straightening the leg, is limping, or is walking on three legs and holding one hind leg up, has a painful rear leg, look for patellar luxation. Several of my dogs have had the problem and all I’ve done is reach down, massage the knee a little until they drop their leg, and we’re good to go for another 3 or 4 months. Severe cases require surgery for a fully lame leg.

  • Glaucoma—Painful pressure builds in the eyes leading to blindness.

  • Renal cortical hypoplasia—Kidney failure coming from a number of causes ranging from hereditary to ingesting automotive antifreeze and also bacterial infections. Once the kidneys become affected, there is no cure. What hap-pens is there remains a shortage of functioning tissue in the kidneys to cleanse the body. Waste builds in the blood and the toxins cause vomiting, depression, lack of appetite and death. Same happens if the dog eats a little rat poison, as one of mine did.

  • Tetralogy of Fallot—Hereditary heart disease. Seen before the 2nd year of age. De-oxygenated blood is pumped through the body with this condition. Generally this condition, due to the lack of oxygen in the blood, will cause weakness, no desire for exercise, and a blue-grey color instead of the normal pink mucous membranes in the mouth. Expensive heart surgery with a very high mortality rate is the only treatment. It’s a breeders nightmare for the Keeshond and English Bulldog.

  • Patent ductus arteriosis—Canine congenital heart failure. Before birth, blood from the heart passes the lungs by a small vessel called the ductus arteriosis. That small vessel is supposed to vanish after birth and the infant breathes on it’s own With this disease, the vessel does not go away resulting in improper circulation of blood.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy—An inherited, untreatable disease of the retina affecting both eyes causing blindness. It’s in the genes of the dog and is not painful. Starts with night blindness and progresses as the retina gradually deteriorates.

  • Primary Hyperparathyroidism—Parathyroid hormone maintains the correct balance of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. The parathyroid glands are on both sides of the dog’s neck. If either gland becomes cancerous or otherwise functions abnormally, calcium levels in the blood will rise. Most often founding older dogs. Symptoms: loss of appetite, excess drinking and urinating, drowsiness and listless or feeling unsettled. This problem has been discovered in the Keeshond. A genetic test is available to help determine if dog is at risk.

  • Mitral valve insufficiency—Enlargement of the heart caused by blood flowing backwards due to degeneration of the mitral valve causing improper functioning.

Other health problems could occur with your Keeshond. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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