So You Want to Adopt a Keeshond?
By: Gary Wynn Kelly
General Description - The Keeshond, also known as the Dutch Barge
Dog, is the national dog of Holland and, like huskies, is a member of
the Spitz group. The Keeshond - pronounced Kayzhond was used for
more than a century as a barge dog. The Keeshond controlled vermin, in
addition to acting as guard dogs.
These handsome, medium-sized dogs, attract attention. The Keeshond has
a lovely silver-gray-to-black shaded coat, along with an alert and
intelligent expression, which is enhanced by its fox-like head shape,
with “spectacle” markings around dark brown eyes. Typically, they
weigh in the 40-50 pound range.
Behavior - The Keeshond today makes an excellent companion and guard
dog. It has the usual Spitz independence of other northern dogs,
though not to as great a degree as is found in Siberians or Malamutes.
Therefore, it is an easily trained dog, and responds exceptionally well
to positive and firm training.
The keeshond makes a great companion for children. They are alert,
playful, and easily trained, as they are intelligent and thoroughly
enjoy human companionship. While they will bark at strangers, they are
also quick to make new friends, and will readily become a favorite
member of any family with friends and neighbors.
The Keeshond has the Spitz group characteristic of needing to be a
member of the family. They must be involved in family activities, and
get several hours a day of contact time with family members. The back
yard is no substitute for human interaction. Good socialization is
essential, and the well socialized keeshond readily accepts other pets.
Many Keeshonds enjoy swimming, and they are good swimmers.
Exercise - The Keeshond, while not requiring a large amount of
exercise, enjoys a daily walk, but eagerly participates in hikes and
The Keeshond has another physical characteristic of the northern
dogs–it needs much less food than we often feed dogs, so it gains
weight easily. Regulated feeding is essential to keep the Keeshond fit
and trim. Combined with regular walks and exercise, and a happy
environment, the Keeshond can readily stay healthy for a 15 year
Grooming - The Keeshond’s beautiful coat, which is certain insulation
against cold, wet, or hot weather, needs minimal care. This
“self-cleaning” coat has a soft texture. Dirt is easily brushed off,
and the coat seldom mats. Like the other members of the Spitz group,
the coat has no doggie odor, and should only be bathed 3 to 4 times a
Grooming consists of brushing out the coat regularly. The Keeshond
sheds twice a year in most Rocky Mountain locations. The coat should
never be shaved down. Please read our article on shaving northern dogs.