AKC Non-Sporting Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Keeshond was named after an eighteenth century Dutch patriot, Kees de Gyselaer, leader of the Dutch rebellion against the House of Orange. The dog became the rebels’ symbol, and when the House of Orange was returned to power, this wonderful breed almost disappeared. Luckily, the breed continued as a guard on Dutch barges. Later, in the 1920s, Baroness van Hardenbroeck took an interest in the breed and began to build it up again. The Keeshond was accepted for AKC registration in 1930. Now bred for many generations as a companion dog, the Keeshond is a loving family member.


The Keeshond is a medium-sized, squarely proportioned, arctic-type Spitz dog with a fox-like head and erect, triangular ears. The head is wedge-shaped with a definite stop. The markings around the eyes should form “spectacles.” The lips are black, and the teeth should meet in a scissors bite. The feet should be cat-like, compact, and round, with arched toes and black nails. The Keeshond sports a magnificent double coat, consisting of a long, harsh outer coat and a thick, fluffy undercoat. The body coat is most often gray with black tipped hairs. The dog should have a full mane like a lion and a curled, plumed, light-colored tail with a black tip. The muzzle and ears are dark and the legs, feet, and tail are a light creamy color. Hair on the legs, muzzle, skull, and ears is short and smooth.

Key Facts

  • Height:  Averages 18 in. (male); 17 in. (female)
  • Size:  Medium
  • Weight: Averages 40 lbs. (male); 35 lbs. (female)
  • Availability:  May take some effort to find
  • Talents:  Watchdog, agility, competitive obedience, and performing tricks


Smiling, fox-like expression. Puppies are born black, turn cream by 4 months, and then gray, black, and cream by 18 months. The coat needs regular attention-a thorough grooming at least once a week is a must. Some trimming around the feet, pasterns, hocks, and whiskers helps keep the Keeshond looking his best. The Keeshond tends to be as clean as a cat. Prone to hip dysplasia, skin problems, and heart disease. A good jogging companion in cold weather, but highly susceptible to hot temperatures due to his thick coat.


An excellent children’s companion, lively, intelligent and very alert. A good watchdog. Easy to train if owners are consistent. Train gently and patiently, as Keeshonds are full of personality. Affectionate, friendly, and generally outgoing. The Keeshond needs to be part of family activities. Some are reserved or timid, and should be socialized extensively as puppies


  • Children:  Excellent with children
  • Friendliness:  Loves everyone
  • Trainability:  Easy to train
  • Independence:  Needs people a lot
  • Dominance:  Low
  • Other Pets:  Generally good with other pets
  • Combativeness:  Friendly with other dogs
  • Noise:  Likes to bark
  • Indoors:  Fairly active indoors
  • Owner:  Good for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Extensive grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  Some trimming or stripping (little skill required)
  • Coat:  Fluffy coat
  • Shedding:  Seasonally heavy shedder
  • Exercise:  Needs lots of exercise
  • Jogging:  A good jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
  • Outdoor Space: Best with at least an average-size yard
  • Climate:  Prefers cool climates
  • Longevity:  Moderately long lived (12 to 15 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Keeshond Breed Standard

Keeshond Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Keeshond

Keeshond Gifts