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The Keeshond is typical of the spitz type, with a foxy face, prick ears, thick stand-off coat and a plumed tail that curls over the back. The coat forms a huge and spectacular ruff around the neck and chest. This is a medium sized dog, under the plush coat they are a lean, muscular and sturdy dog.

The need-to-know
  • Dog suitable for owners with some experience
  • Some training required
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys walking an hour a day
  • Medium dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming daily
  • Non hypoallergenic breed
  • Very vocal dog
  • Guard dog. Barks and alerts
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • May require training to live with kids

Key Facts

Lifespan: 13-15 years
Weight:  16-18kg
Height:  46cm for males and 43cm for females 
Colours:  Black and grey with a cream or very pale grey undercoat 
Size:  Medium
UK Kennel Club Groups: Utility


Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 3/5
Easy to train: 4/5
Tolerates being alone: 2/5
Likes other pets: 5/5
Energy level: 4/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 5/5


Alert, cheerful and described as impertinent by those who know the breed well, the Keeshond is still a natural watchdog, and remains very keen to let their owners know that trouble is a-foot! Friendly and companionable and very adept at living in small spaces, they are often called the ‘Smiling Dutchman’ due to their appealing bright eyed, happy face.

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Holland

Closely linked to other spitz types such as the German Wolfspitz and the Pomeranian, the Keeshond takes his name from Kees de Gyselaer, the leader of the 18th century Dutch Patriots party. Their original function was as a working guard and companion, living and working on the Dutch barges. For this reason, they are also known as the Dutch Barge Dog and it is under this name that they were first shown in the UK in 1923. It is likely they also performed useful functions as ratters and vermin deterrents but their main job was to bark and alert their owners to intruders.

Health and Common Issues

Exercise Needs

Space Requirements

Nutrition and Feeding

Grooming Keeshond

Training Keeshond

Best Family Dog Breeds

Did You Know?

  • One of the less obvious roles the Keeshond had on the barges was to act as a foghorn, sitting on the bows of the barge the Keeshond would bark as soon as they spotted another barge approaching through the fog. Since barges move slowly and are between 70 and 120ft long, this gave the bargee plenty of warning.
  • Despite being relatively rare outside the Netherlands, the Keeshond has had some celebrity owners including Walt Disney, Irish poet W.B. Yeats and Princess Diana.
Dog with red collar looking out the window
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