"The Smiling Dutchman"

Photo of Keeshond


The Keeshond (pronounced Kayz-hawnd) shares his ancestry with the Samoyed, Husky, Norwegian Elkhound, and Pomeranian, among others. Unlike some of his Nordic cousins, however, the Keeshond was bred to be a superb family companion and watchdog, particularly on the boats and barges that traverse Holland's many canals. The breed acquired its current name during the eighteenth century, when Dutch patriot Cornelis (Kees) de Gyselaer led a rebellion against the monarchy. When the dog became a symbol of the rebellion, the breed became known as the Keeshond – literally, Kees' Dog. By the late nineteenth century, the breed began appearing in England; later the Keeshond began crossing the pond to American shores. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1930. In 2006, the Keeshond ranked 93rd among the 154 breeds registered to the American Kennel Club.


The Keeshond is known as “The Smiling Dutchman” and “The Gentleman of Holland” for a very good reason: his temperament. This breed is known for his gentle, affectionate, friendly disposition. Unlike many breeds, Keeshonden (the plural for this breed) aren't one-person dogs; they are equally devoted to all family members, and can be equally effusive in greeting friends of the family. True to their roots, they also will sound the alarm if a stranger dares to approach family territory.


The Keeshond is a medium-sized dog who stands between 17 and 18 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs between 40 and 45 pounds. He has upright ears and sports a fluffy, grey double coat that's black at the tips. His fluffy, plumed tail curves over his back.


The gentle, eager-to-please Keeshond does well with positive, reward-based training. Many enjoy training so much that they excel in competitive obedience competitions. These dogs are quick learners, but their watchdog roots may cause them to be easily distracted.

Grooming & Care

For a dog with such a magnificent coat, the Keeshond is a surprisingly easy keeper. Most of the time, a weekly brushing will keep his coat looking tip-top; however, daily brushing is essential during the twice-yearly shed of the undercoat. Weekly nail trims and ear cleanings, plus periodic baths, will help keep a Keeshond looking his best.

Health Concerns

Like all purebred dogs, Keeshonden have their share of health issues. Among the most common are patellar luxation, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, allergies, and epilepsy. Dogs intended for breeding should receive OFA and CERF clearances before being bred. Prospective buyers should ask to see these clearances before purchasing a puppy or dog.

Famous Keeshond

Tikva, therapy dog who spent two weeks at Ground Zero following the World Trade Center disaster, comforting people.

Ideal Owner
Activity Level 3
Schedule 34
Home 44
Children 49
Experience 11
Quick Facts
Grooming 56
Exercise 61
Challenges Barks a lot, intolerant to heat.
Height 17 to 18 inches
Weight 35 to 65 pounds
Life 12 to 15 years
Home Alone 83
With Kids 114
With Strangers 91
Availability 23

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

© Copyright 2014 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.