What to Know About a Keeshond

Medically Reviewed by Vanesa Farmer, DVM on April 21, 2022
6 min read

A Keeshond is an old family of dog breeds from Europe. It’s also referred to as the “Dutch” Keeshond. They arrived in the Netherlands from the North centuries ago and were used by travelers on boats and barges around the 17th and 18th centuries. They are considered part of the Spitz family of dogs.

Keeshonds should be either gray and black, black and silver, gray cream and black, or, wolf gray and black in color.

A keeshond should not be entirely black, white, or any other solid color. Also, they should not have any black or white markings on their lower forelegs.

Keeshonds are great for companionship and also as watchdogs. They are home-loving, intelligent, gentle, and devoted to their humans. The Keeshond is one of the best options if you have children. They are quite fond of kids.

Keeshonds are not bred for attacking, hunting, or killing animals, and going after criminals. They are not very aggressive and are known for being gentle. Because of that, Keeshonds are used as therapy dogs. They’ve been found to be good with children with autism.

Because of their thick coat, Keeshonds will usually look larger than they actually are. Keeshonds reach their full size after two years. That's when they mature. A mature male Keeshond grows up to 18 centimeters tall and 40 pounds in weight. Females reach 17 centimeters tall and 36 pounds in weight.

Keeshonds mostly live a healthy life that goes into their teens. They have a lifespan of about 10 to 13 years. However, many Keeshonds will usually live past 13 years. The Keeshond is a good life partner.

Temperament. As mentioned earlier, Keeshonds are gentle and good with children. They are friendly, patient, cheerful, and do well around other pets. Keeshonds are easy to manage, making them great for family setups. However, this dog breed can be reserved around strangers.

If you live in a city, a Keeshond may be a good choice if you can give them adequate physical exercise. They will happily take training since they are usually active and eager to learn. With good training, Keeshonds can be very obedient and show high intelligence levels.

People find them charming due to the “smile” they make when they get excited or happy. A keeshond may be the perfect pet for you if you are a first-time dog owner. Even with their charming character, Keeshonds can be shy sometimes. To avoid that, try socializing your Keeshond from when it's a puppy.

Intelligence and training. As seen earlier, Keeshonds are intelligent and always eager to learn. They take training well and should be trained while still puppies. Consider taking your Keeshond to kindergarten training classes for puppies when they are about nine to twelve weeks old. There, they can learn basic commands to sit, come, and stay. 

The classes will also help in socializing your puppy. Socialization teaches them to be comfortable and how to behave around other dogs. After the kindergarten classes, you can take your Keeshond for more advanced training to perfect their behavior. When left on their own, Keeshonds can train themselves to do certain things, but not necessarily the things you would want them to learn.

The coat. The keeshond’s coat is made of two layers, the inner and outer coats. The inner coat consists of shorter, finer, and softer fur, while the outer “guard” coat is made up of longer, thicker, and harsher fur. The two layers of coat are efficient in protecting the Keeshond from things like direct sunlight, pests, and thorns.

Unlike dog breeds with single coats, a Keeshond’s coat is usually not always growing. Keeshonds grow their fur in one or two phases in a year. Once the coat is coming out of the resting phase, it starts to shed the soft undercoat in tufts of hair. That's known as “blowing” the coat. After blowing the coat, the Keeshond regrows its coat and then returns to the resting phase.

Keeshond fur will not stick on your couch, clothes, or carpet. It’s easier to brush off compared to the short, sharp fur of other dog breeds. When the coat sheds, it just lands and stays on the surface of the fabric. That makes it easy to get rid of.

Grooming. The Keeshond’s coat doesn’t have any “dog” smell. If cleaned regularly, your Keeshond can have a very pleasant coat. Brushing your dog’s coat with a pin brush and washing using a spray bottle for about 30 minutes does the trick. Try brushing your Keeshond’s coat at least once a week and washing it every six to eight weeks. Also, remember to regularly trim their nails.

Weather resilience. The Keeshond dog breed does well in both cold and hot temperatures. That’s mainly due to their thick coat responsible for keeping warm in cold weather, and cooling when it's hot. They do good in all seasons. You should never shave your Keeshond’s coat in the summer in an attempt to keep it cool. Doing so will only make your dog get hotter. You will also expose its skin to direct sunlight, insect bites, and scratches. Sunlight can cause your Keeshond to get sunburns.

If you want to keep your Keeshond cool in the summer, try brushing their coat at least once a week. This will make the coat more effective in insulating its body. Brushing also helps prevent the formation of mats in the coat. Mats keep air from circulating to the dog’s skin, thus, causing overheating and even skin infections.

General Health. Keeshonds are considered to be quite healthy dogs. However, your Keeshond is more likely to get some health conditions. Most of them come from genetic inheritance. Those conditions can develop complications and become serious conditions or even shorten your dog’s lifespan by some years.

Some of the most common conditions that affect the Keeshond dog breed are:

Just because Keeshonds are more likely to get these conditions it doesn’t mean that your dog has to get them in their lifetime. It's vital that you know the possibility of your dog getting these conditions.

Other conditions that Keeshonds are prone to include:

It's crucial that you screen or run tests on the dog before buying or breeding to know about any possible health issues beforehand. You can perform DNA testing, screening, and inbreeding coefficient calculation to get a healthy Keeshond.

A Keeshond will do good with high-quality adult dog food. If you are trying to manage your dog’s weight, consider feeding them weight formula. The amount you feed your Keeshond should depend on their age, size, build, activity level, and metabolism rate.

Don’t feed puppies adult food until they are over one year old. Only feed them puppy food for proper growth and development. You should only feed your puppy an amount depending on their weight and the kcal/cup of the specific food. Divide that daily amount into two meals and feed at different times of the day.

While Keeshond dogs have many advantages, they have their disadvantages too. Here are some things you may have to deal with if you get a Keeshond:

  • Keeshonds have a habit of digging around.
  • The younger Keeshonds have a tendency to be rowdy.
  • Sometimes they get strong-willed and develop a sense of independence.
  • Keeshonds require diet regulations and regular physical exercise to avoid obesity.
  • Untrained Keeshonds can bark excessively, and have to be trained to stop the behavior.
  • Keeshonds may get separation anxiety or boredom, and may even start being troublesome.

Here are a few tips you can use to take care of your pet Keeshond:

  • Brush your Keeshond’s coat regularly.
  • Avoid feeding Keeshonds people’s food.
  • Clean their ears every week, adult or puppy.
  • Feed them age and size-appropriate high-quality dog food.
  • Keep teaching them new tricks to stimulate them mentally.
  • Protect them from exposure to extreme heat to avoid heat stress.
  • Keep your dog active physically and mentally to prevent them from getting bored.
  • Maintain your Keeshond’s dental health by brushing their teeth at least two times a week.
  • Keep an eye on your Keeshond as you would a child. Make sure you close or block off rooms to try and keep them out of trouble.

Sometimes, your Keeshond may be in need of medical attention. Consider reaching out if your pet is behaving abnormally or appears to be ill.