1. Key Breed Facts
2. Breed Characteristics
3. Looking for a Keeshond ?
4. Introduction
5. History
6. Appearance
7. Temperament
8. Intelligence / Trainability
9. Children and Other Pets
10. Health
11. Caring for a Keeshond
12. Grooming
13. Exercise
14. Feeding
15. Average Cost to keep/care for a Keeshond

Key Breed Facts

Popularity #178 out of 238 Dog Breeds.

The Keeshond breed is also commonly known by the names Kees, Dutch Barge Dog, Smiling Dutchman, Chien Loup, German Spitz, Deutscher Wolfspitz, Wolfspitz.
12 - 14 years
Pedigree Breed ?
Yes - KC Recognised in the Utility Group
Males 43 - 46 cm
Females 40 - 43 cm at the withers
Males 15 - 20 kg
Females 14 -18 kg
Health Tests Available
Primary Hyperparathyroid (PHPT)
Average Price (More Info)
£746 for KC Registered
£600 for Non KC Registered

Breed Characteristics

Looking for a Keeshond ?

If you are looking to buy or adopt a Keeshond, you can view our :

Keeshond for sale section
Keeshond for adoption section
Keeshond for stud section.


The Keeshond is often called the "Smiling Dutchman" because of their cheerful expression. Over the years these little dogs have found their way into the hearts and homes of many people thanks to their charming looks and kind, loyal natures. They are Spitz-type dogs that boast a compact, solid appearance and a profuse thick double coat that provides them with excellent protection from the elements. Like many other of the Spitz breeds, the Keeshond is known to be quite vocal by nature which is why they have always been so highly prized as watchdogs on barges, farms and in a domestic environment in the Netherlands.


The Keeshond is thought to have been developed in the Arctic regions of the world during the 18th century like so many other Spitz-type dogs. They were always bred to be companion dogs rather than to work and quickly found a fan base in Europe, more especially in the Netherlands where they became a popular choice not only as family pets, but as barge and farm dogs too.

The breed was further developed in Holland, Germany, Italy and France by enthusiasts when they were crossed with German Spitz-type dogs. In the late 1700's, Cornelius de Gyselaar became the leader of the Dutch Patriot Party, leading the Dutch Patriots against William of Orange. He decided to use his Keeshond as the emblem and mascot of his party. However, when the Patriots succumbed to the House of Orange, the breed faced near extinction as they were abandoned or destroyed by owners who did not want to be associated with the rebellion.

Thanks to the endeavours of Baroness von Hardenbroek, the Keeshond was saved from vanishing forever when she found some dogs and began a breeding programme during the 1920's which was to see breed numbers rise over the ensuing decades. To begin with these charming little dogs were registered with The Kennel Club as the Dutch Barge Dog and the first Keeshond to be exhibited in the show ring was in 1923 after which time their popularity grew throughout the land as well as elsewhere in the world. Today, the Keeshond remains a popular choice both as companion dogs and family pets, thanks to their charming smiling faces and their kind, loyal and affectionate natures.


Height at the withers: Males 43 - 46 cm, Females 40 - 43 cm

Average weight: Males 15 - 20 kg, Females 14 -18 kg

The Keeshond is a charming Spitz-type dog and one that boasts having an extremely plush coat. They are compact little dogs that present themselves very proudly and they always have a smile on their faces which has earned them the nickname of the "Smiling Dutchman". There is quite a noticeable difference between males and their female counterparts with the latter being lighter and smaller in stature.

Their heads are nicely in proportion with the rest of their bodies with dogs having a very slight stop. Muzzles are dark and noses are always black in colour. Their eyes are medium in size and a lovely almond shape being set obliquely on a dog's face. They have a well-defined outline around their eyes which adds to their charming appeal especially as the Keeshond boasts having short, expressive eyebrows.

The Keeshond has small, dark ears shaped like ivy leaves which they hold upright and which are velvety to the touch. They are set well on a dog's head adding to a dog’s alert look. They have a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones and their lips are black. Their necks are moderately long and nicely arched being covered in a thick, dense hair that forms a ruff around a dog's neck. They have nicely sloping shoulders and straight front legs that show a good amount of bone.

They have short, compact bodies with nicely sprung ribs and a good depth to their brisket. Their back legs are well muscled, straight with a lot of lighter coloured hair on them which gives the impression of a Keeshond wearing trousers. Their feet are quite cat-like, round, cream coloured and well-padded with dogs having strong black nails. Their tails are moderately long and set high with dogs curling them tightly over their backs in a double curl.

When it comes to their coat, the Keeshond boasts having a harsh, straight thick coat that stands well off the body. They have a profuse ruff around their necks and their front legs have a profuse amount of hair on them and are well feathered. They have a softer, dense and lighter coloured undercoat. The accepted breed colours are as follows:

  • Grey
  • Silver grey
  • Silver, grey and black


The Keeshond is known to be extremely people-oriented and they form strong bonds with their owners and families. The downside to this is they don't like to be left on their own for any great length of time which could result in a dog developing separation anxiety. They are fun-loving, bouncy dogs that enjoy being included in everything that goes on in a household. The added bonus being they are known to be good around children, dogs and other animals although care has to be taken when they come into contact with smaller pets which includes rabbits and guinea pigs to name but two animals commonly kept by children.

They are often referred to as the "Smiling Dutchman" thanks to the fact they always have a happy, smiling expression on their faces. They do have a tendency to bark at the slightest thing which can be a problem for anyone who has neighbours living close by. With this said, they make excellent watchdogs and are always quick to let an owner know when there are strangers about. They are a great choice for first time owners thanks to the fact that these clever dogs are easy to train. However, because of their thick, lush coats, owners need to be aware that Keeshonds can really suffer in hotter weather which could result in them overheating and this could prove fatal.

Intelligence / Trainability

The Keeshond is an intelligent dog and one that likes to please. As such, in the right hands and environment, they are easy to train and will pick things up very quickly. However, the downside to this is that they are just as quick to pick up any bad habits which is why they need to be handled with a firm, yet gentle hand. In the right hands, these clever little dogs excel at all sorts of canine sports which includes activities like agility and obedience trials.

They are never happier than when they know their place in the pack and who they can look to for direction and guidance. If they don't know who is the alpha dog, they could quickly take on this role and become wilful and unruly. They respond well to positive reinforcement training, but not to any sort of harsh correction or heavier handed training methods which would not bring out the best in these intelligent and sensitive little dogs.

Children and Other Pets

The Keeshond thrives on human contact and they enjoy being in a family environment. They are gentle and patient around children of all ages. However, any interaction between younger children and a dog should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure playtime does not get too boisterous which could end up with someone getting frightened or hurt.

When they are well socialised from a young enough age, Keeshonds generally get on with other dogs they meet and if they have grown up with a family cat in the home they usually get on well together. However, care has to be taken when they are around smaller animals and pets just in case. As such any contact is best avoided.

For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.


The average life expectancy of a Keeshond is between 12 and 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.

Like so many other breeds, the Keeshond is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these energetic dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:

Caring for a Keeshond

As with any other breed, Keeshonds need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.


The Keeshond has a medium length coat that's made up of a thick and extremely waterproof outercoat and a denser, much softer undercoat. They shed quite heavily throughout the year, only more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent brushing is usually necessary to keep on top of things. They need to be brushed at least twice a week to keep things tidy. It’s worth noting that a Keeshond’s adult coat only grows through when dogs are between 18 months to 2 years old.

It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.


The Keeshond is an intelligent little dog and one that likes to be involved in everything that goes on around them. They need to be given a minimum of 20 to 40 minutes exercise a day and it has to include lots of mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well rounded characters. When a Kees gets bored, they can quickly develop some unwanted behavioural issues and this includes being very destructive around the home.

A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these active, high energy dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble.

With this said, puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.


If you get a Kees puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.

Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be fed a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.

Average Cost to keep/care for a Keeshond

If you are looking to buy a Keeshond, you would need to register your interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because very few puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything upwards of £700 for a well-bred pedigree puppy.

The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Keeshond in northern England would be £22.55 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.74 a month (quote as of July 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.

When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £25 - £35 a month. On top of all of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Keeshond and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £800 a year.

As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Keeshond would be between £60 to £80 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree or other puppy.

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