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Keeshond sitting in grass

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Non-Sporting group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height — 17-18 inches
  • Weight — 35-45 pounds
  • Coat length & texture — Fluffy, long, straight, and thick double coat with a characteristic mane around the chest and shoulders
  • Coat color — Coat colors vary but are primarily a combination of black, silver, and gray. The Keeshond’s undercoat is usually a pale gray or cream color; harsh outer coat hairs can be a mixture of gray and black with black tips
  • Exercise needs — Average to high
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Vocal
  • Life span — 12-15 years
  • Temperament — Affectionate, playful, and alert
  • Hypoallergenic — No
  • Origin — Holland

Keeshond fun facts

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male Keeshonds Bear and Koda. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Keeshonds love Luna, then Layla.

  • Because of their political affiliations, they were often featured in political cartoons. Due to the breed’s history, Keeshonden (the plural of Keeshond) pups got their share of fame among early Dutch political satirists.
  • They were bred to guard river barges. The breed is also known as the Dutch Barge Dog, as Keeshond dogs were often used to watch over the barges traveling along The Netherlands’ canals and rivers. To this day, they remain nimble-footed, watchful, and alert companions.
  • The Keeshond, pronounced kayz-hawnd, is also known as The Smiling Dutchman. These joyful, smiley, and expressive dogs wear this moniker well.
Keeshond close up with tall grass in the background

Keeshond temperament and characteristics 

The Keeshond is a highly affectionate breed beloved for being great with young children, other dogs, and strangers when appropriately socialized and trained. These eager-to-please pups are adaptable and can thrive in small apartments or homes with a fenced-in backyard as long as they get their daily walks, free runs, and snuggle time with you. Due to their thick coats, Keeshond dogs usually prefer cooler climates.

Common Keeshond health problems

  • Hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a chronic condition that occurs when joints develop improperly in growing dogs. Dogs with hip dysplasia are also more prone to developing arthritis in the area. Pet parents have several options to help improve their pup’s quality of life without surgery, including weight management, pain medication, and daily exercise.
  • Patellar luxation.  This hereditary condition, common among small dogs and toy breeds, refers to loose kneecaps. The patellar tendon and the quadriceps muscle keep your dog’s kneecap in place, but when dislocation occurs, the condition may potentially cause lameness.
  • Cataracts. Cataracts refer to clouded lenses in your dog’s eye. The condition, which typically develops as dogs age, can lead to blurred vision and blindness.
  • Diabetes. This common endocrine disease occurs when a dog’s body doesn’t produce enough insulin or when the insulin being made isn’t being used effectively. Though diabetes can affect any dog at any age, it’s more common among specific breeds and older dogs.
  • Epilepsy.  Epilepsy—the most common neurological disorder in dogs—is characterized by recurrent seizures that typically last between a few seconds to a few minutes. Though epilepsy itself is not currently considered curable, the brain disorder can be managed with medication.
Keeshond puppy sitting in grass

History of the Keeshond

Though the breed’s exact origins are somewhat unknown, it’s believed that Keeshonden were first established in 17th century Holland, where the purebred dogs were often observed guarding boats and barges along The Netherlands’ canals and rivers. The dogs gained popularity as symbols of the Dutch Patriot Party during its opposition to the royal House of Orange and are even rumored to be named after a Dutch patriot nicknamed “Kees.” However, breed popularity dwindled with the Patriot party’s downfall and as other barge dogs were preferred over the Keeshond.

In the 1900s, Baroness van Hardenbroek formed a group to revive the rare breed. Soon after, in 1930, with the help of a Lady Gwendolyn Wingfield Digby, the American Kennel Club recognized the Keeshond as an official breed. Today, the Keeshond remains Holland’s national dog, and it has earned a reputation as a beloved, loyal family dog all over the world.

Caring for your Keeshond

Caring for a new puppy of any breed can be overwhelming. You’ll need to make your first trip to the vet and schedule your dog’s vaccinations. We can even help you puppy-proof your home and prepare for teething. And while no one likes to think about losing their new dog, FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag, so you’re prepared just in case.

Diagnosis and treatment for common health conditions specific to the Keeshond vary between $3,500 per hip to $7,000 for hip dysplasia, $1,500-$3,000 for patellar luxation, $200-$5,000 per year for epilepsy management, $40-$250 annually for diabetes care and between $2,700-$4,000 for cataracts surgery.

Aside from feeding and medical care , there are a few other things to keep in mind to be the best and most responsible dog owner when considering the costs of caring for a Keeshond.

Don’t skimp on brushing. To keep your Keeshond’s thick coat healthy and manageable, it’s recommended to brush them weekly. You’ll also want to get your pup comfortable being touched early on to avoid behavioral problems during routine grooming sessions, whether that’s with a professional groomer or at home.

A nice walk will do wonders. Keeshonden can be couch potatoes when they want to be, but this highly intelligent, playful breed needs its daily exercise. Opt for a daily walk or free run in a fenced-in yard.

Focus on early socialization. Keeshond dogs are incredibly loyal and friendly, but as with any breed, they will greatly benefit from early training and socialization. Early exposure is key to avoiding overexcitement or aloofness with strangers, visitors, young children, and other pets. Remember to prioritize positive, reward-based reinforcement when training.


The Keeshond requires a moderate amount of exercise every day. About an hour of walking or playtime should be sufficient, though this may vary by individual. If you notice your pup spinning in circles while indoors, that might be a sign to squeeze in extra playtime. For some added mental exercise, puzzle toys are a good option for this highly intelligent breed.

Remember, Keeshonden and their thick coats prefer cold weather. You’ll want to take extra precautions to avoid heat-related health issues during the warmer summer months.

Keeshond dogs and playing in a grassy yard


Keeshond dogs have long, dignified coats that require regular grooming and care. Aim to brush your Keeshond’s coat weekly and trim when needed to tidy up the hocks, pads and feet. Keeping up a regular grooming routine can help keep your pup looking good and avoid overheating as well as issues like matting down the line.

  • Brush weekly, if you can. Brushing the undercoat avoids matting as well as overgrowth and keeps your pup and home as fur-free as possible. Look for a high-quality pin brush to eliminate that extra undercoat fur.
  • Schedule a bath and blow-dry every month or so. Whether you bathe and blow-dry your Keeshond at home or take them to a professional groomer, try to stick to a schedule of 4-6 weeks to keep that thick, elegant coat shiny, healthy, clean and lush.
  • Get your puppy used to being touched. Because the Keeshond requires regular grooming and maintenance,  it’s essential that you get your pup accustomed to being touched and brushed. Positive reinforcement is a great tool to incorporate in training.

Don’t neglect other essential grooming regimens, such as ear cleaning and teeth brushing. A complete and comprehensive grooming routine is the best way to keep your dog looking fit and fresh.

Diet and nutrition

Keeshond dogs are quite adaptable when it comes to diet as long as it’s a vet-approved high-quality food low in carbs. Avoid overfeeding treats as well as human foods and scraps; giving too many can increase risk of obesity.

🚨Feeding your dog cooked bones or even leftover scraps can lead to serious problems. It doesn’t matter if the bones are boiled, baked, fried, smoked, or steamed — consumption can result in choking and irreversible internal damage.

In general, your Keeshond should eat about 1-2 cups of high-quality dry dog food each day, depending on the caloric density of their daily diet, as well as their age, activity level and weight. If your pup gets picky or isn’t getting enough water, you can mix in some canned food or a tasty topper. As always, refer to your pet’s vet for questions related to diet and nutrition, including food portioning.

Training your Keeshond

New Keeshond owners will be glad to hear that their people-pleasing Keeshond is also highly intelligent and trainable. However, it’s essential to start training and socialization during puppyhood to avoid behavioral issues later on.

When it comes to training your Keeshond, you’ll want to be patient, consistent and lead with reward-based methods. Positive reinforcement is key to setting your pup up for success.

Keeshond on the beach

Breeds similar to the Keeshond

Not quite sure that a Keeshond is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Pomeranian. This fluffy, spunky and affectionate toy breed is one of the most popular emotional support animal breeds.
  • Samoyed. The smiley Samoyed and its luxurious fair coat is beloved for being incredibly social, vocal, and playful.
  • Finnish spitz. The foxy-faced and vocal Finnish spitz has fascinating bird-dogging tracking abilities. These pups thrive in homes with fenced-in yards and in cool climates.

Frequently asked questions

Are Keeshonds good with kids?

Yes, but early socialization is key. Remember, never leave your child unattended with any new pet.

What are some common health problems among the Keeshond?

Common health problems among Keeshonden include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, cataracts, diabetes, and epilepsy.

Are Keeshond dogs easy to train?

Yes, Keeshond dogs are relatively trainable, but as with any breed, it’s essential to start training and socialization during puppyhood to avoid behavioral issues later on.

Are Keeshond dogs hypoallergenic?

No, they are not.

How often do I need to groom my Keeshond?

Weekly brushing and monthly bathing is recommended to keep your Keeshond clean, healthy, and mat-free.