The KEESHOND is a
member of the Spitz family (or northern dogs), believed to be descended from the German
Wolfspitz, and therefore a close relative to the Pomeranian. The breed has been known
throughout the Netherlands since the mid-18th century, where it was a popular "dog of
the people". The breed was most numerous in the villages and on the farms, where it
was used as watchdog, herder, for draught work and hunting. It was also often to be seen
on barges where the dogs were valued as guards and companions. Thus it came to be commonly
known as the Barge Dog.
The most accepted
explanation of the breed's present name goes back to a period of unrest in Holland, when
the symbol of the Orangists was the Pug and that of the Patriot party, the little dog of
the people named for the nickname of the leader which was Kees. Thus "Keeshond"
or "the dog of Kees", pronounced "Kayshond".
The breed was
exhibited at Dutch shows as early as 1891, but it was not until 1905 that the breed was
introduce to England. A Mrs. Wingfield-Digby, on a visit to the Netherlands, saw the barge
dogs, and was so taken with them she brought a pair of pups back to England with her. A
breeding programme was commenced, and in 1923 the Keeshond made its ring debut at the
Birmingham National Show. Two years later Mrs. Wingfield-Digby founded the first breed
club under the title of "The Dutch Barge Show Club". A name that was later
changed to Keeshond. The first imports began arriving in the United States and Canada
within the next five years, and the breed has enjoyed a steady, devoted following ever
In the early days it
is reported that solid black and solid white dogs would occasionally appear in litters.
Today the only accepted colour of the body coat is shaded grey with black tipping. A
unique characteristic of the Keeshond is its head markings which give the appearance of
spectacles and impart a look of great intelligence.
The Keeshond was
first registered in Canada in the years 1928-1929.
The Keeshond is a
handsome dog, well balanced and short-coupled in body, attracting attention not only by
his alert carriage and intelligent expression, but also by his luxurious coat, his richly
plumed tail, well curled over his back, and by his fox-like face and head with small
pointed ears. His coat is very thick round the neck, forepart of the shoulders and chest,
forming a lion-like mane. His rump and hind legs, down to the hocks, are thickly coated
forming the characteristic "trousers". His head, ears and lower legs are covered
with thick short hair.
The ideal height of fully matured dogs (over 2 years old), measured from top of withers to
the ground is: for males, 18 inches (46 cm); bitches, 17 inches (43 cm). However, size
consideration should not outweigh that of type. When dogs are judged equal in type, the
dog nearest the ideal height is to be preferred. Length of back from withers to rump
should equal height as measured above.
Coat and Colour
The body should be
abundantly covered with long, straight, harsh hair; standing well out from a thick, downy
undercoat. The hair on the legs should be smooth and short, except for a feathering on the
front legs and "trousers", as previously described, on the hind legs. The hair
on the tail should be profuse, forming a rich plume, Head, including muzzle, skull, and
ears, should be covered with smooth, soft, short hair - velvety in texture on the ears.
Coat must not part down the back.
The colour should be
a mixture of grey and black. The undercoat should be very pale grey or cream (not tawny).
The hair of the outer coat is black tipped, the length of the black tips producing the
characteristic shading of colour. The colour may vary from light to dark, but any
pronounced deviation from the grey colour is not permissible. The plume of the tail should
be very light grey when curled on back, and the tip of the tail should be black. Legs and
feet should be cream. Ears should be very dark - almost black.
markings (light grey) should be well defined. The colour of the ruff and
"trousers" is generally lighter than that of the body. "Spectacles"
and shadings, as later described, are characteristic of the breed and must be present to
some degree. There should be no pronounced white markings.
Silky, wavy or curly coats. Part in coat down the back. Entirely black or white or any
other solid colour; any pronounced deviation from the grey colour.
Expression is largely dependent on the distinctive characteristic called
"spectacles" - a delicately pencilled line slanting slightly upward from the
outer corner of each eye to the lower corner of the ear, coupled with distinct markings
and shadings forming short but expressive eyebrows. Markings (or shadings) on face and
head must present a pleasing appearance, imparting to the dog an alert and intelligent
The head should be well proportioned to the body, wedge-shaped when viewed from above. Not
only in muzzle, but the whole head should give this impression when the ears are drawn
back by covering the nape of the neck and the ears with one hand. Head in profile should
exhibit a definite stop. The muzzle should be dark in colour and of medium length, neither
coarse nor snipey, and well proportioned to the skull. The mouth should be neither
overshot nor undershot. Lips should be black and closely meeting, not thick, coarse or
sagging; and with no wrinkle at the corner of the mouth. The teeth should be white, sound
and strong (but discolouration from distemper not to penalize severely); upper teeth
should just overlap the lower teeth. Eyes should be dark brown in colour, of medium size,
rather oblique in shape and not set too wide apart. Ears should be small, triangular in
shape, mounted high on the head and carried erect; dark in colour and covered with thick,
velvety, short hair. Size should be proportionate to the head - length approximating the
distance from outer corner of the eye to the nearest edge of the ear.
Absence of "spectacles". Apple head, or absence of stop. Overshot or undershot.
Protruding round eyes or eyes light in colour. Ears not carried erect when at attention.
The neck should be moderately long, well shaped and well set on shoulder; covered with a
profuse mane, sweeping from under the jaw and covering the whole of the front part of the
shoulders and chest, as well as the top part of the shoulders.
Forelegs should be straight when seen from any angle, and well feathered.
Black markings below the knee, pencilling excepted.
The body should be compact with a short straight back sloping slightly downward towards
the hindquarters; deep and strong of chest, well ribbed, barrel well rounded, belly
moderately tucked up.
Hind legs should be profusely feathered down to the hocks - not below, with hocks only
slightly bent. Legs must be of good bone and cream in colour. The feet should be compact,
well rounded, cat-like, and cream in colour. Toes are nicely arched, with black nails.
White foot or feet.
The tail should be set on high, moderately long, and well feathered, tightly curled over
the back. It should lie flat and close to the body with a very light grey plume on top
where curled, but the tip of the tail should be black. The tail should form a part of the
"silhouette" of the dog's body, rather than give the appearance of an appendage.
Tail not lying close to the back.
Dogs should show boldly and keep tails curled over the back. They should move cleanly and
briskly; and the movement should be straight and sharp (not a lope like a German Shepherd
Silky, wavy or curly coats. Part in coat down the back. Absence of "spectacles".
Apple head, or absence of stop. Over shot or undershot. Protruding round eyes or eyes
light of colour. Ears not carried erect when at attention. Black markings below the knee,
pencilling excepted. White foot or feet. Tail not lying close to the back. Tail not
carried over back when moving. Very serious faults - Entirely black or white or any other
solid colour; any pronounced deviation from the grey colour.