Keeshond (Wolfsspitz)

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grey shaded
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Good with kids:
Pros Cons
  • lives long
  • great watchdog
  • ideal family companion
  • needs a sufficient grooming
  • requires a lot of mental and physical stimulation

The Keeshond is an average-sized dog with amiable disposition, lavish coat and long and noble history. This member of Spitz family served as a watch dog on the barges and boats that navigated the territorial waters of Holland in the XVII and XVIII centuries. Today this dog is kept purely as a family pet and it’s highly treasured in its homeland.

The roots of the Keeshond’s pedigree can be found in the Arctic or Netherlands. This cute dog has close relation to other Spitz-type breeds including the Norwegian Elkhound, the Chow Chow, the Finnish Spitz, and the Pomeranian. At some point it was called «the Dutch barge dog» since it used to pootle down the Rhine River on small boats playing the role of a watch dog as well as a companion for barge captains.

At the onset of the French Revolution this dog became well known as the symbol of the Dutch Patriot political association, which was headed by the patriot Kees de Gyselaer. The Dutch barge dog with the nickname Kees belonged to this leader and after it the breed got its official name. Sadly enough but the party of the de Gyselaer was beaten by its opponents, followers of the Prince Orange. It led to the substantial drop in popularity of the Keeshond among common people.

The breed received its second chance in 1905 when it was spotted by a young Miss Hamilton-Fletcher. She pleaded her parents to bring to their native England two puppies of this breed. Dogs were imported into this country and became the base of the stock for the Keeshond outside its homeland. The breed quickly earned loyal following in England and soon found its way to other countries.

In its native Holland the Keeshond was neglected until the 20s of the XX century when Baroness van Hardenbroek became fascinated with this dog and invested much time and efforts in its popularization. She discovered the specimens of the breed all over the country, as they were still owned by riverboat captains, farm people and factory workers. Baroness initiated a breeding program and promoted its spread throughout European countries. The Keeshond was recognised by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1930.

The good-naturedness and mild character of the Keeshond make it a nearly a perfect family dog. Bred specifically as a companion animal for centuries it became a highly people-oriented dog, which wants nothing more than attention and affection from its human family. It’s prone to develop strong separation anxiety and shouldn’t be left alone for considerable length of time too often. This dog does exceptionally well with children and it’s always ready to participate in their entertainments.

The Keeshond shows its friendly disposition when it meets unfamiliar people. Nevertheless the poorly socialised specimens tend to be shy and reserved with strangers. The dog is endowed with prominent, sonorous voice and excellent vigilance, which make it a reasonable watchdog. But this kind and gentle creature will become an awful guard dog with a tendency to happily greet an intruder and follow him into the house. Being a very sensitive and gentle dog the Keeshond is often used as a therapy dog. These traits make it also rather suitable for the job as a guide dog for the blind though it’s not big enough to gain wide popularity in this role.

The Keeshond has fully deserved its reputation as a universally amiable dog. Its quiet temper and the absence of the dominative issues purport that it will get along with other canine animals. It will happily share its existence with one or more other dogs. The other pets are also pretty safe in the presence of the Keeshond but it should be properly socialised with them to make sure their co-habituation under the same roof will be problem-free.

Health Problems
The most common problems for the breed include:

• diabetes mellitus;
• epilepsy;
• growth hormone-responsive and adrenal sex-hormone dermatoses;
• patent ductus arteriosus;
• eyes problems;
• tetralogy of Fallot;
• ventricular septal defect;
• von Willebrand's disease;
• familial nephropathy;
• canine hip dysplasia (CHD);
• patellar luxation;
• Cushing’s disease;
• cardiac disease;
• skin problems;
• hypothyroidism.

The Keeshond possesses rich double coat, which has considerable grooming requirements. The brushing should be conducted two times per week and it will keep the dog’s hair in neat condition. Moreover the regular brushing will help to reduce the amount of hair found on your possessions since the Keeshond tends to lose its fur in small portions all the year around. The shedding intensifies during the spring and the fall and it’s essential to apply more frequent brushing during these periods. The coat of the Keeshond is notable for its water- and dirt- proofing features so the dog should be bathed only occasionally.

The dog with such a pleasant temperament can be trained with ease and delight. The Keeshond is endowed with typical canine desire to please its owner and according to some researchers it’s going to obey learnt command from the very first repetition 85% of the time or better. The trainer should become an authority for the dog and win its confidence.

Corrective methods of training based on force and yelling are absolutely inappropriate for this breed and they may only spoil its sweet character and turn it into a timid and nervous creature. The handler should encourage the Keeshond with a kind word and plentiful of delicious treats.

The Keeshond is a frisky and very energetic dog, which should be provided with fair amount of physical activities. Its master should take it for a lengthy and brisk walk each and every day. The dog will willingly join you in your walk to the park or in a hike.

The Keeshond is highly suitable for such canine sports as obedience contest and agility, which will ensure good stimulation both for the mind and the body of the dog. It is prone to become extremely destructive, nervous and disobedient if it doesn’t get chances to discharge its buoyant energy.