Keeshond dog breed
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Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

12 to 15 years



Maintenance Level:


Shed Level:

Very High



Coat Color:

Gray And BlackCreamSilver
Blue Ribbon

Best For

Keeshonden are best for pet parents and families who want their furry companions to not only be devoted, but smart, too. Homebodies unite! Much like Macaulay Culkin, Keeshonden are not the best at staying home alone.

Keeshond Traits

Keeshond Temperament

If your Keeshond dog had a Facebook page, their friends list would be a mile long. This delightful Northern European breed is friendly, outgoing and loving. They make lovely pets for families with children and get along well with almost everyone they meet, two- or four-legged alike.

Their deep love for people and attention can sometimes be a detriment. They hate being alone, and some suffer from separation anxiety if given too much time by themselves. But for all their clinginess, they’ll reward you kindly with their loyalty.

Once bred to watch over the barges on the waterways of Holland, Keeshonden are highly intelligent and easy to train. However, this intelligence means they can have a mind of their own, and they will find creative solutions if you try to block them from something they want, like their favorite sofa. Positive reinforcement training, which rewards good behavior, is necessary for their gentle, sensitive personality.

Thanks to their history as a watchdog, your Keeshond will likely bark—loudly—but more as an alert or a welcome when someone visits. (Woohoo! Guests are here!) They aren’t exactly guard dogs and might end up covering an intruder with kisses.

How to Care for a Keeshond

Keeshonden are medium-maintenance pups. While you will spend oodles of time caring for that luscious double coat (consisting of a thick, downy undercoat and heavier topcoat), they only need a little time spent in exercise or training. Read on for more Keeshond 101.

Keeshond Health

The Keeshond lifespan is 12 to 15 years. They are a generally healthy breed, although they do have a few health problems for pet parents to be aware of. These include:

  • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a degenerative condition of the hip joint that develops gradually and plagues many breeds, including the Keeshond. It can rob your dog of activities like running, walking well or getting up and down stairs. Various treatments focus on pain control, from medication to heat treatment to limiting mobility.
  • Elbow Dysplasia: Elbow dysplasia, similar to hip dysplasia, occurs when the elbow joint doesn’t form properly and rubs, causing the dog pain. A pup with elbow dysplasia will limp or hold their legs at an awkward angle. Surgery is often the best course of treatment for elbow dysplasia.
  • Patellar Luxation: This is when a dog’s kneecap slips out of its socket and can be quite painful for your pup. Dogs will often skip for a couple of steps when walking. Most dogs outgrow the condition, but it will require monitoring. There are also treatments, from surgery to more conservative measures like medication and weight management.
  • Heart Defects (Tetralogy of Fallot): This is a congenital defect that can be one of four problems: a hole between the lower chambers of the heart; an obstruction from heart to lungs; an aorta on top of a hole in the heart; or thickened muscles in the lower heart chamber. Symptoms include weakness, fainting, shortness of breath and blue gums or skin. There are both medical and surgical treatments for the condition. Consult your vet for more information.
  • Hypothyroidism: This occurs when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormone. Symptoms include dry skin, hair loss and weight gain. It affects many breeds, isn’t life-threatening, and can be treated inexpensively with medication.
  • Skin Problems: Pollen, dust and fleas can make your Keeshond’s skin red and itchy. Moist dermatitis, also known as hot spots, are itchy, inflamed, oozing areas on the dog’s skin. Treatments include antihistamines, special shampoos and medications.
  • Hyperparathyroidism: You should pay particular attention to the presence or absence of the gene for Primary Hyperparathyroidism (PHPT). PHPT is a disorder of the parathyroid glands that causes them to secrete excessive amounts of parathyroid hormones and can lead to too much calcium in a dog’s bloodstream, which can, in turn, damage the dog’s kidneys. This disorder is inherited, but a test is available to identify the presence or absence of the gene that controls the disease. You should always discuss the presence or absence of the PHPT gene in your puppy’s parents with the breeder.

Keeshond History

Working-class villagers in the 18th century originally bred Keeshonden to be watchdogs for the barges that sailed along Holland’s canals and rivers, earning them the name of Dutch Barge dogs. They developed this breed from the lineages of other Spitz breeds. Keeshonden were also known as Wolfspitzes in Germany.

Named after the 18th-century Dutch patriot Cornelis (Kees) de Gyselaer, leader of the Patriots Party and a rebellion against the ruling House of Orange, the breed became a symbol of that rebellion and of the patriots. Many owners abandoned the breed when the uprising failed to avoid being recognized as rebels. If it hadn’t been for the peasants and farmers who kept their dogs, the breed may not have made it to America in the 1920s. The American Kennel Club recognized Keeshonden in 1930—the 85th recognized breed. Today, they are Holland’s national dog.

So, where is the best place to find a Keeshond puppy? You can find a list of reputable Keeshond breeders on the American Kennel Club’s website. Depending on the breeder, the average cost of a Keeshond puppy is between $2,000 to $2,500, and for that, you usually get a dog screened for health and temperament issues that might even come with pedigree papers. You can also reach out to Keeshond rescue organizations to adopt a Keeshond or keep an eye out for the breed at your local animal shelter.


Are Keeshonden hypoallergenic?

No, Keeshonden aren’t hypoallergenic. The breed sheds heavily (blows their coats) twice annually in the spring and fall. People allergic to dogs would likely be allergic to them, especially when they shed.

Do Keeshonden bark a lot?

What is a lot? Keeshonden can bark loudly and have a high-pitched bark, but with good training, they needn’t be frequent barkers. Their reputation for not loving alone time and developing separation anxiety, where dogs may bark out of fear and anxiousness, has given them a rep for barkiness. It’s important to remember that while you can train your pup to know when it’s OK to bark, you’ll never train the instinct entirely out of the breed.

Are Keeshonden rare or extinct?

No, Keeshonden aren’t extinct. They’re not a common breed, and many people have never heard of them; however, despite previous threats to their existence, they have survived and thrived.

Are Keeshonden good family dogs?

Yes. Keeshonden make wonderful family dogs. They are a smart, loyal and playful breed that tends to do well with children and other dogs.

Are Keeshonden aggressive?

No. Keeshonden aren’t aggressive. This breed is mild-mannered, typically well-behaved, sensitive and gentle. They are welcoming to visitors and usually have very low aggressive tendencies.

What are the most common Keeshond mixes?

  • Keeshond-Husky mix
  • Keeshond-Pomeranian mix
  • Keeshond-Poodle mix
  • Keeshond-Collie mix
  • Keeshond-German Shepherd mix

Top Takeaways

The Keeshond is a smart, sensitive breed with a lion’s mane and a penchant for cuddling. They’re too friendly to be guard dogs but make excellent watchdogs—it’s what they were bred to do! They also make excellent family pets, are good with kids, cats, and other dogs and are happiest when surrounded by family that they can stare at with love in their eyes.

Expert input provided by Sarah Wooten, DVM, CVJ at PumpkinCare and Alex Smith, a trainer at the Positive Puppy Trainer.

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Top Keeshond Names

These are the top Keeshond names as chosen by Chewy's pet parents!

Female Names

  • Luna
  • Raven
  • Sassy
  • Nova
  • Callie
  • Poppy
  • Sadie
  • Shadow
  • Willow
  • Bailey

Male Names

  • Loki
  • Bear
  • Milo
  • Tucker
  • Kylo
  • Ernie
  • Archie
  • Teddy
  • Chip
  • Toby