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rec.pets.dogs: Keeshonden Breed-FAQ

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Archive-name: dogs-faq/breeds/keeshonden
Posting-frequency: 30 days
Last-modified: 10 Nov 1997

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This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below. 
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     * Kimberly J. Eashoo, February 20, 1996 []
   Thanks to the authors of the Samoyed FAQ for inspiration on the
   preparation of the Keeshond FAQ.
Table of Contents

     * Description
     * Recognition
     * History
     * Characteristics and Temperament
     * Care and Training
     * Special Medical Problems
     * Frequently Asked Questions
     * References

   The Keeshond has been bred for centuries as the ideal family companion
   and watchdog. Their magnificent appearance and sense of loyalty have
   made them an appealing breed around the world. Their natural
   tendencies are such that no special training is usually needed for a
   Keeshond to act as a watchdog for his home, keeping it safe from
   intruders. The Kees descended from the same arctic strains that
   produced the Samoyed, Spitz and the Norwegian Elkhound . Correct
   pronunciation of the breed name is caze-hawnd, but the Americanized
   keys-hawnd is also acceptable. Most Kees fanciers will cringe,
   however, if you mistakenly pronounce, or spell, the last syllable as
   "hound". Plural of Keeshond is Keeshonden, the "en" ending signifies
   plural in Dutch. A Keeshond is happiest around people, and will
   willingly accept any stranger that its owners accept.

   The Keeshond is recognized among the following kennel clubs: AKC, UKC,
   KCGB, CKC, and ANKC.
   The official AKC Standard for the Keeshond was approved by the AKC on
   July 12, 1949. It is not included here due to copyright concerns, but
   you may write to the national breed club or the AKC for a copy.

   The Keeshond is a very old breed and there is little doubt that the
   fact it was never intended to hunt, kill animals or attack criminals
   accounts for its gentleness and devotion. In the 17th and 18th
   centuries, Keeshonden were used as watchdogs, good-luck companions,
   and vermin controllers on river boats, farms and barges. They were
   known as Wolfspitz (Germany), Chiens Loup (France), Lupini (Italy),
   and Keeshonden (Holland). During the 1700's, in Holland, Cornelius
   "Kees" de Gyzelaar, a leader in the Dutch Patriot revolt against the
   reigning House of Orange, kept one of these dogs as his constant
   The Keeshond became the symbol of the Patriot Party. This is the basis
   for the breed name as "Kees' dog", which in Dutch would be "Kees
   hund". The Patriots' were defeated, however, and many Keeshonden were
   destroyed to disavow any connection with the failed rebel party. The
   only Kees that remained were a few on barges and farms. The breed was
   not revived until nearly a century later through Baroness van
   Hardenbroek and Miss J. D. Van der Blom. Throughout the late 1800's,
   Keeshonden had appeared in England under the names of "fox-dogs,"
   "overweight Pomeranians" and "Dutch Barge Dogs." This British dog was
   the progeny of the German Wolfspitz crossed with a percentage of Dutch
   imports. After the turn of the 20th century, Mrs. Wingfield Digby and
   Mrs. Alice Gatacre aroused great interest in England and in 1926 an
   English breed club was formed with "Keeshond" as the official name.
   With rare exceptions, the Kees in the United States are derived from
   British breeding.
   The first American litter was bred in 1929 by Carl Hinderer of
   Baltimore, MD. The first Keeshond was registered with the American
   Kennel Club in 1930 in the Non-Sporting Group. The Keeshond Club of
   America, as it was later named, was organized in 1935. Mrs. Virginia
   Ruttkay pioneered Keeshond breeding in the Eastern US, founding her
   kennel in 1946. Mr. and Mrs. Porter Washington of California purchased
   their first Keeshond in 1932, providing foundation stock for many
   successful Western US kennels.
Characteristics and Temperament

  Coat and Grooming
   The Keeshond is a double coated breed. This coat consists of a woolly
   undercoat and longer guard hairs. Twice a year, Keeshonden "blow"
   their undercoats, that is, they shed their undercoats completely. It
   is a very intense shedding period that can last up to three weeks from
   start to finish.
   The good news is that this only happens twice a year. The remainder of
   the time , Keeshonden are relatively shed free (unlike smooth coated
   breeds). The bad news is that the shedding period can be rather messy.
   The hair comes out in large and small clumps. Lots of vacuuming and
   brushing are in order. The Keeshond is a very clean and relatively
   odor free dog. It tends to clean itself like a cat. Even when a
   Keeshond becomes covered in mud, it will clean itself. Bathing needs
   are minimal; thorough brushings and/or "dry baths" using a mixture of
   cornstarch and baby powder often suffices. A full bath may not be
   necessary more than once per year or when the dog is obviously dirty.
   Whitening shampoos will bring out the "brightness" of the coat.
   Other than during coat-blowing season, the Keeshond needs relatively
   little grooming. Daily brushing is ideal, but two or three times a
   week is sufficient; the brushing should be thorough to penetrate the
   outer coat and remove any loose undercoat. A long pin brush, a slicker
   brush and possibly a rake are essential grooming tools. Trimming needs
   are minimal, and if done should be done so that it looks natural and
   uncut. The body coat should never be clipped or trimmed except for
   medical reasons. Their nails should be checked and clipped
   NEVER clip a Keeshond for the summer. After the undercoat has been
   "blown out," the outer coat provides insulation from the heat and
   protection from the sun. Exposed skin will be very sensitive to the
   sun, and will sunburn very easily; this can lead to skin cancer.
   Regular grooming and constant access to cool water are particularly
   important in the summer, especially in warmer climates.
   The typical Keeshond has an outgoing personality. It is outwardly
   affecti onate with its family and will accept strangers readily once
   the owner has showed no concern for the strangers presence. The
   Keeshond makes an excellent watch dog, that is, will bark a stern
   warning any time a stranger approaches the household or one of its
   members. The Keeshond rarely bites, however, and therefore does not
   make a good guard dog. The Keeshond is a very trainable breed, but has
   a mischievous streak that often results in embarrassment for the
   owner. Some Kees have done very well in obedience competitions, but
   most trainers will tell you about the "jokes" their dogs have pulled
   on them in the ring.
   Keeshonden are friendly by nature to both people and other dogs. Their
   demand for affection is moderate to high. The pack-oriented nature of
   the Keeshond means that they do better when included in the family
   (pack, from their point of view) than when left outside by themselves.
   As befits their Northern ancestry, they may enjoy spending periods
   outside - particularly during cold weather - but their "place" should
   be inside with the rest of the pack.
   The Keeshond is known as the "Smiling Dutchman", which is often
   displayed as a curled lip or submissive grin. Certain breeds have a
   propensity for this behavior, the Keeshond is one of them. The grin is
   a sign of submission and often used as a greeting for people the dog
   is particularly fond of.
  Barking, Talking, and Howling
   Keeshonden both bark and talk, though they generally do not howl. The
   alert tone of a Keeshond bark "on watch" will warn all that a stranger
   is near. Some Keeshonden are more frequent barkers and should be
   corrected with a "quiet" command. Rarely is a Keeshond a nuisance
   barker. The Keeshond may also "talk" with a soft "aroo" or "woo-woo"
   sound similar to the Malamute and Samoyed.
Care and Training

   When you pick up your puppy, your breeder should tell you what the
   puppy has been eating, as well as recommendation as to the best food
   and feeding frequency in the future. You should try and follow the
   puppy's diet at the time you collect him from the breeder as best you
   can, until the puppy is settled in to its new environment. Then you
   can gradually change the diet to suit your preferences. Sudden changes
   in diet can severely disrupt the puppy's digestive system and cause
   gastric distress.
   As for the type and "brand" of dog food, basically any reputable dog
   food manufacturer provides a dog food that is sufficient to keep a dog
   healthy. However, the premium brands of dog food have the advantage
   that one can feed the dog less and still get very good nourishment. In
   addition, stool size and amount is generally less with the premium dog
   foods. Be sure and pick a frequency of feeding, brand, and type of
   food to suit your dogs needs. For show or active Kees, something
   equivalent to a Science Diet Performance or Eukanuba is in order. For
   Kees that go for walks and hikes, a Maintenance formula is usually
   best. Consult your breeder and veterinarian for advice.
   Keeshonden are happiest when they can share in family activities. The
   best a rrangement is one in which the dog can come in and out of the
   house of its own free-will, through a dog door. If a dog door is not
   possible, then training the dog to go to an outside door to be let out
   is also very easy to do. Outside, the dog should have a large, fenced
   yard. The fence should be strong and at least 4 feet tall. Keeshonden
   do not generally attempt to escape the confines of their yard, but, if
   left alone for long periods of time or abandoned to the back yard,
   they can and will perform some amazing feats of escape. They are prone
   to dig shallow "wallows" in hot weather; they will typically just turn
   over a layer of dirt to get to the cooler earth just below the
   The Keeshond can remain outside in very cold weather. However, you
   should provided shelter from the elements in the form of a good sturdy
   house. A good insulated house with nice straw bedding is perfect for
   Keeshonden that spend most of their time outside. Heating the dog
   house is usually not necessary. It should be stressed that leaving a
   Keeshond outside all the time is definitely inferior accommodations to
   being inside with the family. Again, problems may develop as the dog
   becomes bored.
   Training Keeshonden, as any Northern breed, can be a challenge. Unlike
   other Northern breeds, however, the Keeshond is not nearly as stubborn
   as it is clever. When training a Kees, it will usually attempt to
   "make up" things as it goes along to make obedience more interesting.
   While the dog is usually very pleased with its efforts, the owner can
   be completely at wit's end. Training Keeshonden requires a sense of
   humor first and foremost.
Special Medical Problems

   The Keeshond, as a breed, is relatively free of particular
   breed-related medical problems. The following conditions listed occur
   infrequently in Keeshonden obtained from a reputable breeder, but
   occasionally are present in the breed.
  Hip Dysplasia
   This is a genetic disorder that affects some Keeshonden: the
   proportion of 'pet shop' or 'backyard bred' Kees with this condition
   is significatly greater than Kees obtained from a reputable breeder.
   Simply put, hip dysplasia is a deformation in the hip joint. The head
   of the femur does not sit solidly in the acetabulum. The joint lacks
   tightness, and the condition results in a painful and often
   debilitating life for the dog. Hip dysplasia is considered to be a
   moderately inheritable condition. Reputable breeders will have
   breeding pairs OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) certified prior
   to breeding. OFA certification can be given only after a dog is over
   24 months old. Responsible breeding by Keeshond breeders has led to a
   tremendous decrease in the incidence of hip dysplasia in the breed.
  Subluxation of the Patella
   "Slipped stifles" simply means that slipping of the kneecap on the
   rear legs. This condition, whether hereditary or caused by trauma, can
   be identified by a veterinarian during an examination. Patellar
   subluxation is correctable by surgery but because it is hereditary
   (unless caused by injury) it is not recommended that dogs with this
   condition be bred.
  von Willebrand's Disease
   A hereditary disorder appearing in some Keeshonden is Von Willebrand's
   disease (essentially hemophilia), a platelet disorder resulting in
   mild to moderately severe bleeding and a prolonged bleeding time.
   Careful pedigree analysis and blood testing have reduced the incidence
   of this disease by reputable breeders.
   Keeshonden are subject to hypothyroidism and allergic skin diseases,
   both of which can often be treated. Sometimes skin diseases are a
   result of thyroid dysfunction. Current research indicates maternal
   antibodies as a major cause of hypothyroiditis. An untested mother, if
   affected by the disease and not demonstrating visible symptoms, will
   have circulating antibodies to the disease. When the fetus begins
   developing its own thyroid tissue, the antibodies attack brain tissue.
   In humans, it causes mental retardation but in dogs, it is believed to
   cause behavior problems. Once the fetus begins nursing, additional
   antibodies are passed to the newborn in the colostrum, eventually
   damaging the thyroid gland of the recipient. Studies indicate a
   euthyroid (normal on medication) mother is no longer circulating
   antibodies, thereby producing normal offspring. If each female is
   tested BEFORE breeding, in 5-10 generations, lymphocytic
   hypothyroiditis could greatly diminish. A complete thyroid panel,
   including T3, T4, free T3, free T4 and an antibody test are important.
   A subclinical bitch may not be showing visible symptoms therefore,
   only a blood test could determine an affected bitch.
   Keeshonden are not as prone to epilepsy, a neurological seizure
   disorder, as they once were. Unfortunately, there is no test for this.
   Ask the breeder if there are any known epilepsy problems with dogs in
   your Keeshond's pedigree. Ethical breeders will be more than happy to
   discuss this with you.
Frequently Asked Questions

   _How do Keeshonden handle the summer heat?_
     Like any dog, to cope with summer heat the Keeshond needs a
     constant supply of water to drink and shade from the sun. If the
     dog is allowed inside then it will find its own cool spot (probably
     on the kitchen or bathroom floor if it is tiled or linoleum floor).
     Outdoors, the dog will probably dig a shallow hole by turning over
     a layer of soil to get to the cooler earth just beneath the
     surface. Some dogs like having ice added to their water to help
     keep it cool. Some also enjoy a children's wading pool filled with
     water in the summer time. The Keeshond sheds a lot of coat before
     summer, as soon as the whether starts to warm up, which also allows
     them to keep cool. Heavy exercise should be avoided in excessive
     heat. Curtail exercise times to be early morning or just after
     sunset. Once the dog is acclimated to his environment, he is
     usually fine. NEVER clip a Keeshond for the summer. Exposed skin is
     very prone to sunburn, which can lead to skin cancer. Also, the
     coat acts as an insulating blanket from the heat as well as the
     cold. Keeshonden are remarkably adaptable animals. However, one
     should never try and push a dog beyond his capability to cope with
     the heat. To do so can be disastrous. One must keep in mind the
     type of climate the dog is acclimated for and not look for signs of
     heat stress. Do not ever lock any dog in a car in direct sunlight,
     or in the shade for a great deal of time, even with the windows
     down a little for ventilation the heat generated by the dog is
     still enough to cause heat stress in summer.
   _What are they like with children?_
     Due to their gentle temperament the Keeshond is a very good family
     dog. The Keeshond was bred to be a family companion, after all.
     They enjoy the company of children, though common sense must be
     used when introducing any dog to young children. Keeshonden are
     generally patient by nature and will tolerate young children
     fawning over them, but this should be strictly supervised for the
     sake of the dog as well as the child. With these caveats in mind,
     since Keeshonden love attention, well behaved children get along
     wonderfully with well mannered and socialized Keeshonden.
   _What are they like inside a house?_
     Keeshonden, aside from the occasional invasion of masses of fur
     when they are shedding coat, are excellent house dogs. They are
     extremely clean dogs. They are very sure-footed and in no way
     clumsy around furniture. They will often pick out a favorite
     sleeping spot and stay there for hours. Favorite spots seem to be
     tiled and linoleum floors in warm weather, soft pillows or beds at
     other times. The dog may seek out drafty areas and possibly lie in
     front of doors with cold drafts during the winter.
   _How much exercise do they need, and what kind?_
     The Keeshond does not require a great deal of exercise, which makes
     the breed an excellent companion for apartment dwellers. A daily
     walk would suffice for most Keeshonden, although if you are "up"
     for a game of Frisbee or ball, the Keeshond will gladly oblige.
     Keeshonden have participated in many dog sports such as sledding,
     Agility, Flyball, Scent Hurdle Racing, Frisbee and have recently
     been recognized as a breed eligible to compete for Herding titles.
     The level of activity of your Kees really depends upon how much you
     wish to do with the dog.
   _Do they shed a lot?_
     Keeshonden blow their undercoats twice per year. They do not
     typically shed year round like many dog breeds. When they do blow
     their coat, they lose lots of hair (several grocery sacks full per

     Cash, Carol and Ron. The New Complete Keeshond, 1987, Howell Book
   House. ISBN 0-87605-199-9.
     Peterson, Clementine. The Complete Keeshond, 1971, Howell Book
   House. ISBN 0-87605-174-3.
     Nicholas, Anna Katherine. The Keeshond, 1984, T.F.H. Pub., ISBN
  Breed Rescue Organizations
   Rescue information is available on the Keeshond Home Page, URL: or Rescue information,
   Keeshond Club of America, nationwide referral (919) 742-7479.
  Breed Clubs
   Keeshond Club of America
          Tawn Sinclair, 11782 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu, CA 90265
   The American Keeshond Society
          Membership Information: Carolyn Schaldecker, 3280 Coral Ave.
          NE, Solon, IA 52333-9374
   In the United States: Contact the Keeshond Club of America for breeder
   recommendations in your area.
    Keeshond FAQ
    Kimberly J. Eashoo,

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