How to Identify a Keeshond
Keeshond, pronounced kayz-hawnd, are a breed of dog originating from Germany or the Netherlands. They are also known as Dutch Barge Dogs. You may be able to identify this breed of dog by the distinctive markings on its face and body. Particularly, the markings on its face resemble a pair of spectacles and give the Keeshond an intelligent look. Its wedge-shaped head is also another defining characteristic of the Keeshond. Additionally, when seen from the side, the Keeshond’s tail is curled and lies flat on its back giving it a seamless appearance.
Examining the Head and Face
1. Identify a wedge-shaped head.
When viewed from the top, the Keeshond’s head, i.e., the muzzle to the skull, should be wedge-shaped. Its head is neither too large nor too small, but proportionate to its body. Short, smooth hair covers the Keeshond’s head and muzzle.
- By covering the ears and nape of the neck with your hands, its head and muzzle should form a wedge-shape.
- An apple-shaped head (as opposed to a wedge-shape) when viewing the dog’s profile means it’s likely not a Keeshond.
2. Look for dark brown, medium-sized eyes.
Almond shaped eyes that are set neither too wide nor too close together is also characteristic of the Keeshond. The rims of the eyes are black in color as well.
- Protruding, round eyes, as well as colored eyes, are a disqualification.
3. Identify the spectacles.
The expressive markings and shadings around the Keeshond’s eyes is a distinctive characteristic that gives it an intelligent and curious expression. Circular shading around the eyes and a dark line that slants from each corner of the eye combined with expressive eyebrows resembles a pair of spectacles.
- The absence of the slanting dark lines from the corners of its eyes is a disqualification.
4. Look for erect ears.
The Keeshond’s ears are rectangular in shape and small, but proportionate to its head. Its ears are set high on its head and stand erect. Smooth, soft velvety hair covers the ears.
- Non-erect ears are a disqualification.
Observing the Body
1. Identify a compact body.
Generally, the Keeshond appears medium in size, compact, and well proportioned. Its back is short and straight and slightly slopes downward near its hindquarters. Relative to its body, its neck is moderately long. Additionally, the Keeshond’s chest is deep and strong and its stomach is only moderately tucked up near its loins.
- Males grow to be 18 inches (45.7 cm) and and females 17 inches (43.2 cm). Both male and female Keeshonds can weigh up to 35 to 45 pounds (15.9 to 20.4 kg).
2. Inspect the thickness of its coat.
A thick double coat covers the Keeshond’s body—a long, straight overcoat stands out from a thick, velvety undercoat. Its neck is also covered with a thick mane. The thick mane extends from the bottom of its jaw to its chest (covering the whole front part) and shoulders, including the top of the shoulders near the withers.
- Its coat does not part down the back, if it does, then this is a disqualification.
- The hair of its overcoat is characterized as harsh in comparison to the velvety hair of its undercoat and face.
3. Examine the fore and hind legs.
From an angle, the Keeshond’s forelegs look straight, well-boned, and proportionate to its body with a slight slope near the pasterns. The hair on the forelegs is short, smooth and slightly feathered.
- The Keeshond’s hindquarters are muscular. Its hocks are perpendicular to the floor. In comparison to the forelegs, the hind legs are covered in dense, feather-like fur down to the hocks (but not below) creating a trouser-like look.
4. Identify a tightly curled tail over its back.
The tail lies flat and close to its body seamlessly. When viewed from the side, the tail should look less like an appendage and more like a part of the dog’s silhouette or body.
- A tail that does not lie flat and close to its body is a disqualification.
- The fur on its tail is thick and well feathered forming a rich plume.
5. Examine a coat that is substantially marked and shaded.
The color of its coat is a combination of cream, gray, and black. The undercoat is typically gray or cream, but never tawny. Its outer coat, i.e., the guard hairs, is black tipped giving it its characteristic shading. The Keeshond’s head, muzzle, and ears are darker in color in comparison to the rest of the body.
- Its tail and legs are lighter in color, typically cream colored.
- Keeshond that are entirely white, black, or any solid color is a major disqualification. Also, distinct white markings and black markings halfway down its forelegs (except for penciling) are also disqualifications.
Assessing its Temperament
1. Notice its tendency for companionship.
Keeshond are very sociable animals. They rather form strong bonds with their owners and families than be independent and aloof. They are not discriminate in their affection toward family members either. The downside to this is that they detest being alone.
- Keeshond are also child-friendly dogs. They are gentle with children, yet sturdy enough to endure a child's heavy-handed pets, squealing, and high-energy.
2. See that it responds well to reward-based training.
Keeshond are eager learners, and because they remember their experiences, they are quick learners as well. For this reason, Keeshond respond well to training techniques that are positive and reward-based as opposed to negative, punishment-based training techniques.
- If owners make training lessons fun and positive, the Keeshond only needs a few, brief lessons to learn anything.
3. Examine its alertness and intelligence.
Originally, Keeshond were bred to be watchdogs on barges. Because of their breeding, they are alert and intelligent, and are natural watchdogs. Keeshond are also active and lively. They excel in agility training, as well as performance events and competitions.
- Although Keeshond bark or "talk" when a stranger is near, they are not nuisance barkers.