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The Charismatic Keeshond
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The Charismatic Keeshond

Theo, Critter Culture Staff
Updated Sep 30, 2020

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Some breeds aren’t content unless they have a job to do, while others choose to stick close to their human whenever possible. Breeds falling into the latter category are often called “velcro breeds," and this term describes the keeshond perfectly. Instead of exploring their surroundings or entertaining themselves, they’re content to hang out with you. These medium-sized, sweet-and-cuddly, fluffy-coated pooches want nothing more than to curl up next to you on the sofa or accompany you on an afternoon walk.

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Keeshonds were bred as companions from the start

Portrait of the dog Keeshond or Wolfspitz in outdoor stockfotocz / Getty Images

This breed is unique because humans never raised them to hunt, attack predatory animals, or scare off thieves. The keeshond is and always was a companion dog. In addition to being a loyal friend, they served as alert dogs on farms, riverboats, and barges in Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Dutch have always been especially fond of these dogs. So much so that they are the official national dog breed of the Netherlands.

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2

Home is where their heart is

Keeshound in the countryside

Keeshonds are intelligent and perceptive dogs that are devoted to their human family. Not only are they especially fond of children, but they also get along well with other pets in the home when introduced properly. Although they’re not a guard dog, the keeshond will bark to let you know when a stranger approaches. And with your approval, they’ll welcome the stranger into your home.

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The keeshond's distinct appearance

Keeshond dog posing outside in winter park.

The keeshond has a plush, mixed-gray, black, and cream-colored double coat. Their thick, downy underhair supports the outer coat so that it stands out from the body and gives the breed its fluffy appearance. Keeshonds also have a mane around the neck, which is fuller in males than females. Their plumed tail curls over their back. Their most unique and delightful feature has to be their “spectacles,” the markings around the eyes that make them look as if they’re wearing a mask or eyeglasses.

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4

Keeshonds shed but are easy to groom

keeshond sitting on green grass

Be ready for heavy shedding twice a year with the keeshond. Weekly brushing keeps their coat healthy and helps minimize the problem. Because they are neat and tidy dogs, they only need baths every three months or so. Breed experts recommend trimming the fur on the paw pads and toes. Long-coated breeds like the keeshond tend to grow thick fur between the toes that can get out of hand. Not only does this excess fur pick up debris when they’re outdoors, but it can also interfere with your dog’s ability to walk properly.

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5

They smile

A young Keeshond framed by fern in a German forest. Jannik Schmitt / Getty Images

Keeshonds earned the name “The Smiling Dutchman” for a unique and endearing behavior. Meet a keeshond face-to-face, and you’ll likely be greeted with the famous keeshond “smile,” a curled lip with bared teeth. It’s not meant to be a snarl or an intimidating act, but a happy, welcoming, and submissive dog gesture. This smile, combined with their alert, expressive face, makes it easy to fall in love with this charming canine at first sight.

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They’re healthy dogs

Keeshond standing outside DevidDO / Getty Images

Keeshonds are relatively healthy, but some develop specific genetic illnesses. Hip dysplasia, primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT), Addison’s disease, and progressive retinal atrophy are inheritable diseases. Some keeshonds may develop skin and coat problems or allergies. Purchasing your pet from a reputable breeder and taking them for regular veterinarian checkups will help you keep your furry friend healthy.

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They’re the perfect pet for first-time dog owners

funny affectionate dog inexperienced owner Nelli Faytilevich / Getty Images

Gentle-natured, funny, and affectionate, the keeshond is a great choice for those who are new to dog ownership. These dogs dote on their human family. They’re open to any activity you choose, and they’ll fondly show their appreciation for the time you spend with them. Although they get bored easily, the keeshond breed learns commands and tasks quickly. Consistent, patient, and compassionate training techniques work best.

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Keeshonds don’t require a lot of space or exercise

adult keeshond adaptable exercise beach animalinfo / Getty Images

As adults, keeshonds weigh between 35 and 45 pounds. They’re extremely adaptable to a wide array of environments, including apartments. Although they need regular exercise, a daily walk, or run around the yard works well. They adapt well to their owner’s activity levels. If you enjoy activities with your canine BFF, try playing in the water, agility, or rally competitions in addition to obedience training. Keeshonds also make excellent therapy dogs.

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Some keeshonds develop separation anxiety

sensitive dog separation anxiety puppy Nelli Faytilevich / Getty Images

The keeshond is a highly sensitive dog. Some owners say their pets have developed severe separation anxiety when apart from their humans. Because keeshonds are so closely in-tune with their owners, they may not be the best breed for those who are away from home for extended periods. These dogs need close human contact to thrive and be the amazing companion they were meant to be.

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Most people mispronounce the name

mispronounce name devoted keeshond Rott70 / Getty Images

People have come up with a variety of ways to pronounce this breed’s name, and most are mispronunciations. The correct way to pronounce the breed’s name is “caze-hawnd.” When speaking about more than one keeshond dog, the correct plural is “keeshonden.” The truth is, your pet won’t care whether or not you pronounce their breed name correctly. The devoted keeshond will love you no matter what.

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