Are Keeshonds really ‘Neatniks’?

  1. Where do you live? What is your occupation? How many years in dogs?
  2. Do you have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs?
  3. The Keeshond is an attractive dog. Were you initially attracted to the breed’s appearance?
  4. What distinguishes the Keeshond from similar breeds?
  5. How important is correct size for the breed Correct proportions?
  6. What about the Keeshond’s spectacles? How much emphasis is placed on color and markings?
  7. Does the stand-off coat require a great deal of care?
  8. Is it true that the Keeshond is a “neatnik?” Do they really smile?
  9. Are Keeshonden well-suited for performance events?
  10. Can you share a funny story about your experiences with the Keeshond?
  11. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate.

 

Joanne Reed

The Windrift Keeshond Kennel is in Santa Rosa, California. I am a retired professional handler of multiple breeds and have been a breeder of several breeds. However, my main breed for over 50 years has been the Keeshond. I am currently on the Keeshond Breeder’s Education Committee and in charge of their Facebook account. I am also on the Keeshond Standard Revision Committee. We are currently working on revising our standard.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? Years ago, I used to break, train, show and breed Arabian horses. Now, I no longer have any horses and have devoted my life to my dogs.

I have coached volleyball at the grammar school level. I have a 14-year-old daughter who is involved with club volleyball. I no longer coach, but now have the pleasure of watching her compete at a higher level. If we are not at a dog show, we are at a volleyball tournament. It makes life interesting and remarkably busy.

Was I initially attracted to the breed’s appearance? I was taking obedience lessons with my German Shepherd when I first saw a Keeshond. It was love at first sight. I have now been involved in the breed for 50 years, having produced more than 200 champions and hold all the records in the breed. I have produced more Hall of Fame Keeshonds, more Registration of Merit and Registration of Merit Excellence dogs (dogs and bitches) than anyone in the breed.

The first Keeshond that I saw was a wonderful specimen of the breed. His head with the lovely spectacles and his full coat was breathtaking. I had never seen a Keeshond before, and I could not take my eyes off him. He was also an excellent obedience dog. He performed every task with a smile on his face and a willingness to please. I was hooked from the first encounter!

What distinguishes the Keeshond from similar breeds? The head of a Keeshond is not typical of other breeds. A Keeshond must have spectacles. Their spectacles are the hallmark of our breed. The spectacle is actually the line that goes around the eye and then fans out and goes upward to the bottom of the outside of the ear. It is not the white that is inside this line.

I also believe that the outline of a Keeshond makes them different than most breeds. The luxurious mane, the tail that curls on top of the back, and the full pants are typical of the breed. Their happy-go-lucky attitude and mischievousness is always evident.

How important is correct size and proportions for the breed? Our breed standard states that a male should be 18 inches and female 17 inches. A one-inch variance either way is acceptable. Correct proportions are vital. The Keeshond is a square dog. The shoulder, upper arm and leg shall all be of equal length. The highest point of the withers shall be in line with the elbow. The pelvis, thigh and lower leg shall all be of equal length, meeting at a well bent stifle joint. This makes a very balanced dog with moderate angulations.

What about the Keeshond spectacles? How much emphasis is placed on color and markings? As mentioned above, the spectacles are the hallmark of our breed and should always be present to some degree. Our standard states that a Keeshond is dramatically marked with a mixture of gray, black and cream. A Keeshond should never be smutty or tawny in coloring. Our breed standard specifically dictates what our coloring should be, and without these traits it wouldn’t look like a Keeshond.

Does the stand-off coat require a great deal of care? A Keeshond’s hair shaft is straight and because of this it does not matt like a Poodle. A thorough brushing once a week is all that needs to be done to make a Keeshond look groomed. Anyone can deal with this type of coat. A show dog does require bathing before a show. Our standard states that trimming is not permissible. We are allowed to trim whiskers, feet, pasterns and hocks. However, you will see more than that in the show ring. Many get carried away and “artfully” tidy up. You should never see a fully sculpted silhouette.

Is it true that the Keeshond is a “neatnik”? Do they really smile? Keeshonds are almost cat-like. They are extremely clean and have no odor when kept clean. They will usually only soil in the part of your lawn or area where you keep them. They almost never walk or step in manure. It seems like they have radar on their feet.

Yes, Keeshond do smile. That is why we call them the Smiling Dutchman. When they are happy, you can actually see them smile and you can see the twinkle in their eye. They look right into your eyes as if they could read your mind.

Are Keeshonden well-suited for performance events? They are more than excellent in performance. While I’m not involved in agility, I believe that the top agility dog is a Keeshond. They hold all sorts of records in agility. They seem to like work and having something to do, which makes them great in all sorts of obedience work.

Can I share a funny story about my experiences with the Keeshond? This is a story from years ago about one of my Best In Show Keeshonds (Ch. Star Kees Dingbat). Dingbat was a dog that I had to force feed to keep him at proper show weight. He never liked food until he retired from the ring. He was a dog that could go hours without fouling his crate and was always trustworthy in the house. Well, I was dating a man and he came to take me out to dinner. We left Dingbat at home. When we came home, maybe an hour later, Dingbat left a pile of manure at the front door. We had to step over it to get into the house. He had gone into the garbage and spewed the garbage into every corner of the house. I went upstairs to check what damage he could have done and found that he’d messed up my bedspread and then he peed on each pillow! Now, that took a lot of brain power to do what he did. All I could do was laugh the whole time I cleaned up the mess. Now, that was jealously!

 

Mary Ellen Meyer

My name is Mary Ellen Meyer. I have been involved in the sport of dogs for almost 60 years, and in Keeshonden since 1971. I became an AKC Judge in 2000 and currently judge the Non-Sporting Group, Toy Group and part of the Working Group. I have also had the honor of judging two Keeshond National Specialties.

I currently reside in Wisconsin and am retired from the Department of Veterans Affairs. My kennel name is Markwright Keeshond. Over the years, I have bred more than 150 Champions of Record, including National Specialty, Specialty-winning, and Hall of Fame dogs.

Was I initially attracted to the breed’s appearance? I was originally drawn to the breed while visiting my mother-in-law in California. She had a Keeshond as her family dog. I was so taken by my first encounter with the breed; her dog Percy. I knew when I would return home, this would be my next dog.

The Keeshond is a very outgoing breed. They are very social, love people, and they think everyone has to pet them at least once or twice. They are very loyal and fun loving. They get along well with other pets (even cats), and, of course, make great family pets.

What distinguishes the Keeshond from similar breeds? The Keeshond’s great personality, eagerness to please and versatility distinguishes itself from similar breeds. Their origin as a barge and farm dog in the Netherlands combined with their ability to be great companions and house-dogs makes them great all-around dogs. They excel in obedience, agility, rally, fast cat, barn hunt, tracking and more!

How important is correct size and proportions for the breed? The Keeshond is a moderate dog. Preferred male height should be 18 inches, and bitches should be 17 inches, with a one inch over or under variance for both. This is the ideal size for a Keeshond, however, we do not have any disqualification for size in our breed standard.

What about the Keeshond’s spectacles? How much emphasis is placed on color and markings? This breed’s unique hallmarks are their spectacles (the dramatic markings around their eyes), their abundant and dramatically marked coats, their great outgoing personalities and their infectious Keesie grin.

Does the stand-off coat require a great deal of care? The Keeshond is a double-coated breed with a long, harsh outer coat and a dense, soft under coat. Having a Nordic type stand-off coat protects them from the cold in the winter and keeps them cool in the summer. Their coats are unique in that they are almost self-cleaning. When they get dirt on their coat or roll in the mud, the debris pelts off the outer guard coat as it dries. Brushing the coat keeps the coat clean and neat.

Can I share a funny story about my experiences with the Keeshond? Everyone in this breed could probably write a book about their dogs and the crazy things they have done. The Keeshond is a clown. They love to make us laugh and they keep our lives interesting, to say the least. They truly live up to their nickname “the Smiling Dutchman” as they really do smile at us! Sometimes I think they smile to let us know that they are the boss and to show us that we really can’t outsmart them, even though we think we can.

 

Beth Blankenship

I live in North Carolina, where I am self employed. I have been involved in dogs for 32 years.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? Photography, gardening, cooking—the usual.

Was I initially attracted to the breed’s appearance? Yes, but temperament was the first draw. While working in animal hospitals with many types of pets, I was drawn to the breed’s personality.

What distinguishes the Keeshond from similar breeds? The dramatically-marked coat and spectacles, but what is even more unique to me is how in-tune they are to their people. They have a fun-loving, yet sensitive nature.

How important is correct size and proportions for the breed? They are a compact, sturdy dog that is very agile, so they must remain medium in size and moderate in angulation and proportions.

What about the Keeshond’s spectacles? How much emphasis is placed on color and markings? It is very important to me as it distinguishes them from other Spitz-type breeds.

Does the stand-off coat require a great deal of care? No, the correct harsh coat with good texture and density is quite easy to brush and prepare for the home and the ring.

Do Keeshonds really smile? They sheepishly curl their lip and it looks like a smile, but it’s more of a, “Oh, am I in trouble?” Or, “Yes, I’m in trouble.” Their smile can also be seen when they are acting really silly. They don’t all do it.

Are Keeshonden well-suited for performance events? Oh my gosh, yes! Their eagerness to please, coupled with their intelligence and athleticism, is perfection. The downside is they are crafty and get bored with repetition.

Can I share a funny story about my experiences with the Keeshond? I was just noticing the other day how my young male puppy knew exactly where to perch himself on my golf cart. Each male special here at Trumpet gets to parade around on my golf cart at shows. It’s really cute to me (and never gets old) that the five-month-old took his place beside me on a short ride to the pond. I once had a young male leap onto the top of a fence and walk two exercise yards over to the female in-heat yard. He walked across the tops of the fences, jumped down into the next yard, then up over the fence again into the forbidden yard. They are smart and frustrating, but I adore them!

 

Collene Esterly Hamm

I first got hooked on the Keeshond breed when I was 14 and living on a farm. My father brought home a four-year-old male Keeshond from a rescue and I instantly fell in love. I named him Smokey, and he quickly became my best friend. Smokey went everywhere with me…even when horseback riding for miles. He never left my side. When I learned to hunt (yes, girls do hunt), he would follow me in the woods and sit with me until the deer would come, and then proceed to chase them away. Needless to say, he learned he could not go hunting with me anymore if we wanted to eat deer meat. At 19, I got married and wanted to start raising Keeshonds. It took me two years to find my second Keeshond. I had bought her from a lady named Mrs. John Craley. She was in her 70s and taught me everything there is about raising this breed.

By age 24, I had 15 adult Keeshonds and two children. When the children were born, I discovered that this was the perfect breed of dog to raise a family with. My Keeshonds loved the kids and were very gentle with them. I’m now in my 40s and have 18 adult Keeshonds. Some are currently retired and enjoying life, and some are busy breeding the cute, new puppies to make others smile! Select dogs are being raised to carry on our bloodline. These dogs are therapy for anyone who buys them, because you can’t help but feel so good around them.

I live in Lenhartsville, Pennsylvania, where I own a flower and gift shop. I have been involved in Keeshonds for 38 years.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? I love to grow flowers and make wreaths to sell in my store.

Was I initially attracted to the breed’s appearance? The Keeshond puppy looks like a beautiful bear.

What distinguishes the Keeshond from similar breeds? The temperament of a Keeshond is very different from other dogs. They think they are a person!

How important is correct size and proportions for the breed? The ideal height of a fully matured dog, when measured from top of withers to the ground, is 18 inches for males and 17 inches for bitches—a one inch variance either way is acceptable. The ideal weight is 28 to 48 pounds, depending on the size of the dog.

Spectacles are very important. It should look like they were just done with eyeliner. As long as the dog is not one solid color; they vary in markings and shades of silver, black and gray.

Does the stand-off coat require a great deal of care? The coat should be brushed well at least once a week. Growing puppies should be brushed at least five minutes per day to teach them to love grooming and to keep up with the sheep wool thing they have going on.

Is it true that the Keeshond is a “neatnik?” Do they really smile? Keeshonden are called the smiling Dutchman. I have 27 grown Keeshond dogs and many do smile. People sometimes think they are growling. I tell them, “Never, they are smiling at you!”

Are Keeshonden well-suited for performance events? A Keeshond will do anything you teach them as long as the reward is food. They do anything for food! This breed is very smart.

Can I share a funny story about my experiences with the Keeshond? I had a girl about 20 years ago that would not stop barking when I was trying to talk on the phone. So, I would give her a treat to chew so I could hear the phone call. Well, one day my husband saw what was going on and said, “Wow, she has you trained very well!” I said, “What are you talking about?” He said, “She barks, you reward her. She barks, you do it again and so on.” I then realized she had trained me very well, and I just laughed!

 

Kathi Fleischer

I live in Columbus, Ohio, and I’m a Project Manager. I’ve been involved with dogs my whole life. I got my first Keeshond almost 40 years ago and I’ve never looked back.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? My dogs are my passion and my life revolves around them. That sounds sad to some, but it’s what I love to do. Now that we are on lockdown from COVID-19, I realize how much more important shows and visiting with my dog friends are to me. I’m really missing it.

Was I initially attracted to the breed’s appearance? Actually, my mother picked the Keeshond breed and surprised me with my first Kees named “Tubette” when I was in third grade. My teacher, Ms. Fields, showed Soft Coated Wheaton Terriers and invited my mother to her training club to help her pick a breed. From there, I started traveling to shows with Tubette’s breeder and I was hooked.

What distinguishes the Keeshond from similar breeds? Keeshonden are known for their standoffish coat, beautiful silhouettes, and happy, silly temperaments. I cannot imagine my life without one, or in my case, many. They are truly the sweetest dogs. They can be a little too clingy for some people, though. All my Kees follow me from room to room. They can also alert owners to every leaf, squirrel and person near their territory.

How important is correct size and proportions for the breed? The ideal height for male Kees is 18 inches, measured from the withers, and for females it’s 17 inches (with an inch variance allowed either way). Frankly, I think our breed is getting too small. A heavy coat can help give the illusion of correct size. The breed should also be “square-appearing.”

What about the Keeshond’s spectacles? How much emphasis is placed on color and markings? Spectacles are a combination of markings and shadings which must include a dark line slanting from the outward corner of the eye to the lower corner of the ear. Spectacles and expression are a distinctive feature of our breed and are very important. Lack of spectacles is considered a serious fault.

As it relates to color, they should be dramatically marked with a mixture of grey, black and cream. Color can vary from light to dark.

I specialed a light dog that the judges either loved or would dump when in a lineup of darker dogs.

Does the stand-off coat require a great deal of care? Some people fear the Keeshond coat, but care is easy. The breed does require frequent line brushing, but the coat doesn’t mat unless, maybe, in extreme circumstances with lack of care for an extended period of time. The coat repels water (i.e., they shake off water and dirt). I generally brush my crew every one-to-two weeks. The good thing about this breed is that they do not smell and can be
bathed infrequently.

Is it true that the Keeshond is a “neatnik?” Do they really smile? I’ll be honest, I have never heard the Keeshond breed described as a “neatnik.” They are generally clean, do not smell, and have very little dander (as can occur with other breeds). Keeshonden are a double-coated breed and when losing undercoat you generally have to brush it out with a pin brush or slicker.

Keeshonden are very silly. They do smile, and some are quite talkative which can be a little scary unless you know the breed.

Are Keeshonden well-suited for performance events? Keeshonden are very intelligent, easily trainable and food motivated. They are extremely well-suited for performance events and many in our breed are highly competitive in obedience, agility, rally, etc.

Can I share a funny story about my experiences with the Keeshond? As I said earlier, Kees can be a very silly and social breed. I had a dog that would hop from grooming table to grooming table. I would turn to get something out of my grooming box and he would be down the aisle visiting with someone else on their table.

 

Elizabeth Fortino

It all began in 1989, when a Keeshond rescue named Timber found its way into my home and heart. I grew up with many different breeds of dogs, though the Keeshond was not among them. A couple years later a puppy named Tug came to my home as company for Timber. They were wonderful companions and lived to be 14 and 13 years of age. In 1996, Cinder joined Tug to keep him happy, but came with a contract that required me to “show her” and complete her championship. I was “hooked” after the first show.

Richwood’s Special Forces “Tank” came to join our family and went on to win many championship titles in Rally and Obedience, and Conformation, including Reserve Best in Show at a UKC competition. He also received his Canadian Championship.

Daughter to Tank, KeeNorth All About U Haiti, went on to achieve her Silver Grand Championship, Best of Opposite at Eukanuba in 2011 and Best of Breed competition and 2013. She then took Select Bitch at her first Westminster competition in 2014.

I remain an Owner-Handler, breeding, raising, grooming and showing my own dogs. My goal is to produce quality Keeshonden representative of the breed standard in health, soundness and structure. I have met and learned from selective breeder-mentors to determine which type of dog I like and desire to breed, carefully selecting a dog by pedigree and hands-on observation.

I live in Roscommon, Michigan, where I am a State Farm Agent. I have been involved in dogs for 30 years.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? Traveling and camping.

Was I initially attracted to the breed’s appearance? No, my first Keeshond was a small male rescue with a knee injury. He was five when a friend dropped him off and said, “You guys need a dog and this dog needs a home. Keep him for a week and see how it goes.” Knee surgery, nine years of companionship and joy is how it went.

What distinguishes the Keeshond from similar breeds? Friendliness and compassion. They love children and will be protective of them and family members. They are great guard dogs.

How important is correct size and proportions for the breed? Anything taller than 18 inches would be incorrect. It seems size is getting smaller and a cause for concern. All breeds have a standard that we, as breeders, can aspire to meet for the betterment of the breed. Attitude can be just as important when competing.

What about the Keeshond’s spectacles? How much emphasis is placed on color and markings? One of the distinguishing markings of this breed. The more prominent, the better. Color and markings are part of the whole package when being examined.

Does the stand-off coat require a great deal of care? Not when kept in a clean atmosphere, brushed once a week and a bath every six weeks. Trim toenails every two weeks. They shed like tumbleweeds with a clump of hair in the corner.

Is it true that the Keeshond is a “neatnik?” Do they really smile? No, not the boys! The girls tend to keep things cleaner. Yes, and it is quite comical, their way of talking back at you!

Are Keeshonden well-suited for performance events? Not all, but many have an amazing athletic ability to run and jump. They are very intelligent and catch on quickly. I have one that insists that the other side of the six foot fence is better, and climbs up and over!

Can I share a funny story about my experiences with the Keeshond? Keeshonden are clowns by nature and very playful.
During obedience, my four-year-old, Tank, decided in the middle of his off-leash competition that it was play time! His front went down and his rear was wagging. I knew then that we were finished. He ran around the ring as if to say, “Look at me,” and then tried to bolt out the opening. I retrieved him, and my red face and I left the ring disqualified! They love to embarrass you.

Is there anything else I would like to share about the breed? It is unfortunate that the double coat on this breed deters many by assuming a lot of maintenance is needed. They are one of the best companion dogs I have ever owned.

 

Shannon Kelly

I live in Rickreall, Oregon, just west of Salem. I have 46 years in Keeshonds.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? Gardening and hanging out at the beach.

Was I initially attracted to the breed’s appearance? I was attracted to the Keeshond’s size, coloring, plush coat and amazing temperament. I also love their head and expression.

What distinguishes the Keeshond from similar breeds? I think the Keeshond is more agile than many of the similar breeds. They have a whimsical, charming temperament that is extremely easy to live with. They are smart and easy to train.

How important is correct size and proportions for the breed? Our standard says, “Size shall not outweigh quality.” As a breeder, I strive to produce Kees bitches close to 17 inches and males 18 inches. Type and quality are more important to me than size. As a breed, over the years we have tended to swing from small-to-large-to-medium over and over.

What about the Keeshond’s spectacles? How much emphasis is placed on color and markings? Spectacles are important as they give the Keeshond its signature expression. As for coloring, Keeshonds can be light or dark—all shades are appropriate. You will find that some judges prefer light and some want a darker dog. As puppies, most Keeshonds are light and judges can be fooled because a young dog has very light, almost absent markings, but is totally correct for a youngster. Keeshonds get darker and their markings more definite as they get older. Sometimes if a puppy is very dark as a youngster, the markings can disappear into a very dark dog in later life.

Does the stand-off coat require a great deal of care? We call the Keeshond the “lazy man’s glamour dog” as they are actually easy to keep groomed. With training as a youngster, they are easy to keep in good condition as long as they are brushed out every 10-14 days. My Keeshonds love to be groomed. They eagerly jump on the grooming table to be groomed. They love to look pretty.

Is it true that the Keeshond is a “neatnik?” Do they really smile? As puppies, Keeshonds are just as messy and sloppy as most puppies. But as adults, they do tend to like to be clean and groomed. Mine don’t like to go out in the rain or get their feet muddy or soiled. They do tend to clean their feet like cats. Keeshonds do tend to smile, some more than others. Life to a Keeshond is fun and silly, but the breed is also extremely attuned to their owner’s emotions.

Are Keeshonden well-suited for performance events? Keeshonds are probably one of the top five-ten performance breeds. They are fast, agile, smart, quick to learn and love to show off. That being said, they can sometimes be challenging as they are often smarter than their owners. The Keeshond was made for agility and rally. Being food oriented makes them easy to train.

Can I share a funny story about my experiences with the Keeshond? This is a breed that loves to make people laugh. One must be very careful not to laugh at naughty things that their Keeshond does because once they get that reaction, they will continue the behavior over and over. I once had a dog that learned ten tricks—things like dance, sit up, play dead, etc. He got so smart that whenever people came to visit, the minute they sat down he would go out to the
center of the room and quickly go through all ten tricks on his own and then run over to the cookie cupboard waiting for his treat.

When you live with a Keeshond, you live with a cheerful, smart, happy dog that makes you smile every day. It is a delightful breed.

 

Jennifer McClure & Diane Wright

We live just outside of the Black Forest in Southern Colorado. I am a Cytotechnologist by profession. We have been involved in the breed for 33 years.

Do I have any hobbies or interests apart from breeding and showing dogs? Living in Colorado, camping is a must. We also enjoy four-wheeling and packing with llamas.

Was I initially attracted to the breed’s appearance? The Keeshond is a very eye-catching breed. They have a beautiful coat and color, and they are the perfect size dog. All of these characteristics attribute to love at first sight.

What distinguishes the Keeshond from similar breeds? Personality. The Keeshond is a very intelligent breed. It is very sensitive to emotion and easy to train for just about anything.

How important is correct size and proportions for the breed? Correct size is very important. As I mentioned, it is one of the characteristics that make this breed so desirable. The correct proportions are a true medium size, not small, but robust without being large.

What about the Keeshond’s spectacles? How much emphasis is placed on color and markings? The spectacles and markings are important as they are the “trademarks” of the breed. The mentioned markings are important, but so is the dog’s structure and soundness.

Does the stand-off coat require a great deal of care? The Keeshond’s coat and texture is a remarkable asset of the breed. A proper texture does not require a great deal of work and is very clean to live with. The breed does shed, but the guard hairs hold the hair to the body to be brushed out rather than being left around the house. They do require regular brushing, but the phrase, “Lazy man’s glamour dog,” is appropriately applied to the breed.

Is it true that the Keeshond is a “neatnik?” Do they really smile? Yes! They are the “Smiling Dutchman.” A rightful nickname. They will often display a full set of teeth in sheer joy. The breed is very neat and tidy, has little to no doggy odor, and a luxurious coat that doesn’t leave hair all over if appropriately maintained.

Are Keeshonden well-suited for performance events? Yes! Keeshonden excel at most performance events. They are very smart, eager to please and usually food oriented.

 

Tawn Sinclair

I live in Malibu, California, and my home was the inspiration for my kennel name, Shoreline. I am retired from my civil service career with the State of California and have worked as a full-time dog trainer since leaving my state job. I have been showing and breeding Kees since 1978. I am active in conformation, obedience, agility, rally, tracking and therapy dog work. Outside of dogs, I have a passion for gardening and want to travel more in the years ahead.

Was I initially attracted to the breed’s appearance? Definitely. The first Kees I saw in person was when I was a sophomore in college and had enrolled my own mixed-breed pound puppy in an obedience class at a local park. There was a Keeshond in the class and I immediately recognized the dog as the breed I had seen in dog books as a child. Not only was his appearance extremely striking, he was such an up-and-happy dog that one couldn’t help but notice him.

What distinguishes the Keeshond from similar breeds? The Kees is a Spitz characterized by dramatic coloring that is distinct from all the other Spitz breeds. The spectacles and happy, smiling face can’t help but make you smile in response. Unlike many spitz breeds, Kees are anything but independent. They adore their people (children, especially), other dogs, family pets, and are extremely social. They are basically happy-go-lucky clowns.

How important is correct size and proportion for the breed? Ideally, Kees males are 18″ and bitches are 17″, give or take an inch for both. They are a sturdy dog without being overly stocky. Weight for males is generally between 30-40 pounds and females between 27-35 pounds. There is no disqualification for size—with type being more important—but correct size is part of what makes up correct type. The Kees is to be square in appearance. He is a compact dog, and that square appearance is a huge part of what gives Kees their unique appearance among other Spitz breeds.

What about the Keeshond’s spectacles? How much emphasis is placed on color and markings? The Keeshond spectacles are the hallmark of the breed. It is a unique feature that immediately draws attention and smiles. A Kees without spectacles should never be rewarded in the breed ring. The Kees is a dramatically-colored dog. The presence of bright shoulder markings, ruff, tail and leg feathering gives the Kees the dramatically-marked coat. The presence of the striking, contrasting coat and the unique spectacles are what differentiates the Kees from all other Spitz breeds.

Does the stand-off coat require a great deal of care? The Kees was once described as “a poor man’s glamour dog.” This description was due to the dramatic coloring on the stand-off coat that was also easy to care for. A proper coat with proper texture does not require hours of grooming. A dog with proper texture has a harsh outer coat that resists dirt and slush. While they may look muddy after a run in the outdoors, the coat will shed all the muck and be looking great again with very little brushing. A tendency toward massive coats with cottony texture has been observed and needs to be carefully watched. Kees should not require hours of grooming in order to look good. The general public thinks these dogs require a great deal of coat care, which is not the case if the texture and length is kept to the proper standard.

Is it true that the Keeshond is a “neatnik?” Do they really smile? No, to the first, and yes, to the second! I would never describe my Kees as neatniks. They love to explore and roll in rotten things. Thankfully, their coats tend to slough off the mess.

As far as the smile, yes, they really do smile. In fact, more than smiling, I would say that they laugh. They have those mischievous eyes with the spectacles, and that happy, open-mouthed grin. Then they throw their heads back and look exactly like they are laughing!

Are Keeshonden well-suited for performance events? The Kees is an extremely versatile and athletic dog. They originally worked as general farm dogs in Germany where they acted as vermin catchers, herders and guard dogs. In Holland, they guarded the barges plying the canals while also keeping them free of rats. They are very agile and active, giving them both the physical abilities and the temperament to perform a wide array of performance events. Kees excel in obedience, agility, rally, tracking, scent work, barn hunt, fast cat and even herding. They are very biddable dogs, enjoying a wide variety of activities with their owners. My own dogs have accumulated 42 MACHs, ten CD’s, six CDX’s, two UD’s, three TDX’s and four Rally Master titles. While I enjoy the breed ring, the performance events are definitely my first love, and I have found my Kees to be eager to take that journey with me.

Can I share a funny story about my experiences with the Keeshond? One of the more amusing aspects of owning a breed that is fairly rare with a foreign name is the many different breeds that people think you have, and the many ways they want to fracture the name. I have been asked most commonly if my dog is a Chow, but they have also been identified as Huskies, Norwegian Elkhounds, Malamutes, Pomeranians, and even wolves. Some people actually want to argue with you that you don’t know what kind of dog you have because it is most definitely a Chow! Then there are people who do recognize the breed. They will frequently say, “I had one of those as a child, best dog I ever had.” When I ask why they don’t have one now, they often respond that they really don’t know, “You just don’t see them much anymore.” Then there are the mispronunciations. Most commonly, people will call them a “hound” rather than “hond.” When I pronounce the name correctly, “Kazehond,” I will get a blank stare and then they will say, “Oh, a Quiche Hound!”

 

Donna Stekli

I started in 1964 with Shetland Sheepdogs. I bought my first show Keeshond in 1979, Vixen (linebred on Ch. Wistonia Wylie ROMX). Since then, I have been “hooked” on the breed. A*starz is my kennel name. I have produced over 100 (documented) homebred AKC champions/titled Kees to date, including Best In Shows, HOFs, ROMXs, ROMs, many Group winners/placers, several Best and Best of Opp in Specialty, Best In Sweeps and Best of Opp in Sweeps as well as several top-5 Breed ranking Kees dogs and bitches, both in the US and Canada. There are also numerous obedience, agility, rally and flyball titled and two MACHx Kees originating from A*starz. We pride ourselves in the fact that most of our Kees finish their Championships with their owner-handlers. In 2009, I finished my first Pomeranian AKC CH, owner-handled. Starting in 2008 or so, I started training my Kees for agility and now have Kees with many AKC agility titles. At the KCA 75th Anniversary, my Juliette was HIT Jumpers (her first trial, breeder/owner-handled)! In 2011, our Allison was the first Trick Titled Kees on the planet.

I am “retired” from the Information Technology world where I spent 28 years working as a computer professional, consultant and project manager for such companies as: MCI, Cincinnati Bell Info Systems, Xerox, NASA, Satellite Direct, Reynolds & Reynolds, Citibank, and the IRS.

I have judged several Kees sweepstakes (CKC, KFCS, PCKC, BKC, KCGOC, HTKC), Puppy and Veteran. I was voted by KCA (Kees Club of America) members to judge the 2012 KCA Futurity and Maturity Stakes. Such an honor! I have been an officer and past President of TAKS (The American Kees Society, now dissolved), an honorary member of OVKC (Ohio Valley Kees Club, now dissolved), past President and officer of the CKC (Capital Kees Club), founding member of the Kentuckiana Kees Club and past officer of the Catoctin Kennel Club. I have held committee positions in KCA and am currently the Recording Secretary. For many years, I was a volunteer trainer for Catoctin Kennel Club, training owners to train their (various breeds) dogs and puppies.

Since 1987, I began videotaping and producing Kees national and regional specialties. Since about 2002, all the video is digital and I edit/dub/enhance on the computer. We stopped covering every Kees national in 2017 and now only videotape by special request.

I believe in being ethical and fair to all like-minded in the breed. I have been a mentor to many as a result; in using contracts for all dog agreements, even with good friends and relations; in giving back to the breed by sharing of information and volunteering; in health testing and careful selection of breeding stock.

I started the regime of Modern Natural Rearing (MNR) in 1991. MNR has to do with making Kees stronger/healthier through the use of herbs/vitamins and a more natural diet, as well as the limited use of vaccines/drugs/topicals. I have written for all Keeshond magazines since the mid-1980s.

I am a native of western Ohio (32 years in the Dayton area). I moved to central Maryland in 1989 to start a life with my husband, Lem Burnett. Since then, we’ve moved to West Virginia as retirees.

You can find the A*starz website at: https://www.astarz.us Email: dstekli@astarz.com or on Facebook.

My hobbies, besides dogs, include: art beading, gardening, photography, travel, and training my dogs to be all they can be. Since the onset of the computer age, I was the first videographer to produce dog show videos on a personal computer (as opposed to an Apple computer).

Was I initially attracted to the breed’s appearance? I loved their intelligent expression, outline, silver and black coats, sturdiness and their wonderful temperaments.

What distinguishes the Keeshond from similar breeds? I only know Keeshonden and Poms from the Spitz family, since I have owned them. I love the size of the Kees and that they are highly intelligent, sturdy and great companions. Kees want to participate in the life of their people.

How important is correct size and proportions for the breed? Correct size for the breed is more important when selecting show dogs. When it comes to breeding, knowing the assets of the pair in consideration and knowing the dogs behind them is more important. With that information and health clearances, you can select dogs to continue the line. Proportions, as outlined in the AKC Breed Standard, are important to maintain proper structure and breed type.

What about the Keeshond’s spectacles? How much emphasis is placed on color and markings? The spectacles are defined as the line going from the outer corner of the eye to the lower corner of each ear. The lighter orbital area around the eye, along with the expressive eyebrows, makes the Kees appear to have “glasses on.” Some folks are confused as to light heads and dark heads, but as long as the Kees has the hallmark of the markings (as per the AKC Breed Standard) they can have light or dark heads and still be correct.

The body color and markings need to be dramatic. This can occur in both light and dark body colored Keeshonden. I prefer the silver undercoat Kees (which some in today’s world border on light brown to yellow, which are incorrect) and strive for the silver in my breeding program.

Does the stand-off coat require a great deal of care? Coat care in the Kees doesn’t take as much time as one may think. Kees don’t shed all year round like some sporting or working breeds. If they do, there is probably an underlying problem with diet or an endocrine system imbalance. Also, Kees hair is fur. It doesn’t stick in couches or carpets, etc. It appears as dust bunnies. I do weekly grooming on my Kees so they don’t get matted or look unkempt. Brushing down to the skin (with proper tools) allows the coat and the skin to breathe. Kees don’t have a doggy odor nor do they have flakey skin. If so, there would be an underlying reason for that. It is very important to keep the toenails short to maintain the cat foot shape. This allows Kees to move properly with the distinctive, brisk gait that is straight and sharp (as long as they are built correctly).

Is it true that the Keeshond is a “neatnik?” Do they really smile? Most Kees do not like to be in dirty crates, kennel runs or smelly areas. If they are raised in a dirty, unkempt environment as puppies, they can get used to being that way. Puppies raised right in the home environment, in sanitary, clean conditions will stay this way into adulthood. My Kees get upset if they get exposed to something yucky and will come to me to clean them up. Yes, Kees do smile, some more than others.

Are Keeshonden well-suited for performance events? As a person who does agility, rally and obedience as well as having some of my Kees owned by those who do herding, water work and flyball, I can say many are well-suited. However, most Kees love food, so a “couch potato” Kees would have to be conditioned first with excess weight taken off before attempting performance events, otherwise doing so could result in injuries. Too many people (in any breed) think they can take a companion dog out to do some of these sports forgetting about fitness and muscle tone. In training some of my own Kees for events, I have found that not every Kees has the drive and determination to love, for example, agility. If a dog doesn’t really have the zest, I move on to another venue for them.

Can I share a funny story about my experiences with the Keeshond? Once upon a time, I had a Kees named Chipper. He was a true clown Kees, silly and funny. He had already earned his AKC Champion title and had placed in the Group many times with me, his owner-handler. I trained him for his Companion Dog title (obedience) and took him to his first trial near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He did fine on his individual exercises. When it came to the long down (which is a three minute stay with no change in body position), I gave him the “down” command. He did down and then immediately flipped on his back with his feet in the air. While that was OK at that time, since I had not told him to stay yet, I was holding my breath after giving the stay command walking across the floor to the opposite mat while the three minutes ticked away ever so slowly. Imagine my surprise when Chipper did not change his position, he just stayed there on his back with his feet in the air until I came back into heel position by his side to hear the judge say, “Exercise finished.” Chipper got his first leg and there was a small cheering section of friends clapping for us.

  • Show Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *

You May Also Like

The Affenpinscher – A Marvelous Monkey

Longtime Affenpinscher breeders Pam Peat & Kathie Timko answer questions on the lovable "monkey ...

Weimaraner Survey

From the April 2019 Issue of ShowSight. Click to Subscribe. 1. Full Name? How ...

Why I love a Non-Sporting Group Dog

The Showsight Editorial Team wanted to find out why the Non-Sporting community loves their ...

Pumi Experts Speak Up

We asked the following questions to our friends in the Pumi Community. Below are their ...

The Lab Survey

From the November 2019 issue of ShowSight. Click to subscribe.  Where do you live? What do ...