The Keeshond has a long and interesting History. In the Netherlands many of the barges, farms and carts had a canine sentry, usually a Keeshond. He would also guard the flocks. Historical events in the Netherlands (late 1700’s) made the breed renowned throughout Europe. He became the emblem of the Dutch party, it is believed that after the suppression of the patriot’s rebellion many of the breed were done away with for fear that possession of the dogs would indicate an affiliation with the defeated rebels. It was not until 1903 that the breed was brought to the UK.
The first Dutch Barge Dog was shown in 1923 and a specialist club formed in 1925.
The Keeshond is a hardy dog that requires no trimming. His coat is actually fur. It is odourless, sheds water, seldom mats and contrary to appearance, is easily taken care of. Its density helps keep out insects and insulates against the cold and the heat. Wolf Grey or shaded sable is the accepted colour. They are an affectionate and loveable breed which are a great family companion and sensible watchdog. They love to please and were not bred for hunting or killing. They have a fantastic temperament.
The Keeshond on the whole is a healthy dog, suffering from none of the usual inherited health problems associated with eyes and joints (e.g. hip/elbow dysplasia). Three health conditions that have been raised are Epilepsy, Primary Hyperparathyroidism (PHPT) and skin & coat problems. A gene association test has been developed in the states for PHPT, as the research has discovered that the mode of inheritance has a dominant trait it means that by only breeding from dogs that are PHPT Negative or PHPT Negative by descent this disease should be eradicated by responsible breeders.
Dr Barbara Skelly is working on epilepsy in the keeshond, but for the moment all responsible breeders submit pedigrees for calculation to a genetic counselling scheme – dependant on the result as to whether the proposed mating can go ahead.