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Keeshonds: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Keeshond temperament, personality, training, behavior, pros and cons, advice, and information, by Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Keeshond dog breed

Compared to other breeds in the "spitz" family, the Keeshond is quieter, more sensible, and less dominant.

Bright, cheerful, and lively, the Keeshond needs moderate exercise, but more importantly, he needs companionship. He is very people-oriented, craves attention and petting, and needs to be fully involved in the family.

Attitude toward strangers varies from friendly to polite. There is timidity in some lines, so early socialization is important to build an outgoing, confident temperament.

With his acute hearing and emotional sensitivity, Keeshonds are more reactive to loud noises than some other breeds and don't do well in an environment with tension or shouting.

This is not a guard dog. Keeshonds will bark, but it's usually welcoming rather than protective. Most are peaceful with other pets.

The Keeshond has an independent streak and can be mischievous and "clever" (using his intelligence to get his own way). Focus on gentle, positive guidance and praise/food rewards.

The Kees is known as the "Smiling Dutchman" because of his tendency to curl his lip and bare his teeth in a hideous grimace. It's not a snarl, but only a happy and submissive grin.

If you want a dog who...

  • Is a medium-sized "spitz" (prick ears, curled tail, and thick coat)
  • Is easier to live with (less dominant, less mischievous) than most other spitzes
  • Needs only moderate exercise
  • Is polite with strangers
  • Is peaceful with other pets

A Keeshond may be right for you.

If you don't want to deal with...

  • "Separation anxiety" (destructiveness and barking) when left alone too much
  • Suspiciousness or timidity when not socialized enough
  • Stubbornness (mind of his own)
  • Potential for excessive barking
  • A good amount of regular brushing and combing
  • Heavy shedding

A Keeshond may not be right for you.

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

  • You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult Keeshonds have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
  • If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
  • Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your Keeshond to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.

More traits and characteristics of the Keeshond

If I was considering a Keeshond, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Barking. Keeshonds make keen watchdogs, but that means they are often too quick to sound the alarm at every new sight and sound. You have to be equally quick to stop them. To make matters worse, some Keeshonds have high-pitched barks that can set your teeth on edge.
  2. Grooming. Keeshonds need frequent brushing and combing so that they don't become a matted mess.
  3. Heavy shedding. Like all spitz breeds, Keeshonds shed a LOT. You'll find hair and fur all over your clothing and furnishings.
  4. Separation anxiety. More than most other breeds, Keeshonds need a great deal of companionship and do not like being left alone for more than a few hours. They tend to express their unhappiness through destructive chewing and barking.
  5. Providing enough socialization. Keeshonds tend to be a bit standoffish with strangers. So they need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds, so that their natural caution doesn't become shyness or suspiciousness.
  6. Mind of their own. Keeshonds are more willing to listen to you than some other spitzes. Yet they still have an independent mind of their own and can be stubborn and manipulative. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say. To teach your Keeshond to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. Read more about Keeshond Training.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.

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