Keeshond Breed Magazine - Showsight

Keeshond Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.


Let’s Talk Breed Education!

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Official Standard of the Keeshond General Appearance: The Keeshond (pronounced kayz-hawnd) is a natural, handsome dog of well-balanced, short-coupled body, attracting attention not only by his coloration, alert carriage, and intelligent expression, but also by his stand-off coat, his richly plumed tail well curled over his back, his foxlike expression, and his small pointed ears. His coat is very thick around the neck, fore part of the shoulders and chest, forming a lion-like ruff-more profuse in the male. His rump and hind legs, down to the hocks, are also thickly coated, forming the characteristic "trousers." His head, ears, and lower legs are covered with thick, short hair. Size, Proportion, Substance: The Keeshond is a medium-sized, square-appearing, sturdy dog, neither coarse nor lightly made. The ideal height of fully matured dogs when measured from top of withers to the ground is 18 inches for males and 17 inches for bitches - a 1 inch variance either way is acceptable. While correct size is very important, it should not outweigh that of type. Head: Expression - Expression is largely dependent on the distinctive characteristic called "spectacles" - a combination of markings and shadings in the orbital area which must include a delicate, dark line slanting from the outer corner of each eye toward the lower corner of each ear coupled with expressive eyebrows. Markings (or shadings) on face and head must present a pleasing appearance, imparting to the dog an alert and intelligent expression. Very Serious Fault - Absence of dark lines which form the "spectacles." Eyes - Eyes should be dark brown in color, of medium size, almond shaped, set obliquely and neither too wide apart nor too close together. Eye rims are black. Faults - Round and/or protruding eyes or eyes light of color. Ears - Ears should be small, triangular in shape, mounted high on head and carried erect. Size should be proportionate to the head-length approximating the distance from the outer corner of the eye to the nearest edge of the ear. Fault - Ears not carried erect when at attention. Skull - The head should be well-proportioned to the body and wedge-shaped when viewed from above - not only the muzzle, but the whole head should give this impression when the ears are drawn back by covering the nape of the neck and the ears with one hand. Head in profile should exhibit a definite stop. Faults - Apple head or absence of stop. Muzzle - Of medium length, neither coarse nor snipey, and well-proportioned to the skull. Mouth - The mouth should be neither overshot nor undershot. Lips should be black and closely meeting-not thick, coarse or sagging, and with no wrinkle at the corner of the mouth. Faults - Overshot, undershot or wry mouth. Teeth - The teeth should be white, sound and strong meeting in a scissors bite . Fault - Misaligned teeth. Neck, Topline, Body: The neck should be moderately long, well-shaped and well set on shoulders. The body should be compact with a short, straight back sloping slightly downward toward the hindquarters: well ribbed, barrel well rounded, short in loin, belly moderately tucked up, deep and strong of chest. Tail - The tail should be moderately long and well feathered, set on high and tightly curled over the back. It should lie flat and close to the body. The tail must form a part of the "silhouette" of the dog's body, rather than give the appearance of an appendage. Fault - Tail not lying close to the back. Forequarters - Forelegs should be straight seen from any angle. Pasterns are strong with a slight slope. Legs must be of good bone in proportion to the overall dog. Shoulder to upper arm angulation is between slight to moderate.

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Hindquarters - Angulation in rear should be between slight to moderate to complement the forequarters, creating balance and typical gait. Hindquarters are well muscled with hocks perpendicular to the ground. Feet - The feet should be compact, well rounded, cat-like. Toes are nicely arched, with black nails. Coat: The body should be abundantly covered with long, straight, harsh hair standing well out from a thick, downy undercoat. Head, including muzzle, skull and ears, should be covered with smooth, soft, short hair-velvety in texture on the ears. The neck is covered with a mane-more profuse in the male-sweeping from under the jaw and covering the whole of the front part of the shoulders and chest, as well as the top part of the shoulders. The hair on the legs should be smooth and short, except for feathering on the front legs and "trousers" on the hind legs. Hind legs should be profusely feathered down to the hocks-not below. The hair on the tail should form a rich plume. Coat must not part down the back. The Keeshond is to be shown in a natural state with trimming permissible only on feet, pasterns, hocks and - if desired - whiskers. Trimming other than as described to be severely penalized. Faults - Silky, wavy, or curly coats. Part in coat down the back. Color and Markings: A dramatically marked dog, the Keeshond is a mixture of gray, black and cream. This coloration may vary from light to dark. The hair of the outer coat is black tipped, the length of the black tips producing the characteristic shading of color. Puppies are often less intensely marked. The undercoat is very pale gray or cream, never tawny. Head - The muzzle should be dark in color. "Spectacles" and shadings, as previously described, are characteristic of the breed and must be present to some degree. Ears should be very dark- almost black. Ruff, Shoulders and "Trousers" - The color of the ruff and "trousers" is lighter than that of the body. The shoulder line markings of light gray must be well defined. Tail - The plume of the tail is very light in color when curled on the back, and the tip of the tail should be black. Legs and Feet - Legs and feet are cream. Faults - Pronounced white markings. Black markings more than halfway down the foreleg, penciling excepted. White foot or feet. Very Serious Faults - Entirely black or white or any solid color; any pronounced deviation from the color as described. Gait: The distinctive gait of the Keeshond is unique to the breed. Dogs should move boldly and keep tails curled over the back. They should move cleanly and briskly; the movement should be straight and sharp with reach and drive between slight to moderate. Temperament: Temperament is of primary importance. The Keeshond is neither timid nor aggressive but, instead, is outgoing and friendly with both people and other dogs. The Keeshond is a lively, intelligent, alert and affectionate companion.

Approved November 14, 1989 Effective January 1, 1990


By Joanne Reed Photos & Diagrams courtesy of Betsy Winans


s a Keeshond breeder for over forty years, it is extremely frustrating to me that some judges have a hard time judg- ing my breed. In some

triangular in shape pointing upward. If these ears point outward it gives a very incorrect dumb expression. And, even tho, our standard does not say a Keeshond should be “pretty”, I want judges to be able to smile when they look at a correct headpiece. I want my Keeshonds to look, happy, intelligent, and yes, pretty! Th e standard states “distinctive gait” is unique to the breed. Well, in my interpre- tation, knowing that a Keeshond is built very similar to other breeds and doesn’t have anything “unique” in its structure I believe this means its carriage. A Keeshond moves with the same carriage as when standing. Th at means he carries his head erect over the line of his back. Th at also means that he does not drop his head when traveling around the ring at any speed. I also believe that a correctly built Kees- hond can move at any speed. Whether it’s at a walk or a full trot. Most judges and

breeders do not want a Keeshond to race around the ring. Obviously, the faster the dog moves the more of a tendency he has to drop his head. i.e., German Shepherd or most working breeds. Unfortunately the group judges want to see flash and have a dog move faster than it should. But, as

areas I can attribute it to the Keeshond Standard not being as clear as it should be. So, as a breeder, I’m going to try to clarify a few points of the standard to make the breed easier to judge. I’m going to include drawings from the Illustrated Standard, photos of dogs that portray this standard, and some photos of dogs that are incorrect. Th ey say that a picture is worth a thousand words. I am hoping that these illustrations will imprint the correct visual image of my breed. When these lines go downward from the corner of each eye, it presents a sad expression that is undesirable in our breed. We want the ears to be small and

“I want my Keeshonds to look, happy, intelligent, AND YES, PRETTY!”

Figure A This drawing shows a very handsome male with all the qualities that we want to see in a Keeshond head.

Figure B This is a photo of a Keeshond that is as close to the drawing that I could find. Note the soft intelligent expression with fine lines around the eyes that fan out to the bottom edge of the ear. Small erect ears set well on the skull. Figure C This shows a very nice dark head. It is important to note that even though his head is dark in color there should still show signs of the fine lines of the spectacle. Even in the darkest of all heads these lines should be present.

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I stated before, a correctly built dog can move at any speed. Th is does not mean extended reach and drive. When watching a Keeshond going around the ring, notice its coat. If there is something drastically wrong with his structure, the coat will rock back and forth or bounce up and down. If there’s lots of movement in the coat then be aware that there is something wrong with his struc- ture under the coat. Also, be aware when there’s no fall or length of the coat and a too perfect silhouette. Every Keeshond is

trimmed in some manner. Th is part of the standard, in my opinion, should be removed. But, if you see straight lines or curves were there shouldn’t be, then the coat has been trimmed. Some of us are more talented than others and can “art- fully” trim our Kees, some are not. Some get carried away and trim every hair of the dog. Some say they don’t trim, they strip! I’m just stating that the coat should flow and have a drop. Th ey shouldn’t appear to be a Chow and show no movement in coat when the dog is traveling.

Gait The distinctive gait of the Keeshond is unique to the breed. Dogs should move boldly and keep tails curled over the back. They should move cleanly and briskly; the movement should be straight and sharp with reach and drive between slight to moderate.

Neck The neck should Ee moderately long well shaped and well set on shoulders. The body should Ee compact with a short straight back sloping slightly downward toward the hindTuarters well riEEed Earrel well rounded short in loin Eelly moderately tucked up deep and strong of chest.

BIO Joanne has been handling and breeding dogs for over forty years. Her main breed and who showing,

she is known for is the Keeshond. She has bred over 200 champions and 26 Best In Show Keeshond under the Windrift prefix. AKC has honored her with Non-Sporting Breeder Of Th e Year in 2010 and Breeder Of Merit. Th e Keeshond Club Of America has nominated her for AKC’s Life Time Achievement Award. She holds all the top awards for breeding and showing Kees- hond. She has owned and bred Rottwei- lers, Standard Poodles, Poms, Papillons and Airedales. She presently resides in Santa Rosa, California. Figure A This presents the proper proportions of a Keeshond. This is the side view that you should see in the ring. Note that the legs are right under the dog. The angles of shoulders and hips are balanced. Figure B This presents a Keeshond at the same angle that is exactly the same proportions as )igure $. Notice the full rough on the dog. This should always Ee visiEle. Notice that the legs are right under the dog. The rear legs are N2T extended Eeyond the tail set or the sTuare. Figure C This is an incorrect Keeshond. $s this might Ee pleasing to the eye this is totally incorrect. $s you can see with the overlay of the sTuare this is incorrect. This portrays a straight shouldered over angulated rear. Totally out of balance for a Keeshond. These legs should be inside the square not outside as shown.

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T he Keeshond is a very difficult breed to judge. Sometimes even, for many—if not all—of us breeder/judges. If y’all promise to read this whole article, maybe I can help you learn how to judge the breed with much more confidence; just read the article until the very last word and I promise all judges of any breed that I’ll give you some excellent advice I have learned over the years through first-person experience—in three different instances. Deal? Over the last several years, the Keeshond Club of America (KCA) has refined and nearly perfected mentoring aids to wade through some of the foggiest aspects of the Standard of our beloved “Kees.” But sometimes we have tunnel vision. Indeed, I am one of those few who insist on teaching judges about the dreaded “T” word—the sentence that discusses trimming. Ugh, what a bone- head I am to keep beating this dead horse. Nonetheless, I shall mer- rily beat said beast until, and if, the Keeshond Standard is revised to exclude same and I sure hope we don’t, or we’ll lose all beginners and have no breeders left to carry on this delightful breed. There is no correct method to groom the dog when one uses scissors on any of the body, ears, tail, trousers, etc. It is to be severely penalized. When the dogs enter the ring, ask them to go around and look for the oh-so-rare, unique gait laterally. Pause for a moment and look at the line-up. They should all be square appearing, have slop- ing toplines and the distinctive Keeshond silhouette, and be within a two inch difference on height from 17"-19" on males; 16"-19" on females. Incidentally, should you be a little size challenged, know that the metal folding chairs at nearly every dog show are exactly 17-1/2" from the ground to the seat; while 99% of tables are 29".

BY ROBIN STARK Robin Stark bought her first Keeshond pup in 1962. She was a road warrior for many years and is responsible for approximately 150 Keeshond champions and performance event winners. She celebrated her Golden Anniversary in the breed by judging Best of Breed and Intersex at the 2012 National Specialty— a significant honor. Robin has served on KCA’s original Ethics Committee, the AKC Standard Revision Committee, the AKC Keeshond Video Committee and the KCA Illustrated Standard Committee. She has won several DWAA awards as editor/co-publisher of “The Rottweiler Quarterly.”

HANDY TIP TO KNOW #1 Also, pause and ask yourself, “Which of these dogs looks most like what the Breed Standard is describing?” In other words, which of these dogs has correct breed type? You may see several dogs that do not resemble one another at all. We seem to be a gaggle of folk who think this type or that type or his dogs or her dogs or “Teddy Bear” type (I hate that!) are the way to go. I firmly believe this is why our handsome breed is so disrespected. Just who’s right? The Standard!

HANDY TIP TO KNOW #2 Three top professional Terrier handlers many moons ago suddenly had a Non-Sporting breed and were duking it out in the breed ring. Another respected pro—most famously known for Working Dogs—asked the three guys, “Which one of these three dogs is the best?” The three Terrier guys each extolled the vir- tues of his dog and slammed the other two dogs for their most obvious fault; it was interesting and, oddly, non-combative. The Working Dog guy thanked them very much and whipped out a Xerox of that breed’s standard from his shirt pocket. He said, “Thanks, I guess I’ll just let this do the talking for me.” When in doubt, refer to the standard; go ahead, look it up. We’ll all respect you for refreshing your memory. When in doubt, no matter who says what, the determining arbiter is the standard in all breeds you judge!



accounted for, both dogs are equally correct. However, when you put those two identical dogs next to each other, an optical illusion can occur. It might be size, it could be length, it could even be grooming. Your hands will tell the story and we, as breeders, need both extremes to get to our ideal dramatically marked—a true thing of beauty! The only acceptable coloring on a Keeshond is gray, black or cream—all on a level playing field. Cream is as valid as light grey on the undercoat and the standard calls for both legs and feet to be cream. We have haggled over just what cream means. There should be no white on a Keeshond, the standards over the years have never included the word silver; and cream can best be described as winter white. We need cream dogs to clean up offensively smutty critters with gray and black legs and feet—ick. What is “tawny”? Back to the aforementioned lion; rusty brown is too tawny. Do not penalize puppies under the age of 18 months if they are too yellow. When they blow their puppy coats, in nearly all bloodlines, they come back with the right coloration. When they’re correct and are dra- matically marked, I personally feel the breed is breathtaking. ALERT CARRIAGE “Alert carriage” means just that. They ideally are stand-up dogs on the move and while at attention. They should be square appear- ing. In that a Doberman Pinscher is a truly square dog, we are say- ing the Keeshond is a bit off-square when out of coat. Alert car- riage means they should not slink or sink due to running downhill. They’re a very curious breed, so do not expect the 100% show dog you may be used to in other breeds. They’ll stand like a statue for a while, until something else interests them more. Expect them to happily greet you by jumping up on you or bouncing off their han- dler. It’s just who they are! INTELLIGENT EXPRESSION “Intelligent expression” and “foxlike expression” are somewhat the same. It is important to know that a stupid Keeshond is smarter than the average dog. They are a thinking breed and most of them are clown-like and a little bit evil—particularly the bitches. A Kees is pretty fixated on its owner and we have a lot of owner-handlers in our breed. Some are extremely talented and know that in order to have the judge appreciate the dog’s expression and intelligence, we are big into bait and/or toys. Most are free-stackers and many resist being hand-stacked, save a minority of exhibitors who train them from puppyhood to hand-stack. Even a seasoned champion likes to wait until the instant a judge focuses on them to wiggle around and look like a pile of Pick-Up Stix—just for fun and amusement on their part. By “foxlike” we do not mean their head shape; we are indicating the sly intelligence of the breed. A small oddity is that the English red fox more closely resembles a Keeshond than does the American red fox. As the Brits rewrote the Dutch Standard, that’s how that term came into play. STAND-OFF COAT “Stand-off coat” means that the Keeshond is a double-coated dog. The undercoat is soft, gray or cream, downy and spins into a very nice wool. The outer coat is to be long, straight and harsh. In color genetics, the Keeshond has agouti coloration. Each hair of the outer coat is partially black. Depending on the depth and length of each hair, you will have a lighter or darker Keeshond. Both are correct. Smutty feet and lack of definition to the markings is not desirable and difficult to breed out. RICHLY PLUMED TAIL WELL CURLED OVER THE BACK “Richly plumed tail well curled over the back,” but what is cor- rect? One, two or three curls? Understand that the tail is supposed to be set-on high and tightly curled over the back. It should lie flat and close to the body. The tail must form a part of the silhouette of

I tend to use the “General Appearance” paragraph while men- toring both novice and experienced judges alike, and in doing a breed seminar. It’s an exceptionally well-written and concise para- graph and has only had very minor edited comments when the AKC Standard was revised in 1990. It’s easier to do in writing as I can just BOLDFACE the key words, so here goes: “The Keeshond (pronounced kayz-hawnd) is a natural , hand- some dog of well-balanced , short-coupled body , attracting attention not only by his coloration , alert carriage and intelligent expression , but also by his stand-o ff coat , his richly plumed tail well curled over his back, his foxlike expression and his small pointed ears . His coat is very thick around the neck, fore part of the shoulders and chest, forming a lion-like ruff—more profuse in the male. His rump and hind legs, down to the hocks are also thickly coated, forming the characteristic trousers. His head, ears and lower legs are covered with thick, short hair.” LET’S GO OVER THESE ONE AT A TIME Pronunciation of the breed name is a minor thing, but most of us are exhausted trying to teach the universe that the breed name is Dutch; that “Kees” is a nickname for Cornelius and “hawnd” means dog. We’re not talking breed history here; just, please, don’t call them Keesh-Hounds or variations thereof and we’ll all be hap- pier that you at least know the breed name. Dutch is a very difficult language to pronounce and if I had it my way, I’d refer to them as nearly anything else. True purists pronounce the nickname of “Kees” as “Kayz”—mostly from the Ivy League states. The seventh word of our Standard is “natural.” I will return to that later—like it or not. HANDSOME “Handsome” is a word that needs to be looked up in the dic- tionary along with beautiful, pretty and cute. Decidedly different meanings; a handsome male dog looks somewhat like a stallion, it does not look cutesy-wootsie. A handsome bitch is statuesque, yet feminine. Like all of the male/female species (save the human being—jus’ sayin’), the male is most commanding and is nearly totally referred to in our standard. I rather like the reference to lions later on in the General Appearance paragraph, even though we are discussing the ruff or mane. A male Keeshond should be impres- sive like a male lion; the female should be equally impressive as is a lioness. There should be a decided difference between a male and a female. A former President of KCA referred to huge-coated bitches as “bearded ladies.” That was stated about 40 years ago and, for me, it still fits. WELL-BALANCED, SHORT-COUPLED “Well-balanced, short-coupled” is meant to describe a male dog in full bloom; i.e., including his hair. When a Keeshond is in motion the Kees has a unique gait (when moved at the proper speed) and they should have less angulation than nearly all breeds, but more angulation than either a Chow Chow or many of the long- legged Terriers. Because the Kees has less angulation, is more short- coupled than many breeds, and moved at the correct speed, you will see a bit of a suspended gait that is truly unique to our breed. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, if the Kees looks like he was squished from both ends and is overstepping himself when viewed laterally. The KCA Illustrated Standard is an excellent tool to help judges learn the breed standard and is available from our KCA Judges Edu- cation Chair. In the Illustrated Standard, we show “coloration.” It can get tricky in that if identical twin puppies were born, but when they became adults one was very dark and the other very light, and if the markings as described later in the Standard are present and



On September 1, 2020, the use of the ramp for judging the Keeshond will no longer be optional, but man- datory for examination. The Keeshond Club of America is asking that the ramp be used for examination only. The ramp should not be used for the assessment of the silhouette. The silhouette is best judged from a dis- tance (i.e. from across the ring), when the dog is on the ground standing naturally.

your job as a judge is to severely penalize a trimmed dog when it is obvious it has been trimmed. I contend that if judges would penalize each dog that they knew was trimmed, the trimming would stop. To me, that means no WD/WB, BOB, BOS, any/all Group Placements and certainly not BIS! If the other Keeshonden are truly inferior specimens, it is your prerogative to withhold awards. Oh, they’ll all squawk, pout and stamp their feet, but if those who persist in thumbing their noses at their standards would run into judges with fortitude, all this gilding of the lilies would eventually come to a halt. I do this not as an old fuddy-duddy purist (silly me!) but for those who come into the breed, actually read the standard and are dumbfounded when an obviously trimmed dog wins. They do one of two things: (a) Try to learn how to trim as well as those with many decades of experience or (b) leave dog shows and consequently never become breeders. This is a serious issue, so please take it seriously. The average age of Keeshond competitors are well north of 50. We are running off our newcomers because they’re told it doesn’t matter or whatever. Where will the Keeshond be if we have no breeders when those of us who are into our Golden Years croak? The Keeshond is a Spitz breed. The muzzle is of medium length and when viewed from above the entire head is wedge-shaped. “Medium length” means muz- zle and backskull are nearly equal in length with a definite stop. A handsome head is one where the muzzle is approximately 90% as long as the backskull. There are many who insist on super short muzzles. These cute little teddy bear guys finish in a heartbeat from the Puppy Classes, but with too short a muzzle and, as their age goes forward, their eyes become rounder and rounder rather than almond shaped and set obliquely. As in nearly all breeds, dark eyes are required. Dark pigmenta- tion on nose, eye rims and pads of feet are a must as well. The true hallmark of our breed may now be shared with a few other breeds (besides the Pekingese) since the rush of new-to-me breeds have appeared on the horizon. These are the spectacles. Believe it or not, and with further study of the Keeshond Standard, spectacles are not the light around the eyes which can be trimmed in or appear naturally. The spectacles are actually formed by a cowlick of sorts. The black-tipped hairs come up from the muzzle and down from the head and meet at the outside corner of each eye. Ideal spectacles go up toward the outer corner of the ear. It forms the best expression as they truly look like a dog wearing glasses once their dark eyebrows and dark muzzle complete the picture. They’re charming and remain the defining distinction of our breed, and it’s a very serious fault to lack these dark lines. Are spectacles on very dark-faced dogs? Believe it or not, they’re there; you’ve just got to get up close and personal. “Temperament is of primary importance.” These are fun, fabulous family pets and somewhat silly. Their only job is to be an alarm-giving watchdog. They’ll bark, but the burglar can come in; toss a Kees a cookie and she’ll happily show the bad guy the way to the family jewels. Some people buy a dog for their kids, I had a kid for my dogs; seriously—sort of. FINAL HANDY TIP #3: When judging a large entry of any breed, especially at independent or National Specialties, pull those dogs that you like from each group of 10-12 dogs that comes in. I once witnessed a famous all-breed judge take his first group of male specials and efficiently pull four dogs. Sad to say, all 12 just happened to be the ones he should be concentrating on. His second group of 12 was bleak; his third group was dismal. It’s always easier to zone in and narrow down from a bunch of good ones than a bunch that’s mediocre. I truly hope this helps you and if you find a perfect one, give me a call. I’m still searching; have gotten and seen some nearly perfect, but not quite. It’s a great breed and if you learn to love it half as much as we do, you’ll enjoy your assignments.

the dog’s body, rather than give the appearance of an appendage. Curl #1 is that which lifts it way over the back. Curl #2 goes under, and curl #3 does another loop. The answer is: Curls #2 and #3 are correct as long as it’s lying close to the back and forming part of the silhouette. A blob stick- ing up isn’t what we’re trying to achieve. A dog’s tail set enhanced by trimming should be severely penalized. Do not try to uncurl a tail as some of the 3 (or even 4) curled tails cannot be uncurled. If you want to, lift the whole tail up from the base. If you must, look for the black tip on the end of it, but I doubt any of us cares if it’s there or not. Just being honest. I’ve seen a Kajil- lion Kees of all sorts of coloration and the stupid black tip is there on all of them. Yet, sometimes, the black tip sneaks itself out from the final curl

when we least want it to do so. SMALL, POINTED EARS

“Small, pointed ears” is a little bit of a misno- mer. Again, the ears appear small on a male in full coat. To determine if the ear size is correct, gently fold the ear down to see if it meets the outside corner of the eye. Large ears are not desired and too small ears can be somewhat peculiar looking when barely peeking out of the ruff of a dog. “Lion-like ruff—more profuse in the male,” we’ve already discussed, right? TROUSERS “Trousers” used to mean just that—lengthy hair that we used to love to watch swaying in the breeze when they were gaited or if the wind blew just so. That was then and now very uncommon to see proper trousers on a Keeshond. Here comes the dreaded “T” word! As many judges are aware, almost every breed is being beautified by skilled or not-so-skilled grooming methods. If one whacks off the trousers, trims under the tail, trims belly hair and trims the top of the tail just so, the dog will appear high- er in leg and shorter in body than they, in fact, are. There are many skilled ex-handlers and now judges who appreciate the effort to present the dog in the best possible way—groomed to perfec- tion. However, [remember] words like “natural” and sentences like, “The Keeshond is to be shown in a natural state with trimming permissible only on feet, pasterns, hocks and, if desired, whiskers. Trimming other than as described is to be severe- ly penalized.” The really excellent trimmers and/ or groomers can get the same result with diligent grooming and the correct coat as those who trim. You do not have time to inspect every hair. We are not the only breed that calls for natural pre- sentation and—though grooming is admirable—



I am writing this article to help judg- es new to our breed as well as the more experienced judge who needs to learn the finer points of judging the Keeshond. This describes the basics of the judging procedure, but with the Keeshond breed standard explained in detail. So, ask your ring steward to bring in the dogs in catalog order. Line them up on one side of the ring. Look over the exhibits. You want the Keeshond to look balanced, short- coupled, square appearing, head and neck up over the backline, tail tightly curled over the back and legs under them, not over extended. You want to see males 18" at the shoulder and females 17". One inch variance either way is acceptable. Instruct the group to travel around the ring. You want a Keeshond to glide smoothly with the head carriage above the topline with no bouncing or jerk- ing movement, tail carried over the back, moving at a slow trot with mod- erate reach and drive. If you have one exhibit, please allow them to go around the ring before you put them on the ramp. We are a mandatory ramp breed! Have them proceed to the ramp. The ramp is there for examination only! Keeshonds are not to be judged for alertness, ear carriage or attitude on the ramp. Survey the outline of the dog presented. Again, you want to see a pleas- ing, balanced silhouette; neck and head carriage above the topline. Legs should be under the dog, not extended. You want to see a square appearing dog. The coloring should be dramatic with definite shoulder markings with a black saddle. The neck ruff

BY JOANNE REED Windrift Keeshond

2010 AKC Non-Sporting Breeder Of The Year Breeder of 26 Best in Show Keeshonds

Keeshond Club of America Breeder’s Education Committee Keeshond Club of America Standard Revision Committee



the rear. The pelvis, upper thigh and lower thigh should all be the same length, and attached to hocks well let down and perpendic- ular to the ground. The hocks should not extend past the point of the pelvic bone. The tail should be tight and directly over the back. The tail should not fall to either side, it should be placed directly over the back and curl at the end. The end of the tail is black tipped. (In all the years that I’ve judged and had Keeshond, I’ve never found one that wasn’t black tipped.) Donut tails and tea cup tails are not desired. Keeshond do not like their tails uncurled. So, if you wish to check the tip, please do it carefully. When the tail is uncurled you will see a nest. This is an indication that the tail is tightly curled. After the dog is examined on the ramp, allow the handler to present the dog on a free stack. Now is the time to judge attitude and showmanship. Allow the handler to show the expression and ear placement of the dog. Then, have them move out and back on a loose lead. A Keeshond should move straight and sharp. They should not paddle, pound, or have a hackney gait. They will con- verge slightly with speed. The Keeshond should not be allowed to move at an accelerated speed. A nice slow trot is desired. Have the dog free stack, again seeing the head piece with ears erect; and stacking properly with legs under the dog, not extended behind the tail. Legs are straight seen from any angle. Then have the dog go around the ring to the end of the line. I like to see a Keeshond hold its carriage when moving around the ring; head above the back topline, not dropping and not below the backline. You want to see a smooth gait, not bouncing or pounding. I’ve told many that if you doubt the movement, observe the coat. If you see the coat swishing and bouncing, something is not correct in the structure of the dog. Trimming! Our standard states that trimming is not permissible and should be severely penalized. However, we are allowed to trim whiskers, front and rear feet, hocks and pasterns. Slight trimming around the anus for cleanliness is permissible. This is where it gets ticklish! I would estimate that every dog in the ring is trimmed to some degree. This was put in our standard when breeders and

is a mixture of silver and gray and should be profuse. Tail and pants are silver. Observation of chalking and dyeing the coat should be done at this time. Approach from the front to observe the head and front-end assembly. The head should be examined first. You want to see a nice wedge shape and a good stop. Please feel for that stop as some Kees- hond have an abundance of hair and it could hide the lack of the stop. You want a nice dark brown to black almond shaped eye with proper spectacles. “Spectacles are the Hallmark of our breed.” Spec- tacles are a fine, black line around the orbital area that extends from the corner of the eye which then flares up to the outside of the ear. Some handlers get carried away with markers. Please check to see that the spectacle lines aren’t enhanced. Ears should be triangular in shape and set well on the head with the tips extending upward. Ears are black and should not be trimmed. Next, check the bite. You want to see a scissors bite. You have the option of checking the bite now or after you have entirely gone over the dog. Regardless, the Keeshond should have a scissors bite. They should also have a black muzzle with dark pigmentation on lips and gums. Sometimes with age, you will see white on the muzzle. Check to make sure that there is pigmentation under the hairs. White muzzles could indicate mismarks. Pure black muzzles could indicate color enhancement. Next, check for the posternum. It should be obvious, but not protruding. You want to see sufficient width between the legs that is in balance with the dog. Check the amount of bone. This should be in balance with the dog. All legs should be straight seen from any angle. Walk around the side of the dog and place your hand on the withers. Find the width of the withers to determine if it is sufficient. Follow your hand down to the point of shoulder and from there to the elbow joint. You should feel that the elbows are close to the well rounded rib cage. The length of the shoulder, upper arm and elbow to ground should all be the same. Elbows should be directly below the withers. From there, feel the backbone and loin area. A Keeshond should have a short loin and, ideally, the topline should slope slightly to



Rula - six months old, female

Tug - seven months old, male

handlers were trimming; totally sculpting their dogs. We didn’t want that. This is a natural breed and we want them to be shown in a natu- ral state. Tidying in areas might be visible, but should not be obvi- ous. However, if you look at a Keeshond and every hair is in place and you see a perfect outline, more often than not, that dog has been overly trimmed and you should take that into consideration and judge accordingly. Remember, there is no perfect dog! However, please don’t penalize the dog when the handler is at fault. With regards to coat coloring, a Keeshond is dramatically colored and is basically silver and black. You want to see clear coloring with no smuttiness. Clean feet are desired. Penciling is acceptable on the feet. Note that a Keeshond puppy at six months of age probably won’t have any coloring in yet. You might see one that is completely beige with some black guard hairs protruding from its back. This is normal for this age. However, you want to see a black muzzle, spectacles, and black tipped ears to some degree at this age. This coloring increases with age and should be in around nine months of age. I have seen dozens of judges go to their Breed Standard when confronted with a dog of this age to see what to do with this puppy. Unfortunately, this is not covered extensively in our standard and causes some confusion for judges new to our breed. Coat texture should be straight, harsh, standing well out from a thick, downy undercoat. Coat texture is of paramount importance. Silky coats will feel extremely soft to the touch and will not stand out from the body. Wavy and curly coats are very incorrect. If the coat parts down the middle of the back it can mean that the dog lacks proper coat texture or the dog is out of coat. When examining the coat, don’t be afraid to get into that coat and feel the dog’s texture and struc- ture. A Keeshond coat should bounce back into shape with one shake. Coat length: As mentioned, a six-month-old puppy will not have its full adult coat in. This will come as the dog ages. A male Keeshond will typically have more coat than our bitches. They should be pre- sented with a full neck ruff, profuse pants and tail. Keeshond bitches typically have less coat and a tightly fitted coat. They should not be penalized for this. However, you will also see bitches having as much coat as their counterparts which is perfectly acceptable and should be applauded. Bitches lose their coat when they come in season so, at times, they will be what is referred to as “out of coat.” However, when

you compare an adult male to an adult female, a male should definitely portray a masculine look and a bitch should portray a feminine one. There should be no questions of deciding which sex they are when looking at one or the other. In closing, when you have picked your Best of Breed, I hope you have chosen a dog that free stacks properly, has a beautiful, dramatically marked coat, lovely silhouette, correct spectacles, a beautiful headpiece, and a dog that travels around the ring with his head up moving with grace. A word to the wise: Please do not talk to our Keeshond when they are on the ramp. They think that this gives them the right to wiggle and move out of their stack and possibly lick you. So, if you do, get ready for that kiss. Another suggestion...Keeshonds aren’t robots and we do not expect them to stand with ears up all the time in the ring. Once you’ve seen proper ear placement, go on to other important points. I hope that this gives you some idea on how to judge a Kees- hond. I also hope that you will learn to love this breed like I do. Happy judging. For any questions or further information please contact me or check my website at




T his article discusses the rela- tionship between structure and movement in the Kees- hond. However, it is appli- cable to many breeds and covers how to examine coated breeds with your hands

The handler will attempt to keep them from doing this. You should observe characteristics that are typical of arctic dogs. Medium, neat ears, set up on the head and not to the side, are required, as in a cold environment large ears would freeze. Dark, almond-shaped eyes are typical, so they can squint down in the bright snow. A dark muzzle and the spectacles, which are the line drawn from the corner of the eye to the base of the ear, complete the picture. The dog should appear alert, friendly, and curious. FRONT: EXAMINING THE SHOULDERS AND CHEST Balance is the first requirement. When you look at the dog in profile, the dog should appear balanced in three parts; front, mid- dle, and rear. These should blend smoothly and be in equal pro- portion. When you go over the dog, examine the shoulders. Place your right hand on the withers and follow that down to the point of shoulder. You should feel a moderate layback of shoulder. Then, place your left hand at the point of shoulder and move it toward the point of the opposite shoulder. In between these points, you will find the prosternum that is even with the points of shoulder. If the prosternum is slightly higher than the point of the shoul- der, this can mean the shoulder is steep and lacks angulation. Unless the dog also has very little rear angulation, the dog will not be balanced. For the health and performance of the dog, a minimum of angulation should be present, which will bring the prosternum even with the points of the shoulder. From the point of shoulder, follow down the upper arm to the elbow. The angle of the shoulder and the upper arm should form a “V” of approximately equal lengths. If the upper arm is short, the elbow will finish in front of the withers. A short, steep upper arm will give the dog a straight front and the dog will not be able to extend his front leg very far, giving him a limited front stride. Go back to the withers and feel the distance between the shoul- der blades. This is sometimes one or two fingers. If it is more, the dog may move wide in front and wing or paddle, depending on his other physical characteristics. BODY AND LOIN Keeshonden should slope slightly from the withers to the tail. Some call this being “built uphill.” A dog that is built “downhill” will slope downward from tail to the withers. This will produce a dog that is heavy in front and moves with the head low. The standard says, “The body should be compact with a short, straight

for correct structure. Basic anatomical references are used. If you are a judge, or a student of dogs and breeding, you will be familiar with them. If not, please refer to texts like Rachel Page Elliot’s Dog Steps , McDowell Lyons’ The Dog in Action , or Ed and Pat Gilbert’s Encyclopedia of K-9 Terminology for details and illustrations. STRUCTURE AND MOVEMENT The rules regarding structure and movement dictate that form follows function. This means that the structure of a dog will con- trol, to a great degree, how that dog (or any animal) will move. So, why do we qualify this by saying to a great degree? This is because movement is affected not only by the way a dog is built but also by how he is conditioned and how he feels at that given moment. Think about yourself. If you played an intense game of tennis the day before, you may be stiff when you get up and not move so sprightly when you jog. The same is true for your dog. If you are evaluating an individual dog for the purposes of your breeding program, you will want to the see the dog move on more than one occasion. That being said, what we are looking for in the Keeshond is structure that will produce the movement described in the stan- dard, this being: “They should move cleanly and briskly; the move- ment should be straight and sharp with reach and drive between slight and moderate.” Also, “Dogs should move boldly and keep tails curled over the back.” The movement is described as a “dis- tinctive gait… unique to the breed” HEAD AND EXPRESSION The late Dick Beauchamp, in his book, Solving the Mysteries of Breed Type , said that head and expression are one of the prin- ciple keys to breed type. Head type in the Keeshond would require an article all by itself. For this article, we will summarize what you should expect to observe when you first approach a Kees- hond. Keeshonden are lively, curious dogs and when they are first approached by a stranger they will want to greet you. Puppies are especially so, and will want to say hello and lick your face.



All three have acceptable color and markings. © KCA Illustrated Standard

is correct. We have a range of shades in the breed, and they are all acceptable, but they must have a dark muzzle, a lighter ruff on their neck, a shoulder stripe, saddle on their back, and silver britches and tail. You may have a preference for a darker or lighter Keeshond, but the breed standard does not. PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER You will want to observe the dog on a loose lead, standing in a position that is natural for him and not posed. Dogs with good, natural balance will find it easy to stand squarely. Look for balance. Examine the front, middle, and rear quarters. Ask the handler to move the dog on a loose lead; coming and going, and from the side. You are looking for a dog that moves with its head up naturally and one that moves off his hocks, smoothly transmitting energy from the rear to the front. At a good paced trot, the end of the front foot will reach at or near the end of the dog’s nose. The hind foot will extend at the same length and angle as the front foot. Coming at you, you are looking for a dog that moves smoothly, and at a brisk trot the legs will converge very slightly toward the center line. There will be no rocking, paddling or winging. Observing the dog from the rear, you will look for smoothness and steady hocks with no inward or outward twist. At a brisk trot, the legs will converge slightly toward the center line. There should not be any cow- hocked movement or spraddle hocks. Lastly, observe the dog standing natu- rally after it has moved. A dog that is prop- erly built will have a nice arch of neck and will stand squarely and comfortably. This is the dog you are looking for—first place!

and feel for the muscle development. Dogs that are well-exercised will have a firm and well-developed second thigh muscle that feels like a small bicep. Dogs that are strictly couch potatoes will have a flat sec- ond thigh muscle, and a generally sloppy and poor rear movement. They will have poor control of their rear movement and may move with hocks in or twisting out. It is important to observe the length of hock in the Keeshond. Hocks should be short and well-let-down. Dogs with long hocks will have difficulty producing cor- rect movement and will not be well-bal- anced. Long hocks may also cause them to be high in the rear. COAT COLOR AND TEXTURE Again, both of these topics are articles in themselves. As you are judging, there are things you can look for to assess correctness to the standard. First, texture of the coat. In an arctic breed, correct coat texture means nothing less than survival. A harsh outer coat, to protect from rain and snow, and a soft undercoat, to keep the dog warm, are essential. What can be lacking is the harsh- er outer coat. As a last touch, run your hand from the tail to the shoulder against the lay of the coat. You should feel a slightly coarse texture. If you do this to each dog, you will feel a difference. If you are judging outside and it is damp, you will notice that the coat on some dogs will “stand off.” These dogs have correct coat texture. When I first work with judges on judg- ing the Keeshond, they often ask, “Is that dog too dark, or is that dog too light?” The question is not is a dog too dark or too light, but does the dog show contrast? In the illustration above, each of the dogs

back sloping slightly downward toward the hindquarters; well ribbed, barrel well rounded, short in loin, belly moderately tucked up, deep and strong of chest.” Okay, are most of our dogs built like this? A few are, many are not. Now, run your hand from the withers straight down to the point of the elbow. The body should at least meet your fingers at this point. This means that the dog has good depth of body. The distance from the withers to the point of elbow and from the bottom of the body to the ground should be roughly equal. Now, starting again at the withers, run your hand from the withers to the base of the tail. The withers should be higher than the base of the tail. Also, impor- tantly, the back should be short, straight, and not dip, so that the body is not slung between withers and hip. Dogs that are built this way will generally trot with their heads down, and without a firm mid-piece to transfer energy from the rear quarters to the front; they will have poor, shambling movement, not the brisk, sprightly move- ment described in the breed standard. To find the length of loin, find the last rib and measure from there to where the hip begins. You will have to go over several dogs to determine average length. Dogs that are long in loin will generally have flat toplines and sloppy movement, but there are exceptions. EXAMINING THE REAR QUARTERS Begin at the base of the tail and deter- mine the set-on of the tail. Find the point of hip and run your hand down the inside of the thigh. When you get to the second thigh muscle on the inside of the thigh, just run your fingers down the second thigh


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