Showsight Presents The Keeshond

JUDGING THE KEESHOND

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

198 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, AUGUST 2020

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