THE KEESHOND: A PRIMER
Photos By Karen Evasuik, Evasuik Custom Design by RICK SU
T he Keeshond (pronounced kayz´•hawnd) is a well-balanced, medium-sized dog, with an alert carriage, an intelligent expression and a spectacular, double coat. The most easy-going of the spitz-type breeds, the Keeshond has always been bred to be a companion. He is a true family dog that is devoted to his “people” and possesses a special fondness for children. HISTORY Though descended through the most ancient of lines (the northern spitz-type dogs), Keeshonden (the plural of “Keeshond”) are believed to have originated in Holland (the central provinces of the present-day Netherlands) and Germany. Natural watchdogs, Keeshonden were known for traveling on the barges of merchants and freight-carriers that plied the waterways of Holland and Germany. Keeshonden were also used extensively on Dutch farms as “utility” dogs. They were very much the dog of the working middle-class. The Keeshond gained its greatest notoriety in the 18th Century. The constant and faithful companion of Cornelis (“Kees”) de Gijselaar, a leader of the Dutch “Patriots” party, the little barge dog became a widely known political symbol. Though the Patriots were eventually defeated and symbols of the losing side quickly became scarce, the name “Keeshond” has endured — it literally means, “Kees’ dog.” Keeshonden remained obscure until the early 20th Century when a young Englishwoman, Gwendolen Hamilton Fletcher (later Mrs. Wingfield-Dig by of Sherborne Castle), while vacationing in Holland, became enamored of the dogs she saw barking and running and up and down the length of barges that she encountered. She purchased two barge dog puppies and brought them home. Through Mrs. Wingfield-Digby’s efforts, and those of other early enthusiast breeders such as Baroness Burton and
Alice Gatacre, the Dutch Barge Dog (later renamed “Keeshond”) was recognized by Britain’s Kennel Club in 1926. While most Keeshonden in the United States developed from British breeding, it was a German immigrant, Carl Hinderer (Scholss Adelsburg Kennel), who was most responsible for gaining American Kennel Club recognition for the breed in 1930.
304 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , A UGUST 2017
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