The Keeshond is a very old breed, and one of the very few which throughout history have always been raised for family companions and watchdogs. The fact that they have not been bred to hunt, kill animals, attack or chase criminals undoubtedly accounts for their gentle, intelligent devotion to their owners as home-loving dogs with a special fondness for children, for which they are renowned.
The are descendants of the same prehistoric ancestry from which evolved among others, the much larger Samoyeds, Huskies, Norwegian Elkhounds and tiny Pomeranians, and apparently came into Europe with ancient voyagers from the North, a great many centuries ago.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, they were extensively used as watchdogs on river boats, farms, and barges and were known in Germany as "Wolfspitzen"; in France as "Chiens Loup"; in Italy as "Lupini"; and in Holland as "Keeshonden" - pronounced "kayz-hawnd-en," being the Dutch plural. Because of their great popularity and historically political prominence in Holland in the 18th Century, the breed has become known as the "Dutch" Keeshond.
The Origin of the Word "Keeshond"
Keeshonden had appeared in England in the late 1800s under such names as "Fox-dogs," "overweight Pomeranians" and "Dutch Barge Dogs." After the turn of the 20th century, Mrs. Wingfield Digby of Sherborne Castle, Dorset, and Mrs. Alice Gatacre, a Dutch breed authority residing in Devon, aroused great and continuing interest in the breed through their European imports and their "Van Zaandam" and "Guelder" kennels in England. An English breed Club was formed in 1926 with "Keeshonds" becoming the official breed name, and with few exceptions the Keeshonden in the U.S. stem from British breeding.
The first Keeshond was registered with The American Kennel Club in 1930 under "Keeshonden," in the Non-Sporting Group and The Keeshond Club of America, as it was later named, was organized in 1935.
The breed progressed slowly but steadily in the U.S. until after the end of World War II. Since then, it was gone ahead by leaps and bounds as the exceptional qualities of these sensible, all-around family dogs have become more generally known and acclaimed by pet owners, breeders, bench show exhibitors and obedience enthusiasts.