This article is from the Keeshonden Breed FAQ, by email@example.com (Kimberly J. Eashoo).
The Keeshond is a very old breed and there is little doubt that the
fact it was never intended to hunt, kill animals or attack criminals
accounts for its gentleness and devotion. In the 17th and 18th
centuries, Keeshonden were used as watchdogs, good-luck companions,
and vermin controllers on river boats, farms and barges. They were
known as Wolfspitz (Germany), Chiens Loup (France), Lupini (Italy),
and Keeshonden (Holland). During the 1700's, in Holland, Cornelius
"Kees" de Gyzelaar, a leader in the Dutch Patriot revolt against the
reigning House of Orange, kept one of these dogs as his constant
The Keeshond became the symbol of the Patriot Party. This is the basis
for the breed name as "Kees' dog", which in Dutch would be "Kees
hund". The Patriots' were defeated, however, and many Keeshonden were
destroyed to disavow any connection with the failed rebel party. The
only Kees that remained were a few on barges and farms. The breed was
not revived until nearly a century later through Baroness van
Hardenbroek and Miss J. D. Van der Blom. Throughout the late 1800's,
Keeshonden had appeared in England under the names of "fox-dogs,"
"overweight Pomeranians" and "Dutch Barge Dogs." This British dog was
the progeny of the German Wolfspitz crossed with a percentage of Dutch
imports. After the turn of the 20th century, Mrs. Wingfield Digby and
Mrs. Alice Gatacre aroused great interest in England and in 1926 an
English breed club was formed with "Keeshond" as the official name.
With rare exceptions, the Kees in the United States are derived from
The first American litter was bred in 1929 by Carl Hinderer of
Baltimore, MD. The first Keeshond was registered with the American
Kennel Club in 1930 in the Non-Sporting Group. The Keeshond Club of
America, as it was later named, was organized in 1935. Mrs. Virginia
Ruttkay pioneered Keeshond breeding in the Eastern US, founding her
kennel in 1946. Mr. and Mrs. Porter Washington of California purchased
their first Keeshond in 1932, providing foundation stock for many
successful Western US kennels.