Jellkees Keeshonds - Western Australia


The Keeshond is a member of the Spitz Group and as such has the highly distinctive Spitz characteristics of upright ears, curled tail, and alert expression. The Spitz in it's many forms is believed to have originated in Western Asia from where they spread to Siberia, China, Japan and further west to Europe.

It is thought the ancestors of the Dutch Keeshond and it's German counterpart, the Wolf Spitz, originally came from the north on ancient water craft, certainly they were already dogs of the peasantry along the Rhine River, one of the great trade routes of Europe in the 17th Century and paintings of the time show the type quite clearly. The watch dogs of the Rhineland and Westphalian farms and homesteads were valuable assistants to the bargees who made the long journey along the waterways and into the Netherlands.   Since this traffic continued over a long period the Spitz dogs became as much a part of the Dutch rural scene as they were in Germany. They were used as watch dogs in the home, on farms and on boats and barges.

The name Keeshond appears to have been derived from the name Cornelius (shortened to Kees) and Hond, the Dutch word for dog. The Cornelius referred to was either Cornelius De Witt, a Dutch political leader murdered in 1672 or Cornelius de Gyselaer, leader of the Dutch Patriots Party in the mid 1700's in their struggle against the Prince of Orange - or possibly both, as each man was reputed to own a Keeshond and in each case the dog is supposed to have been taken as a symbol representing the ordinary people of the time.

The close link between the Keeshond and the Patriots Party almost proved the dog's downfall. Being so much in the public view as the Patriot symbol, when the Prince of Orange established his party as the dominant one, few people wanted to be associated with the dog that stood for the losing side! Many Keeshonds were quietly disposed of, with only a few people maintaining the breed.

The 19th Century bought speedier methods of transport and less demand for the barge dogs, but it was also the time of increased interest in systematic breeding and organised dog shows - below is a little about the Keeshond in Holland/England/Ireland in date order and dates of arrival in other countries in those early days.

The revival of the Keeshond in Holland is generally credited to Miss J.G. van der Blom, who was actively associated with the breed in Holland, Germany and England over a number of years. She showed her first Keeshond in 1891 at an Amsterdam show and over a number of years imported dogs from Germany for showing and breeding. Later Miss van der Blom tried to start a branch of the German Spitz Club in Holland, but the Dutch fanciers preferred to be independent and the first Dutch Keeshond Club was formed in 1924.

When the breed was first introduced into England they were known as Dutch Barge Dogs. The first two arrived in 1905 bought by Mrs. Wingfield-Digby while on a trip through Holland. From that time she continued to breed occasionally and import dogs from Holland and Germany, but it was not until after the 1st World War that she thought seriously about campaigning for the breed.
The first Dutch Barge Dogs were shown. They were Mrs. Wingfield-Digby's dogs "Breda" and "Saanie."

The Dutch Barge Dog Club was formed, but the next year the name was changed to the Keeshond Club at the request of the English Kennel Club because that was the name the dogs were known by in Holland and it was also decided to anglicise the plural form to "Keeshonds" rather than the Dutch plural of Keeshonden.
The first challenge certificates were granted by the Kennel Club in England and the winning dog was Bartel van Zandaam who was bred by E. Schmidt and recorded at the time as being owned by Mrs. J. Moore. The Bitch challenge certificate was won by Wachter Berner, bred by B. Rubesheim and owned by Mrs. F. Morton.

Mrs. Alice Gatacre, a Dutch breeder, moved from the province of Guelderland to England after her marriage. From her Guelder kennels came foundation stock for early British, American and Canadian breeders.


The first English Keeshond Champion - Owner Baroness Burton

The first BREED Specialty Show was held at Tattersalls.

"CH VOLRIJK of VORDEN" - Mrs. Tucker's home-bred Keeshond became the first and only Keeshond to date to win Best in Show at Crufts over what was a world record entry at the time of 6,562 dogs.
In the same year she also won Best in Show at the Ayr Championship Show.

*In her show career "Volrijk" shattered all breed records by collecting 24 CC's at 25 successsive championship shows and was Best of All Breeds in 18 of them, topping her sensational career with the Supreme Champion Award (BIS) at Crufts.

The Keeshond made it's first official appearance at the Irish Kennel Club Show in Dublin. The first breeder of Keeshonds in Ireland was Mrs. Savell-Hicks.
"Peter of Cherry Mount" won Best Exhibit in Show at the Royal Ulster Show in Belfast.


America in 1926 imported by Mr. C. Hinderer.

Canada in 1929 imported by Miss M Butler.

Australia in 1949 imported by Mrs. C. Bourne

( see seperate web page for Australian History)

Sweden in 1950

South Africa circa 1951

Norway in 1966

New Zealand in 1950

Keeshond Books

For anyone interested in finding out more about the Keeshond and its History,
the following books may be of interest

The Keeshond. 1938 - Alice Gatacre
(out of print, but occasional copies can sometimes come on to the market)

The Complete Keeshond - 1971 - Clementine Peterson

(also out of print but sometimes copies do become available)

The Keeshond - 1984 - Anna Katherine Nicholas

The New Complete Keeshond - 1987 - Carol and Ron Cash

History (c) by Anne Jellett
Western Australia 2003

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