Our breed is said to have originated in Germany, where is is called the “Wolfspitz”. Keeshond is pronounced “Caze- hawnd” with a hard 'k' sound [think K's or Kay's]. “En” is added as a suffix to indicate the plural 'keeshonden' not 'keeshonds'.
It is an ancient breed. Legends and lore theorize the Dutch Keeshond and his German counterpart originally came from the north in ancient watercraft. A Spanish legend mentioned in Sloan and Farquar’s book DOG AND MAN, tells about 3 dogs named Cubillon, Melamp and Lubino who accompanied their master to Bethlehem to worship the Christ child. B and P were interchangeable in Latin languages, so the word “Lubino” could have been “Lupino”. The Keeshond had been called Lupino and Volpino in Italy with the word “lupo” meaning wolf. From this we can surmise that ancestors of the Keeshond were amongst the animals to greet the Christ child.
A Dutch historian by the name of George Masselman related the history and legend of the founding of Amsterdam in which ancestors of the Keeshond played a role. The story began eons ago when a Viking ship ran into trouble on the Friesland coast near Stavoren, and all were drowned except the chieftain’s son. A Friesland fisherman named Wolfert, accompanied by his dog, rescued the survivor. Together they set sail on Wolfert’s fishing boat. A fierce storm drove them into unknown waters, but they eventually drifted up onto high ground. Wolfert and the Norseman built a small chapel in gratitude for their deliverance. This was dedicated to St Olaf, Patron Saint of Mariners. In due time a small fishing village was settled on this spot – the place where the Amstel river flowed into the sea. Many storms during the 13th century deepened and widened the area and it became the Auider Zee. A dam was built across the river and the little town became known as Amstelerdam, later to become known as Amsterdam. The legend has not been forgotten and to this day it is considered a good omen to have a dog on board a vessel. No one dared ransack a ship protected by a dog. The Great Seal of Amsterdam shows the white, Spitz-like barge dog peering over the gunnels of a ship.
Keeshonden are known around the world as part of the Spitz family, along with other breeds such as: the Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Chow Chow, the Eskimo dogs, Finnish Spitz, Japanese Spitz, Pomeranian, Samoyed, Schipperke, and Siberian Husky, to mention but a few. The Spitz breeds are similar in structure and their jaunty, independent disposition. They all have foxy expressions, prick ears, double coats and tails carried over their backs (excepting the Schipperke).
The Keeshond is known by different names around the world. In Germany, it is known as the “Wolfspitz”, in France as “Chiens Loup”, and in Italy as “Lupini”.
1. The Complete Keeshond by Clementine Peterson – Howell Book House 1971
2. The Keeshond Information Booklet by The Keeshond Club of America