In looking through some of the older Keeshond publications you will see a tremendous change in type over the last 25 years. Many, particularly in the East, looked like the Keeshond of German ancestry.
Dark in color, with less facial contrast than we prefer now, longer-finer muzzle, lighter of bone than today's Keeshond and often a larger dog overall. You can see several of the old style Keeshond in Mrs. Peterson's book, The Complete Keeshond. (I have a copy of Mrs. Pete’s book should any of you want to borrow it.)
Over the years breeders have changed the breed, mostly for the better. Colors are cleaner, particularly leg color, muzzles are better proportioned to the skull (near equal length is desired) muzzles are broader, ears smaller and bone is heavier. Let me digress a moment to note that some breeders have gone overboard in "heavy bone" to the point that they are producing "klutzes". We don't want elephant legs..they must be nimble. "Moderate" is the word for substance.
Regarding heads, beginning around 20 years ago, there was a fad for ‘teddy bear’ heads with short, fat muzzles with pronounced stop. Many were very cute but displayed round eyes which is most objectionable in the breed. The foxy expression is lost with a ‘teddy bear’ head. Happily, this fad seems to be giving way to the better balanced head as shown in ‘Wrocky" and in the dogs in my presentation.
This young male has ample bone without being overdone. Good coat color contrast. Shows good shoulder line and preferred dark ears. This dog is in good coat, not huge coat that is incorrect for the breed.
Next I will address the updated (January 1, 1990) version of the standard.
I do not intend to print the whole standard but will try to address areas that I feel need more detailed discussion.
"General Appearance: The Keeshond (pronounced kayz-hawnd) is a natural, handsome dog of well balanced, short-coupled body, attracting attention not only by his coloration, alert carriage, and intelligent expression, but also by his stand-off coat, his richly plumed tail well curled over his back, his foxlike expression, and his small pointed ears. His coat is very thick around the neck, forepart of the shoulders and chest forming a lion-like ruff-more profuse in the male. His rump and hind legs, down to the hocks, are also thickly coated, forming the characteristic "trousers". His head, ears, and lower legs are covered with thick, short hair."
I have printed this part of the standard in complete form to give you a base for the parts of the dog that will follow in abbreviated form: Ladies, please forgive me as I will take the lazy way out and use "dog" when speaking of either sex except when it is important to the topic to identify sex.
"Size, Proportion, Substance - 17" for bitches, 18" for dogs. Sturdy, neither coarse nor lightly made....While correct size is important, it should not outweigh that of type."
Height on the Keeshond, with a full mane or ruff that is carried by mature dogs and bitches, is hard to evaluate. It takes practice and it takes "hands on" judging. Don't be afraid to press the coat down firmly on the withers to judge height. While we don't want a Keeshond approaching the size of a Samoyed, even a small one, nor so small as to be "oh so cute", overall type and soundness should win over proper size of a lesser quality dog.
"Head - Expression" - Expression is largely dependent on the distinctive characteristic called "spectacles" - a combination of markings and shadings in the orbital area which must include a delicate, dark line slanting from the outer corner of each eye toward the lower corner of each ear coupled with expressive brows. Very Serious Fault: Absence of dark lines which form the "spectacles."
"Spectacles" on the Keeshond are often misunderstood. Although the hair in the area surrounding the eye is usually lighter than the rest of the head and although this light area does add to the "spectacle" look, it is the dark lines that would be the sidebar of the glasses that run from the outer corner of the eye to behind the ear to hold the glasses on that the standard refers to as "spectacles". Even so, because a face and head with lack of contrasting shades of black and silver/cream lacks expression, it is not uncommon for exhibitors to "enhance" this area by clipping the hairs short surrounding the eye to give a lighter look.
A word of caution...the shading on some Kees can naturally show this contrast with very light hair around the eye so if you are tempted to fault such an expression please be very sure it has been trimmed. And if you are not dead positive, forget your suspicion and judge the dog as any other, please. NOTE: The standard lists only two "very serious faults" (plus the directive to heavily penalize trimming). One of them is - "absence of dark lines which form the spectacles." Coloration and shading in the Keeshond coat is very important to Keeshond type and it begins with an expressive head.
This is a lovely head of a young male showing gentle, inquisitive expression. Eye shape is very correct and spectacle lines are visible from outer corner of the eye as they fade into the lighter, fuller head coat. Note lovely dark eye and correct ear placement and shape.