I have never seen ears too small. A young dog or an adult dog out of coat may appear to have large ears, but in full coat much of the ear will be covered with hair. About ear size, the standard says..."length approximating the distance from the outer corner of the eye to the nearest edge of the ear".
I personally feel the placement of the ears is more important for a pleasing head and face than size. That's not to say large ears are acceptable but ears slanting to the outside of the head and placed to the far sides of the head make for a very unattractive head.
"Fault: Ears not carried erect when at attention".
Note words "when at attention". Please don't expect or give any extra credit to a dog who moves around the ring with ears up. Most Kees are smart enough not to want the wind whistling down their ears..but when coming to a stop and standing, ears should be up at least for a short period. Please don't allow the competition to become an "ears contest". Ears should be up long enough for you to evaluate the expression but not every moment while standing.
"Skull: The head should be well-proportioned to the body and wedge-shaped when viewed from above--not only the muzzle, but the whole head should give this impression......exhibit a definite stop. Faults: Apple head or absence of stop."
This is pretty straight forward. Your challenge will be to fix in your mind how wide that "piece of the pie....wedge" should be. Several years ago the fad was for short, wide muzzles, accentuated stops and wide skulls which resulted in large, round eyes. Go back to "General Appearance". A fox-like expression is called for. Certainly not ears as large as a fox..quite the reverse, nor a muzzle so fine in relation to skull but a fox-like expression nonetheless. It is my opinion that the original authors of the standard were trying to capture the sharp, bright, intelligent expression of a fox when addressing Keeshond expression. About the muzzle, the standard simply asks for it to be well proportioned to the skull, but generally, muzzle and skull should be about equal.
Teeth - scissors bite. Fault: misaligned teeth.
With the exception of occasional undershot jaw..teeth are not a big problem in the breed. Missing teeth are rare.
Neck, Topline, Body, Tail - the standard is clear on these parts. The Keeshond is a lot of dog for his height, well-ribbed, short loin.
Fault: Tail not lying close to the back.
A tail that lifts when the dog is in motion or standing is faulty. Some dogs will relax their curl when standing, particularly if they are apprehensive or inexperienced in the ring, but normally, the tail should become part of the total silhouette. It can be curled once or once and one-half. Loose or low set tails ruin the outline of the dog and are high on my list of unforgiveables.
Forequarters and hindquarters: Standard is clear and simple. The key word for angulation, front and rear, is moderate.
Coat - The standard reads as anyone ever seeing a Keeshond in good coat would expect. Abundant with thick undercoat and harsh, straight guard hairs. More profuse around the neck forming a mane. Thick and long trousers. Let’s pause here for a moment. More and more of late we are seeing Kees with less than full pantaloons. In some cases it may be unskilled attempts to shorten the dog with the scissors, or fleas, or poor genes.
Whatever the reason the pants should be very full, pale cream or silver in color, reaching to or below the hock joint. Bitches generally, but not always, have less profuse coats than the males. As the Keeshond matures, he will develop a thicker and usually darker coat after each yearly shedding.
Faults..silky, wavy or curly coats..coats that part down the back. While the latter might be a result of a recent shedding, please judge the dog on the day. Coat is not everything to a Keeshond but it certainly defines "type."
Go to Jabberwockees site, www.calweb.com/~jabber/ click on "General Interest Articles", then "The Keeshond Coat" for an excellent article on coat and coat color including color changes from puppyhood through an adult coat.
Color & Markings..outer (guard)hairs are black tipped, some with longer black tips than others giving a range of acceptable colors and shadings. Undercoat should be very pale gray or cream...never tawny (with yellow or goldish tones). Ruff (mane), shoulder and trousers coat is lighter than that on the body..with silver or light gray predominating. The light gray shoulder line must be well defined.
Head - muzzle dark, with spectacles and shadings to give a pleasing look to the head.
Tail - very light gray or silver or nearly white..the tip of the tail should be black. Don’t hesitate to unroll the tail gently to look for the tip.
Legs & feet are cream.
Faults - pronounced white markings. Black markings more than halfway down the foreleg. Penciling excepted. (Penciling is a few black hairs throughout the toes and lower legs....not splotches of black or heavy black throughout.)
Smudgy or "dirty" coloring of the legs and feet are a minor fault compared to soundness, straight and short hocks, good layback of shoulder, good mid-piece and even light (yellow) eyes in my opinion.
Very serious faults - entirely black or
white or any solid color: any pronounced deviation from the color as described.
Right: A lovely bitch with great contrast
Legs are very pale cream or silvery from foot to elbow, although black
from elbow to the knees is acceptable. Note full pantaloons and the high
tail set. That high tail set is one of my top priorities in judging the
Keeshond. It often goes with a good shoulder with proper layback as this
bitch seems to have. Bitches today carry heavier coats than those of twenty
Left: Mature bitch with lovely coloring:
Right: Mature dog (5 years old) in excellent
coloring. Note the variety of acceptable contrast in dark/light. Keeshonds
general darken with age.
A "Clarification to the Standard" became effective 1/1/90. The following was added under "Coat". "TRIMMING OTHER THAN AS DESCRIBED TO BE SEVERELY PENALIZED' and it is printed in bold cap letters as I’ve shown here to emphasize the importance of this directive. 15-20 years ago trimming, sculpting and butchering of the coat came into the ring in a big way. Breeders and members of KCA felt the Keeshond should stay a "natural" dog, not needing extensive grooming; that the untrimmed coat should be rewarded by judges, hence the addition to the standard. This is not as simple as it appears at first glance. Some dogs produce profuse, long and "drippy" coats absolutely ruining the outline of the dog. A little neatening with the scissors can make a tremendous difference. And herein lies the problem. In an attempt to neaten and shorten the dog more than the genes allowed, much scissoring is being done but too often the judge can not say with certainty that the dog has been TRIMMED particularly when the dog in question has been helped by a skilled groomer.
****I have written further on my thoughts on the ‘trimming’ dilemma. If you will email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will send that article to you.********
Many dogs grow a correct and nicely fitting coat without the aid of scissoring. I don't like to see a bad job of it...scissors marks, skin showing through, sharp planes in what should be a smooth rounded look. So am I rewarding those who do an expert job of trimming and penalizing those with less ability? Probably. This is not unique with the Keeshond. We all no doubt have to face this dilemma with many breeds we judge. If I am not sure an entry has been trimmed more than the standard allows (feet, hocks, pasterns and whiskers), and it is the best one in the ring, I will not pass it up on a suspicion for a less worthy entry that may also be trimmed with a more practiced hand. Without being sure...it is unfair to pass up an otherwise good dog.
However, if in the judge’s opinion the dog has been trimmed other than as allowed for in the standard, it is their clear duty to withhold, excuse or put that entry to the end of the line.
Gait: The standard says little but it is ample..cleanly, briskly, straight with reach and drive between slight to moderate. A correctly built Keeshond, moved at a proper speed (not too fast) will exhibit a slight bounce at a trot due to moderate angulation.
Temperament: Sweet, loyal, exuberant, bouncy, trusting, sensitive to their people’s moods. It is rare to find a shy Keeshond in the ring. Even more rare to find an aggressive one anywhere. Their people are everything to them.
When you judge the Keeshond stand across the ring and look at the outline to assess balance, shortness of body, head carriage, tail set and hopefully, a good shoulder giving you all of the above. You will be able to see a correct shoulder right through the coat..your hands will confirm what your eyes see. Poor fronts are probably the biggest problem in the breed right now, followed closely by long hocks and close rear movement. When moving the class around the ring, look for good head carriage and clean, brisk movement with MODERATE reach and drive. Insist they move slowly enough to evaluate aciton..many will want to run around the ring if you let them.
For hands-on examination, looking at the dog head-on, look for the wedge shaped head with full, not snipey muzzle. Eyes should be almond shaped and dark with expression. When checking the body, the Keeshond should be well-ribbed (not flat-sided) The Keeshond is a solid, broad dog for his height.
Gently unroll the tail, look for the black tip and a flattened area where the tail rests. The nest should be there unless the tail is too loose.
Although you can do a hands-on examination without destroying the grooming job, don't be hesitant to get your hands on the dog wherever you need to..they fluff up easily. Beware of quick kisses (from the dog that is).
This is a coated breed but please don't reward an otherwise poor specimen because he/she carries an impressively full coat. Look for a well-built dog, moving the way a well-built dog should move and possessing an intelligent, alert expression. The head should be very attractive..nearly pretty even for males. Friendly..inquisitive...happy...please, not dull or bored.
I hope you will all take the time at your next show to wander over to the Keeshond ring and get to know these wonderful dogs close-up. Thank you for your time and interest.