The Keeshond has what is referred to as “fur” rather than “hair”. A correct Keeshond fur coat is actually a double coat consisting of a dense, woolly undercoat and an outer coat of “guard” hairs. The undercoat, upon closer observation is made up of millions of individual hairs which are not straight, but rather are best described as kinky, sort of like lamb’s wool. This unique shape allows the hair to loft, thereby providing outstanding insulating value from both the cold of winter as well as the summer heat, much like a down comforter provides protection from a cold, chilly night.

The more “loft” a comforter has, the better its insulation value. Loft describes the ability of the material to hold air molecules evenly distributed and interlaced throughout its matrix. However, just as a comforter can lose its insulating value over time as the down is allowed to flatten, so can the Keeshond’s fur coat if not properly maintained. To maintain the insulating value on a down comforter, one must keep the down clean and dry and “loft” it from time to time by shaking out the comforter. So it goes with the Keeshond’s coat but we generally brush it to “loft” it rather than attempt to fluff the dog by shaking vigorously.

The fact that a properly “lofted” undercoat contains so many air molecules distributed throughout the dog’s coat explains why a properly groomed Keeshond never takes on a ''doggie'' odor - unlike breeds that have “hair”. However, if the coat is not brushed regularly and kept free of excessive dirt, dead hair and oils through proper grooming techniques, this unique characteristic of the breed can be lost. Further, an improperly maintained coat can lead to serious skin problems such as “hot spots” and other fungal or bacterial infections.

Whoever said, ''Keeshond's don't shed'' was telling a white lie! They do shed, all the time, but this person was probably hiding the fact that Keeshonds ''blow''. Twice a year for females and once a year for males, the Keeshond ''blows'' all of its undercoat. Intact females do this generally around their seasons and less profusely than males, which generally blow around their birthdays. Blowing can also be affected by seasonal changes in the weather. Additionally, Keeshonds, which have undergone anesthesia, will generally blow their coats shortly afterward, and bitches, which have recently whelped litters, will become completely naked within 8 to 12 weeks of whelping.

The nice thing about the Keeshond coat when it comes to shedding is that unlike the stiff hair on shorthaired dogs, Keeshond fur forms into nifty little tumbleweeds that are easily picked up. The stiffer hairs on a shorthaired dog tend to burrow into fabrics and carpeting, making them very difficult to pick up by hand or with a vacuum cleaner, not so with a Kees fur! Also, many people with allergies find they can tolerate a Keeshond easier than other breeds with ''hair'', but before you allergy sufferers run out and buy one, visit a breeder and see how you react to Keeshond fur.

The outer coat consists of “guard” hairs, which are straighter and coarser. These specialized hairs are there to guard the undercoat from damage. These straighter, coarser hairs are somewhat effective in repelling burrs, rain and other things, which may affect the loft of the undercoat.

Shaving a Keeshond’s coat effectively removes the guard hair protection thereby allowing the undercoat to become damaged and soiled more quickly. For this reason it is better to maintain your Keeshond’s coat through proper grooming rather than through shaving. Because some older dogs have a problem with heat exchange, their owners will shave them in the summer. If this is done, one must keep in mind that the dog will no longer have protection from sunburn and the coat will become soiled more quickly. Additionally, we have found that Keeshonds should not have their mane, tail or foreleg hair shaved, as it seems to affect their sense of pride and self-worth. We therefore recommend that Keeshond owners, who feel they must shave their dogs, do so according to the pattern for a “lion” cut.

Castration, spaying and shaving a Keeshond all have the tendency to affect coat texture and the effectiveness of the guard hairs by actually softening the texture of the guard hairs. The same can happen if conditioners and cream rinses are used excessively. To allow your Keeshond's coat to function as Mother Nature intended, avoid overuse of conditioners, cream rinses or other chemicals on your Keeshond.

Finally, a blown coat is a dead coat. A dead undercoat left on the dog is just asking for trouble. Once the undercoat dies, it no longer has the capability to breath. Left in place, the undercoat will form a dense mat of lifeless, dingy colored fur that has the capability to spawn fungus and create major hot spots on the dog in no time. If you have a Keeshond, and you do not groom this entire blown coat out as soon as it blows, you will be very sorry very soon. Do not neglect your responsibility to your friend, he will be miserable if you do.

The following grooming technique applies to, and is recommended for use on Keeshonds of either sex and at any age. While puppies have significantly less coat that is much easier to groom, it is still recommended that these formal procedures be followed as studies have shown that week’s 7 through 20 of a dog’s life are extremely critical in forming lifetime habits. While grooming a puppy in 10 minutes or less while it is sitting in your lap on the floor may be entirely possible and quite adequate, it will not prepare your puppy to accept a more rigorous and structured grooming routine later when it has a mature coat. No adult, fully-coated Keeshond can be properly groomed in 10 minutes while standing on the ground. So, do yourself a favor and teach your young puppy to behave during regular grooming sessions now, while he is still small and easily controlled.

ERBEKEES-KEESHONDEN 433 Gunter Hollow RD Fayetteville, TN. 37334 931-557-8884 or 814-691-4902