German Wolfsspitz / Keeshond

FCI standard Nº 97_1

C. Seidler / Gabriele Dulling
Original version: (DE)
Group 5 Spitz and primitive types
Section 4 European Spitz
Without working trial
Acceptance on a definitive basis by the FCI
Tuesday 01 January 1957
Publication of the official valid standard
Wednesday 04 September 2019
Last update
Tuesday 12 November 2019
En français, cette race se dit
Spitz allemand / Keeshond
Diese Norm ist in deutscher Sprache sichtbar
Deutscher Spitz / Keeshond
En español, esta raza se dice
Spitz alemán / Keeshond
In het Nederlands, wordt dit ras gezegd
Duitse Spitz / Keeshond

Standard valid for German Giant Spitz, German Medium Size Spitz, German Miniature Spitz


Watch and Companion Dog.

Brief historical summary

German Spitz dogs are descendants of the stoneage «Peat Dogs» (Torfhunde) «Canis familiaris palustris Rütimeyer» and the later Lake Dwelling Spitz(Pfahlbauspitz); it is the oldest breed of dog in Central Europe. Numerous other breeds have been developed from them. In non-German speaking countries Wolfsspitz dogs are known as Keeshonds.

General appearance

Spitz breeds are captivating on account of their beautiful coats, made to stand off by plentiful undercoat. Particularly impressive are the strong, mane-like collar round the neck (ruff) and the bushy tail carried boldly over the back. The foxy head with alert eyes and the small pointed, closely set ears give the Spitz its unique characteristic, cheeky appearance.

Important proportions

The ratio of height at withers to body length is 1 : 1.
The ratio length of the muzzle to length of the skull is approximately 2 : 3.

Behaviour / temperament

The German Wolfsspitz/Keeshond is always attentive, lively and extraordinarily attached to its owner. It is very teachable and easy to train. It snatural distrust of strangers and lack of hunting instinct make it the ideal companion and family dog and watch dog for home and farm. It is neither timid nor aggressive. Indifference to weather, robustness and longevity are its most outstanding attributes.


Cranial region

The Spitz’s medium-sized head, seen from above, appears broadest at the back and tapers wedge-shaped to the tip of the nose. 
Moderate to marked, never abrupt.

Facial region

The nose is round, small and pure black.
The muzzle is not overlong and stands in pleasing proportion to the skull (approximately 2:3).
The lips are not exaggerated, close fitting to the jaws and do not form any folds to the corner of the mouth. They are completely black.
Jaws and teeth
The jaws are normally developed and show a complete scissor bite with 42 teeth, corresponding to the dental formula of the dog, i. e. the upper incisors closely overlapping the lower onesand set square to the jaws. Strong canines fitting exactly into each other. Pincer bite is permissible.
The cheeks are gently rounded, not protruding.
The eyes are of medium size, almond-shaped,slightly slanting and dark. The eyelids are black.
The small ears are set high and relatively close to each other, triangular pointed; they are always carried upright, stiff at the tips.


The medium length neck is set broadly on the shoulders, slightly arched without dewlap and covered by a thick, profuse coat, forming a large ruff.


Merges in a gentle curve with the short, straight back. The bushy, sweeping tail, which partially covers the back, rounds off the silhouette.
The high withers drops imperceptibly.
As short as possible, straight, firm.
Short, broad and strong.
The croup is broad and short, not falling away.
The deep chest is well sprung, the forechest well developed.
Underline and belly
The chestreaches back as far as possible; the belly has only a slight tuck up.


The tail is set on high and of medium length. It reaches upwards and rolls forward over the back, straight from the root. It lies firmly over the back and is covered with very bushy hair. A double curl at tip of tail is tolerated.



Straight, rather broad front with well-developed bone strength.
The shoulder is well muscled and firmly connected to the chest. The shoulder blade is long and well laid back.
Upper arm
The upper arm, which is approximately the same length as the shoulder blade, forms an angle of 90 degrees to the shoulder blade.
The elbow joint is strong, close fitting to the chestand turns neither in nor out.
The forearm is of medium length in relation to the body, sturdy and completely straight. The back of the forearm is well feathered.
The strong, medium length front pastern stands at an angle of 20 degrees from the vertical.
The forefeet are as small as possible, round and closed, with well arched and tight nails, so called cat feet. The colour of nails and pads is as dark as possible.


The hindquarters are very muscular and abundantly feathered to the hocks. The hind legs stand straight and parallel.
Upper thigh
Thigh and lower leg are of about equal length.
The stifle joint is strong with only moderate angulation and is turned neither in nor out in movement.
The hock is of medium length, very strong and vertical to the ground.
Hind feet
The hindfeet are as small as possible, round and closed,with well arched and tightnails, so called cat feet. The pads are coarse. The colour of nails and pads is as dark as possible.

Gait and movement

The German Wolfsspitz/Keeshond moves straight ahead with good drive, fluidly and springy.


The skin covers the body tightly without any wrinkles.


German Wolfsspitz/Keeshond has a double coat : Long, straight and firmstanding off top coat and short, thick, cotton-wool-like undercoat.
Head, ears, front side of front and hind legs and the paws are covered by short, thick (velvety) hair. The rest of the body has a long, rich, hairy coat. Not wavy, curly or shaggy, not parted along the back. Neck and shoulders are covered by a thick mane. The backside of the front legs is well feathered, the hind legs have ample feathering from croup to hocks.
The tail is bushy. Hair must not look like being modelled.
Wolfsspitz/Keeshond : Grey-shaded.

Grey-shaded is a silver-grey with black hair-tips. Muzzle and ears aredark in colour, round the eyes well defined shown as a delicately pencilled black line slanting from outer corner of eye to lower corner of ear, coupled with distinct markings and shading forming short but expressiveeyebrows; mane and ring on shoulder lighter; fore- and hind legs silver-grey without any black markings under the elbows or stifles, except slight pencilling on the toes; black tip of tail; underside of tail and trousers pale silver-grey.

Size and weight

Height at withers
Wolfsspitz/Keeshond : 49 ± 6 cm.
The Wolfsspitz / Keeshond should have a weight corresponding to its size.


• Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and its ability to perform its traditional work.
• Faults listed should be in degree of seriousness.

Serious faults

 Faults in construction.
 Head too flat.
 Distinct apple head.
 Flesh-coloured nose, eyelids and lips.
 Dentition faults, missing teeth.
 Too large and too bright eyes.
 Prodtruding eyes.
 Missing of distinct markings of the face.
 Faults in movement.

Disqualifying faults

 Aggressive or overly shy dogs.
 Gap in fontanel.
 Overbite, underbite, crossbite.
 Ectropion or entropion.
 Ears not fully erected.
 Definite white markings or spots.

NB :

• Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
• The above mentioned faults when occurring to a highly marked degree or frequently are disqualifying.
• Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
• Only functionally and clinically healthy dogs, with breed typical conformation should be used for breeding.



Detailed history

Formerly known as the Loulous in France, the Spitz have lost this name. At the same time, they are a bit unnoticed, which is not suitable for these dogs cut for celebrity. Because at home, everything calls for success and admiration. Their appearance first: with their fox's head and their sumptuous fur, they are not likely to go unnoticed. Their character then lively, malignant, sometimes impetuous, always affectionate, such a temperament can only seduce dog lovers well in their hair. After abandoning a name laden with tradition, the Loulou seem to have fallen into the hollow of the wave. But, as we know them, they should not stay long.

Not content with being among the most popular and colorful dogs at one time, the Spitz are without a doubt the oldest domestic dogs. Indeed, direct descendants of the famous Peat bog (Canis Familiaris palustris) of the Neolithic, they were the first to populate, alongside men, the lacustrine villages of prehistoric Europe.

Switzerland, the Jura, Great Britain, Denmark all have their national remains of this canine type. Better! Ten thousand years old, the Spitz ancestors also gave birth to all current lupoid-type dogs, that is, more or less resembling the wolf. Sharp muzzle, erect ears, bushy tail often coiled on the back, these are the main characteristics of these dogs, now grouped in the fifth group of the dog nomenclature: that of Spitz-type dogs and primitive type. Called to keep, hunt, pull sleds, keep company with the nomads who stayed at the camp, the Spitz and their "cousins" proved that they knew how to do everything. But where are these primitive dogs born? It is difficult to say, traces found in the East, in Africa, in the Great Siberian North, on the shores of the Baltic. They have unfortunately disappeared from all these regions, replaced by their own more specialized descendants.

The Spitz have spread in Europe, especially in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and France (especially in Alsace). Varieties of different colors and sizes have developed according to the regions and also according to the evolution due to crosses and selections. Thus, the white Spitz were particularly present in Pomerania, between Prussia, Poland and Baltic, while the blacks were raised in the Wurtemberg, county rich of an important past cynophile. There, they are used for the guard or for the trait, here they become crew dogs. Like the Pinschers and Schnauzers, they follow the horses, and very few are diligences that do not have their Spitz.

In this connection, it is worth mentioning J. Dhers: "He is the Loulou diligences, the adjutant of the coach, the imperial runner, barking, wriggling, cumbersome, loved by all! I remember that at that time all the diligences, all the truckers had one of those little devils white, black or gray which most of the time, of a back and forth fast, incessant, and always by barking, made a quick shuttle from seat to harness, skirting the spine, often sitting on the rump."

The largest Spits have been known for centuries in northern Germany and the Netherlands, where they were the boatmen's specialty. Proudly camped in the bow of the Dutch barges, they became, it is said, the symbol of the patriots opposed to the House of Orange, towards the end of the eighteenth century, and they would have been called Keeshonds (or Keeshonden) according to the name of the leader of these patriots, William Kees van Gyselaar. Arrived in Britain in the early twentieth century (thanks to Mrs. Mrs. Digby), the Keeshonds prospered there. The first club was founded there in 1925. The British asserted a strong preference for gray subjects, which they selected at the expense of whites, blacks and big cats, colors still admitted in Holland at the time.

Meanwhile, the Spitz, especially small ones, have another story, to say the least, in a role of company. One of them was the companion of the great Wolfgang Amadeus himself, who was not the only artist to appreciate it, since Michelangelo had possessed one too. In France, the popularity of the Spitz soared under the Empire, because he was one of Josephine's favorite dogs. Napoleon III, meanwhile, had many setbacks with the Spitz Eugenie, who used to escape or hiding in a particularly clever way. The police had to bring this little devil to the palace many times. The Spitz has also made the companion of ordinary citizens, not least anyway since it is Courteline and Emile Zola. The dwarf subjects then enjoyed immense success under the name of Loulous of Pomerania.

But it was the British who would give the small format Spitz its hour of glory. Already, in the 18th century, King George III had, by his example, generated a certain craze for these dogs, but it was Queen Victoria who was at the origin of the irresistible movement that led to the fame and miniaturization of the race. On a trip to Florence in 1888, she returned with Gona, a white Volpino (Little Italian Spitz). The queen became so enamored with this dog that she even founded a kennel where she would breed those of her race, fixing on her an average weight of 5.5 to 7 kilos, and she frequently presented exhibitions. Now, the English knew the Spitz only in a larger format, and it was a real challenge to reduce the dogs to the size recommended by the queen. However, given that, before the end of the century, the British breeders had managed to produce 3 kilo subjects with exceptional fur. But it would be bad to know the English to think that they were going to stop there. They sought to further improve their tiny dogs by affixing them in the most diverse colors, from blue to isabelle, through all possible pastel colors. Unlike their previous experiences, this test proved a bitter failure. The dogs were fading or fading with time, which was not very aesthetic. Yet, the twenties can boast one of the most beautiful mini-dogs ever created by cynophilia, in the "person" of Sable Mite. A wealthy American offered 500 pounds (an impressive sum at the time), but his proposal was rejected, so much did the English stick to their Spitz.

In the first half of the 20th century, the situation was therefore somewhat complicated. The English attributed themselves to the privilege of the miniature Spitz (the Pomeranians), and, if they agreed with the Dutch to give the older ones the name of Keeshonds, their standard was the only one to require the gray color for this variety . In France, we knew the Loulous (whose Club was founded in 1955), the Great Loulous, which became the Great Spitz; Keeshonds and Wolfspitz (Spitz-Wolves), which came from Germany, were distinguished. Indeed, the Germans claimed the paternity of all these dogs. By 1899, they had decreed the Spitz national race and created a club to safeguard this canine heritage. A solution was needed. In 1960, the International Cynological Federation, seized, decided in favor of Germany and recognized all Spitz German nationality.

Today, in a single group, with a single standard for five varieties, a single official origin, and "only" two breed clubs in France, the Spitz have found their consistency. And, most importantly, an easily recognizable identity, even for the most novice doggie. No longer having to go for the Medium, Small and Dwarf Spitz in the group of pet dogs, and the Big and the Spitz-Wolf in the utility dogs, the public will finally be able to rediscover these endearing dogs. For whatever it is, a Spitz is always a wonderful companion. Sizes and colors differ, but the temperament remains the same: that of the dog that accompanies man since the dawn of time. A real guarantee of quality.

Some morphologies are revealing. That of Spitz is certainly part of it. Just look at his little fox head, his eyes sparkling with mischief, his ears proudly erected to guess the keen temperament of this dog. Similarly, the name Spitz, which means sharp in German, perfectly reflects the curious and mischievous character of those who were called the Loulous. The body, compact and solid, trimmed with sumptuous fur, exudes confidence and dignity.

But who is really the Spitz? One imagines it willingly small, surly, screaming. It is not so. On the one hand, there are five varieties of Spitz, the largest being able to reach a height of 60 centimeters, and, on the other hand, this dog knows how to be a marvel of tenderness and calm at his hours. Okay, he willingly gives voice, but it is more the expression of his joyous nature than the manifestation of some aggressiveness. The Spitz is far too sure of him for that. It is true that he is often distant from strangers, but in these days, when dog thieves and laboratory purveyors abound, who would like to complain? The great Spitz who makes his voice heard behind the gate of a pavilion is generally listened to, and his frank and determined look overcomes many bad intentions. Because, watchdogs, the first Spitz, those who accompanied our ancestors ten thousand years ago, were. And hunting dogs. And draft dogs, by interposed descendants. In fact, the Spitz are able to fulfill all the tasks that one wants to entrust to them.

Why are they today pet dogs? Because they are remarkable in this role, quite simply. What about the Spitz at home? He is very present, always on the alert, running immediately to the slightest sound. Tired, the Spitz? Maybe a little, if you are used to dogs much quieter. With him, we certainly have no time to be bored. Does he like to play? It is said of this dog that he reaches full maturity, physical and psychic, quite late: to say that he is an inveterate player, always ready for a good game of ball or race. Because the Spitz are also athletes. We must see them, even the Dwarves, use their sturdy legs to gallop in the woods and fields. Of course, the little ones are a little less rustic than the big ones, but that does not stop them from venting occasionally. Long walks in the forest are suitable for older people, who have more endurance. The little ones will enjoy shorter, but equally intense walks. Woe to rodents encountered on the way. Some Spitz do not despise the unfortunate mouse that would fall to their noses.

Do they like children? No. They love them! Provided, of course, that they are respectful of animals, which should always be the case. The Spitz and Means are very suitable for families with children. Games can be animated without the dog suffering. On the other hand, the Little and Dwarves are better advised to single people, who will know better to pamper them. Although more delicate, they are not fragile. Having a good health, they have a remarkable longevity: from fourteen to eighteen years old. Unlike many Nordic dogs, the Spitz are not runaway. They are much too attached to their home to move away. And their strong sense of duty drives them to keep the house empty rather than abandon it for the sake of wild racing around.

Another sore point they share with most dogs in their group, intraspecific relationships, namely with other dogs. Here again, the Spitz are exceptional. Sure of them without aggressiveness, they do not let themselves be "dismounted" by beefy men trying to impress them. Even the dwarves show unusual courage. It may happen that a Spitz is allowed to be dragged into battle by too much provocation, but which race can boast of the opposite? As for other pets, cats for example, they should be used to young people if you want them to live together.

Does the Spitz like transport? In any case, he actively keeps what he comes very quickly to consider as "his" car. Public transport is possible, since, apart from the Big and the Wolf, all Spitz have the legal size and can if necessary slip a few minutes in a basket according to the regulations of the railway or the metro. Due to their small size, they may even be able to access aircraft cabins at the discretion of the captain. As for the boat, the Spitz-Wolf has borrowed enough while still called Keeshond to be comfortable. In short, taking the Spitz on vacation is not a problem.

In front of all these qualities, one is tempted to imagine a hidden defect. Is the Spitz very receptive to education, for example? At the risk of seeming to have lost all impartiality, we must answer yes. Indeed, the Spitz are particularly good at learning what their teacher wants to teach them. Have not they long been, beside the Poodle, excellent circus dogs? Showing to the Spitz all kinds of tricks can only delight him. Endowed with a very developed intelligence, he does not support intellectual inactivity and goes so far as to invent the most extraordinary jokes if his masters do not give him the necessary mental stimulation. Moreover, the Spitz is docile. Certainly, he seems willingly agitated, rough, but it is only an appearance. Subject to a well-conducted apprenticeship, he is a most attentive pupil. By educating him, his Spitz is a small, sociable and pleasant animal to have in his company. Initiated to essential orders; sitting, lying, not moving, at the foot; he will be able to follow his master everywhere without ever becoming an embarrassment. As for its propensity to bark, it can be quickly corrected by proper education.

As for maintenance, the Spitz is not a complicated dog either. Rustic, he is infrequently ill and makes a pretty bad client for the vet. More gourmet than gourmand, it does not require expensive food, especially since it must be avoided obesity, which would disfigure. His fur makes the fortune of groomers? False! It claims all in all little maintenance. Of course, you have to take care of it regularly, but a good brushing two or three times a week can suffice. As for the bath, it is disadvised because it destroys for several weeks the natural ooze of the skin and weakens it. Dry shampoos are appropriate because they help keep a dog clean without having to wet it.

So, is the Spitz the ideal dog? Why not? If it is not very popular today, it was very popular in the past, and it may well be again in the years to come, because whoever appreciates the beauty, the spirit and the kindness can only to love him, that Loulou there.

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