active and loads of fun...

Keeshonds are small / medium dogs that always look like they belong in the snow. They have long, double coats that stand out from their body making them look much wider than they are. This is because the originated in the Arctic region. However, don't let their appearance make you think that they don't belong in the hot Australian climate - there are plenty of happy owners of Keeshonds in Australia. The secret is to keep them indoors in the hot weather in a climate- controlled environment.

As puppies they are cute little balls of fluff, but don't mistake their fluffiness for fragility. They are robust animals who are highly intelligent and easily bored. Their boisterous nature means they need regular exercise and mental stimulation to prevent them becoming destructive or anxious.

Keeshonds are very loyal, love children and are good with other dogs provided they are socialised early. Take advantage of puppy school, trips to the beach and parks when they are young so that they learn quickly to enjoy the company of other dogs. If you enjoy teaching your dog tricks this is a breed which will relish performing.

Keeshonds love to bark but provided they are stimulated, their barking doesn't have to be a nuisance. More importantly, they are very quick to bark at any perceived danger, including visitors and strangers. To prevent prolonged barking, train them gently but firmly to stop after the first warning bark and reward them when they stop by patting and praising them.

Don't give too many food rewards. Keeshonds should be relatively cheap to feed as they don't need much food to stay energetic and they are very prone to weight gain if they are overfed or under exercised.

Apart from hip dysplasia, which plagues many dog breeds, Keeshonds' main health problems are heart disease (which is preventable with a good diet) and skin problems. With all that thick fur, you would have to expect a skin problem or two!

Regular grooming, a cool environment and limited washing are the keys. Keeshonds will shed their undercoat twice a year and need brushing every day all year round to keep them comfortable. Avoid excessive bathing - a dry shampoo is a good alternative. If you put in a consistent effort with these dogs, you will be rewarded with a pet bursting with personality which should live at least 12 years.

<ul> <li> Small / medium dogs.</li> <li>Long, thick hair - needs grooming every day.</li> <li>Very active.</li> <li>Intelligent - needs early training.</li> <li>Good watchdog</li> <li>Can learn tricks easily.</li> <li>Prone to hip dysplasia, heart disease, and skin problems.</li> </ul>