American Eskimo Dog or Eskimo Spitz

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial on Oct. 29, 2008

Also known as the "Eskie" and Eskimo Spitz, the American Eskimo Dog is a medium-sized, compact, and muscular dog breed descended from European Spitz-type dogs. The Eskie, with its majestic white double coat, loves the outdoors and is perfect for someone who is looking for a dog to play and jog with in colder climates.

Physical Characteristics

The American Eskimo Dog has a slightly long body and a compact build, very much resembling the Nordic Spitz type. Its gait is both agile and bold; its expression, meanwhile, is very alert and keen. The Eskie's double coat, which is white or biscuit cream, stands off the body, is water resistant, and insulates the dog against the cold. The dog's small and thick ears also protect it from the cold.

Personality and Temperament

Just like its Spitz ancestors, the Eskie is determined and independent. It is actually one of the most well-behaved, fun, and obedient Spitz breeds. American Eskimo Dogs, however, can be mistrustful of strangers and may not be a preferable choice for homes with pets, other dogs, or small children, though supervision and training may help discipline the Eskie.


All American Eskimo Dogs love cold weather. However, because they create close attachments to their human family, they should be allowed to live indoors. The Eskimo Spitz's double coat must be combed and brushed twice a week, more during its shedding periods. The Eskie is also very energetic and requires a vigorous workout daily, although the duration of the workout is determined by the dog's size. For example, a larger Eskie requires a long walk or brisk jog, while short walks or a fun outdoor game are sufficient forms of exercise for smaller Eskies.


The American Eskimo breed, with an average lifespan of about 12 to 14 years, is susceptible to minor ailments like patellar luxation, canine hip dysplasia (CHD), and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Eskies are also known to contract diabetes occasionally. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may run hip, knee, blood, and eye exams on the dog.

History and Background

The American Eskimo Dog (or Eskimo Spitz) is almost certainly descended from various European Spitzes, including the white German Spitz, the white Keeshond, the white Pomeranian, and the Volpino Italiano (or white Italian Spitz).

Originally referred to as the American Spitz, the breed was first used as a circus performer, traveling throughout the United States and entertaining the audience with tricks. The American Spitz was especially apt at this line of work because of its sparkling white coat, quickness, agility, innate intelligence, and its proficiency at training. As the news of the traveling dog with its bag of tricks grew, its popularity did also. Often, spectators would buy young American Spitz pups from the circus.

In 1917, the "American Spitz" became known as the "American Eskimo Dog." Although the reasoning for this is uncertain, it is probably to pay homage to the native Eskimo people who developed the large, Nordic dogs associated with the Eskie.

The American Eskimo Dog Club of America was formed in 1985. And after transferring their registered dogs to the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1993, the AKC recognized the American Eskimo Dog breed in 1995 and placed the breed in the Non-Sporting Group. 

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