American Eskimo

Breed At A Glance


Loving, intelligent and eager to please

Life Expectancy
10-15+ years (up to 20 with proper care)

Average Height
Toy 9-12 inches; Miniature 12-15 inches; Standard 15-19 inches

Average Weight
Toy 6-10 lbs; Miniature 10-20 lbs; Standard 18-35 lbs

Coat Color
White (or “biscuit cream”)

Coat Length/Texture
Thick, profuse double-coat

Shedding Propensity
Seasonally very heavy, consistent year-round in warmer climates

Also known as American Spitz, American Deutscher Spitz

General Temperament

The American Eskimo is a charming and energetic dog, entertaining with a good sense of humor. Affectionate and active, they are excellent companions for children, although children should be taught not to tease the dog as some may nip or bite if strongly provoked. American Eskimo Dogs are very intelligent and eager to please, and therefore easy to train.

Eskies will get along well with other household pets they are raised with, but be sure to properly socialize them to minimize aggression towards strangers. Eskies are loyal and sometimes protective. They are initially wary of strangers but once introduced they usually become quick friends. They love to bark and will do so to announce the arrival of visitors, making them good watch dogs.

American Eskimo Dogs are a people-oriented breed with an innate need to be near their families and a strong desire to work. They enjoy working with their owner/handler and can excel in obedience trials or dog sports such as agility, flyball, and even dancing. Destructive behavior can result from the dog being left alone for long periods, being isolated from the family, or not being properly stimulated. They can be happy in an apartment setting, as long as they are sufficiently exercised. Eskies prefer cold weather but can be happy in warmer climates. Be sure to keep the dog cool during summer months.

Breed History

The American Eskimo Dog is most likely a descendant of the white German Spitz, white Keeshonden and/or large white Pomeranians that immigrated with their German masters. As the German immigrants formed tight communities in the 1800’s, the dogs were interbred, developing what came to be known as the American Spitz. Due to their gleaming white coats, intelligence and trainability, this breed found work performing in dog trick acts and in circuses across the country, which helped promote the popularity of the dog.

The American Eskimo Dog was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1995.

Body Structure and Composition

Although the three variations of the American Eskimo Dog differ in height and weight, they are all judged by the same breed standards. They have a wedge-shaped skull topped by triangular ears that are carried erect. They have an alert, even curious, facial expression. The body is compact and well-balanced, with a level topline and legs that are well angulated. The plumed tail is usually carried loosely over the back. The Eskie has a delicate yet energetic trot, as opposed to a pacing gait.

Medical Information

The American Eskimo Dog is a relatively healthy breed, although they are prone to several degenerative diseases. The most prevalent of these is Hip Dysplasia, in which the head of the thigh bone no longer fits firmly in the “cup” provided by the hip socket. This causes lameness and arthritis-like symptoms. Responsible breeders will have their breeding stock evaluated by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) to help prevent spreading this disease. They can also be prone to elbow and knee degeneration and Patellar Luxation (also known as “slipped stifle”), which occurs when the kneelike joint above the hock in the hind leg slips and may require surgery.

American Eskimo Dogs can also experience various eye problems, most prominently Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), characterized by degeneration of cells of the retina, leading to a loss of night vision and eventually to complete loss of sight. Additionally, special attention should be paid to the eyes and tear ducts of this breed to help prevent infection. Allergies, particularly flea allergies, can also be a problem which can go unseen due to the dog’s thick coat. The Eskie’s reaction can often be frantic scratching and gnawing at the skin, resulting in acute moist dermatitis or “hot spots.”

The American Eskimo dog needs to be brushed twice per week to prevent matting, and may require daily brushing during heavy shedding. The fur on the face can also become stained from leakage from the tear ducts if not regularly cleaned.

Anecdotal Information

The first dog in the world known to walk a tightrope was an American Eskimo Dog working in the Barnum and Bailey Circus.

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