American Eskimo Dog or as they are commonly known, Eskies, are descended from several European spitz-type dogs, including the Pomeranian, Italian Spitz, German Spitz, and Keeshound. Some experts even feel the Japanese Spitz may be a part of the breed’s ancestry.
The early American Eskimo dogs served both as watchdogs and companions. In the late 1800s, the breed was known as the American Spitz and was very popular in traveling road shows and circuses, performing tricks. The American Eskimo Dog breed’s intelligence, agility, and unique white coat caught the American public’s attention during this period, and the breed’s popularity grew. In 1917, the name was changed to American Eskimo Dog, although the reasons why have been lost.
American Eskimo Dogs are bred in three sizes. Toys are 9 inches up to and including 12 inches at the withers (point of the shoulder); miniatures are more than 12 inches up to and including 15 inches; and standards are 15 inches and up to 19 inches at the withers.
American Eskimo Dogs of all sizes have the same look: upright ears, alert expression, plumed tail, and wonderful coat. Eskies are pure white, although some may have some biscuit cream in the coat. The coat is straight and is a double coat with a thick undercoat. All sizes should present the appearance of alertness, strength, and agility.
The American Eskimo Dog’s lush coat requires a minimum of twice weekly brushing. Although not prone to heavy matting (tangles), the dense undercoat will shed, and brushing can keep that under control. The heaviest shedding is usually in the spring and fall, although some shedding will take place throughout the summer and, depending upon your climate, sometimes year-round. The coat requires no trimming.
These dogs need vigorous daily exercise. Although daily walks are a great idea, they are not enough. A brisk jog, game of fetch, session of flyball, or training session on the agility course will keep them satisfied. Without enough exercise, Eskies can be quite mischievous and will amuse themselves, often to the owner’s dismay!
All American Eskimo Dog puppies should attend a puppy kindergarten class where they can socialize with puppies of other breeds and meet a variety of people. Continuing the training after puppy class is imperative for American Eskimo Dogs, not because they are bad but because they are alert, intelligent, and need something to occupy their mind. The training program should be structured yet fair and fun. Teach your American Eskimo Dog tricks, too; he loves it!
American Eskimo Dogs make alert watchdogs; trespassers will be met with a flurry of barking. Wary of strangers, the American Eskimo Dog breed is very loyal to family and friends. The standard size Eskies make great companions for children and are usually quite tolerant of some roughhousing. The toy and miniature Eskies are too small for rough childhood play. If treated too roughly, these small dogs will protest. Most American Eskimo Dogs are quite tolerant of other small pets, including cats, although few can resist the chase of a running cat, so interactions should be supervised. The primary health concerns include Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), knee problems, and hip dysplasia.