American Eskimo Dog
With his fluffy white coat and bouncy personality, the American Eskimo Dog is truly "the dog beautiful."
- Dog Breed Group
- Companion Dogs
- Life Span
- 12 to 15 years
Adaptabilitybased on 6 ratings
Trainabilitybased on 6 ratings
Health & Groomingbased on 6 ratings
All-around friendlinessbased on 4 ratings
Exercise needsbased on 4 ratings
See All Characteristic Ratings
Called "the dog beautiful" by his admirers, the American Eskimo Dog, or "Eskie," is a striking fellow with his white coat, sweet expression, and black eyes. He's a Nordic dog breed, a member of the Spitz family. Eskies are lively, active companion dogs who love to entertain and join in on all family activities. They are outgoing and friendly with family and friends, but reserved with strangers. Although the Eskie is a small dog — 10 to 30 pounds — he has a big-dog attitude.
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Perhaps it's his white fluffy coat. Or jaunty personality. Or intelligence. Whatever "it" is, the American Eskimo Dog's got it in spades, and he uses it to captivate his owners.
The Eskie is primarily a companion dog, a devoted family member who thrives in the middle of family activities. He is cheerful, affectionate, sometimes rowdy, and very smart — so smart he's thought to be one of the most intelligent dog breeds. He's an independent thinker, curious, with an uncanny ability to problem-solve. He excels in activities that require him to use his brain, such as obedience training, tricks, agility, conformation, and other dog sports.
Interestingly, Eskies were once favorite circus performers. With his adorable looks and ability to learn quickly, the Eskie traveled about the United States in the late 19th century, stunning audiences with his amazing tricks.
With intelligence comes independence, however. The Eskie is a freethinker, and those who know him recommend obedience training starting from puppyhood. Otherwise, this smart dog will outsmart his owner. Training teaches him proper canine manners and respect for his pack leader — you.
In spite of his diminutive size, the Eskie thinks big. He's an excellent watchdog and will announce the comings and goings of strangers with barking — in fact, he can become a problem barker if left alone too long. Although he'll warm up in time to those he doesn't know, his first instinct is to be suspicious. The Eskie takes his watchdog duties very seriously, though he isn't overly aggressive.
If you want a breed that has a lot to say, consider the American Eskimo Dog. This breed is very vocal, engaging in barks, yowls, and even mumbles. Many owners claim that their Eskies "talk" to them.
If the Eskie isn't talking, he might be chewing. Most are avid chewers and need a constant supply of chew toys to keep them from munching "illegal" household items (and to help keep their teeth clean and healthy).
The friendly Eskie is excellent with other dogs, cats, and children (though no dog of any breed should be left unsupervised with a young child).
When it comes to activity, the American Eskimo Dog tends to be busy. He likes to keep moving, especially when young. (Older Eskies often become more sedate, preferring being petted and cuddled to running around.) Many owners keep more than one Eskie so the dogs can keep each other entertained, though lone Eskies do very well in busy households. Eskies make excellent apartment dogs as long as they are walked regularly and given plenty of opportunities for exercise.
The American Eskimo Dog makes a beautiful, active companion for a household of one person or for a large family. A well-trained Eskie gives his family years of fun and joy.
- Eskies are happy, active, intelligent dogs. They thrive on activity. Plan on keeping your Eskie busy with training classes, games, romps at a dog park, or hikes. A busy Eskie is unlikely to become bored — a state you want to avoid with this breed, because boredom leads to excessive barking, inappropriate chewing, and other annoying behaviors.
- The Eskie needs to be with his family, so don't plan on leaving him alone for long periods at a time, or he may develop separation anxiety.
- If you are a confident leader, you'll enjoy life with an Eskie. If you're not, you're apt to have an Eskie that's leading you.
- Do not trust even a well-trained and well-socialized Eskie with small pets such as birds, hamsters, and gerbils. Chances are, he will succumb to his instincts and give chase.
- To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store.
The American Eskimo dog is a member of the Spitz family. Spitz dogs are Nordic dogs with foxlike faces, profuse coats, tails carried up over the back, and small, pricked ears. There is a great variety in the size of Nordic breeds, from the tiny Pomeranian to the large Samoyed.
The true origin of the American Eskimo Dog is unknown. What is known is that in the United States, small, white Spitz-type dogs were commonly found in German immigrant communities. These dogs were most likely descendents of the white German Spitz, white Keeshonden, or large white Pomeranians that came to America with their German families. They came to be known collectively as American Spitz dogs.
The American Eskimo Dog was a popular entertainer in the many circuses traveling throughout the United States during the 19th century. With his brilliant white coat and amazing ability to perform tricks, the Eskie was a favored showman. This widespread attention help popularize the breed.
In 1917, the American Spitz was renamed the American Eskimo Dog, though today nobody really knows why. The American Eskimo Dog Club of America was founded in 1985, and in 1995, the American Kennel Club recognized the breed in the Non-Sporting Group.
The American Eskimo Dog comes in three sizes: Toy, Miniature, and Standard. Toys stand 9 to 12 inches and weigh about 10 pounds. Miniatures stand 12 to 15 inches and weigh about 20 pounds. Standards stand 15 inches to 19 inches and weigh about 30 pounds.
Not only does the American Eskimo Dog have a winning look, but he's also got a winning personality. He's spunky, clever, plays hard, and loves vigorous exercise. Because he is naturally suspicious of strangers, he makes an excellent watchdog.
Eskies must have regular opportunities to vent their energy and use their busy minds. Otherwise, they can be rambunctious and bored, which usually leads to barking and chewing. A bored American Eskimo Dog can wreak havoc on your home and yard.
The strong-willed Eskie also needs a confidence owner who can take charge in teaching and leading him. He learns quickly, however, so training is fun and highly successful.
Don't plan on leaving this breed alone too much. He loves being part of a family and can suffer separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time. When you are away from home, it is wise to leave the Eskie in a crate or kennel, with sturdy chew toys, to keep him occupied and out of trouble until you return home.
Not all American Eskimo Dogs will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.
- Hip Dysplasia: This is an inherited condition in which the thighbone doesn't fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but others don't display outward signs of discomfort. (X-ray screening is the most certain way to diagnose the problem.) Either way, arthritis can develop as the dog ages. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred — so if you're buying a puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and are free of problems.
- Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease: This malady involves the hip joint. If your Eskie has Legg-Perthes, the blood supply to the head of the femur (the large rear leg bone) is decreased, and the head of the femur that connects to the pelvis begins to disintegrate. The first symptoms, limping and atrophy of the leg muscle, usually occur when puppies are four to six months old. Surgery can correct the condition, usually resulting in a pain-free puppy.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This family of eye diseases involves the gradual deterioration of the retina. Early in the disease, affected dogs become night-blind; they lose sight during the day as the disease progresses. Many affected dogs adapt well to their limited or lost vision, as long as their surroundings remain the same.
- Juvenile Cataracts: This condition can be a problem for some relatively young (less than six years old) Eskies. This is thought to be hereditary. When buying an American Eskimo Dog puppy, be sure to ask the breeder if her stock is certified by the Canine Eye Registration Foundation, and ask to see the certificates.
If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition. In Eskies, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).
Though he does well just about anywhere, it should comes as no surprise that the American Eskimo Dog loves cold climates. One of the joys of owning an Eskie is watching him play in the snow, which most Eskies love and will play in for hours. Many also enjoy water play.
The Eskie does well in a variety of homes, from apartments to large houses with yards — as long as he's an indoor dog. This breed isn't suited for life in the backyard. He's happiest when he's with his family.
American Eskimo Dogs need a lot of exercise. They are indeed large dogs in small packages, and they can become destructive if they don't get regular exercise. They do well in busy households because their energy helps them keep up with everyone.
Separation anxiety can be a concern for both Eskie and owner. The best way to deal with this problem is to avoid it altogether. Don't leave the dog alone for long periods of time and, when you do leave him, put him in a crate with plenty of sturdy toys to keep him occupied.
Recommended daily amount: 1/2 to 1.5 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.
NOTE: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.
For more on feeding your Eskie, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.
Coat, Color and Grooming
The white, fluffy American Eskimo Dog has a double coat with a dense undercoat and a longer outer coat. The hair is straight with no curl or wave. He has a pronounced ruff around the neck. His front and rear legs are well feathered, and the fur on his tail is profuse. He is most often pure white, or white and cream.
Eskies shed a lot, and they require frequent brushing to cut down on the amount of fur left around the house, and to prevent matting (especially behind the ears). A thorough brushing two or three times a week is advised.
Despite his light coloring, the Eskie is amazingly easy to keep clean. Eskie fur contains oil, which prevents dirt from adhering to it. When an Eskie gets dirty, the dirt usually brushes right out as long as the fur is dry.
Eskies should only be bathed once every couple of months, depending on how dirty they get. Being bathed too often can cause skin problems, because it tends to make an Eskie's skin dry and irritated. Unless they are very dirty, Eskies rarely have a doggie odor.
Their ears should checked once a week for dirt, redness, or a bad odor that can indicate an infection, then wiped out weekly with a cotton ball dampened with a gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner. Their toenails need trimming at least once a month.
Children and other pets
The Eskie is an excellent family dog who's affectionate with everyone, including kids of all ages, other dogs, and cats. Of course, adults should always supervise interactions between kids and dogs; the Eskie's high energy level can be overwhelming to extremely young children, so supervision is especially important.
The Eskie does not receive high marks for living in peace with small mammals and birds, which he tends to chase.
American Eskimo Dogs are often acquired without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one, and these dogs often end up in the care of rescue groups, in need of adoption or fostering. If you're interested in adopting an Eskie, a rescue group is a good place to start.
Below are breed clubs, organizations, and associations where you can find additional information about the American Eskimo.
All Breed Characteristics
Measures how well this breed potentially adapts to different environments
Measures the amount and difficulty of training potentially required for this breed
Health & Grooming
Measures how much effort this breed potentially needs to keep a tidy hound and home
Measures this breed's potential to get along with other dogs and humans
Measures this breed's potential to require lots of physical activity
Adapt well to apartment living
Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make -- plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.
Affectionate with family
Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
Amount of shedding
If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.
Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog that rates low in the drool department.
Easy to groom
Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
Easy to train
Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
Friendly toward strangers
Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.
Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.
Good for novice owners
Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.
**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
Potential for mouthiness
Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.
Potential for playfulness
Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.
Potential for weight gain
Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by -- cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars -- can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.
Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space.
Tendency to bark or howl
Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?
Tolerates being alone
Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
Tolerates cold weather
Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.
Tolerates hot weather
Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.
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