The American Eskimo Dog, also sometimes referred to as an Eskie, is a Spitz-type dog breed that originated in Germany. They were originally bred to be watchdogs and farm dogs meant to guard people and property. As these dogs spread across Northern Europe, they were developed into the various lines of German Spitz dog breeds. As Europeans immigrated to the United States in the early 1800s and onwards, they brought their dogs with them. The dog breed we know now as the American Eskimo descended from these dogs.
Due to a rise in anti-german sentiment around World War I, dog owners in the United States began referring to their dogs as American Spitz instead of German Spitz and the breed continued to develop in the United States. In 1919, the breed was officially recognized as the American Eskimo by the American United Kennel Club (UKC). The American Kennel Club recognized the American Eskimo Dog as part of the Non-Sporting Group in 1995.
American Eskimos are generally fun-loving and affectionate dogs that make great companions. They tend to be highly intelligent, inquisitive, and curious with an independent streak and a lot of energy. They also tend to be excellent with children, which makes them a great fit for families.
Due to their watchdog background, Eskies can be territorial by nature. They are not an aggressive breed by nature, but they can be vocal and tend to bark to alert you of any stranger that comes onto the property. Early and ongoing training and socialization can help tone down the barking or help stop it on command.
They are alert and friendly dogs, but can be a little shy or aloof when first making new friends. But, they tend to open up and warm up quickly once they’ve been introduced.
An American Eskimo is a moderately adaptable dog breed. Although they are small, they are quite energetic dogs that require plenty of exercise and are easily bored. They tend to do best in homes with a securely fenced-in yard where they can run. However, they can adapt well to apartment living as long as they get plenty of exercise and attention.
This dog breed’s dense double coat allows them to adapt to a variety of climates. They are definitely an indoor dog, but can certainly handle playing outside in the snow with you. As with any dog breed, they are sensitive to heat, so you will need to watch them carefully for signs of heat stroke in the summer. American Eskimos are also people-oriented and love being near their favorite humans. This means they do not do well with long periods of time alone.
The American Eskimo is a relatively healthy dog breed. As with all dog breeds, there are some potential health conditions to be aware of, which include progressive retinal atrophy and hip dysplasia.
Because the Eskie is a smaller dog with a small mouth, they can also be more prone to developing dental disease, but regular dental care can help prevent this. Asking the breeder about the genetic history of the parents and to see any health clearances can help allay potential health concerns you may have.
The American Eskimo is a highly trainable dog breed. Their high intelligence and eagerness to please their owners make them a good fit for owners of any experience level, including first-time dog owners. They tend to pick on things quickly, but, because they can have an independent or stubborn streak, they can be rather mischievous.
First-time dog owners may want to enroll in puppy training classes or enlist the help of a trainer to ensure they have the knowledge and techniques to successfully navigate the potential stubborn streaks, effectively handle their bursts of energy, and make this dog feel like an active part of family life.
This dog breed has a double coat. The undercoat is dense and the topcoat grows through it to be longer and become the outer coat. Common coat colors are white or cream. The American Eskimo will shed moderately year-round with heavier shedding session twice a year as the seasons change.
In general, brushing this dog’s coat twice a week is enough to remove loose fur, clear out tangles, and prevent mats from forming. During the heavier shedding cycles, you’ll want to brush your Eskie more frequently to help keep them more comfortable and to better contain the loose fur. After all, if most of the fur is contained to your brush, it won’t end up all over your house as much.
The American Eskimo’s coat does not tend to trap dirt, so regular brushing usually takes care of keeping their coat clean. The occasional bath is every few months is enough to keep this dog’s coat clean. Bathing more often than that can lead to dry and irritated skin.
This dog breed has a high activity level. They have a lot of energy and also get bored easily, so they require some extra activity in addition to their daily walks. But, they are also small, so a lot of intense activity is likely to tire them out. Even though they can get tired out by intense activity, they love to play and are a great fit for certain types of dog sports, as this also gives them a job to do.
American Eskimos can commonly be found competing in obedience and agility trials. Although Eskies do tend to mellow out as they age, it’s important that they get enough exercise. They can quickly become destructive and distressed if they are undertrained, underexercised, or left alone for too long.
A fully-grown standard American Eskimo usually stands 15-19 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs between 25-35 pounds. If they are 12-15 inches tall, they are considered a Miniature American Eskimo and generally weigh between 10-20 pounds.
If they are 9-12 inches tall, they are considered a Toy American Eskimo and generally weigh between 6-10 pounds. Looking at the size of the parents, especially the mother dog, can give you a good idea of what size to expect.
An American Eskimo generally lives for 12-15 years.