Information about the American Eskimo

The American Eskimo Dog is a breed of companion dog originating in the United States of America (probably in New York City) in the twentieth century. The breed was formerly called a German Spitz or an “American Eskimo Spitz”. It is a member of the Spitz family of dogs. It achieved a high degree of popularity in the 1930s and 1940s in the U.S. as a circus performer. The very first dog to walk a tightrope was an American Eskimo.[citation needed] The breed became popular as circuses would sell the puppies during their travels across the nation. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1994 and set the current standard for the breed. The United Kennel Club had recognized the breed long before 1994, and there is no difference between the two breed standards.

American Eskimo Dogs are known for their playfulnessThe standard for the American Eskimo Dog calls for them to be white or white & biscuit cream, with brown eyes (blue eyes, such as those found on the Siberian Husky, are a disqualification and a sign of poor health or breeding), and a compact body. The dog’s length should be only slightly greater than its height at the shoulder. The muzzle is long and lupine (in contrast to the muzzles of Pomeranians). The ears are held erect and alert, and the tail should be feathered and loosely curled on the dog’s back. These dogs look very much like smaller versions of the Samoyed, and come in three standard sizes. The toy is from 9 to 12 inches (23 to 30 cm) at the withers; the miniature is from 12 to 15 inches (33 to 38 cm); the standard is from 15 inches up to and including 19 inches (39 to 48 cm).

The Eskie, as with all Nordic breeds, has erect, triangular ears (“prick ears”), a tail that flips onto the dog’s back in a spiral, and two coats of fur: an undercoat that is softer and helps insulate the dog, and an outer coat that’s harsher and acts as a weather repellent.

American Eskimos were bred to be companion dogs, not just the family dog to put outside when they bother their owners. They thrive on being a part of their human family. Eskies love their families, and a well-socialized dog is more of a pleasure to own. Eskies are easily trained and very intelligent, as well as being strong-willed and independent. At home, Eskies make excellent watchdogs, barking only when provoked. The Eskie can be protective of its home and family, but it shouldn’t threaten to attack or bite a person (unless provoked). American Eskimos must be trained early in age to come to their master. They do not respond well to aggressive discipline. Spanking an American Eskimo for its mistake may result in a growling war instead of punishment. Make sure to research the dog’s parents as their temperament may vary due to inheritance.

Puppy at 11 weeksMany people find the puppies of American Eskimo Dogs to be very cute and purchase this breed as a puppy without doing sufficient research, such as discovering the longevity and needs of this breed. This breed can take longer to mature than other breeds, and Eskies can behave more like puppies than like adults for up to two years, when they finally start to mature and grow their adult coats. They are also a very intelligent dog and need to be stimulated. When their intelligence is not stimulated or they are ignored, they can develop behavior issues. Owners can avoid this problem by socializing their Eskie through obedience training or participating in dog sports, such as dog agility, flyball, or dancing.

The breed lives on average between 12 and 14 years, although some individuals might as long as 20 years or longer. They are prone to hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, epilepsy, urinary stones and allergies, especially flea allergies, that can lead to acute moist dermatitis or “hot spots”.

The Eskie is most likely derived from the German Spitz, the Finnish Spitz, the Pomeranian, the Keeshond, and possibly the Samoyed, although the latter is not universally accepted. The Spitz family of Nordic dogs is one of the least altered by human husbandry and reflects most nearly the prototypical dog, from which stock all others have been derived. Archeology suggests that Neolithic dogs living with humans would today pass for spitzes.

Like many light-colored dogs, the fur beneath the eyes can become stained if not regularly cleaned.The American Eskimo has a tendency to develop severe allergies to fleas. One flea on an Eskie can result in frantic scratching and gnawing on their skin, which results in painful “hot spots” and skin lesions.

Eskies have a long, dense coat and need regular grooming. This means brushing them once a week, or more often if necessary. They shed, but it can be maintained with regular brushing. They “blow” their coats twice a year, once in May or June to shed their winter undercoat and once in November or December to shed their summer coat. Many Eskie owners use an undercoat rake, a tool available at most pet stores, for grooming. Some owners in hot climates do shave their Eskies, but if this is done, the dogs should be kept indoors as much as possible to prevent sunburn. Also, once a dog is shaved, the coat will grow in with a coarser, woollier texture than it would have had it been left alone.

Although Eskies prefer cold weather, they can live in hotter climates as well. Eskies should not be shaved, as the long fur helps to maintain the temperature of their skin. Eskies have drier skin than most other dogs and do not usually smell doggy. Because of their dry skin, they need to be bathed only every two or three months, unless they soil their coat with large amounts of dirt or substances with strong odors. Regular brushing maintains a clean coat in most cases. Eskies are a very clean breed and constantly groom themselves.

All dogs’ teeth should be brushed once a week. Pet stores carry a variety of dog toothbrushes, from fingertop to electric.

Because so many people purchase ‘cute’ puppies and then discover that they do not want an active, intelligent dog with a heavily shedding coat, many of this breed end up at the animal shelter or otherwise up for adoption, or possibly in more unfortunate situations. There are many breed-specific rescue groups that are more than willing to give advice on training or curbing behavioral issues. One of these rescue groups is the American Eskimo Dog Rescue Organization. There is also a breed specific sanctuary in Iowa that takes older and injured American Eskimo dogs from all over the U.S., gives them medical care and a life long place to live called the American Eskimo Rescue and Sanctuary of Iowa