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Honest FAQ for American Eskimo Dogs

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

American Eskimo Dog

Be sure you're on-board with this breed's high energy level, and his demands for loads of companionship – some breeders call them, affectionately, Peskies!

What kind of temperament and personality does the American Eskimo Dog have?

The most descriptive words that come to my mind regarding American Eskimo Dog temperament and behavior are:

clever, demanding, high-spirited, loyal, watchful, noisy

I give you my honest opinions about American Eskimo Dog temperament and personality traits and characteristics – positives AND negatives – in my dog breed review, American Eskimo Dog Temperament and Personality Traits (What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em).

Where did the name American Eskimo Dog come from?

Sometimes this breed is just called a spitz,  which is a general type of dog with a foxy face, pricked ears, curled tail, and thick furry coat. Spitz  is a German word meaning "sharp point", probably referring to the sharp pointy ears and sharp foxy muzzle.

Spitz dogs came to the US with German immigrants in the early 1900s. Due to anti-German sentiment around WW1, the breed was renamed American Spitz  and then American Eskimo Spitz  and finally American Eskimo Dog.

What were American Eskimo Dogs used for?

Spitz dogs were general farm dogs in Germany, herding the sheep and protecting the farmer's property. Spitz also became popular as clever, agile circus performers.

What traits would help American Eskimo Dogs accomplish their work? That's right... keen senses, quick to bark, chasing instincts, hardiness, agility, territorial instincts, and loyalty.

How big are American Eskimo Dogs? Height and weight?

  • Toy: 9-12 inches, 7-10 lbs (TINY category)
  • Miniature: 12-15 inches, 10-20 lbs (SMALL category)
  • Standard: 15-19 inches, 25-35 lbs (MIDSIZE category)

On a personal note, I seldom see Toys or Standards in my obedience classes or behavioral consultations. They're almost all Miniatures.

What colors do American Eskimo Dogs come in?

Not a lot of choice here! White, or white with biscuit/cream shadings.

How much exercise do American Eskimo Dogs need?

A lot. These very active dogs like to keep busy. They need brisk walks and a large yard for romping, especially in the cold and snow. (The largest Eskies need more exercise than the smallest.)

On the plus side, you can cover a lot of exercise needs teaching your American Eskimo Dog to do complex tricks, to play fetch, tug, and hide 'n seek. Set up a miniature obstacle course and run around it with your Eskie, or get him involved in official agility classes.

There is so much that can be done with this bright, eager go-getter that it's a darn shame to see some of them just sitting in the house or yard with no interesting challenges in their lives. Those are the same Eskies whose owners will call me complaining about behavior problems with their (understandably) bored, frustrated, venting dog.

Do American Eskimo Dogs need a fenced yard?

Yes, preferably with a high, solid, non-climbable fence. Why a fenced yard? and best and worst fences.

Are American Eskimo Dogs easy to train?

Yes and no. If you are a confident person who can establish a healthy leader-follower relationship, an American Eskimo Dog can learn almost anything. If you're not, this clever breed is not a good choice.

Are American Eskimo Dogs easy to housebreak?

Yes, although the Toy size does have miniaturized internal organs that take longer to develop.

Are American Eskimo Dogs friendly with people?

Not usually. These loyal dogs dote on their family. With strangers, American Eskimo Dogs are usually standoffish, and may even be suspicious. This can lead to excessive barking, and either fearful or threatening behavior. You need to stop this the moment it starts.

Are American Eskimo Dogs good with children?

I don't recommend American Eskimo Dogs for children younger than about age 10. This breed has an innate sense of pride and fairness and may not put up with pushy children who step over the line. In addition, like most spitz breeds, the Eskie can be possessive of his food and toys. That could cause problems with wandering toddlers. I much prefer to see American Eskimo Dogs in homes with kids who are at least about age 10 and can be relied upon to treat a dog with respect.

Are American Eskimo Dogs good with other dogs?

American Eskimo Dogs are usually fine with other dogs in their own family. However, they can be jealous – which you should stop immediately. American Eskimo Dogs often dislike dogs they don't know, and can be bold and pushy, especially with other dogs of the same sex.

Are American Eskimo Dogs good with cats?

They're usually okay with cats in their own family. But they have strong chasing instincts, and they are very fast, quick, and agile. I wouldn't keep one with pet rodents or rabbits.

How much do American Eskimo Dogs shed?

American Eskimo Dogs are heavy shedders. Along with shedding chunks of hair in the spring and fall, you'll find some loose hair the rest of the year, as well.

Are American Eskimo Dogs hypoallergenic? Good for people with allergies?

If you're allergic to dog dander, no. If you're allergic to canine saliva, no. American Eskimo Dogs are not hypoallergenic dogs at all.

How much grooming do American Eskimo Dogs need?

Moderate brushing of the harsh coat twice a week, daily when shedding. Comb out any mats under their "arms" and keep their private parts trimmed or clipped short for sanitary toileting.

What's a good training schedule for training American Eskimo Dog puppies?

Here's the puppy training schedule I use for American Eskimo Dogs: Puppy Training Schedule.

What behavior problems do American Eskimo Dogs tend to have?

Most commonly I see excitability, suspiciousness, and barking. If the dog isn't getting enough exercise and mental stimulation, I often see destructive chewing as well. The critical puppy/adolescent period is when you must teach calmness, establish the right leader/follower relationship, and respond properly to behavior problems.

What health problems might American Eskimo Dogs have?

Eye diseases that lead to blindness. Chronic itchy skin (allergies). Loose knee joints that cause lameness and arthritic pain.

What breeds are similar to the American Eskimo Dog?

Other spitz type breeds:

  • German Spitz: comes in three sizes
  • Finnish Lapphund
  • Icelandic Sheepdog
  • Samoyed
  • Pomeranian

Where can I buy an American Eskimo Dog puppy?

From a show breeder is best. Read my article.

Where can I adopt an older American Eskimo Dog?

Rescue group or humane society/shelter? Read my article.

I just got a new American Eskimo Dog. Which pages should I read first?

  • American Eskimo Dog Health, which includes my advice on feeding, vaccinations, and daily health care. These pages are very important, because if you start your American Eskimo Dog puppy off on the wrong foot, he will probably experience health problems later on. Starting off right is essential.
  • Training American Eskimo Dogs, which includes my advice on respect training, housebreaking, and socialization. Again, you must start your American Eskimo Dog puppy off on the right foot by teaching him what he needs to know, and you must avoid doing the wrong things with him so that he doesn't develop bad habits that will be much harder to fix later on.

Do male dogs or female dogs make better pets?

Ah, let the debate begin! Honestly, male American Eskimo Dogs have pros and cons, and female American Eskimo Dogs have pros and cons. Visit Male Dogs versus Female Dogs

There's an adorable American Eskimo Dog puppy at the pet shop. The store manager assures me they only buy from responsible breeders. Could this be true?

No responsible American Eskimo Dog breeder would ever place one of their American Eskimo Dog puppies in a pet shop for resale. To find out more about pet shop puppies, visit Pet Shop Puppies: Buying a Puppy From a Pet Store.

How do I pick the best American Eskimo Dog puppy from a litter?

You can do puppy personality tests. Visit How To Choose a Good Puppy.

What's the best dog food for American Eskimo Dogs?

3 Best Ways To Feed Your Dog Healthy Food.

I have to take my American Eskimo Dog to the vet soon for shots. Which vaccinations does he really need?

The schedule of vaccinations that dogs really need has changed dramatically – but unfortunately most vets are not telling you this, because a good chunk of their income depends on frequent vaccinations. Please don't get any more shots for your American Eskimo Dog until you've read my article on Puppy Shots and Dog Vaccinations.

What are the pros and cons of spaying and neutering my American Eskimo Dog, and when should it be done?

Spaying and neutering are often recommended too early, which can lead to health problems later in life. Visit Spaying Your Female Dog or Neutering Your Male Dog for the straight scoop on the safest (and riskiest) times to spay or neuter.

I have a question about American Eskimo Dogs that I don't see answered on your web site.

It's probably answered in one of my free online books.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

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