The American Eskimo Dog, originally called the American Spitz and now also known as the Eskie, is a Nordic breed recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1993. It was given Non-Sporting Group status and eligibility for full AKC recognition in 1995. Eskies resemble a fluffy cotton ball; their dense double coat is always white or white with biscuit cream, and they have slightly slanted oval eyes that are distinctively rimmed in black. Their face is softly wedge-shaped, and their erect ears are triangular.
There are three distinct sizes of the American Eskimo Dog: the toy, the miniature and the standard. Toys are 9 up to and including 12 inches. Miniatures are over 12 up to and including 15 inches. Standards are over 15 up to and including 19 inches. Sizes outside of these ranges, all of which are measured at the withers, are breed disqualifications. Although weight is not part of the breed standard, toys usually weigh between 6 and 10 pounds, while miniatures average between 10 and 20 pounds. The standard Eskie can weigh between 20 and 35 pounds, depending on its height. There is no preference for size within each height division.
The coat of the American Eskimo Dog requires regular brushing and an occasional go-over with a shedding blade. They do shed year-round, and once or twice a year they "blow'" their coat. They do well in both cold and warm climates, despite their thick coat. Owners who do not have time for grooming, do not like shedding or cannot handle a high-energy dog probably should acquire an American Eskimo Dog.
History & Health
The American Eskimo Dog undoubtedly descended from several European spitz breeds, including the white Keeshond from Holland, the white German Spitz, the white Pomeranian from Germany and the Volpino Italiano, or white Italian Spitz. During the middle part of the 19th century, small, white Nordic-type dogs were common in American communities of German immigrants. Collectively, these dogs became referred to as the American Spitz. This spunky breed gained extreme popularity for use as trick dogs in traveling circuses across the United States. Supposedly, an American Eskimo named Stout's Pal Pierre walked on a tightrope in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. The public loved seeing their sparkling white coats and quickness, while trainers prized them for these attributes along with their inherent intelligence, agility and trainability.
Although the reason is not clear, the American Spitz was renamed the American Eskimo in 1917. This modern title mistakenly suggests that these are miniature versions of larger sled-pulling dogs developed in the far northern parts of this continent. The change from "Spitz" to "Eskimo" may be explained by the political climate in the United States during World War I. "Spitz" is a German work that means "sharp point" and was used to describe northern dogs with pointed muzzles, erect ears, curled tails and double coats, and it has been suggested that the name change was an attempt to distance the breed in America from its German origins.
The national parent club for the breed, the American Eskimo Dog Club of America (AEDCA), was formed in 1985 and opened its studbook in 1986. The AEDCA transferred its studbook to the American Kennel Club in 1993, with more than 1,750 Eskies registered as foundation stock. The American Eskimo Dog became part of the AKC's Non-Sporting Group and fully recognized in 1995. Eskies are competitive in obedience, agility, rally and the conformation show ring. They are used as narcotics detection dogs and even guard dogs. While popular in the United States, this breed is little-known in other countries.
The average life span of the American Eskimo Dog is 12 to 15 years. Breed health concerns can include diabetes; epilepsy; hip dysplasia; juvenile cataracts; Legg-Calve-Perthes disease; patellar luxation; and progressive retinal atrophy.
Temperament & Personality
Happy and always energetic, the American Eskimo dog loves to run, play, learn new tasks and solve problems. As the name suggests, this breed especially loves playing in the snow, so they make a perfect companion for families who live in cooler climates. They are vigilant, with a keen ear, and make excellent watchdogs.
They are patient and loving with children, and their good nature make them a fine match for first-time dog owners.
The American Eskimo Dog needs a lot of exercise and play time. They are intelligent and creative problem-solvers so if they don't get enough activity, they can find creative (and often destructive) ways to entertain themselves when the family is away.
This dog is best suited for families with fenced-in yards and plenty of room to run. Apartment-dwelling folks will find their American Eskimo will become bored, depressed and constructive.
The American Eskimo Dog is good with children, and will happily engage in playtime with them. They can be rambunctious, so parents should keep an eye on small children, so they don't get knocked over.
This breed is easily trainable, and famous for learning tricks, but if they sense they can gain a bit of control, they will take it. Confident leadership is necessary to keep the chain of command in tact with this breed. Their high intelligence can also make them manipulative, so "pushover" parents beware. Positive reinforcement is the best method to employ when training and American Eskimo Dog, and once basic obedience training is complete, they should be enrolled in advanced courses to keep their minds stimulated.
They do not need to be trained as watchdogs, as they will inherently protect their territory, but unlike other breeds, they rarely develop aggression. Even so, they should be socialized at an early age, just to be safe.
Barking is common among American Eskimo Dogs, especially when left alone. Their bark is very high pitched and can be an annoyance to neighbors. They also bark at the sight of any oncoming person or object. They can be trained to obey a stop barking command, but rarely can the desire to start barking be trained out of them.
Because they crave companionship, American Eskimo Dogs can develop separation anxiety. Ensuring he has enough exercise and activities to keep him busy while the family is away, can prevent this problem from developing.
The American Eskimo Dog, a loving companion dog, presents a picture of strength and agility, alertness and beauty. It is a small to medium-size Nordic type dog, always white, or white with biscuit cream. The American Eskimo Dog is compactly built and well balanced, with good substance, and an alert, smooth gait. The face is Nordic type with erect triangular shaped ears, and distinctive black points (lips, nose, and eye rims). The white double coat consists of a short, dense undercoat, with a longer guard hair growing through it forming the outer coat, which is straight with no curl or wave. The coat is thicker and longer around the neck and chest forming a lion-like ruff, which is more noticeable on dogs than on bitches. The rump and hind legs down to the hocks are also covered with thicker, longer hair forming the characteristic breeches. The richly plumed tail is carried loosely on the back.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Size There are three separate size divisions of the American Eskimo Dog (all measurements are heights at withers): Toy, 9 inches to and including 12 inches; Miniature, over 12 inches to and including 15 inches; and Standard, over 15 inches to and including 19 inches. There is no preference for size within each division. Disqualification: Under 9 inches or over 19 inches. Proportion. Length of back from point of shoulder to point of buttocks is slightly greater than height at withers, an approximate 1.1 to 1 ratio. Substance. The American Eskimo Dog is strong and compactly built with adequate bone.
Expression is keen, intelligent, and alert. Eyes are not fully round, but slightly oval. They should be set well apart, and not slanted, prominent or bulging. Tear stain, unless severe, is not to be faulted. Presence of tear stain should not outweigh consideration of type, structure, or temperament. Dark to medium brown is the preferred eye color. Eye rims are black to dark brown. Eyelashes are white. Faults: amber eye color or pink eye rims. Disqualification: blue eyes. Ears should conform to head size and be triangular, slightly blunt-tipped, held erect, set on high yet well apart, and blend softly with the head. Skull is slightly crowned and softly wedge-shaped, with widest breadth between the ears. The stop is well defined, although not abrupt. The muzzle is broad, with length not exceeding the length of the skull, although it may be slightly shorter. Nose pigment is black to dark brown. Lips are thin and tight, black to dark brown in color. Faults: pink nose pigment or pink lip pigment. The jaw should be strong with a full complement of close fitting teeth. The bite is scissors, or pincer.
Neck, Topline, Body
The neck is carried proudly erect, well set on, medium in length, and in a strong, graceful arch. The topline is level. The body of the American Eskimo Dog is strong and compact, but not cobby. The chest is deep and broad with well-sprung ribs. Depth of chest extends approximately to point of elbows. Slight tuck-up of belly just behind the ribs. The back is straight, broad, level, and muscular. The loin is strong and well-muscled. The American Eskimo Dog is neither too long nor too short coupled. The tail is set moderately high and reaches approximately to the point of hock when down. It is carried loosely on the back, although it may be dropped when at rest.
Forequarters are well angulated. The shoulder is firmly set and has adequate muscle but is not overdeveloped. The shoulder blades are well laid back and slant 45° with the horizontal. At the point of shoulder the shoulder blade forms an approximate right angle with the upper arm. The legs are parallel and straight to the pasterns. The pasterns are strong and flexible with a slant of about 20°. Length of leg in proportion to the body. Dewclaws on the front legs may be removed at the owner's discretion; if present, they are not to be faulted. Feet are oval, compact, tightly knit and well padded with hair. Toes are well arched. Pads are black to dark brown, tough and deeply cushioned. Toenails are white.
Hindquarters are well angulated. The lay of the pelvis is approximately 30° to the horizontal. The upper thighs are well developed. Stifles are well bent. Hock joints are well let down and firm. The rear pasterns are straight. Legs are parallel from the rear and turn neither in nor out. Feet are as described for the front legs. Dewclaws are not present on the hind legs.
The American Eskimo Dog has a stand-off, double coat consisting of a dense undercoat and a longer coat of guard hair growing through it to form the outer coat. It is straight with no curl or wave. There is a pronounced ruff around the neck which is more noticeable on dogs than bitches. Outer part of the ear should be well covered with short, smooth hair, with longer tufts of hair growing in front of ear openings. Hair on muzzle should be short and smooth. The backs of the front legs should be well feathered, as are the rear legs down to the hock. The tail is covered profusely with long hair. THERE IS TO BE NO TRIMMING OF THE WHISKERS OR BODY COAT AND SUCH TRIMMING WILL BE SEVERELY PENALIZED. The only permissible trimming is to neaten the feet and the backs of the rear pasterns.
Pure white is the preferred color, although white with biscuit cream is permissible. Presence of biscuit cream should not outweigh consideration of type, structure, or temperament. The skin of the American Eskimo Dog is pink or gray. Disqualification: any color other than white or biscuit cream.
The American Eskimo Dog shall trot, not pace. The gait is agile, bold, well balanced, and frictionless, with good forequarter reach and good hindquarter drive. As speed increases, the American Eskimo Dog will single track with the legs converging toward the center line of gravity while the back remains firm, strong, and level.
The American Eskimo Dog is intelligent, alert, and friendly, although slightly conservative. It is never overly shy nor aggressive, and such dogs are to be severely penalized in the show ring. At home it is an excellent watchdog, sounding a warning bark to announce the arrival of any stranger. It is protective of its home and family, although it does not threaten to bite or attack people. The American Eskimo Dog learns new tasks quickly and is eager to please.
Any color other than white or biscuit cream
Height: under 9" or over 19"
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Sources: American Kennel Club