ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

American Eskimo Dog

American Eskimo Dog
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The American Eskimo Dog AKA the Eskie is a perky, playful and intelligent dog. Standing at approximately a foot and a half at the shoulders, the standard Eskie is a medium sized dog in the spitz family, with a white or a white-biscuit-cream color coat. They have a double coat with a short, dense fur covered by a straight guard coat that grows through and extends beyond the shorter hair.

The Eskie has also been selectively bred to create the toy and the miniature versions. Other dogs in the spitz family are Pomeranians and the Keeshonden, who sport the same foxy face structure with small alert ears and the tails that curl up over the back.

The Eskie is intelligent and learns quickly; as a result, they are one of the entertainers of the dog world. During the 19th century when traveling circuses toured the United States, the American Eskimo Dog was a talented trickster. Their popularity among the audiences spread far and wide, and the Eskie population grew in numbers, making them one of the most popular dogs in the U.S.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityHigh
TrainabilityHigh
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHighest
Exercise NeedsHigh

Dog Breed Group: Nonsporting Group
Height: The toy breed stands 9 — 12 inches, the miniature Eskie is between 12-15 inches, and the Standard Eskie is 15-20 inches.
Weight: The toy weighs about 6-10 lbs, the miniature 10-17 lbs while the standard is between 18-35 lbs.
Life Span: 12 to 15 years

The Eskie is a loveable dog. Whether it is his sparkling white coat, his abundant energy, his genial personality, or his intellect, the Eskie will steal your heart and become a treasured member of the family. It seems the prime purpose of the Eskie is a companion dog. He thrives on being the center of attention and being in the midst of all family activities. His cheerful temperament, affectionate demeanor, and rowdy manner win over even the most reluctant humans. You will end up succumbing to his delightful charms.

He is an independent thinker with a curious mind, which gets him into trouble on many occasions. He has the ability to problem solve in any situation. Left to his own devices for extended periods of time will lead to a bored dog which will almost always get in trouble. The Eskie excels at agility, obedience training, canine freestyle, fly ball, disc dogs, and conformation. If it requires intelligence, the Eskie will excel.

Because of his independent will, it is important to start with obedience training early in his life. If you wait until later, he will learn to outsmart you. The Eskie is also a vocal dog, barking warning of eminent danger. He considers himself to be a brute of a dog, regardless of his size and will make an excellent watchdog. His barking can get out of control if he is left alone too long. His first instinct is one of caution and suspicion, although he will accept outsiders in time. After all, he is the official watchdog, and he can’t slack on the job.

The Eskies are considered a vocal breed, communicating with barks, howls, yowls, and even grumbling and mumbling; actually most Eskie owners will tell you their dog talks to them. They are also ferocious chewers so keep shoes, slippers, and other precious belongings up out of reach and provide your Eskie with an unending supply of chew toys to keep him occupied.

Main Highlights
  • The American Eskimo Dog is a happy, intelligent companion that will keep you company and entertain you at the same time.
  • The Eskie is a very active dog, so you want to make sure it gets enough exercise to keep it content.
  • The dog park is a perfect outing for an Eskie as he gets along well with other dogs and loves to run and chase. A couple of hours running at the dog park will keep him calm and content when he gets home.
  • If he is allowed to get bored, all bets are off; he will become a trouble maker chewing, barking and destroying your house!!
  • The Eskie needs the companionship of his family; this friendly little guy will suffer separation anxiety if left for long periods by himself.
  • If you plan to get an American Eskimo puppy find a reputable breeder. Do not buy from pet stores, puppy mills or irresponsible breeders.
Breed History

The beginnings of the American Eskimo dog are unknown. Originally called the white German Spitz, this breed was often found in communities of German immigrants throughout the United States. Travelling circus shows popularized the Eskie breed, and many people bought the puppies of the circus dogs.

Eventually, their name was changed to the American Eskimo dog during WWI because of the strong anti-German sentiments, and despite their name they have no connection to the Eskimo culture. In 1913 Mr. and Mrs. F.M. Hall registered the breed with the UKC (United Kennel Club). American Eskimo was the name of the kennel and became the name of the breed.

In 1969 the National American Eskimo Dog Association was created and in 1985 the American Eskimo Dog Club of America took shape. The AKC finally recognized the breed on July 1, 1995.

The American Eskimo dog descended from the European Spitzes including the white German Spitz, the white Pomeranian and The White Keeshond, and the white Italian Spitz.

Size

The Eskie is a small, compact or a medium sized dog. Over the years the breed has been specifically bred for three different sizes.

  • The toy breed stands 9 — 12 inches and weighs between 6-10 lbs
  • The miniature Eskie is between 12-15 inches and 10-17 lbs
  • The Standard Eskie is 15-20 inches and 18-35 lbs.
Personality and Character

The American Eskimo dog is a charmer; he will warm his way into everyone’s hearts. His friendly demeanor and perky manner will keep you entertained for hours, and his quick intellect will keep you on your toes. You need to convince him that you are the one in charge and not the other way around.

With an Eskie, it is wise to have a fenced yard that is escape proof — if there is a way to get out, he will find it. Then he is off on a merry romp and chases around the neighborhood. As a high energy dog, he needs plenty of supervised exercise and play. If you wish to go beyond obedience training, you will find your Eskie will excel in various activities and competitions, agility, fly ball, freestyle, disc dogs and conformation. With his superb intelligence, he is eager to please and more than willing to learn.

The Alaskan Eskimo dog is one of the most intelligent dogs. As a result, they are easily trainable and eager to please. He will be an independent thinker, so training should start after he is weaned. He will learn all the obedience commands and earn top marks for his cooperation, but it is important that the Eskie knows you are in charge. He will test his limits, be firm and do not allow him to succeed in his missions.

The Alaskan Eskimo dog is a companion dog who craves interaction and attention from his family. You cannot leave an Eskie alone for long periods of time as he will succumb to separation anxiety. It is wise to crate train an Eskie, so they have a safe, secure area, filled with chew toys and interactive toys to pass the time while you are away.

Barking is one trait you will need to control from day one. Eskies are very alert dogs and take their role as a guard dog very seriously. They will bark alert if someone is near, but they can get out of control and bark at every little sound and movement. Eskies can become anxious and aggressive in their guard duties, and you will find it difficult to have friends visit.

The Eskie can be a challenge to new dog owners. He needs a firm owner in training to let him know who is in charge. If he is allowed to think he is in charge, many behavioral issues will arise. They can include barking, separation anxiety, stubborn reactions to commands, refusal to obey, becoming hyperactive, high strung and being aggressive.  Without the proper amount of exercise and mental stimulation an Alaskan Eskimo dog can slip into these negative behaviors.

Health and Potential Problems

Some strains of the Alaskan Eskimo dog can be prone to health issues, diseases and physical ailments. Among those problems are Hip Dysplasia, Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), and Juvenile Cataracts.

  • Hip Dysplasia: This inherited trait is when the thighbone refuses to sit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs are afflicted by pain and limping on one or both back legs, and yet other dogs show now outward sign of it. Arthritis will develop as your dog ages. Dogs with this condition should not be bred. If you are buying a puppy from a breeder, ask to see proof that the parents have been tested for the condition and are not afflicted by it.
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease: If your puppy has this condition he has a decreased flow of blood supply to the head of the femur bone. The top of the femur that connects to the pelvis begins to disintegrate. One tell-tail sign is if your puppy begins limping between four to six months of age. Surgery can correct the condition, and the puppy will be pain-free.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): This eye disease causes deterioration of the retina in the eye. The dogs will first have trouble in the night because of night blindness, and they will gradually lose sight completely. Most dogs can adapt if owners take care not to change their surroundings.
  • Juvenile Cataracts: This condition can strike relatively young Eskies. It is thought to be hereditary and cataracts form before they are six years old. When you are purchasing a new puppy make sure you ask the breeder to show you proof that her pups are certified by the Canine Eye Registration Foundation.

If you are buying from a reputable breeder, they will be eager to show you certificates of health for the puppy’s parents. These certificates prove the parents have been tested and cleared of any condition. You should expect to see certificates of clearance for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, von Willebrand’s disease and thrombophilia and a certificate that the eyes are normal.

Care Features

It’s no wonder that the Alaskan Eskimo dog, with its double coat, thrives in colder climates. They love the snow and are well-protected from the elements by their waterproof guard fur. Even though they are well-suited for the colder weather, they can get along anywhere. They will enjoy house or apartment living as an indoor dog and they should not be abandoned in the back yard.

Your Eskie is an integral part of the family, and that’s where he is happiest. As a companion dog, he wants to be by your side and joining in activities with you.  Do not leave him for long periods of time without human company! His separation anxiety is very real, and you will end up with a high strung neurotic dog. If you must leave your Eskie at home, it is wise to have a crate or enclosed area where he can play with chew toys and interactive dog toys.

Exercise is a prime part of your Alaskan Eskimo’s care. He needs to get out, play and run. Dog parks are ideal for his level of energy. The Eskie is a social dog and will play well with other dogs. Running and romping at the dog park for a couple of hours will let him wear off excess energy and leave him quiet and content at home.

Feeding Schedule

The American Eskimo dog’s recommended daily feeding schedule is ½ a cup to 1.5 cups of high-quality dry food a day split into two feedings through the day.  The amount of food will depend on his size, age, build and level of activity.

Of course a lively, active dog will need more than a sedentary dog.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The white double coated fur of the Eskie is made up of a dense undercoat to protect him from heat and cold. The outer longer guard fur is hollow and waterproof and it protects the Eskie from damp and dust. Their hair is straight and long without curl or wave. They have a dense ruff around their neck, making them appear almost like a lion. His front and back legs are feathered, and his tail is dense. He will either be pure white or cream colored.

Because of their dense fur, they shed a lot. Brushing every day will keep his shedding to a minimum; it will also prevent mats, especially behind the ears. Using a pin brush will reach deep down into the undercoat. Eskies, like their Spitz relatives, will blow their undercoat twice a year. During that time, daily deep brushing is necessary.

Surprisingly, even with a white coat, it is easy to keep an Eskie clean. The dirt and dust will brush right out of the outer guard coat. Eskies, like most spitz breeds, only need to be bathed once every couple of months because regular brushing keeps their fur clean. Over bathing can irritate an Eskie’s skin and leave it dry and raw. Eskies rarely have a doggie smell.

Their ears should be checked for dirt, redness or a bad odor that can signify an ear infection. Wipe them out once a week with a cotton ball with a pH-balanced ear cleaner. Their toenails should be trimmed once a month unless they are worn down by outdoor activities.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The Eskie is an excellent companion and shares affection with everyone in the family, including children and other dogs and cats.  Adults should supervise interactions between the Eskie and children as their energy can get out of control if they get too excited, and it can be overbearing for a child.

Unfortunately, the Eskie’s prey drive makes it a threat to small mammals and birds as he will chase them and very likely hurt them in an attempt to play.

The American Eskimo dog is a wonderful addition to any home. His lively, perky nature can make him the center of attention. His crazy antics and tricks are a joy to watch, and his intelligence will make him a quick learner.

You will find training him to be an easy exercise especially if you use positive reinforcement to reward him for desirable behavior. He is eager to please and earn the affection of all those around him. His appearance and perky manner give him a pixie nature which is hard to resist.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

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