American Eskimo Dogs are medium-sized Nordic-style dogs with beautiful white hair—looking somewhat like small Samoyeds. They have compact, balanced frames with alert stances and gaits. They have wedge-shaped heads with medium-sized muzzles and skulls. Their lips, noses and eyelids are black. Their slightly oval eyes have an alert and intelligent expression and their triangle-shaped ears are erect. They have a thick, straight, double coat that creates a mane around the neck, and they have a curled, heavily plumed tail.
Charming, intelligent, warm and friendly, American Eskimo Dogs are also slightly reserved. Their loyalty to family and home can be intense: Some American Eskimo Dogs will keep strangers from entering the home until their master approves. This makes them a superb watchdog—they are protective without being aggressive.
Being a Nordic breed, American Eskimo Dogs can be strong-willed and independent. However, they are very good at adapting their keen intelligence to tasks and projects. While strong, they are soft, gentle and happy pets, responsive to games and positive play.
American Eskimo Dogs have been devoted companion dogs for centuries. They need to be around people and be involved in family occasions. Left alone or neglected, they can become batty or destructive. They also tend to bark when left alone. The best way to combat this separation anxiety is to include them in activities.
These dogs will be perfectly happy in apartments as long as they get plenty of exercise—a good daily walk will do. They may not need as much room to roam as a Border Collie or Lab, but they need enough to prevent weight gain—make sure they don’t eat too much. Also, keep an eye on them during warm days: Some owners shave their American Eskimo Dogs during the summer, but this could also make them prone to sunburn.
A healthy American Eskimo Dog can live as long as 15 years. Common health problems include hip dysplasia, flea allergies and retinal atrophy (a blinding disorder). Their thick coats should be brushed several times per week (more during shedding season).
Descended from a host of white European spitzes—including the Keeshond, the Pomeranian, the German Spitz and the Italian Spitz—the American Spitz (as it was once called) probably came to the U.S. in the early 1900s with German immigrants. Popular as a circus dogs for their sparkly coats, trainability and nimbleness, the American Spitz grew in popularity. In 1917, their name was changed to American Eskimo, but it was not until 1985 that the American Eskimo Dog Club of America was formed. The AKC registered the breed in 1995.