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The American Eskimo Dog is the consummate "companion" dog. Although originally bred as a guard dog for people and property, they are also incredibly loving and affectionate. They make great companion pets for single people or couples, and great family pets for those with children, as well.

The American Eskimo Dog first came into existence in northern Europe through their ancestors, the smaller Spitz dogs. These eventually became German Spitz breeds, which were ultimately brought to the United States in the early 1900s by European immigrants. The white Pomeranian , the Keeshond , the Volpino Italiano, and the American Eskimo Dog are all descended from the larger German Spitz breed.

Smaller Spitz dogs became performers in the American circus after World War I, doing such tricks as walking the tightrope. Many of today’s American Eskimo Dogs, in fact, can trace their ancestors to the circus dogs that were such famous performers after the First World War.

Beginning in the early 1900s, the German Spitz dogs and their various incarnations became cherished pets, especially in New York. Because of patriotic influence during and after World War I, previous references to "German Spitz" pets became instead "American Spitz." After World War II, the Japanese Spitz became a prominent breed of dog because of American contact with Japan after the war. At this time, Japanese and German/American Spitz dogs may have been interbred.

As early as 1919, the breed was recognized as the "American Eskimo" dog by the United Kennel Club , with the first written record and history printed in 1958 by that organization. However, no breed standard and no official breed club existed, although they were accepted as single dogs based upon their appearance alone. The National American Eskimo Dog Association was founded in 1970, but single dogs were no longer registered. In 1985, the first official American Eskimo Dog Club of America was formed by those who wanted to have the breed formally recognized and registered with the American Kennel Club. At that time, 1750 dogs’ pedigree information was collected to form the basis of the breed. The American Eskimo Dog has now officially been recognized by the American Kennel Club since 1995.

Because of its unique development as a breed, the studbook was opened from 2000-2003 in an attempt to find and register more of the original lines registered by the United Kennel Club. This has resulted in many American Eskimo Dogs‘ registration with both American kennel clubs, in addition to being recognized by the Canadian Kennel Club , as of 2006. It is still not a recognized breed elsewhere, however.

Because it is not internationally recognized as a breed, and because neither of the American kennel clubs have any affiliation with the Fédération Cynologique Internationale , American Eskimo Dog owners who want to show their dogs in international dog shows must usually register their American Eskimo Dogs as (similar, but different breed) German Spitz dogs. It should be noted that the German Spitz and American Eskimo Dogs are not the same dog, but are very similar. Although German Spitz dogs were certainly American Eskimo Dogs’ ancestors, the American Eskimo breed itself has developed differently since it was first introduced to North America in the early 1900s. It is also true that some German Spitz breeders incorporate American Eskimo bloodlines into their breeding programs to make the gene pool more varied, and the same holds true for American Eskimo breeders who want to utilize the German Spitz bloodlines to broaden their own gene pools.

This beautiful dog is always white, sometimes with cream- or biscuit-colored markings. The coat is heavy and lush, and is usually very thick around the neck for males especially; this creates a mane or ruff. The coat is generally straight, with a thick, plush undercoat and a rougher outer coat. The head is wedge-shaped with erect ears, the muzzle is of medium length, and the nose is black. The American Eskimo Dog has a plumed tail that curls over the back.

American Eskimo Dogs come in three sizes: Toy, standing 9 to 12 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing 6 to 10 pounds; Miniature, between 12 and 15 inches tall, and weighing 10 to 20 pounds; and Standard, over 15 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing 18 to 35 pounds.

The American Eskimo dog is a loving, affectionate breed that is very playful and great with children; it makes an excellent family pet. It’s alert and inquisitive, and has an extremely charming personality. It is eager to please and very intelligent, so that it’s easy to train and will be very obedient as long as it’s properly socialized. Your American Eskimo Dog must be given firm, consistent, gentle discipline, and it must see you as pack leader.

Formal obedience training such as formal classes is an excellent way to start your puppy off properly. Obedience training of this nature is not just good for your pet; it’s also of great benefit to those who want to become firm but loving owners. Loving owners often unwittingly "baby" their American Eskimo Dogs, especially the toy versions, and this is not appropriate. Indulged in such a way, your dog may want to take over and become "leader." This can result in excessive barking, willfulness, or aggressiveness, and a temperamental, bratty personality that actually has a name: Small Dog Syndrome.

The American Eskimo Dog will do well in just about any environment, including apartment living, as long as you give your pet daily walks and plenty of exercise. It does equally well with one-on-one interactions with a single "master" or with a large family setting, and does quite well with lots of noise; properly socialized, it will tolerate the activities of rambunctious children well. It must have proper discipline and see its human family as the "pack leader(s)" for proper behavior, and it must have lots of attention and togetherness. This is a companion dog by its very nature, which means that it must have a strong bond with its family to be truly happy and content.

This little dog fortunately has a very long life span, averaging about 16 years. It can become overweight quite easily, so you need to make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise and is not overfed. The breed is somewhat prone to hip dysplasia, luxating patella (kneecap dislocation), and progressive retinal atrophy, although obtaining a puppy through a reputable breeder will mitigate many of these problems. These pets can sometimes also have dental problems, or a propensity for tear-staining. Regular visits to a veterinarian will help ensure that your dog stays happy and healthy throughout its long life.