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American Eskimo Dog: Breed Information, Facts, Traits & More

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Last Updated: May 22, 2023 | 13 min read | Leave a Comment

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The snowy white American Eskimo Dog is a true beauty. These pearly white pups stand out in the crowd for their striking appearance. Also called the Eskie and “the dog beautiful,” this fluffy pup has a fun personality and attitude much more prominent than her size. The American Eskimo Dog makes a fantastic pet, but there are a few things prospective owners should know. For starters, the breed is not associated with the Indigenous Eskimo people, despite the name.

Like any canine, the spunky Eskie has some distinctive personality and behavioral traits. These dogs make wonderful family pets and do very well with small children. They even do great in small homes and apartments. There is much more to this spunky little gal than meets the eye, including a history of performing in the circus.

Getting to know a breed before making an effort and investment to bring one home, especially a sought-after breed like the Eskie. A lot goes into providing this spunky pup with the right living situation, care, and nutrition. Let’s learn more about this beautiful breed, her history, temperament, care needs, and more.

American Eskimo Dog
    • weight iconWeight10-30 Pounds
    • height iconHeight10-19 Inches
    • lifespan iconLifespan13-15 Years
    • color iconColorsWhite, Cream, White and Biscuit
  • Child Friendliness
  • Canine Friendliness
  • Training Difficulty
  • Grooming Upkeep
  • Breed Health
  • Exercise Needs
  • Puppy Costs

History

American Eskimo Dog in Snow
Known for their snowy white coats, Eskies were bred for colder climates.

American Eskimos Dogs are part of the Spitz family. They have roots in Germany and descend from the German Spitz. Spitz dogs are northern or Nordic dogs well suited to cold weather. Originally the German Spitz was a working dog, a hunting companion, and a herder. They were common farm dogs.

This Spitz arrived in America with German and European immigrants as early as the 1800s. The Eskie was quite popular in the upper Midwest and was common to see on farms and as pets. They were bred with other Spitz-type dogs, eventually developing the little firecracker we know as the Eskie. They became very popular in America after World War I due to a pup named Stout’s Pal Pierre, who worked as a circus dog with Barnum and Bailey. Around this time, the breed was renamed the American Spitz and later the American Eskimo Dog.

The term American Eskimo actually comes from a Spitz breeding kennel that was located in Ohio. The breed is not connected to the Eskimo people or even to colder areas of the world. They were not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) until 1995 but were officially recognized as the American Eskimo by the American United Kennel Club as far back as 1919.

Eskie is the most common nickname for the breed, but she is also known as the American Eskimo Spitz, Miniature Eskimo Dog, Toy Eskimo Dog, or sometimes just Spitz.

Temperament

Two American Eskimo Dog on dirt ground on leashes
Eskies are highly intelligent and eager to please, making them easy to train.

The Eskie is known for her friendly and outgoing personality. They are loyal and affectionate with their families and tend to bond strongly with one person in the household. One thing notable about these pups is that they are often described as having big personalities or thinking large. The Eskie is a wonderful watchdog who lets everyone know when a stranger (suspicious or not) is approaching. In fact, she often seems constantly on alert. She is also an excellent barker, which is something to remember if you want a quieter pup. This breed has much to discuss and is famed for being highly vocal.

This spunky little pup is a wonderful pet for almost any family as they get along well with everyone, including cats, dogs, and children. She loves to be the pack leader, human, or canine. Eskies are incredibly high in energy and need a lot of exercise. Another thing to note is that Eskies are avid chewers. They will chew anything. For a smaller dog, they can cause an unbelievable amount of damage. The good news is she is also highly trainable, so with plenty of positive reinforcement and practice, most bad behaviors can be trained away. Be careful, as this little gal, like most other small dogs, can develop Small Dog Syndrome, which can take some time to overcome.

Eskies have incredible intelligence, a highly energetic attitude, and overall good charm. The breed is a very popular pet. Prospective owners should know this pup is prone to separation anxiety. She loves being around people and does not like being left out. This breed does best in homes where they do not have to be left alone for more than a few hours. Though they were once common to find among farms and working dogs, the breed is more popular as a pet now due to their lustrous white coats, fluffy soft fur, and very agreeable personalities.

Size & Appearance

American Eskimo Dog standing in a field
The Esky is a small to medium-sized breed with a sturdy, well-balanced body.

The American Eskimo Dog stands out for her striking appearance and looks like a smaller version of the beloved Samoyed. These pups are famous for their brilliant white coats, fuzzy fur, very pointy ears, narrow snout, black noses, and bright eyes.

They have a broad chest and a long, wedge-shaped head. They have erect, pointy ears, and their eyes are dark and almond-shaped. Eskies have black eyelids, noses, gums, and paw pads. This is another smiley dog, as their mouth always has a friendly upturned look. They also have a thick tail that curls over their back, which they carry with sass and pride. Their bodies are just a little bit longer than they are tall.

These snowy white pups come in three sizes – toy, miniature, and standard. The toy size is up to 10 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs up to 10 pounds, the miniature size is 11 to 15 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs up to 15 pounds, and the standard size is 16 to 19 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs up to 30 pounds.

Coat & Colors

American Eskimo Dog with wind blowing in fur
Her undercoat is shorter and denser, while the outer coat is softer and longer.

The Eskie has a medium-length, thick, double coat. The hair is most often straight and grows more heavily around the chest, neck, and tail. The thicker undercoat does a lot of work, helping keep her warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The Eskie is not hypoallergenic and sheds heavily. This is not an exaggeration. Even the smallest of Eskies will shed almost endlessly.

Eskies have a thick double coat that comes in white, cream (also called biscuit), or white with cream or tan markings. They need regular brushing a few times a week and occasional bathing to keep their brilliant shine.

Exercise & Living Conditions

American Eskimo Dog in gated park
If she does not get regular physical exercise, she will become destructive.

The Eskie is a high-energy dog who needs a lot of exercise. She is often described as a big dog trapped in a small package and has enough energy to power a dog three times her size. This constant need for energy is part of the reason this little gal does very well in busy homes. They love having different people and other animals to interact with.

Regardless of the weather, Eskies need to spend time outside every day. They can live in apartments, condos, or smaller homes but require daily walking at least once, preferably twice. Along with regular walks, they will need physical stimulation and mental interaction. Teach your pup tricks and play lots of games with her. If this breed does not exert enough energy, they will become destructive and may even develop loneliness or aggression.

This breed also likes playing in the water, and does well outside, even in chilly temperatures. After all, they have those thick, luxurious double coats. Adopting an Eskie means an owner is committing to getting a lot of physical exercise themselves.

This breed needs a lot of attention, care, and interaction. She is not a good breed for owners who will not be home a lot or do not have the time or energy to give her almost constant attention. She will need room to move around, a safe place to retreat to, and regular access to the outside all year round. This does not mean this is a good breed to leave outside alone all day, but she does need to spend plenty of time outdoors, under close supervision, to exert all that energy.

Training

American Eskimo Dog with trainer on a leash in a park
Eskies are incredibly smart and love to learn.

They are easily trainable to do tricks and love performing. It is imperative to socialize and start obedience training very young. Because of her highly intelligent nature and headstrong personality, this dog can be independent. This also means that she can be hard to train. There is no middle ground with the Eskie. If you do not establish yourself as the pack leader, she will. If you want to avoid your Eskie calling all the shots, it is essential to start training young, stay consistent, use positive reinforcement, and constantly work on retraining behavior. Establish firm boundaries right away.

Firm, consistent boundaries are essential for this breed. Because she is so tiny and cute, she can get away with a lot. If you do not set boundaries, your dog will be in charge. Because of her strong-willed personality, this is a great breed to look into doggy boot camp and puppy training classes.

Health

The American Eskimo Dog is generally a healthy breed with an expected 13 to 15 years lifespan. Many factors impact how long a dog will live and how healthy they are. However, this breed is prone to specific health conditions. This includes hip and elbow dysplasia, ear infections, hypothyroidism, and eye problems. It is essential to have your fur baby checked regularly by a veterinarian and to feed them a balanced diet to help reduce their risk of developing health problems. There are a few specific health problems to know about with an Eskie. These include:

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia occurs in many different canines. The condition is caused by abnormal development and growth of the hip joints. This abnormal development can lead to joint looseness later in life, leading to pain, joint instability, and even permanent damage. This condition can further develop into osteoarthritis. Some dogs may even become lame in their hind limbs, affecting mobility. This condition often appears between 6 to 12 months of age but can also be present in older dogs.

Obesity

Obesity is a huge concern with the Eskie. These dogs enjoy eating and are very cute, meaning they often beg for and receive treats. Canine obesity can lead to several other health problems, including digestive issues, joint pain, back pain, heart disease, and diabetes.

Eye Disease

Eskies are prone to developing eye diseases, including Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and juvenile cataracts. PRA is a group of eye diseases that eventually deteriorate the retina. Some dogs may lose some of their vision capabilities. This includes a condition called night blindness, in which dogs can only see clearly in low light.

Luxating Patella

Eskies are prone to developing concerns with their kneecaps, including a luxating patella. This is a condition in which the kneecap slips out of place. The condition can become painful and eventually limit mobility. A severe case may require surgery for your pup to walk correctly.

Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PKD)

This genetic disorder causes deficient levels of pyruvate kinase enzymes in a dog’s red blood cells. This results in a low oxygen level in a dog’s blood system and body tissues. This results in low energy, anemia, and cellular death. This disease can occur in cats and even humans as well. Unfortunately, the American Eskimo Dog is prone to developing this condition. Symptoms generally present between four months and a year old. Most dogs do not live more than four years with this disease.

Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

This is a condition that affects the hip joint. Blood supply to the rear legs is limited, causing disintegration in the head of the femur. Signs of this condition include atrophy of leg muscles and limping. It generally presents when puppies are between four and six months old and can be corrected with surgery.

Retained Testicle (Cryptorchidism)

This is a condition that can affect some male Eskies. Cryptorchidism occurs at birth, and one or both testicles do not descend into the scrotum as they should. If the testicles are not removed, this can lead to a significantly increased risk of cancer later in life.

Canine Epilepsy

Eskies are often affected by epilepsy, which is often an inherited condition. Three different kinds of seizures can occur. Symptoms of epilepsy most often start to appear between six months and three years old. Dogs affected by this condition can live long, full lives but will need medication and special medical care throughout their lives.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism occurs when the body does not produce enough thyroid hormone, leading to different physical symptoms, including skin disease, weight gain, aggression, hair loss, dry skin and coat, and other behavioral issues.

Nutrition

American Eskimo Dog outside with dog bowl
As adults, they should eat a mix of dry kibble and wet, fresh, or freeze-dried foods.

Like every other breed, the Eskie needs top-quality, well-balanced nutrition throughout her life. As puppies, they should eat high-quality puppy chow, preferably developed for small breeds. Depending on your dog’s size, she will eat between half a cup to about a cup and a half of food a day. This should be divided into two or three smaller meals. Make sure not to freely feed these pups because they will overeat, leading to obesity issues.

Be sure to provide your pup with some variety in her diet. Eating the same thing day in and day out does get boring, and your pup deserves variety. Plenty of fresh, wet, and top-quality dry dog foods are available to try. Additionally, freeze-dried dog foods are an excellent way to add fresh flavor and protein to your dog’s meals.

Grooming

American Eskimo Dog smiling up close
Due to the Eskie’s thick double coat, she needs a lot of grooming.

Her double coat constantly sheds and needs brushing at least twice or thrice weekly. Daily brushing is perfectly fine with this pup. Regular brushing helps spread oils through the hair, which also helps repel dirt and prevents coats from getting dirty. Investing in high-quality grooming tools and making time for brushing is very important if you are an Eskie parent. Occasional bathing may be necessary, but try to keep this to once every three or four months. Bathing your pup too often may trigger skin irritation and drying issues.

Pay special attention to cleaning out this breed’s ears is essential. Inspect your pup’s ears at least once a week for any debris, irritation, or smell. Try to clean them out about once a week using ear-clean ear wipes or cotton balls and a pH-balanced ear cleanser. This is a critical step in their grooming process and goes a long way toward preventing ear infections.

Paying attention to regular nail trimming and dental care is also essential. It is best to start brushing and cleaning your dog’s teeth when she is very young, as this will get her used to it. Dental disease can develop in just two years and is a leading cause of concern and many other health problems. If you are unable to clean your dog’s teeth, it is a good idea to discuss this with your veterinarian and get recommendations and help on both brushing as well as other methods you can employ to keep your Eskie’s teeth as clean as possible.

Breeders & Puppy Costs

American Eskimo puppy on a white backdrop
When adopting an Eskie, it is crucial to research to ensure you work with a qualified, reputable breeder.

The average cost will vary by location. However, an estimate of about $500 to $4,500 is a good range. Dogs of higher pedigree will cost more. If you want to adopt an Eskie, you know you are opting for a purebred dog. Purebred puppies often cost much more than mixed breeds and those adopted from rescues or shelters. The breeder you work with, dog health, age, and coat color are all part of the price. Dogs intended for competitions or shows are more expensive than those meant for pets.

It is important to ask breeders about health screenings and treatment before adoption due to the number of genetic issues the American Eskimo dog can inherit. A good estimate for a companion dog is between $700 and $1,500 for a high-quality, healthy puppy. Puppies purchased from private sellers will likely be less expensive than those from professional breeders. However, breeders will generally have dogs of higher-quality bloodlines. It is also important to remember that the location of both the breeder and customer and the time of year will impact the price.

Rescues & Shelters

Although the Eskie is a purebred, highly sought-after dog, it is still possible for these pups to turn up in shelters and rescue groups. You can check with local rescues and shelter groups first, consult with your veterinarian about reputable rescues they work with, and look for national groups like the Humane Society. Some organizations also work to rescue and rehome, specifically the American Eskimo Dog. There is also the possibility that these pups may show up in Spitz rescue groups.

If you want to adopt a rescue pup, it may take longer than going through a breeder. You also may need to travel if a dog is available outside your local area. Talk to your veterinarian, look online for rescue groups, and reach out on social media. These are all excellent resources for finding available rescue pups for adoption. Rescue dogs are much less expensive to adopt than those from a breeder. Prices generally range from $25 to about $500. Of course, this all depends on the specific rescue group or shelter and any vaccinations or spay and neuter procedures they perform.

As Family Pets

The American Eskimo dog is a fantastic family pet. She is high-energy, incredibly smart, affectionate, and loves playing. These dogs do well in small homes as long as they have regular access to the outside and plenty of physical exercises. They are a pup that becomes clingy very quickly and does not like being left alone for long.

These dogs feed on attention and activity, so they are an excellent choice for homes with lots of action, children, and other pets. An Eskie left home alone may become lonely, irritable, and even develop separation anxiety. These pups require a lot of supervision, but you will never be let down by their sweet nature and undeniable cuteness.

Along with needing a lot of physical exercise, these dogs need plenty of mental stimulation. They can be pretty independent, so they need to have firm boundaries very early on. This pup will happily take the reins if owners do not establish themselves as leaders. You will not be short on love, excitement, and fun if you welcome an American Eskimo Dog into your home.

Final Thoughts

The Eskie is a beautiful, adorable, high-energy pup that makes a wonderful family pet. These pups are purebred and related to the German Spitz but have been an American favorite for a long time. Their curly tails, pristine white coats, and smiley faces make them a fast favorite. Though the Eskie is small in stature, she is enormous in personality, stamina, and energy. This pup is smart and spunky and will always be happy to play. You will not be disappointed in welcoming this amazing breed into your life.

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