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What is an American Eskimo?

By B. Koch
Updated Mar 05, 2024
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The American Eskimo dog is a small to mid-size Nordic-type breed of dog with a medium-length bushy white coat. These dogs are considered to be friendly, energetic and loyal, and they are said to make great family pets. American Eskimo dogs, also known as “Eskies,” originally had nothing to do with indigenous Eskimo people or the Arctic Circle. They were instead used in circus performances, and an American Eskimo dog became the first canine ever to find itself successfully walking a tightrope. Today, they are a popular companion dog.

Anti-German sentiment during World War II caused the German Spitz breed to be renamed the American Eskimo. Today’s American Eskimo is slightly different from the German Spitz, because it is also descended from the Keeshond and the white Pomeranian. American Eskimo dogs are easily recognizable because of their bushy, white coats and curled, Spitz-like tails.

They may range in size from 9 inches to 19 inches (about 23 cm to 48 cm) from the floor to their shoulder. These dogs are divided into three groups — toy, miniature or standard — depending on their size within this range. The points of the American Eskimo dog, meaning the lips, nose and eye rims, are a distinctive black color. The animals have a wedge-shaped head and erect, triangular ears, while their bodies are longer than their legs, giving them a slightly squat appearance.

One of the most endearing traits of the American Eskimo dog is that they are excellent companion animals. They are intelligent, loyal, and considered to be exceptional watchdogs. These dogs have high energy, so they need daily exercise; the larger variety of the breed thrives best in a home with a fenced-in yard, yet its need for exercise may also be managed with long, daily walks. American Eskimo dogs are easy to train and can become well-behaved dogs as long as their owner acts with a firm hand to show the dog who is in charge.

Life expectancy of the American Eskimo dog is about 15 years. Although a generally healthy dog, the breed is prone to retinal atrophy and hip dysplasia. These animals are known to gain weight quickly if not provided with adequate exercise. They also require regular grooming, because they shed a significant amount and their long coat must be maintained.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an American Eskimo Dog?

The American Eskimo Dog, affectionately known as the "Eskie," is a breed of companion dog originating from Germany. Despite its name, it has no association with Eskimo culture. It's recognized for its striking white or cream coat, keen intelligence, and friendly disposition. This breed comes in three sizes: toy, miniature, and standard, catering to various living situations and preferences.

What is the history of the American Eskimo Dog?

The American Eskimo Dog descends from European spitz breeds, such as the German Spitz, and was brought to America by German immigrants. The name change to "American Eskimo" occurred during World War I due to anti-German sentiment. The breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1995 and is celebrated for its agility, alertness, and beauty.

How much exercise does an American Eskimo Dog need?

An American Eskimo Dog requires regular exercise to maintain its physical and mental health. A daily routine should include walks, playtime, and mental stimulation through training or puzzle toys. Eskies are energetic and thrive with activities that challenge them both physically and intellectually, helping to prevent boredom and potential behavior issues.

Are American Eskimo Dogs good with children and other pets?

With proper socialization, American Eskimo Dogs can be excellent companions for children, displaying patience and playfulness. They are generally friendly towards other pets, especially if raised with them. However, their natural protective instincts mean they should be introduced to new animals carefully. Always supervise interactions to ensure they remain positive and safe for all.

What grooming requirements does an American Eskimo Dog have?

The American Eskimo Dog's lush double coat requires regular grooming to prevent matting and maintain its pristine condition. Weekly brushing is recommended, increasing to daily during shedding seasons. Bathing should be done every few months or as needed. Regular ear cleaning, nail trimming, and dental care are also essential to keep an Eskie healthy and comfortable.

What are some common health issues in American Eskimo Dogs?

American Eskimo Dogs are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they can be prone to certain health issues. These may include hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. Responsible breeding practices and regular veterinary check-ups can help mitigate these risks. A well-cared-for Eskie can enjoy a lifespan of 12 to 15 years.

AllThingsNature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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