The American Eskimo dog is a large, fluffy and usually white coated breed of the spitz dog type, which can be easily mistaken for a small Samoyed at a glance, particularly as the American Eskimo dog is not that common in the UK. They are a fascinating breed with a long and colourful history both in America and Europe, and almost didn’t make it into the 20th century due to the quickly declining numbers of dogs of the breed left after World War 2.
If you have fallen for the undeniable charms of the American Eskimo dog breed and want to find out a bit more about them, or are considering buying or adopting a dog of the breed, this article will provide a short primer into some of the breed’s highlights, and some information on their interesting history. Read on to learn more.
The American Eskimo dog is a versatile working breed that originally worked as a livestock herding and guarding dog, and they could also be used to assist with hunting and pest control too! This comes as a surprise to many dog lovers, as the name and appearance of the breed does of course imply that they are a sledding breed, like the Siberian husky.
However, while they share some of the spitz dog traits and appearance with breeds like the husky and Alaskan malamute, they do not have a common history or similar working roles! That said, the American Eskimo dog is quick to learn and keen to please, which means that they can often be seen taking part in various different canine sports.
There are a few dog breeds that have more than one recognised size variant within the breed standard, which are either classed as types of the same breed heading, or different breeds in their own right. The American Eskimo dog is available in toy, miniature and standard, all recognised under the main breed umbrella of the American Eskimo name.
However, even the large variant of the breed is not huge-a standard American Eskimo dog can weigh up to just 35lb, with the miniature weighing up to 17lb and the tiny toy variant coming up to just 10lb at the top end of the range!
One of the first things that surprises many people about the breed is that not only are they not actually sled dogs in any way, but also, they are definitely not American! While they are hugely popular as pets in the USA and America likely has the largest population of dogs of the breed worldwide, the American Eskimo dog actually originates from Germany.
Up until World War 1, the breed was known as the German spitz dog. However, anti-German sentiment in the aftermath of the First World War led to the breed going through something of a rebranding, in order to ensure that they did not go through a large population decline while most of Europe rejected all things German.
World War 2 also had an effect on the breed albeit to a lesser extent, as dog numbers in Europe as a whole fell rather dramatically during and immediately after the war, due to a scarcity of resources.
However, while the breed declined somewhat in Germany and surrounding areas, they were already well established in the USA by this point, where these petite, visually stunning and intelligent dogs became widely renowned as performing circus dogs!
Animal circuses and sideshows were hugely popular in the USA during the early and middle parts of the 20th century, and this time is sometimes referred to as “the golden age of circus,” with even most small out-of-the-way towns seeing at least two or three circuses and sideshows pass through every year.
The American Eskimo dog was the favoured performing dog of circus performers, because they are small, lively and energetic, quick to learn and keen to please. One notable American spitz dog called Stout’s Pal Pierre was in fact an adept tightrope walker, and a real draw for the crowds!
The pure white fluffy coat and distinctive spitz appearance of the American Eskimo dog is one of its most obvious traits, and this coat is very thick and fluffy and delightful to stroke! However, while white is by far the most common and popular coat colour for dogs of the breed, they can also be found in a variant of the white colour called biscuit, which is a pale beige off-white shade.
However, even in biscuit coloured dogs, their undercoat and the base of their fur is white, with the pale beige shade only being present on the tips of their hairs.