American Eskimo Dog

Breed Group: Non-sporting

Temperament and Behavior

Spirited, fun-loving, and people-oriented all describe the American Eskimo Dog. Their love of family is a driving force in their life. They may become jealous of a baby or other animal, especially if it arrives after he does. Denied the companionship he thrives on, he is likely to become destructive and noisy. Always ready to play, American Eskimo Dogs are active animals both inside and out. Their activity level, combined with the free use of their voice makes them a first-rate watchdog. Though they make a real commotion if trouble is brewing, they do poorly in the role of a guardian. Their above average need for exercise need can be met with a brisk walk and several vigorous play sessions during the day. They love to chew, dig, and bark. They do well with older well-behaved children but do not enjoy the poking and prodding usually dished out by young children. With strangers, they tend to be reserved. They generally get along well with other dogs. Most do quite well with non-canine pets although some view small rodents and birds as prey.

Physical Characteristics

Though the AKC recognizes only the standard size, the American Eskimo Dog is bred in three sizes- standard, miniature, and toy. The standard size stands 15-19 inches tall and weighs 25-35 pounds, the size of an average dog. The miniature variety stands 12-15 inches and weighs 10-20 pounds, with the toy version being 9-12 inches tall and weighing 9-12 pounds. All three have medium length fluffy white hair that needs regular brushing to avoid matting. They shed moderately all year and in great clumps during their seasonal shedding. As one might expect from their name, they do quite well in the cold but fair poorly in heat. They appreciate air conditioning in hot weather.

Trainer's Notes

Early socialization is advised to keep their reserved nature with strangers from becoming shyness. An American Eskimo Dog trains easily, but being highly intelligent, he does not like repetitive training. In fact, he is so smart he will likely train you without your recognizing it. Consistent rules are important. Differences other than size exist between the standard, miniature, and toy varieties. Generally, the smaller the size, the higher the activity level and the less exercise the dog needs. As long as the dog’s high activity level, high companionship needs (some affectionately call them “Peskies”), and tendency to shed are understood, they make a reasonable choice for a novice dog owner. They also make a good choice for people living in an apartment, especially the miniature and toy sizes.
Photo © by Mosesofmason available under the GNUFDL
American Eskimo Dog
American Eskimo Dog


The American Eskimo Dog is a healthy breed. Less than 10% are affected by Hip Dysplasia or Luxating Patellas. Avoid puppies with blue eyes. These have an unusually high incidence of deafness. Their expected lifespan is about 13 to 15 years.


The American Kennel Club ranks the American Eskimo Dog 108th in popularity with about 400 puppies registered per year. But that understates the breed’s popularity because many are registered with the United Kennel Club.

Breed History

One sometimes hears this dog called a “Spitz”. However, a Spitz is a type of dog (like a “spaniel” or “hound”), not a breed of dog. Neither American nor of Eskimo heritage, the spitz-type dogs that lead to the American Eskimo Dog hail from Germany. Other Spitz breeds that may have contributed are the Keeshond, Pomeranian, and Volpino Italiano. In the 1920’s these dogs became a favorite of circus performers. Sometimes pups of these dazzling canine performers were sold to circus-goers. Many American Eskimo Dogs of today can trace their roots back to these circus dogs. Initially, the breed could only be registered with the United Kennel Club. But in 1994, the American Kennel Club began accepting registrations for the breed as well.

Additional Information

The National (US) Breed Club is the American Eskimo Dog Club of America.

Is An American Eskimo Dog THE BEST Dog For YOU?

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