The American Eskimo Dog is a breed of companion dog, originating in Germany. The American Eskimo is a member of the Spitz family. The breed's progenitors were German Spitz, but due to anti-German prejudice during the First World War, it was renamed "American Eskimo Dog". Although modern American Eskimos have been exported as German Spitz Gross (or Mittel, depending on the dog's height), the breeds have diverged and the standards are significantly different. In addition to serving as a watchdog and companion, the American Eskimo Dog also achieved a high degree of popularity in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s as a circus performer.
There are three size varieties of the American Eskimo breed, the toy, the miniature and the standard. They share a common resemblance with Japanese Spitz, Danish Spitz, Volpino Italiano, German Spitz and Samoyed.
The American Eskimo is a hardy breed with an average life span of 12–15 years. This breed tends to become overweight easily, so proper diet and exercise is needed to maintain an overall well being. Health testing should be performed by all responsible breeders and anyone purchasing a puppy should be aware of the genetic problems which have been found in some individuals of the breed, such as PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), luxating patella, and hip dysplasia). None of these problems are common and the breed is generally very healthy. In addition to the rarer problems mentioned, the breed can have a tendency towards allergies and most commonly, tear-staining. This breed also is known in some cases to have dental issues.
The American Eskimo is an affectionate, loving dog. The breed is easy to train and they are excellent with children because of the dog's high intelligence and its willingness to please. American Eskimos often rank among the top scorers in obedience trials. They like to work. Naturally wary of strangers, once properly introduced, they become friends. American Eskimos are highly intelligent, inquisitive and love to investigate. Without enough mental and physical exercise, they can become hyperactive and high-strung, spinning in circles. They are not always recommended for first-time dog owners.
The American Kennel Club standard states:
The American Eskimo Dog is intelligent, alert, and friendly, although slightly conservative. It is never overly shy nor aggressive, and such dogs are to be severely penalized in the show ring. At home it is an excellent watchdog, sounding a warning bark to announce the arrival of any stranger. It is protective of its home and family, although it does not threaten to bite or attack people. The American Eskimo Dog learns new tasks quickly and is eager to please.
American Eskimo Dogs come in three size varieties:
Toy: 9–12 inches and 6–10 lbs / 22–30 cm and 3–5 kg
Miniature: 12–15 inches and 10–17 lbs / 30–40 cm and 5–8 kg
Standard: 15–20 inches and 18–35 lbs / 40–50 cm and 8–16 kg
Although weight is not specified by the breed standard, toy dogs usually range from 6-11 lbs, miniature dogs from 10-21 lbs, and standard-sized dogs from 19-40 lbs. Some overlap in weight ranges occurs because the size category that an American Eskimo Dog falls into is set by its height at the withers, and not its weight.