The American Eskimo Dog is a member of the Spitz family, characterized by their fox-like appearance with a thick double coat, erect triangular ears, and bushy tails that curl over their backs. Despite its name, the American Eskimo Dog is not originally from Alaska nor associated with Eskimo cultures. Rather, it has German roots and is related to the German Spitz. This breed was brought to the United States by German immigrants in the early 20th century. Its name was changed during World War I due to anti-German sentiment, and the new name was chosen to honor the beautiful and hardworking dogs of the North American Eskimo people. They were originally used as farm dogs, and they gained significant popularity in the 1930s and 1940s as performing dogs in circus acts throughout the United States.
American Eskimo Dogs can suffer from patellar luxation, hip dysplasia, and progressive retinal atrophy. They can also be predisposed to diabetes. Genetic testing for conditions such as degenerative myelopathy, primary lens luxation, progressive retinal atrophy, progressive rod-cone degeneration and thrombopathia can assist veterinarians with diagnosis and proactive care, as well as help breeders identify affected and carrier dogs.
American Eskimo Dogs are known for their intelligence, alertness, and friendly nature. They are excellent watchdogs, as they are naturally suspicious of strangers but should not show aggressiveness. They are also known for their high energy levels and need for regular physical and mental stimulation.
These dogs are very trainable, and with proper socialization, they get along well with children, other dogs, and pets. However, they can become destructive or excessively bark if bored or left alone for too long. It's also important to note that they can be a bit stubborn at times, so early and consistent training is vital.
Because of their thick double coat, they are more suited to cooler climates and can struggle in very hot weather. They are also known to shed quite a bit, so regular grooming is required.
In the 1930s, an Eskie dog named Pierre performing with the Barnum and Bailey Circus became the first dog to walk across a tight-rope.
The AKC didn't register its first American Eskimo Dog until1995, despite the breed's long and interesting history in the United States.