The Eskie is built along classic Nordic Spitz lines. This breed is compactly built, slightly longer than tall. The stand-off, double coat resists soaking and provides insulation against the cold. The small thick ears are also cold resistant, and the trot is agile and bold. The expression is keen and alert.
As the prototypical spitz, the Eskie (as this breed is often called) is just as often simply called spitz by pet households. In fact, the American Eskimo Dog descended from one of the varieties of spitz developed in Germany, with influences from other spitz breeds such as the Keeshond, Pomeranian, and Volpino Italiano. Ironically, it was the success of these other breeds that held the Eskie back. Although the Keeshond originally came in several colors, when it was decided to accept only gray specimens, the white Keeshonden were suddenly excluded. When the Pomeranian standard was drawn up to exclude dogs over 8 pounds, larger dogs were excluded as Pomeranians. Thus, by the early 1900s, there were two groups of medium-sized white dogs that, although pure-breds, were excluded from their breeds. Their fate is unknown, but it is likely that they became pets of the working people.
When European workers came to America, they brought these dogs with them as general farm workers and watchdogs. The UKC began registering them in 1913. In the 1920s the American Spitz (as it had come to be called) became a favorite of circus performers. Spectators often left the circus with a new family member—an offspring of one of the dazzling performers. Many present-day Eskies can be traced back to their circus ancestors.
After World War I, the breed’s name was changed to American Eskimos, to remove any Germanic sound from the name. Most Eskies were kept as pets and farm dogs. It wasn’t until 1994 that the AKC recognized the breed. The Eskie remains a dog of the people, and a very popular companion.
The American Eskimo is bright, eager to please, lively, and fun loving—in short, an enjoyable and generally obedient companion. True to this dog’s spitz heritage, The Eskie is independent and tenacious and loves to run, especially in cold weather. They are among the most biddable of spitz breeds, and are calm and well-mannered inside. Because of their watchdog origins, Eskies can be wary of strangers, and may not be the best choice for homes with small children, other dogs, or pets unless well supervised.
The Eskie is energetic and needs a good workout every day. The extent of the workout depends on the size of the dog, with the larger Eskies needing a good jog or long walk and the smaller Eskies needing only a vigorous game in the yard or short walk. Eskies like cool weather. The double coat needs brushing and combing twice weekly, more often when shedding.