Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.
(All dogs are individuals, which means any single dog from any breed can be any number of ways, both good and not so good. Keep that in mind as we discuss breed generalities!)
The American Eskimo Dog is one of the most beloved breeds in the world. From their fluffy white coats to their adorable faces, their sweet-natured loyalty to their keen intelligence, this breed has something that just about every potential dog owner would fall in love with.
Thinking about adding an American Eskimo to your family? Let’s take a deep dive into the American Eskimo, from their origins to their trainability, their personality to their energy levels, and everything else you might want to know about this smart, adorable, and oh-so-lovable breed:
Also Known As…
American Eskimo. Eskie. Eski. “American Eskimo Dogs are like if snowflakes came to life.”
Despite the name, the origins of the American Eskimo have nothing to do with Eskimos! In the early 1800s, German immigrants came to America, eventually settling in the Midwest and starting farms. They brought the German Spitz, a working dog, along with them for help on the farm.
The German Spitz worked mainly as a farm dog until the 19th century, when their good looks and trainability made them a staple on the traveling circus and vaudeville circuits.
The German Spitz’s popularity continued to rise until WWI, when the escalating tensions between the US and Germany caused the breed to be renamed “American Eskimo.”
The American Eskimo is an interesting breed for a number of reasons—including the fact that it comes in a variety of sizes! There are three categories of the American Eskimo breed—toy, which has an average height of between 9 and 12 inches; miniature, which has an average height of between 12 and 15 inches; and standard, which has an average height of between 15 and 19 inches.
The ideal weight for an Eskie will depend on its size. On average, American Eskimos in the toy category weigh between 6 and 10 pounds. Miniature American Eskimos weigh in between 10 and 20 pounds—while the standard American Eskimo, the biggest of the bunch, typically weighs between 25 and 35 pounds.
The American Eskimo has a sweet-natured personality. They’re extremely loving, loyal, and eager to please. They’re also extremely curious and intelligent; they love nothing more than to be at the center of all the going-ons in the household.
Intelligence / Trainability
American Eskimos are extremely smart and eager to please—which translates to one of the most trainable dogs in the animal kingdom. Eskies respond extremely well to proper training—and, in addition to quickly learning basic commands, can also perform extremely well in more organized training exercises (like obedience trials).
Want to get the most out of training your American Eskimo? Here are a few training tips to keep in mind:
- Shower them with praise. The American Eskimo wants nothing more than to please their owners. So, if you want to get the best results from training, make sure to let them know when their behavior pleases you—and shower on the praise when they follow commands and engage with the training process.
- Make it active. Eskies have a ton of energy—so in order to get the most from their training, the entire process should keep them active and engaged. The more energetic the training process, the better!
- Challenge them. The American Eskimo is highly intelligent and enjoys a mental challenge. If you want your dog to be engaged with the training process (and have fun in the process!), don’t be afraid to push them with more challenging training exercises.
American Eskimos are people dogs. They are fiercely loyal and want to spend as much time with their humans as possible. They’re also highly energetic, which means they need plenty of interaction, playtime, and exercise throughout the day—so if you’re going to need to leave your dog at home for long stretches of time (for example, for eight hours a day while you’re at work), the Eskie probably isn’t the right breed for you.
American Eskimos also do best when they have an outdoor area to play in. If you have a fenced yard where you can play with your dog, that’s great! Otherwise, you’ll need to have an enclosed and easily accessible outdoor space (like a dog park) nearby.
Good For Families And Kids?
American Eskimos are sweet, loving, and extremely intelligent—and that translates into a dog that’s often great with kids.
The lifespan of an American Eskimo will depend on a number of factors, including their size—but, on average, Eskies live to be between 13 and 15 years.
Overall, American Eskimos are very healthy dogs (which is why they have such a long lifespan!). But, like any other breed, there are a few health problems that may crop up with the breed—and, as a responsible pet owner, it’s your job to understand, anticipate, and plan for those potential problems.
Some genetic health issues associated with the American Eskimo breed include hip dysplasia, luxating patella, and progressive retinal atrophy. While not extremely common, these health issues do occur with Eskies, so ask your vet to regularly monitor for these conditions.
The American Eskimo is a highly energetic dog. And to be their happiest and healthiest, they need plenty of activity, both mental and physical, to work off their energy.
Regular exercise, interaction, and mental stimulation is a must for the American Eskimo; without the right outlets to work off their energy (including daily walks, one-on-one interaction with their humans, and toys that keep them mentally engaged) they can become overly hyper and anxious, sometimes even spinning around in circles (say hello to the Zoomies!).
Friendly With…(Dogs? Strangers? Cats/Other Pets?)
American Eskimos are extremely friendly dogs. While they might be a bit apprehensive at first, they very quickly warm up to just about everyone (and every animal) they meet, including children, cats, and other dogs.
Coat & Grooming
One of the most recognizable features of the American Eskimo is, without a doubt, their coat. These dogs have a fluffy, white double coat—with a longer outer coat and a shorter, more dense undercoat—that many say make them look like a little white lion. And, for a dog with such a notable coat, their grooming needs are actually pretty minimal! A few thorough brushings a week should be all it takes to keep their coat healthy, shiny, and matte-free. And because the American Eskimo has oil in the fur to prevent dirt from getting stuck in their coat, they only require a few baths a year to stay clean.
One thing to note? The American Eskimo sheds constantly—so unless you’re prepared for regular brushings (and the potential for Eskie hair to cover your house), you’re probably going to want to consider a different breed.
Toys American Eskimos Would Like Best
American Eskimos are energetic, intelligent, and extremely engaged with their humans. Put those personality traits together and you basically have a recipe for a dog that’s going to fall head over paws for toys!
The right toys are an essential part of keeping your American Eskimo happy and engaged. Some toys you’ll definitely want to consider stocking up on for your American Eskimo include:
- Tug Toys. There’s nothing an Eskie would rather do than play with their humans—and a tug toy is a great way to get in there and interact with your dog (and have fun at the same time!).
- Fetch Toys. The American Eskimo is a dog with a lot of energy—and if you don’t give them the opportunity to work off that energy, they may feel anxious or hyperactive. A game of fetch with the “Lady Liberty Ball” is a great way to help your Eskie get a workout—and work off any excess energy for the day.
- Thinker toys. American Eskimos are an extremely intelligent breed. They need to work off their mental energy just as much as they need to work off their physical energy—and that’s where thinker toys come in. Puzzle Toys are a great way to engage your Eskie’s brain (and reward them with a treat when they solve the puzzle!).
Recommended Diet Or Supplements
Like all dog breeds, American Eskimos are going to feel their best (and stay their healthiest!) on a diet of high-quality dog food that’s free from unnatural ingredients, preservatives, and fillers. Eskies are also prone to weight issues, especially if they’re of a smaller size—so portion control is extremely important. If you want to keep your American Eskimo at a manageable weight, make sure to feed them reasonable portions (and don’t overdo it on the treats!).
As your Eskie ages, dietary supplements can help support their overall health. But as always, consult your vet before administering anything.
This supplement is veterinarian-formulated, made with all natural ingredients (glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid), and comes in the form of 150 soft chews. Basically, it looks and tastes just like delicious treats, and it could really help your Eski with their hip and joint issues. ($32.99.)
For American Eskimo Dogs with joint issues – or any dog who just loves to lie around! – a nice comfortable bed with orthopedic support is probably a good idea.
This ultra plush orthopedic dog bed provides support for even the most active of dogs! The combination ergonomic memory foam and gel foam relieves pressure points, and helps ease body aches caused by hip dysplasia, arthritis and other orthopedic issues. It offers the best therapeutic support for your canine companion. ($27.99-64.99.)
Notable Rescues To Find The American Eskimo Of Your Dreams
American Eskimos are an in-demand breed. But that doesn’t mean that every Eskie has a safe and loving home. There are plenty of American Eskimo dogs out there in need of love, companionship, and a stable, forever home—and that’s where rescues come in.
If you’re thinking about adding an American Eskimo to your family, why not adopt? Here are a few notable rescues specializing in American Eskimos where you can find the perfect Eskie for your family:
- Eskie Rescuers United, serving the Eastern United States
- Heart Bandits American Eskimo Dog Rescue, serving the US and Canada
- Houston Eskimo Rescue, serving Houston, TX and the surrounding areas
- Chicagoland Eskie Rescue, serving Illinois and the surrounding areas
- American Eskimo Rescue St. Louis, serving St. Louis, MO and the surrounding areas
Notable Instagram American Eskimos
American Eskimos are some of the fluffiest, most adorable dogs in the animal kingdom. And if you want to inject some of that fluffy adorableness into your social media experience, why not follow a few Eskies on Instagram?
If you want to infuse a little Eskie love into your Instagram feed, here are a few must-follow American Eskimos on Instagram:
***Looking for a gift to blow your Eski’s mind? Spoil them with BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <– This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! :)
Featured image via Niko_the_Eski/Instagram