What is an American Eskimo?

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  • Written By: B. Koch
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 28 October 2019
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The American Eskimo dog is a small to mid-size Nordic-type breed of dog with a medium-length bushy white coat. These dogs are considered to be friendly, energetic and loyal, and they are said to make great family pets. American Eskimo dogs, also known as “Eskies,” originally had nothing to do with indigenous Eskimo people or the Arctic Circle. They were instead used in circus performances, and an American Eskimo dog became the first canine ever to find itself successfully walking a tightrope. Today, they are a popular companion dog.

Anti-German sentiment during World War II caused the German Spitz breed to be renamed the American Eskimo. Today’s American Eskimo is slightly different from the German Spitz, because it is also descended from the Keeshond and the white Pomeranian. American Eskimo dogs are easily recognizable because of their bushy, white coats and curled, Spitz-like tails.

They may range in size from 9 inches to 19 inches (about 23 cm to 48 cm) from the floor to their shoulder. These dogs are divided into three groups — toy, miniature or standard — depending on their size within this range. The points of the American Eskimo dog, meaning the lips, nose and eye rims, are a distinctive black color. The animals have a wedge-shaped head and erect, triangular ears, while their bodies are longer than their legs, giving them a slightly squat appearance.


One of the most endearing traits of the American Eskimo dog is that they are excellent companion animals. They are intelligent, loyal, and considered to be exceptional watchdogs. These dogs have high energy, so they need daily exercise; the larger variety of the breed thrives best in a home with a fenced-in yard, yet its need for exercise may also be managed with long, daily walks. American Eskimo dogs are easy to train and can become well-behaved dogs as long as their owner acts with a firm hand to show the dog who is in charge.

Life expectancy of the American Eskimo dog is about 15 years. Although a generally healthy dog, the breed is prone to retinal atrophy and hip dysplasia. These animals are known to gain weight quickly if not provided with adequate exercise. They also require regular grooming, because they shed a significant amount and their long coat must be maintained.


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