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  • Temperament: Playful, Perky, Smart
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 122 of 194
  • Height: 9-12 inches (toy), 12-15 inches (miniature), 15-19 inches (Standard)
  • Weight: 6-10 pounds (toy), 10-20 pounds (miniature), 25-35 pounds (standard)
  • Life Expectancy: 13-15 years
  • Group: Non-Sporting Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

American Eskimo Dog standing sideways facing left
American Eskimo Dog head facing left
American Eskimo Dog sitting facing forward
American Eskimo Dog coat detail
American Eskimo Dog running outdoors.

Find a Puppy: American Eskimo Dog

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GENERAL APPEARANCE

The American Eskimo Dog, a loving companion dog, presents a picture of strength and agility, alertness and beauty. It is a small to medium-size Nordic type dog, always white, or white with biscuit cream. The American Eskimo Dog is compactly built and well balanced, with good substance, and an alert, smooth gait. The face is Nordic type with erect triangular shaped ears, and distinctive black points (lips, nose, and eye rims). The white double coat consists of a short, dense undercoat, with a longer guard hair growing through it forming the outer coat, which is straight with no curl or wave. The coat is thicker and longer around the neck and chest forming a lion-like ruff, which is more noticeable on dogs than on bitches. The rump and hind legs down to the hocks are also covered with thicker, longer hair forming the characteristic breeches. The richly plumed tail is carried loosely on the back.

HEAD

Expression is keen, intelligent, and alert. Eyes are not fully round, but slightly oval. They should be set well apart, and not slanted, prominent or bulging. Tear stain, unless severe, is not to be faulted. Presence of tear stain should not outweigh consideration of type, structure, or temperament. Dark to medium brown is the preferred eye color. Eye rims are black to dark brown. Eyelashes are white. Faults – amber eye color or pink eye rims. Disqualification – blue eyes. Ears should conform to head size and be triangular, slightly blunt-tipped, held erect, set on high yet well apart, and blend softly with the head.

NECK, TOPLINE, BODY

The neck is carried proudly erect, well set on, medium in length, and in a strong, graceful arch. The topline is level. The body of the American Eskimo Dog is strong and compact, but not cobby. The chest is deep and broad with well-sprung ribs. Depth of chest extends approximately to point of elbows. Slight tuck-up of belly just behind the ribs. The back is straight, broad, level, and muscular. The loin is strong and well-muscled. The American Eskimo Dog is neither too long nor too short coupled. The tail is set moderately high and reaches approximately to the point of hock when down. It is carried loosely on the back, although it may be dropped when at rest.

FOREQUARTERS

Forequarters are well angulated. The shoulder is firmly set and has adequate muscle but is not overdeveloped. The shoulder blades are well laid back and slant 45 degrees with the horizontal. At the point of shoulder the shoulder blade forms an approximate right angle with the upper arm. The legs are parallel and straight to the pasterns. The pasterns are strong and flexible with a slant of about 20 degrees. Length of leg in proportion to the body. Dewclaws on the front legs may be removed at the owner’s discretion; if present, they are not to be faulted. Feet are oval, compact, tightly knit and well padded with hair. Toes are well arched. Pads are black to dark brown, tough and deeply cushioned. Toenails are white.

COAT

The American Eskimo Dog has a stand-off, double coat consisting of a dense undercoat and a longer coat of guard hair growing through it to form the outer coat. It is straight with no curl or wave. There is a pronounced ruff around the neck which is more noticeable on dogs than bitches. Outer part of the ear should be well covered with short, smooth hair, with longer tufts of hair growing in front of ear openings. Hair on muzzle should be short and smooth. The backs of the front legs should be well feathered, as are the rear legs down to the hock. The tail is covered profusely with long hair.

HINDQUARTERS

Hindquarters are well angulated. The lay of the pelvis is approximately 30 degrees to the horizontal. The upper thighs are well developed. Stifles are well bent. Hock joints are well let down and firm. The rear pasterns are straight. Legs are parallel from the rear and turn neither in nor out. Feet are as described for the front legs. Dewclaws are not present on the hind legs.

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American-Eskimo Illustration

About the American Eskimo Dog

The American Eskimo Dog comes in three sizes—standard, miniature, and toy—standing as tall as 19 inches at the shoulder or as short as 9 inches. Distinctive traits include a dense, sparkling white coat with a lion-like ruff around the chest and shoulders; a smiling face, with black nose, lips, and eye-rims that convey a keen, intelligent expression; and a plumed tail carried over the back. Some Eskies have markings with the delicious color name “biscuit cream.” They move with a bold and agile gait.

Eskies are social animals and can develop problem behaviors when neglected or undertrained—they insist on being part of family life. Among the most trainable of breeds, the clever, kid-friendly Eskie practically invented the phrase “eager to please.”

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
American Eskimo Dog running outdoors.

Find a Puppy: American Eskimo Dog

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find American Eskimo Dog Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The American Eskimo Dog should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

The American Eskimo Dog’s fluffy, white double coat — a short, dense undercoat below the longer outer coat — is surprisingly easy to keep clean. However, Eskies shed almost constantly. A thorough brushing two or three times a week will remove dead hairs before they can be shed, as well as help to prevent matting. The oil on an Eskie’s fur prevents dirt from adhering, so a good brushing is usually enough to remove it. It is OK to bathe an Eskie occasionally, but doing so more than once every few months can make his skin dry and irritated. As with all breeds, the Eskie’s nails should be trimmed regularly.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

An active dog with lots of energy, the Eskie is also quick and curious, requiring lots of exercise and mental challenges. An Eskie who is left alone or who doesn’t get enough exercise can quickly become destructive. A securely fenced yard and an assortment of toys will help provide good exercise and stimulation to keep an Eskie out of trouble. He shouldn’t just be left out in the yard by himself all day, however. Despite his warm coat, the Eskie is an indoor dog, and he forms strong bonds with his people and is happiest interacting with them. Once they pass middle age, Eskies often become more sedate.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Energetic

TRAINING

As with all breeds, early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended. Fortunately, the American Eskimo Dog is among the most trainable of all breeds. Back when traveling circuses, vaudeville troupes, and Wild West shows crisscrossed the map, Eskies were mainstays of trained-dog acts. They are highly intelligent and eager to please. They learn new commands quickly — sometimes just by watching other dogs. An Eskie craves companionship and interaction with his owners and will tend to develop problem behaviors if left alone too often for long periods of time.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Eager to Please

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Outgoing

HEALTH

A responsible breeder will test his or her breeding stock for health issues such as hip dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy. As with all breeds, an Eskie’s ears should be checked weekly to remove debris and avoid a buildup of wax, and the dog’s teeth should be brushed regularly.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • PRA Optigen DNA Test
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

American Eskimo Dog
American Eskimo Dog
American Eskimo Dog

History

The name American Eskimo Dog is a misnomer: Eskimos had nothing to do with the founding of the breed.

The successive waves of German immigrants that reached American shores beginning in the early 1800s had a profound impact on the development of the Midwest. German farmers who sought opportunity in America brought their Old World ways to such states as Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Ohio—and the German influence can still be felt in the upper Midwest to this day. Lutheranism, the brewing industry, and the region’s mania for German-style foods are cultural touchstones these immigrants transplanted to their corner of the New World. Another was a Nordic breed called the German Spitz, used as all-around farm dogs. These little white dogs were ancestors of the modern Eskie. By the latter years of the 19th century, it was becoming difficult to keep these beautiful, highly trainable dogs down on the farm. Show business was beckoning.

Back when traveling circuses, vaudeville troupes, and Wild West shows crisscrossed pre-electronic America, German Spitz—thanks to their intelligence, agility, and showy looks—became mainstays of trained-dog acts. (This held true well into the 20th century. Perhaps America’s most famous performing dog of the 1930s was Pierre, an Eskie tightrope walker with the Barnum & Bailey Circus.)

Upon America’s entry into World War I in 1917, the country was gripped by a prejudice against all things Teutonic. The breed’s German name was changed to “American Eskimo” Dog, after the name used by a Spitz breeding kennel in Ohio. Though the breed has a long and fascinating U.S. history, it was not until 1995 that the AKC registered its first American Eskimo Dog.

The little white wonder dogs who performed various chores around Midwestern farms, and later charmed audiences under the circus big top, are today sought out by pet owners looking for versatile, fun-loving companions.

Did You Know?

The American Eskimo Dog is always white or white with biscuit cream.
The American Eskimo Dog became an increasingly popular breed after dancing to music and interacting with clowns at the Barnum and Bailey Circus. One Eskie with the circus became the first dog to walk across a tight-rope.
The Eskie is a member of the spitz family, or Nordic breds.
Beginning in the late 19th century, the American Eskimo Dog was extremely popular for use in trick-dog acts in the traveling circuses throughout the US.
The American Eskimo Dog is bred in three distinct sizes: toy, miniature, and standard.
Known as the American Spitz until 1917, when the name was changed to American Eskimo (although the breed does not have any traceable origin or connection to Eskimo culture).

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The American Eskimo Dog, a loving companion dog, presents a picture of strength and agility, alertness and beauty. It is a small to medium-size Nordic type dog, always white, or white with biscuit cream. The American Eskimo Dog is compactly built and well balanced, with good substance, and an alert, smooth gait. The face is Nordic type with erect triangular shaped ears, and distinctive black points (lips, nose, and eye rims). The white double coat consists of a short, dense undercoat, with a longer guard hair growing through it forming the outer coat, which is straight with no curl or wave. The coat is thicker and longer around the neck and chest forming a lion-like ruff, which is more noticeable on dogs than on bitches. The rump and hind legs down to the hocks are also covered with thicker, longer hair forming the characteristic breeches. The richly plumed tail is carried loosely on the back.

HEAD

Expression is keen, intelligent, and alert. Eyes are not fully round, but slightly oval. They should be set well apart, and not slanted, prominent or bulging. Tear stain, unless severe, is not to be faulted. Presence of tear stain should not outweigh consideration of type, structure, or temperament. Dark to medium brown is the preferred eye color. Eye rims are black to dark brown. Eyelashes are white. Faults – amber eye color or pink eye rims. Disqualification – blue eyes. Ears should conform to head size and be triangular, slightly blunt-tipped, held erect, set on high yet well apart, and blend softly with the head.

NECK, TOPLINE, BODY

The neck is carried proudly erect, well set on, medium in length, and in a strong, graceful arch. The topline is level. The body of the American Eskimo Dog is strong and compact, but not cobby. The chest is deep and broad with well-sprung ribs. Depth of chest extends approximately to point of elbows. Slight tuck-up of belly just behind the ribs. The back is straight, broad, level, and muscular. The loin is strong and well-muscled. The American Eskimo Dog is neither too long nor too short coupled. The tail is set moderately high and reaches approximately to the point of hock when down. It is carried loosely on the back, although it may be dropped when at rest.

FOREQUARTERS

Forequarters are well angulated. The shoulder is firmly set and has adequate muscle but is not overdeveloped. The shoulder blades are well laid back and slant 45 degrees with the horizontal. At the point of shoulder the shoulder blade forms an approximate right angle with the upper arm. The legs are parallel and straight to the pasterns. The pasterns are strong and flexible with a slant of about 20 degrees. Length of leg in proportion to the body. Dewclaws on the front legs may be removed at the owner’s discretion; if present, they are not to be faulted. Feet are oval, compact, tightly knit and well padded with hair. Toes are well arched. Pads are black to dark brown, tough and deeply cushioned. Toenails are white.

COAT

The American Eskimo Dog has a stand-off, double coat consisting of a dense undercoat and a longer coat of guard hair growing through it to form the outer coat. It is straight with no curl or wave. There is a pronounced ruff around the neck which is more noticeable on dogs than bitches. Outer part of the ear should be well covered with short, smooth hair, with longer tufts of hair growing in front of ear openings. Hair on muzzle should be short and smooth. The backs of the front legs should be well feathered, as are the rear legs down to the hock. The tail is covered profusely with long hair.

HINDQUARTERS

Hindquarters are well angulated. The lay of the pelvis is approximately 30 degrees to the horizontal. The upper thighs are well developed. Stifles are well bent. Hock joints are well let down and firm. The rear pasterns are straight. Legs are parallel from the rear and turn neither in nor out. Feet are as described for the front legs. Dewclaws are not present on the hind legs.

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American-Eskimo Illustration

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
White Check Mark For Standard Color 199
White & Biscuit Check Mark For Standard Color 269

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