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.
Spitz breeds like the German Spitz are captivating on account of their beautiful coats, made to stand off by a plentiful undercoat. Particularly impressive is his strong, mane-like collar around his neck, called a ruff, and the bushy tail carried boldly over his back. His foxy head, alert eyes, and small, pointed, closely-set ears give the German Spitz his unique cheeky appearance. His coat comes in a variety of colors including white, black, cream, gold, black and tan, sable, and chocolate brown. Though easily trainable, this lively and intelligent breed can also have an independent streak. If properly trained (so as not to be too noisy) and well socialized, the German Spitz will be happy mingling with other people and dogs.
You are going to want to feed your German Spitz a formula that will cater to his unique digestive needs throughout the various phases of his life. Many dog food companies have breed-specific formulas for small, medium, large and extra-large breeds. The German Spitz is a small breed.
What you feed your dog is an individual choice, but working with your veterinarian and/or breeder will be the best way to determine frequency of meals as a puppy and the best adult diet to increase his longevity. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
The German Spitz has a profuse double coat, which sheds twice per year. During those times, the entire undercoat is shed in the span of about 2 to 3 weeks. Daily brushing will be required to remove his old coat and his hair will inevitably be all over your clothes, furniture and floor. The good news is his shedding is quite minimal during the rest of the year. A quick brush every couple days and a thorough grooming once per week will suffice to keep mats and knots from forming. His hair should never be clipped off entirely, as you will remove the insulating properties of his coat. He also does not need to be bathed very often. Mud can be brushed out of his coat if allowed to dry first.
A moderate amount of regular exercise will suffice for the German Spitz. Though longer activity is unnecessary, he will happily keep up on an extended walk. Providing a secure area for exercise is highly recommended as he is a very curious dog and can wiggle through the smallest of gaps in search for other adventures. Ponds are also a hazard to this breed and should be fenced off. Exercise can also come in the form of indoor activities, like hide-and-seek, chasing a ball rolled along the floor, or teaching him new tricks. If you live in an apartment, even short walks in the hallways can give your dog some exercise, especially during inclement weather.
Equally important is not to let your German Spitz become too bored. He is a lively and intelligent breed and, if left with nothing to do all day, he may become destructive or excessively bark.
Highly intelligent, the German Spitz learns quickly and is eager to please with motivational methods. He does not respond well to being made to do things however. One behavioral characteristic you may want to curb with training is his natural reaction to bark at anything new or unusual. Bred to be an alert watchdog, he is naturally very vocal, but this should not be allowed to become a problem. Your neighbors will not thank you for it either. With good training, this breed can excel at mini agility heelwork to music and obedience.
Some cases of PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), RD (Retinal Dysplasia), and Patella Luxation have been seen in the German Spitz, but a majority of this breed are generally healthy. Puppies should be bought only from responsible breeders who eye test their breeding stock. Working with a reputable breeder, prospective owners can gain the education they need to learn about specific health concerns within the breed.
The German Spitz is one of the most ancient of dog breeds and the oldest originating from Central Europe.
It should be first noted that the FCI views the German Spitz to be in the same family as the Pomeranian/Toy Spitz (the smallest) and the Keeshond/Wolfspitz (the largest), with three sizes of German Spitz in the middle (giant, medium, and miniature.) Therefore, the history of the German Spitz is intertwined with these two other breeds.
First references of the spitz can be found in 1450 when Count Eberhard Zu Sayn of Germany remarked that the dog was a valiant defender of the home and fields. The province of Pomerania, a historical region on the south shores of the Baltic between modern-day Germany and Poland, was the home of many of the early members of this breed, hence the early name of Pomeranian.
What the small spitz lacks in bulk, they make up for in alertness and voice. Traders and fishermen took these dogs on their boats as alert watchdogs for their goods. On farms, the spitz’s acute hearing was used for early warnings of intruders. They would sit up on anything high and use their high-pitched alarm bark at the first sign of anything strange. In Germany, they are sometimes called mistbeller, meaning dung-hill barkers.
Originally a peasant’s dog, the spitz gained popularity with the royalty and upper class of England. In the 18th century when George I took the throne, he and his German wife, naturally, had many German visitors to the court and they had brought their spitz dogs with them. Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, and Queen Victoria were also devoted fans of the breed in their time.
The beginning of World War I saw a rapid decline in the breed and it wasn’t until 1975, after several Keeshonds were imported from Holland and bred to larger Pomeranians, that the breed made a comeback.