If you combine a Pomeranian and a Saymoed, you’d likely get a dog that looks like an American Eskimo Dog. These dogs are hardy, affectionate, and playful in temperament and would love to be a part of a family. Their intelligence and eagerness to please make training a lot of fun and can thrive in dog sports like agility. In fact, these dogs do so well in learning tricks that many American Eskimos had been performers in circuses and vaudeville acts! One of the most famous was Stout Pal Pierre, who is the first dog known to walk a tightrope.
Note: the term “Eskimo” is considered a derogatory term when used to describe people and is no longer used by many. There is a layered and complicated history to the word, as it has been used against native and indigenous people in the Arctic. Animals of the Pacific Northwest stands with ingenious communities and refuses to use the term in reference to people. Unfortunately, this breed’s official name is, at the moment, the American Eskimo Dog (also known as Eskies), which is why the term is used.
During the late 19th century, Eskies were popularized throughout the US because many were popular circus performers and some circuses would supposedly sell American Eskimo puppies to families at different stops. The American Eskimo Dog is part of the Spitz family of Nordic breeds and their direct ancestors are the German Spitzes. The German Spitz was brought to the US but eventually, the ones here had their breed name changed to American Eskimo Dog because of widespread anti-German sentiment during World War 1. The breed has no connection to the North American indigenous communities in the Arctic but was named after the kennel that had initially registered them with the United Kennel Club in the early 20th century.
These dogs are small, often coming in one of three sizes: toy, miniature, and standard. Between those three, the American Eskimo Dog can often stand 9-19 inches tall and weigh 6-35 pounds but while they are small in stature, these dogs have a big-dog attitude and definitely need plenty of care. Their fluffy, double coats are white in color and require frequent brushing to cut down on shedding and prevent matting. They could be great in apartments but need training and plenty of mental/physical exercise, as they are prone to separation anxiety, obsessive barking, inappropriate chewing, reactivity, and resource guarding.
Healthwise, these dogs are fairly healthy but there are some issues to keep an eye out for. First, their skin can be a bit sensitive, which means bathing them too much could irritate the skin. American Eskimo Dogs are also prone to eye issues and tear staining so lightly cleaning around their eyes with a damp towel or wipe should also be a regular routine. Additionally, there are some other health conditions that American Eskimo Dogs are more prone to, like hip dysplasia, legg-calve-perthes disease (which initially presents as limping and atrophy of the leg muscle in puppies), progressive retinal atrophy, and juvenile cataracts. Regular vet visits can help catch health issues like the ones mentioned early on and either correct the issue or treatment could provide an Eskie with a great quality of life.
Ultimately, American Eskimo Dogs are relatively small, fluffy dogs that seem to embody the phrase “tiny but mighty” and thrive in active homes that are willing to put in the work with training and entertaining them.