If you're looking for a smart, fun canine companion and don't mind getting white hair on your clothes or furniture, the American Eskimo could be the dog for you. Formerly known as the spitz, Eskies have nothing to do with actual Eskimos, other than being the color of snow.
Dogs with spitz ancestry have foxy faces with pricked ears, double coats and carry their plumed tails curved over their backs. The northern spitz-type breeds, such as the Eskie's cousins the Keeshond and Samoyed, tend toward good dispositions, but independent attitudes. The Eskie is no exception, but he's somewhat more willing to please you than some related breeds. Most Eskies have outgoing, happy natures. In the early part of the 20th century, Eskie-type dogs often were featured as circus performers. Appearing before crowds and learning tricks required a bright, fearless and talented little dog. Your Eskie, whether he's a toy, miniature or standard version, enjoys being center stage and isn't shy.
Plays Well With Others
Eskies usually get along well with other dogs. He might or might not get along with cats. They're just so much fun to chase, he might not be able to help himself without good training on your part. He makes a good pet for older kids, who know how to handle and approach him correctly, but might not have the patience for young children.
Your Eskie makes a good watchdog. You'll always know if anyone comes near your house. However, there's a difference between barking to warn you about possible intruders and barking for the sake of barking. With the Eskie, that's an easy line to cross. All dogs need training, so your Eskie should learn quickly how much barking is acceptable under normal circumstances. Teach him to respond to a phrase, such as "No bark," by quieting down.
The Eskie is a very sensitive soul. He loves his people, but is genuinely alarmed at any discord among them. If you enjoy a relatively calm household, the Eskie makes a good addition to it. If it's a place with a lot of noise and loud voices because of the personalities sharing it, it might disturb an Eskie. Because he's so sensitive, take care regarding discipline. Avoid yelling at your dog. A firm tone of voice should suffice.
Eskies have remarkable canine communication skills. Unlike some other breeds, it shouldn't be hard figuring out what he wants. You might learn to read his thoughts by the look on his very expressive face. If you keep his chew toys in a cupboard to get them out of the way, he might look at the cupboard, look at you, and you get the message. Because they're so smart and irresistibly cute, it's easy for them to start calling the shots instead of you. Don't let that happen. Make sure you establish yourself as the alpha of your particular pack.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.