Smart, playful, and exceedingly fluffy, the American Eskimo Dog (often called “The Dog Beautiful”) is an excellent choice for anyone looking for the perfect family companion dog. It is ranked just 122nd out of 193 dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club, but don’t let the statistics fool you; these always-smiling dogs are the perfect combination of brains and beauty.
Often referred to simply as “Eskies,” the name American Eskimo is slightly misleading – Eskimos actually had nothing to do with the breed. Descending from the German Spitz (among other Nordic breeds), Eskies are prized for their intelligence and beauty. They rose to popularity in the 1800s as circus performers, dancing to music, performing tricks, and interacting with clowns. In fact, the first dog to ever walk across a tightrope was an American Eskimo!
American Eskimo Appearance
The Eskie comes in three AKC-classified sizes – standard (up to 19 inches and 35 lbs), miniature (up to 15 inches and 20 lbs), and toy (up to 12 inches and 10 lbs). They are compact and extremely agile, but deceptively strong. Their thick, fluffy coats consist of two layers – a short, dense undercoat, and a longer overcoat. They have a large ruff around their neck, and striking black eyes, nose, and mouth.
American Eskimos come in two very similar colors – white and biscuit cream. Their hind legs, rump, and tail are particularly furry, and due to the thickness of their coat, they do shed a lot and require regular brushing. Remarkably, though, their brilliant white coats are quite easy to keep clean; the natural oils contained in their fur prevent dirt from sticking to it, so the dirt can often be brushed right out. It’s OK to bathe Eskies, but only occasionally – regular bathing can irritate their skin and dry out the natural oils in their coat. A bath every few months is plenty.
With an average life expectancy of 12-15 years, a well-trained American Eskimo can provide a family with several years of entertainment and affection.
American Eskimos are very intelligent and energetic; as such, they require stimulation and exercise. They love obedience training and learning new tricks comes easily to them. However, without these things, they can become bored and rambunctious. They are strong chewers, so a fresh supply of chew toys is a necessity. Eskies are very alert and vocal, making them an excellent choice as a watchdog.
Eskies are very friendly and affectionate; neither shy nor aggressive, they make excellent dogs for families with children, cats, or other dogs. However, birds, hamsters, and other small pets around an Eskie may not be a good idea, as they may give in to their more primal instincts. As they require a lot of activity, they are best suited for active households. If constantly left alone, their boredom can lead to excessive barking, inappropriate chewing, and other behaviors. They can also be prone to separation anxiety. Leaving them in a kennel while alone is generally a good idea. Confidence is key when dealing with an Eskie – they are very clever, so be careful, or your Eskie might end up being the one who runs the house. The American Eskimo truly is a big dog in a small package.
CARING FOR AN AMERICAN ESKIMO DOG
American Eskimo Dogs are generally healthy, active dogs. A basic understanding of how to properly care for them will allow them to maintain their happy, personable disposition for many years. Here is some additional information about their nutritional, exercise, training, and health needs to help you get started.
American Eskimos do best on high-quality dog food (commercial or home-made). Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations. Eskies should always be fed age-appropriate (puppy, senior, and adult) food. Pay careful attention to their caloric intake, as they can be prone to getting overweight. Limiting table scraps is effective in maintaining a healthy weight. Be careful with treats while training; Treats are an effective training tool, but too many can also lead to weight problems. In addition, a healthy, high-quality diet will help maintain your Eskie’s thick, shiny coat. As always, clean water should be available to your dog at all times.
Eskies are curious, energetic dogs and require lots of play, especially if it’s mentally stimulating. Plenty of toys, chews, and a fenced-in yard are very helpful in keeping your Eskie well-exercised and happy. However, regular walks and play make an Eskie an excellent apartment dog as well. They are inside dogs, though, so be sure not to leave them outside for too long! As they approach middle age, however, Eskies tend to become more sedentary. Eskies also love playing in water and snow.
Just like any other breed, early socialization is a necessity. Try and get your puppy into a puppy training class to teach it good manners around other dogs and people. Thanks to their history as circus performers, obedience training and teaching tricks is highly encouraged for American Eskimos. Eskies are eager to please, so teaching them new tricks is an excellent way to keep your Eskie mentally engaged and having fun. Being highly social, interactive dogs means that if they can develop problems if left alone and unsupervised for extended periods of time. Interactive toys and puzzles can be highly effective with this breed.
American Eskimos are a generally healthy breed. The best way to ensure a healthy dog is to choose a reputable breeder. Be sure that your breeder checks his dogs for hip dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy, as these are both genetically inherited conditions. Always ask your breeder to see any and all health clearances!
As with all breeds, you should check your American Eskimo’s ears weekly for buildup of wax and to remove any foreign objects. You should also brush their teeth regularly to avoid dental problems later on in life.
Finally, the most common health problem in all dogs is also the most easily-prevented: obesity. Monitor your dog’s meals and exercise level carefully to ensure a long, healthy life.