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American Eskimo dog exercising in a yard

Breed overview

  • Breed group – Non-Sporting Group (American Kennel Club), Northern Breed Group (United Kennel Club)
  • Height – 9 to 19 inches
  • Weight – 6 to 35 pounds
  • Coat length & texture – Medium-thick fluffy coat
  • Coat color – Eskies usually have an all-white coat, even as puppies. Some pups or adults may have cream or biscuit-colored markings.
  • Exercise needs – High
  • Intelligence – High 
  • Barking  Often
  • Life span – 13 to 15 years
  • Temperament – Affectionate, protective, alert, and energetic
  • Hypoallergenic – No
  • Origin – Germany

👉 No dog breed is 100% hypoallergenic, but some are better than others for allergy sufferers.

American Eskimo dog fun facts

  • American Eskimo dogs were previously bred as guard dogs. They later became famous as circus dogs because their high intelligence allowed them to learn tricks quickly.
  • Eskies come in three sizes. This breed is available in toy, miniature, or standard sizes.
  • American Eskimo dogs are incredibly affectionate. This makes them a great choice for families with children.
American Eskimo dog on a leash with its owner.

American Eskimo dog temperament and characteristics

If you’re looking for a loyal companion, an American Eskimo dog is a good fit. These sweet dogs are very affectionate toward their family. While they can be protective when strangers come around and may bark often, they are gentle around children. They won’t run off your visitors, though — they just need a little time to warm up. If raised with another dog or cat, they’ll be fine around these animals. But, they can get jealous if your other pets are getting your attention. Speaking of attention, American Eskimo dogs are playful and vocal, so they’ll bark either to protect you or to call out for more love.

Common American Eskimo dog health problems

In general, Eskies are pretty healthy. However, they may face health issues with their hips and joints, in addition to some other common canine conditions.

  • Hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia happens when the femur bone doesn’t fit snugly within the hip joint. Fortunately, this is a rare condition in the American Eskimo dog. Breeders can have their breeding dogs checked for hip dysplasia to make sure that they do not breed dogs with this condition.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy. This genetic disease will lead to blindness over time, and early symptoms include night blindness or dilated pupils.
  • Cataracts. Eskies, especially aging dogs, are prone to cataracts. These, like progressive retinal atrophy, can lead to blindness. Some dogs may be eligible for cataract surgery, although dogs with retinal degeneration may not be eligible for surgery. 
  • Alopecia X. This condition causes baldness in American Eskimo dogs as well as other Nordic dog breeds. It is commonly due to a sex hormone imbalance, so spaying or neutering can help the fur regrow.
  • Dental disease. American Eskimo dogs often develop dental disease very early in life.  It is important to routinely provide at-home dental care to slow down tartar buildup, and to pursue a professional dental cleaning annually to keep their teeth healthy.

Cost of caring for American Eskimo dogs

Healthcare costs for an American Eskimo dog are around $600 to $1,500 a year, but any treatments or surgeries may cost more. Pet owners with doggie health insurance can reduce out-of-pocket expenses on vet visits and treatments, especially if you sign your dog up with a policy early. 

Pet insurance for an American Eskimo puppy or dog may cost $20 to $100 per month. If that’s not quite in your budget or you want more comprehensive coverage, you may consider alternatives like a pet savings account. With this option, you can budget and invest money into a savings account ahead of time, then pull from the savings account as needed for pet care.

History of the American Eskimo dog

Despite its name, the American Eskimo dog breed originated in Germany. German immigrants brought these dogs to the midwestern United States, where they typically worked as farm dogs. American Eskimo dogs, formerly called the American Spitz, guarded and herded livestock and were used for hunting. Their high intelligence and vibrant, white coats also made them popular in circuses in the 19th century. Today, these dogs are great companions and excellent additions to families, as they are known for their affectionate, playful, and protective natures.

American Eskimo dog's face.

Caring for your American Eskimo dog

As with any breed, after adopting an Eskie, you should schedule their first vet trip and get them vaccinated. If you’ve adopted a puppy or young dog, you may need to puppy-proof the house, too. American Eskimo dogs are energetic and intelligent, but they also need mental stimulation, attention, and plenty of exercise. 

Exercise 

American Eskimo dogs love to play and exercise, so having a big backyard or living near a park is best. Toy American Eskimo dogs will be able to meet their exercise needs mostly indoors, but getting outside is also essential to prevent boredom. Plan to give these dogs at least 45 minutes to 1 hour per day of exercise, indoors or out. Have plenty of toys on hand and be prepared for lots of belly rubs, because this breed will get vocal if bored or seeking attention. 

American Eskimo dog running on a trail.

Grooming 

That iconic, fluffy white coat needs proper TLC to look its best. Brush their fur at least a few times per week to keep the fur from tangling or matting and to help control shedding. Despite your best efforts,  expect to find quite a few dog hairs on your clothes and furniture when you own an Eskie. Give the dog a bath about once every six weeks, or more frequently if you see dirt or mud. With any dog, you should also keep up on ear cleaning and teeth brushing to reduce risk for ear infections and to slow down dental disease.

Diet and nutrition 

Because of their thick coats, it’s hard to tell when American Eskimo dogs begin putting on too much weight. Make sure to feel their bodies and talk with your vet if you are concerned about your pup gaining too much weight. And, always consult with your veterinarian to determine the best food portions and nutritional needs for your dog. Feeding amounts will vary based on the size of the dog, body condition, and type of food.  Toy and miniature versions of this breed will need to eat three times daily to reduce risk for hypoglycemia .  

Training your American Eskimo dog

With a history of herding and guarding livestock and even performing in circuses, it’s clear this breed is highly intelligent and eager to learn. In fact, without ongoing mental stimulation, American Eskimo dogs get bored. If you adopt an Eskie puppy, there are many things to start teaching them right away. This breed can be wary of strangers, so socializing them with other humans and pets at an early age can help. American Eskimo dogs are smart and will pick up tricks and trained behaviors quickly, but their independent nature may make them a bit stubborn. Use plenty of rewards, like toys and small treats, to encourage desired behaviors.

American Eskimo dog training in a competition.

Breeds similar to the American Eskimo dog

Not quite sure that an American Eskimo dog is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Samoyed. Similar in appearance and personality to the American eskimo dog, the Samoyed breed is slightly larger in size.
  • German spitz. The Eskie is a descendent of the German spitz, and both breeds are similar in temperament. German spitzes come in several colors, including cream, black, orange, and gray.
  • Japanese spitz. Another type of spitz, this small dog is more welcoming to strangers and has easier grooming needs.

Frequently asked questions

Do American Eskimo dogs make good pets?

Yes, they are incredibly affectionate and gentle with their loved ones, and they will also remain alert to keep their family safe.

How much does an American Eskimo puppy cost? 

Eskie puppies cost about $1,000 on average, although prices may range from around $600 to over $4,500.

Do American Eskimo dogs shed a lot? 

With a double coat, American Eskimo dogs shed year-round. Regular brushing can help, but there’s no avoiding fur on your furniture, floors, and clothes with this breed. 

Is an American Eskimo dog a husky? 

The American Eskimo dog is a type of spitz and is considered part of the AKC’s Non-Sporting Group, while the Siberian husky is also a descendent of spitz and laika dogs, but considered part of the Working Group. While these two dogs have some similar traits in appearance and behavior, and may descend from the same or similar breeds historically, they are two distinct breeds.