- Breed group — Foundation Stock Service (American Kennel Club), Northern Breed Group (United Kennel Club)
- Height — 8-11 inches (toy), 12-15 inches (medium), 16-20 (large)
- Weight — 9-11 pounds (toy), 20-25 pounds (medium), 35-45 pounds (large)
- Coat length & texture — Long, thick double coat
- Coat color — Toy and medium German spitz dogs come in various colors, including orange, white, black, and cream-sable. Large German spitz dogs only come in black, white, and brown. White spots on the chest, paws, and tail tip are allowed under the breed standard.
- Exercise needs — Average
- Intelligence — High
- Barking — Frequent
- Life span — 13-15 years
- Temperament — Lively, attentive, smart, confident
- Hypoallergenic — No
- Origin — Germany
German spitz fun facts
- The German spitz nearly went extinct during World War II. German breeders worked hard to revive the breed by crossing them with larger Pomeranians and Dutch keeshonds.
- Queen Victoria was a big fan of the German spitz. She loved the breed so much that they became known as Victorian Poms. At the time, these dogs were thought to be Pomeranians, but they were actually small German spitz dogs.
- The German spitz is one of the oldest domestic dog breeds in Europe. The first reference to these dogs dates back to 1450 when they were described as valiant defenders of homes and fields.
German spitz temperament and characteristics
Like many other spitz dogs, the German spitz has an attractive foxy face, pointy ears, and a beautiful fluffy coat that stands away from the body. The breed comes in three sizes: from miniature to larger varieties known as the giant spitz, all adored for their lively, confident personalities. Their owners even say they have a sense of humor. German spitzes are best suited to homes with older children because they don’t appreciate rough handling.
What to watch for
German spitzes form strong bonds with their favorite humans. So, they shouldn’t be left alone for long periods. They get bored easily, which may lead to destructive behaviors and separation anxiety. These dogs have a strong vocal nature because of their origin as watchdogs and are quick to sound the alarm if they notice any suspicious activity.
Because of their strong prey drive, the German spitz isn’t suitable for homes with smaller pets, including cats. These dogs are naturally protective of their families and can be wary around strangers though early socialization can help. These confident dogs make excellent pets for owners who are willing to put in the time to train them.
Common German spitz health problems
The German spitz is generally a robust, healthy breed. However, they are susceptible to developing certain health issues, including:
- Luxating patella. When the kneecap shifts out of its normal alignment, a luxating patella can cause lameness and pain in the affected leg. Severe cases can lead to long-term problems such as arthritis.
- Progressive retinal atrophy. A group of degenerative eye diseases in dogs, progressive retinal atrophy can cause progressive blindness.
- Hip dysplasia. A hereditary condition that causes a deformity in the hip joint during growth, hip dysplasia can cause the bone and cartilage of the joint to wear down over time. Hip dysplasia supplements can help to manage the pain. However, more serious cases may require surgery.
- Epilepsy. This often chronic condition causes repeated seizures. Common symptoms of epilepsy include twitching, jerking, and shaking for a short time. Never attempt to move a dog that’s having a seizure unless it’s in any danger of hurting itself. Just move any potentially dangerous items away and observe them. Your vet may prescribe medication (anticonvulsants) to control the issue.
Cost of caring for a German spitz
You can expect to pay between $400 and $700 for a purebred German spitz puppy. This doesn’t include other initial costs such as vaccinations, toys, food, and grooming tools. As your dog gets older, you’ll need to factor in the potential cost of any veterinary treatment. For example, hip dysplasia surgery can set you back as much as $7,000 per hip.
Health insurance is one way to reduce out-of-pocket expenses, especially when you sign your pup up early. However, health insurance providers generally won’t cover the cost of any existing health conditions. If you’re worried about the ongoing costs of health insurance, you can set up a pet savings account.
History of the German spitz
The German spitz was bred from larger Nordic herding dogs brought over from Holland and Scandinavia by the Vikings. They are thought to be one of the oldest breeds developed in Europe. Skeletal remains of spitz types have been found in early human settlements from the first Stone-age era, over 6000 years ago. Many early German spitzes lived with hunter-gatherers as versatile farm dogs and watchdogs for traders. In Germany, they were often called “mistbeller”, which means “dung-hill barkers” because they liked to sit on hilltops to keep watch over their domains.
During the 1800s, they became the fashionable pet of British society, especially with the upper class. Both King George I and his German wife owned several German spitzes. George III’s wife, Queen Charlotte, was also known to be a fan of the breed.
Arrival in America
The first German spitzes were brought over to the United States in the late 1800s by German immigrants. The United Kennel Club recognized the breed in 2006. In 2009, it registered two varieties: the German spitz mittel (medium) and the German spitz klein (small). The breed has yet to be fully recognized by the American Kennel Club, but the AKC accepted it into its Foundation Stock Service Registry.
Caring for your German spitz
Caring for a new puppy can be overwhelming. You’ll need to make your first trip to the vet, schedule first-time vaccinations, and microchip your dog. We can even help you puppy-proof your home and prepare for teething. Puppies can start teething from 3 weeks of age, so make sure you have plenty of indestructible chew toys to keep them busy and reduce teething pain.
The idea of losing your new dog can be distressing, but FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag so you’re prepared just in case.
German spitzes are highly playful, so they love to play regular games with the family. They also need 1-2 walks a day of around 20-30 minutes. Mental and physical stimulation are important because these dogs can become mischievous and bark excessively when bored.
German spitzes have an abundant long coat that protects them from harsh weather conditions. They will have no problem going for walks in the winter months. However, they can struggle in the heat, so avoid long walks in higher temperatures and observe summer safety tips for your dog.
The German spitz is a double-coated breed with a long, straight top coat and a fluffy undercoat. A brush two to three times a week should be enough to keep their coats in good condition in addition to a deep groom once a week. Pay particular attention to the long fur around the neck and down the hind legs because these areas are more prone to matting. Use a conditioning spray to make brushing easier and avoid hair breakage. These dogs don’t need regular trimming, but you can trim the hair around the paw pads and toes when required.
Brush the coat in the opposite direction to the way it naturally lies. This will ensure you get right down into the undercoat. In the beginning, use a very soft bristle brush to get them used to grooming. Then use a brush with longer pin bristles and a comb as your dog ages. Aside from grooming, perform regular ear cleaning, teeth brushing, and nail trimming. These dogs only require bathing around once a month. Overbathing can cause dry skin issues.
Diet and nutrition
The German spitz breed is prone to obesity so it needs high-quality dog food with the right balance of biologically appropriate fats, animal proteins, and vegetables. Ask your vet for advice on the best dog food for your dog’s individual needs, as well as appropriate feeding guidelines. How much you feed your dog will depend on their size. However, as a general rule, a German spitz mittel adult should get around 2.2 cups of food a day split into two meals. Puppies need roughly 1.5 cups split into 3-4 meals.
👉Assess your dog’s weight with regular body condition scores to prevent them from becoming overweight. In a healthy dog, you should just be able to feel the ribs with minimal pressure.
Training your German spitz
German spitzes are highly intelligent and eager to please. However, they’re not best-suited to first-time dog owners because they have a strong stubborn streak. The best way to train these dogs is through regular positive reinforcement training to prevent them from barking excessively at every sight and sound. House training may take a little longer than many other breeds. So, early training is essential for the best results.
German spitzes benefit from short, fun training sessions to prevent boredom. With the right form of training, you can easily teach them a range of fun tricks. German spitzes also tend to excel at dog sports such as agility and flyball.
Breeds similar to the German spitz
Not quite sure that a German spitz is the right dog 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:
- Shiba inu. These affectionate and faithful dogs are highly playful. The shiba inu isn’t known to bark as much as German spitz, which makes them less likely to annoy your neighbors! However, they do need consistent training.
- Pomeranian. The spunky little Pomeranian shares many of the same behavioral traits as German spitz because they share a common ancestor. They are highly affectionate and beloved for their lively personalities.
- Siberian husky. If you’re looking for a larger, more active breed with similar personality traits to the German spitz, then the Siberian husky may be a good choice. As a spitz breed, they are intelligent and loving. However, these dogs are known for their high energy levels so they are better suited to active families.
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Frequently asked questions
Are German spitzes good pets?
These affectionate, intelligent, and playful dogs make wonderful companions for the right owners. They are best suited to experienced dog owners because of their independent streak and tendency to bark excessively.
Is the German spitz a Pomeranian?
The Pomeranian is descended from the German spitz. So, although they are separate breeds, they are very similar in personality and appearance. However, Pomeranians don’t need as much exercise because of their short legs.
Does the German spitz bark a lot?
The German spitz was bred to be an alert watchdog, so it does tend to bark a lot. However, consistent positive reinforcement training can help with this.
Can the German spitz be left alone?
German spitzes crave human attention and don’t make good companions for people consistently out of the house for a long time. These dogs need plenty of mental and physical stimulation because a bored German spitz can get noisy and mischievous.