Saturday, January 20, 2007

American Eskimo Dog

The American Eskimo Dog or Standard German Spitz is a breed of companion dog originating from Germany. Despite its name and appearence the American Eskimo dog is not from Alaska or a descendent of the Husky. The American Eskimo is a member of the Spitz family, which also comes from Germany. The breed was formerly called a German Spitz, but due to anti-German prejudice during the First World War, it was renamed to American Eskimo Dog. In addition to serving as a companion, it has been used as a watchdog, and also achieved a high degree of popularity in the 1930s and 1940s United States as a circus performer. The very first dog to walk a tightrope was an American Eskimo.[citation needed] The breed became popular as circuses would sell the puppies during their travels across the nation. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1994 and set the current standard for the breed. The United Kennel Club had recognized the breed long before 1994, and there is no difference between the two breed standards except that the AKC allows the toy size and the UKC does not. The American Eskimo has pending acceptance in the CKC (Canadian Kennel Club).

American Eskimos were bred to be companion dogs, and thrive on being a part of their human family. Eskies are easily trained and very intelligent, as well as being strong-willed and independent. At home, Eskies make excellent watchdogs, barking to announce the presence of strangers. The Eskie can be protective of its home and family, but it should not threaten to attack or bite a person (unless provoked). American Eskimos must be trained early in age. They do not respond well to aggressive discipline. Spanking an American Eskimo for its mistake may result in a growling war instead of punishment. It is important to research the dog's parents as their temperament may vary due to inheritance.

Puppy at 11 weeksMany people find the puppies of American Eskimo Dogs to be very cute and purchase this breed as a puppy without doing sufficient research, such as discovering the longevity and needs of this breed. This breed can take longer to mature than other breeds, and Eskies can behave more like puppies than like adults for up to two years, when they finally start to mature and grow their adult coats. They are also a very intelligent dog and need to be stimulated. When their intelligence is not stimulated or they are ignored, they can develop behavior issues. Owners can avoid this problem by socializing their Eskie through obedience training or participating in dog sports, such as dog agility, flyball, dancing, and Schutzhund.

The breed lives on average between 12 and 14 years, although some individuals might live as long as 20 years or longer. They are prone to hip dysplasia, Elbow and Knee degeneration, patellar luxation, Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, epilepsy, urinary stones and allergies, especially flea allergies, that can lead to acute moist dermatitis or "hot spots".