The Eskie is built along classic Nordic lines, a form that has proved effective at pulling heavy loads through snow and ice. It is compactly built, slightly longer than tall. The stand-off, double coat resists soaking and provides insulation against the cold. The small thick ears are also cold-resistant. The breed's smaller size has moved it from the realm of sled dog, but it remains a sled dog in miniature. Its trot is agile and bold. The expression is keen and alert.
The American Eskimo is bright, eager to please, lively and fun-loving — in short, an enjoyable and generally obedient companion. True to its spitz heritage, it is independent and tenacious and loves to run, especially in cold weather. But it is among the most biddable of spitz breeds, and it is calm and well-mannered inside. It is good with children, other dogs, and pets and is generally outgoing to everyone.
As the prototypical spitz, the Eskie (as it is often called) is just as often simply called spitz by pet owners. In fact, the American Eskimo dog descended from one of the varieties of spitz developed in Germany, with influences from other spitz breeds such as the keeshond, Pomeranian, and Volpino Italiano. Ironically, it was the success of these other breeds that held the Eskie back. Although the keeshond originally came in several colors, when it was decided to accept only gray specimens, the white keeshonden were suddenly excluded. When the Pomeranian standard was drawn up to exclude dogs over 8 pounds, larger dogs were excluded as Pomeranians. Thus, by the early 1900s, there was two groups of medium-sized white dogs that, although purebreds, were excluded from their breeds. Their fate is unknown, but it is likely that they became pets of the working people. When European workers came to America, they brought these dogs with them. The turning point came in the 1920s, when the American spitz (as it had come to be called) became a favorite of circus performers. Spectators often left the circus with a new purchase and family member — an offspring of one of the dazzling performers. Many present-day Eskies can be traced back to their circus ancestors. After World War I, the breed's name was changed to American Eskimo, to remove any Germanic sound from it. Most Eskies were kept as pets and farm dogs. A few families registered their dogs with the United Kennel Club, but it wasn't until 1994 that the AKC recognized the breed. Despite its acceptance into the AKC world of show dogs, the Eskie remains a dog of the people, far more popular as a pet than as a competitor.
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