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Barbara O'Brien, Animal Photography
The beautiful, white, and fluffy American Eskimo Dog comes in three sizes and is highly intelligent -- sometimes too much so. His cleverness will have you doing his bidding if you aren’t careful. This is a healthy, adaptable, affectionate breed. The downsides: he is a barker, he sheds, and he prefers a home with older children.
The American Eskimo breed was developed by 19th-century German immigrants in the United States and was known for a while as the American Spitz
The soft, white, and fluffy American Eskimo is sometimes referred to as "The Dog Beautiful." The Eskie is clever, active and mischievous. If you don’t have those same qualities in equal or greater amounts, he’ll have you wrapped around his little white paw in no time flat. This Spitz breed has many excellent qualities, including three different sizes (standard, miniature and toy), but he’s not the right breed for everyone.
The Eskie twinkles up at you with a keen, alert expression. He loves to have a good time and is always ready for an adventure. His curious and comical nature is sure to make you laugh several times a day. He is sensitive and dislikes discord among family members. Don’t argue in front of him; he won’t like it.
He bonds deeply to his people, but he is not necessarily the best choice for a family with young children. He can be impatient with being hugged or manhandled and skittish at being approached too quickly. He’s wary of strangers and makes an excellent watchdog. Sometimes, he’s too good a watchdog. It’s not unusual for him to become a nuisance barker, so while his size is perfect for apartment living, his noise level might not be unless someone is home to control him.
Train the Eskie with patience and consistency and he will be surprisingly responsive. For best results, use positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play and food rewards.
Last but not least, it should go without saying that a people-loving dog like the American Eskimo needs to live in the house. It’s an unhappy Eskie who is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship.
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The breathtakingly beautiful American Eskimo was created from various Nordic breeds, including the white German Spitz, the white Pomeranian and the Volpino Italiano, an Italian spitz breed with a white coat. He was developed by 19th century German immigrants in the United States and was known for a while as the American Spitz. In 1917, he was given the name American Eskimo Dog.
The American Eskimo Dog Club of America was formed in 1985 and sought recognition for the breed from the American Kennel Club. That was granted in 1995, and he is categorized as a Non-Sporting breed. The American Eskimo, nicknamed the Eskie, ranks 114th among the breeds registered by the AKC.
The Eskie is smart, friendly and a good communicator. His alert nature makes him an excellent watchdog, but beware! He is highly vocal. Train him from a very early age that excessive barking isn’t permitted.
An American Eskimo will let you know what he wants through glances and barks. A look at the cookie jar, followed by a look at you and a look back at the jar sends a very clear message. Hypnotized by his dark eyes and smiling face, you’ll find yourself mindlessly handing him a treat.
The Eskie gets along with most everyone he meets, but he’s not always patient with tight squeezes from children. Closely supervise interactions with young children, and teach them how to pet the Eskie gently. An American Eskimo should never be shy or aggressive. Say no thanks if a puppy or his parents aren’t approachable.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from an Eskie, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
American Eskimos are a generally healthy breed. Problems that have been seen are allergies affecting the skin and pyruvate kinase deficiency, which can lead to chronic anemia.
Not all of these conditions are detectable in a growing puppy, and it is impossible to predict whether an animal will be free of these maladies, which is why you must find a reputable breeder who is committed to breeding the healthiest animals possible. They should be able to produce independent certification that the parents of the dog (and grandparents, etc.) have been screened for common defects and deemed healthy for breeding. That’s where health registries come in.
To help the breed maintain its good health, the American Eskimo Dog Club of America, which is the American Kennel Club parent organization for the breed in the United States, participates in the Canine Health Information Center Program. For an Eskie to achieve CHIC certification, he must have an OFA hip clearance, an OFA DNA test for progressive retinal atrophy, and an eye clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation. Tests that are recommended but not requires are OFA clearances for the heart, elbows, knees and thyroid, plus an evaluation for Legg-Calve-Perthes disease.
Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database. A dog need not receive good or even passing scores on the evaluations to obtain a CHIC number, so CHIC registration alone is not proof of soundness or absence of disease, but all test results are posted on the CHIC website and can be accessed by anyone who wants to check the health of a puppy’s parents.
Don't fall for a dishonest breeder's lies. If the breeder tells you she doesn't need to do those tests because she's never had problems in her lines, her dogs have been "vet checked," or any of the other excuses bad breeders have for skimping on the genetic testing of their dogs, walk away immediately.
Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy develops one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in most cases the dogs can still live a good life. If you’re getting a puppy, ask the breeder about the ages of the dogs in her lines and what they died of.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping an American Eskimo at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
The Eskie has a double coat: a dense undercoat topped by longer guard hairs. He has a ruff around the neck, which is more prominent on males than on females. The backs of the legs and the tail are also furry.
Brush the Eskie’s straight, thick coat a couple of times a week to prevent or remove mats and tangles. Plan to brush it more often when he’s shedding to keep loose hair off your clothes and furniture. You’ll need a slicker brush, pin brush and metal Greyhound comb. Bathe the Eskie about every three months.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every few weeks, and brush the teeth frequently for good overall health and fresh breath.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a good breeder is the key to finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. He or she is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and what the dogs are like to live with and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems. A breeder should want to be a resource for you throughout your dog’s life.
Look for more information about the Eskie and start your search for a good breeder at the website of the American Eskimo Dog Club of America. Choose a breeder who has agreed to abide by the AEDCA’s code of ethics, which prohibits the sale of puppies to or through pet stores.
Avoid breeders who only seem interested in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. Breeders who offer puppies at one price “with papers” and at a lower price “without papers” are unethical and should be reported to the AEDCA and the American Kennel Club. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Those things are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
The cost of an Eskie puppy varies depending on the breeder’s locale, whether the pup is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. The puppy you buy should have been raised in a clean home environment, from parents with health clearances and conformation (show) and, ideally, working titles to prove that they are good specimens of the breed. Puppies should be temperament tested, vetted, dewormed, and socialized to give them a healthy, confident start in life.
Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Eskie might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive and demanding than a puppy.
With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for an Eskie in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Eskies available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for an Eskie. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Breed Rescue
Most people who love Eskies love all Eskies. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. Through its network, the American Eskimo Dog Club of America may be able to help you find a rescue dog that will be the perfect companion for your family. You can also search online for other Eskie rescues in your area.
The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring an Eskie home with you to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a pup. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Eskie, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter, or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, a breeder purchase or a rescue, take your Eskie to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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