The American Eskimo dog is a breed full of contradictions. These dogs have an American-sounding name but they are actually from Germany.
Their coat is thick and full like a working dog, but their most common “job” today is as the family snuggler.
And they are not typically recommended as a dog breed for first-time dog owners because they tend to be hard to train and hard to maintain.
Last, of all, American Eskimo dogs typically bond more closely with just one family member, which can be a problem when everyone in the family wants equal lap time.
However, there is a reason more and more people are choosing the American Eskimo dog breed. That reason is simple: they are cute and cuddly. How cuddly? Read on to find out!
Do American Eskimo Dogs Like to Cuddle?
According to PetMD, American Eskimo dogs rank at number seven out of the 10 most lovable dogs around the world.
Clearly, the “Esky,” as many owners have nicknamed this snowball of a dog, is a love bug.
But as PetMD also points out, these dogs don’t like to share their favorite person. So this may mean the Esky isn’t the best choice if you want an equal opportunity family dog or a dog that can tolerate other family pets.
Watch an American Eskimo Dog Hugging Owners
This adorable owner-made YouTube video makes it easy to see how lovable and huggable an American Eskimo dog can be.
However, the video also showcases some other notable and well-known traits of this dog breed. The American Eskimo dog tends to bond more closely with just one person in the family (in this case, the woman in the video).
And you will notice the woman giving her Esky commands – by patting her hands on her shoulders, she is showing her dog what to do. The American Eskimo dog breed tends to need a lot of training and then a lot of reinforcement of that training.
We will talk much more about this in the rest of this article.
Learn About the American Eskimo Dog Personality
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) official dog breed profile, American Eskimo dogs are bred in three different sizes.
None of the sizes are very big, by the way. This bodes well for your pet dog search if you are looking for a lap-sized companion canine, as you can see.
So let’s take a quick look at the sizes (weight and height) for the American Eskimo dog breed.
Standard American Eskimo dog
The standard size American Eskimo dog weighs between 25 and 35 pounds and typically stands 15 to 19 inches tall (paw pads to shoulders).
Miniature American Eskimo dog
The miniature size American Eskimo dog weighs between 10 to 20 pounds and typically stands 12 to 15 inches tall (paw pads to shoulders).
Toy American Eskimo dog
The toy size American Eskimo dog weighs between six to 10 pounds and typically stands nine to 12 inches tall (paw pads to shoulders).
Of the three breed sizes, the standard size American Eskimo dog is by far the closest in terms of personality and temperament to the original Esky dogs of Germany. They are the most active and energetic as well.
As Wasatch Eskimo Puppies breeder explains, the miniature and toy size American Eskimo dogs have more moderate energy levels and do well in small spaces.
What Is the History of the American Eskimo Dog Breed?
Studying a dog breed’s history and origins can tell you a lot about not just the personality and temperament of a dog breed, but also about why that breed is the way that it is.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) categorizes the American Eskimo dog as a non-sporting breed. This seems to suggest the Esky is not a working dog breed.
However, if you go back far enough into the breed lineage and history, you will find yourself in Germany meeting the original Esky, a working dog with a farming, herding, guarding, and all-around all-purpose canine worker!
As the American Eskimo Dog Club of America (AEDCA) explains, having a talented working dog was absolutely necessary to the health and viability of a German farmer.
These dogs did everything from helping move the livestock into and out of the pasture each day to guard them at night to warning about predators to hauling cargo and even people in sled dog teams.
The American Eskimo dog comes from a long lineage of spitz-type working dogs who have distinctive wedge-shaped heads and unique metabolisms that allow them to run and run for long distances without tiring.
They have very thick double-layer coats that protect the dogs from cold, water, snow, and pests.
And they have independent minds that are capable of making smart, potentially life-saving decisions about those under their watchful eye even if their humans are far away when the emergency occurs.
So this tells you a great deal about how you can expect an American Eskimo dog to behave when left to their own devices during the day. They don’t do well with being left alone or with being bored, for starters.
Do American Eskimo Dogs Get on Well With Other Family Pets?
As VetStreet explains, these dogs can also be extremely territorial.
This is not to say they can never get along with another family pet such as a dog or a cat. In fact, the Esky can enjoy playing with another dog or a self-assured cat – or at least learn to peacefully tolerate the presence of another animal in the household.
But you do not want to add an American Eskimo dog, with their strong working dog prey drive and chase drive, to a home where there are vulnerable prey pet species. Examples might include birds, reptiles, small rodent “pocket pets” and similar animal species.
The Esky has a long background as a herding and protecting dog and will likely be unable to control the desire to give chase or “hunt” these smaller prey animals.
American Eskimo dogs – especially in the standard breed size – have a lot of energy and tend to be high-activity dogs. This may be overwhelming for an older pet dog or cat who is in the golden years.
This means the hands-down best approach is to do pre-introductions between your existing cat or dog and the American Eskimo puppy or rescue dog. See how they get along and whether you think they can learn to co-exist and even enjoy each other’s company.
Do American Eskimo Dogs Make Friends Easily?
As VCA Animal Hospitals points out, the American Eskimo dog breed has an overall friendly and genial disposition.
A well-bred, well-socialized and trained American Eskimo dog is likely to be generally amiable around visitors to the home and quite cuddly and lovable towards their human family.
However, Eskies also have the naturally watchful and slightly aloof nature of the spitz-type dog family. This is because these dogs have such a long history of working in roles that require them to distinguish between friends and potential threats.
American Eskimo dogs are also known to be “barkers,” which means they will bark for any reason and often for no reason at all. Puppies in particular tend to bark constantly and it will be important to train them to moderate that instinct.
The reason American Eskimo dogs do tend to bark so much can be traced back to both their spitz working dog background and also their genealogy. As the American Eskimo Dog Club of America (AEDCA) explains, these dogs are considered “primitive” dog breeds.
When a dog is classified as a primitive dog breed, this doesn’t mean these dogs are less intelligent or evolved than other modern companion canines. What it means is that these dogs have the most direct genetic connection to their wild wolf ancestors.
So a primitive dog breed will retain more of the instinct to use barking as a communication tool, barking to warn about threats, to transmit location or status, to communicate or for any reason the dog decides makes sense.
The tendency of the American Eskimo dog to be somewhat reserved when meeting new people is also a classic “primitive” dog breed trait.
While these dogs are tremendously friendly with “their” people, they aren’t friendly with strangers or visitors in the way of, for example, a Labrador Retriever, which is not a primitive dog breed.
Training an American Eskimo Dog to Be Friendly and Cuddly
As the YouTube video, you watched earlier here showcased, you may not need to expend a great deal of energy training your American Eskimo dog to be cuddly.
As the owner of that Esky explained, she had never had a dog that liked hugs until they got their Esky.
But you can also see in that video how they clearly trained their dog how to give hugs and how to enjoy being held and hugged in return.
Not all dogs like hugs, and just because some American Eskimo dogs love to cuddle does not necessarily mean that every single Esky will enjoy this type of showing affection.
However, Eskies in general are very people-centric and they want to be wherever their favorite person is, doing whatever that person is doing and going wherever that person is going.
This makes it fairly easy to train an American Eskimo dog to be cuddly and friendly – towards you. But it is another matter training an Esky to be equally cuddly and friendly towards someone they are less bonded with or towards a person they don’t know.
As Esky Rescuers charity explains, American Eskimo dogs are not self-training in any way. They need to be trained and then they need that training to be continually reinforced.
Because of the American Eskimo dog’s long history of working independently in important jobs, they can be headstrong and stubborn. Some dog trainers view this as “keeping their own counsel.”
But ultimately, it just means that if your Esky doesn’t understand the point of command, your dog may not obey you.
A classic example is if you let your Esky off-leash in an open area and then call your dog back to you. This will be in direct conflict with the Esky’s strong drive to run and range over long distances like they would in a herding and hauling job.
Your American Eskimo dog may not obey you (which is why you should never let your Esky off-lead in an unfenced area!).
You can train your American Eskimo dog to be more friendly and social by exposing your dog to unfamiliar people and animals often and right from puppyhood.
Eskies are smart and pick up tricks easily, but they are also often inclined not to obey. It is because American Eskimo dogs can be headstrong, that they are not always easy to train, especially if you have never trained a companion canine before now.
If you have a strong desire to add an Esky to your family but you don’t have any prior experience training dogs, you may consider working with a professional K-9 trainer.
This will accomplish two goals: it will make sure your puppy is well-trained and socialized to be happy and healthy as a member of your family and it will help you learn to confidently train a dog by working with an expert trainer.
Be sure to keep training sessions short and interesting or your American Eskimo dog is likely to get bored and stop obeying you.
Always use only positive, praise-based training reinforcement. Pats, treats, playtime, interactive plan, and praise are all examples of positive training reinforcement that will encourage your dog to participate fully in each training session.
No matter whether you choose a standard, miniature, or toy-size American Eskimo dog, you will be bringing a loving, intelligent, playful, loyal, and adorable dog into your life and family.