The American Eskimo dog is bred in three sizes today – toy, miniature, and standard. Either way, this dog breed is always going to look bigger than they actually are because of their thick, long, fluffy, and beautiful white coats.
However, if there is one thing the American Eskimo dog’s coat is not, it is hypoallergenic.
While there is definitely a difference between the American Eskimo dog’s coat and the coats of many other purebred dog breeds, being hypoallergenic is not one of them.
In this article, find out the truth about the American Eskimo dog’s lovely pure white coat.
Is American Eskimo Dog Hypoallergenic?
As the Mayo Clinic points out, the idea that any dog breed is hypoallergenic is a very popular myth, but a myth regardless.
In fact, when people use the word “hypoallergenic” to describe a dog breed, what they really mean is “non-shedding.” These two terms are not interchangeable and do not mean the same thing, as we will discuss in a lot more detail here shortly.
Ultimately, the American Eskimo dog is a working dog breed that sheds a lot all year long and even more seasonally. So this breed is basically the opposite of a non-shedding dog breed.
See An American Eskimo Dog’s Beautiful Coat
This adorable owner-made YouTube video showcases just how gorgeous the American Eskimo dog’s coat is right from puppyhood.
While the coat does change a great deal from puppyhood to the adult dog years, the appearance of the American Eskimo dog doesn’t change that much. They stay just as cute as they get bigger.
Why Do People Think Certain Dogs Are Hypoallergenic?
The reason that many people still believe that some dog breeds are hypoallergenic is that some dog breeds shed a lot less visibly than other dog breeds.
Take a Poodle, for example.
As the American Kennel Club (AKC) points out, this dog breed has a very dense and curly coat. The coat is so dense and curly that when hair sheds, it gets caught in the surrounding coat and doesn’t fall out visibly to the floor.
So people have taken to calling the Poodle a hypoallergenic (translation: non-shedding) dog breed.
However, the Poodle sheds just as much as the American Eskimo dog. The Poodle just sheds in such a way that if you don’t brush and groom a Poodle constantly, the shed hair that is trapped in the coat will turn into a huge tangle.
Then you will have to shave the Poodle to get rid of the tangle.
Because the American Eskimo dog sheds in a way that is easy to see, people understand right away that this dog is not hypoallergenic. But in truth, neither dog breed is hypoallergenic.
It is just that, since the Poodle’s shed hair gets trapped in the surrounding coat, the person with the pet allergy may have slightly less contact with the protein that causes the pet allergies. But there is no guarantee of this.
What Causes Pet Allergies, Anyway?
The reason some people have pet allergies is that they are sensitive to a certain protein allergen that pets make.
But the protein that causes some people to experience pet allergy symptoms is not made in the dog’s hair. It is found in the dog’s skin, saliva, and urine.
When the dog licks or grooms themselves, urinates, or sweats, that is when the aggravating protein makes its way onto the coat.
Once the protein allergen is on the hair, that is when the person with the pet allergy can come into contact with it by touching or handling the dog’s hair.
Examples of common contact paths could be through patting the dog or cleaning up the shed, dead hair.
And when you choose an American Eskimo dog, you will have a lot of shed, dead hair to clean up.
But ultimately, all dog breeds produce the same protein allergen and all dogs can cause allergies in people who are sensitive to that protein.
What Makes the American Eskimo Dog’s Coat Special?
You might look at the gorgeous pure white fluffy American Eskimo and think just the sheer beauty of the coat is special enough.
But this working dog’s coat has several other special properties it is also fun to learn about.
To start with, the American Eskimo dog has a double layer coat that is characteristic of most working dog breeds.
As VCA Hospitals explains, not only does this make the American Eskimo breed particularly cold-tolerant, but it also makes them somewhat heat-intolerant.
These dogs are descended from a long lineage of Arctic spitz working dogs that have historically been used to haul sleds and cargo, help with the hunt, serve as watchdogs and assist with herding and livestock protection.
So their thick, double layer working-dog coats evolved to function very similarly to the warm winter coat you put on when it gets really cold outside!
In addition, the American Eskimo dog’s coat layers have different special features.
The outer layer is thicker, longer, coarser, and water-repellant. So when ice, snow, sleet, or rain hits the coat, it slides right off and doesn’t soak through to the skin, protecting the dog from both cold and wet.
The inner layer of the coat is very soft and downy and shorter – like insulation in a comforter. The job of this layer is to keep the dog warm and dry. It is the final barrier between the elements, pests and perils, and the dog’s sensitive skin.
How Much Does the American Eskimo Dog Shed?
As the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed profile page explains, American Eskimo dogs shed quite a bit both year-round and seasonally.
But it is the seasonal sheds – an event that working dog owners have nicknamed “coat blows” – that will really get your attention. With all that pure white hair, you may think you are in the middle of an actual snowstorm while it is happening.
So what is going on during a coat blow and why does it only happen seasonally?
It is true that the American Eskimo dog does shed somewhat all year long. This is because the coat has a very important protective function and as hairs wear out, they need to be shed out and replaced. Otherwise, the dog is vulnerable to the elements.
But seasonally, the shed becomes more intense.
Coat blow: cold season to warm-season
In the transition from the cold season to the warm season, the dog will start to shed profusely to shed out the majority of that thick, dense, insulating inner layer – the layer that is designed to keep the dog warm.
With that inner layer in place, the American Eskimo dog is vulnerable to overheating during the warm season. So the dog needs to drop the coat quickly to avoid danger.
Coat blow: warm season to the cold season
In the transition from the warm season back to the cold season again, the coat blow may not seem quite so intense. The inner layer is busy growing back in.
Meanwhile, the outer layer is shedding out and replenishing itself for the cold season to come.
How to Care for Your American Eskimo Dog’s Shedding Coat
Preventative Vet emphasizes the importance of choosing the right tools to brush and groom your dog at home.
You will need to do this frequently for a dog like the American Eskimo – at least if you want to avoid spending your valuable free time sweeping, wiping, and lint rolling everything you own!
Vetstreet recommends that you follow a basic at-home coat maintenance schedule of brushing your dog’s coat two to three times per week (more frequently during coat blow periods).
While the American Eskimo dog’s coat is not as prone to tangling and developing mats as some dog breeds, regular brushing will definitely reduce the likelihood of this happening.
There are three particular dog grooming tools you will quickly learn you can’t live without the de-shedding rake, the stainless steel comb, and the bristle brush.
You can use a de-shedding rake to catch more dead, shed hair during each brushing session.
Many rakes actually catch the hair in the tines and then you can press an “eject” button to push the trapped hair right into the trash can so – no sweeping!
Stainless steel round-tip comb
Then you can use a stainless steel comb with round-tip tines to groom more sensitive or difficult-to-reach areas around the face and on the legs, tail, and hindquarters.
A bristle brush with round-tip pins is a good choice to stimulate healthy circulation in the skin and help the coat to shine.
While it is fine to give your American Eskimo dog a bath every once in a while, this dog’s coat produces unique skin oils that help promote the water-resistant outer layer to do its job well.
So unless your dog rolls in something or becomes distinctly stinky for some reason, try to steer clear of too-frequent bathing that could strip the coat of those skin oils.
Can You Just Shave the American Eskimo Dog’s Coat?
Far too many American Eskimo dog owners have learned the hard way what happens when you try to shave a working dog breed’s protective double-layer coat.
You don’t ever want to do this!
The double-layer coat grows in two layers during the transition from the puppy coat to the adult dog coat.
The underlayer grows in as a uniform, thick, and insulating layer. Then the outer coarse and water-resistant guard hairs grow in over the top of that.
From this point on, the coat will always retain its double-layer integrity, simply shedding out hairs as needed for coat maintenance and temperature control.
But once you shave the coat down to the skin, it will not grow back in the same manner ever again.
This is because the individual hair follicles will not be receiving the same message to grow in a particular pattern. Instead, the hairs will grow in at random, with the soft insulating inner layer hairs mingling and mixing with the outer coarse guard hairs.
Your dog will no longer have the full protection of the coat. So now you will have the extra responsibility of making sure your dog does not get sunburned, windburned, troubled by pests, damp or soaking wet, too hot, too cold….the list goes on and on.
It is true that shaving your dog’s thick, shedding coat can initially appear to be an easy solution to lifelong issues of constantly brushing, grooming, sweeping, vacuuming, and de-linting everything in sight.
But if you truly do not have the time or inclination to do these chores, then an American Eskimo dog is not the right choice of dog breed.
In the same way, if you are very sensitive to shed pet hair and tend to come down with allergies, then an American Eskimo breed may not be the best pet choice for you.
Getting Your American Eskimo Dog Used to Brush and Grooming
You should plan to start brushing and grooming your dog right from puppyhood to be sure your dog grows up unafraid of these routine maintenance tasks.
It is smart to clip your dog’s nails, clean the ears, express the anal glands and brush the teeth at the same time as you brush the coat so your dog becomes comfortable with all of these experiences.
Some American Eskimo dog owners will choose to invest in professional grooming every few months to keep the coat trimmed and neat. But you can also choose to learn to do this at home for a budget-friendly option.
Learning about the American Eskimo dog breed’s coat type is one of the best ways to decide if this is the right next companion canine for your family pet.