Spitz dog breeds are among the oldest and most primitive dogs. Spitz breeds are a group of dogs, all of which are characterized by their wedge-shaped heads, prick ears, and thick furry coats, suited for living in harsh northern climates.
As we’ll see, modern Spitz dog breeds range from small companion dogs to large working breeds and pretty much everything in between.
Let’s get to know some of these ancient breeds.
10. Canaan Dog
One of the AKC’s oldest breeds, the Canaan Dog is the national dog of Israel. The Canaan Dog is a primitive breed that has survived in the desert region of Israel for thousands of years. Called Kelef Kanani, the Canaan Dog is believed to be the breed that Hebrews used in biblical times to herd and guard their sheep flocks and encampments, some are still used for this purpose in modern times. In Europe and North America, they are companion dogs and compete in dog sports such as conformation, agility, and obedience.
Although the Canaan dog’s heritage of desert survival gives it a certain degree of independence, a Canaan Dog who’s been properly socialized loves its family and is adaptable to many living situations.
9. Pomeranian – Spitz Dog Breeds
Descended from large sled dog breeds, the now-tiny Pomeranian has a long and interesting history.
Developed from larger Spitz breeds in the province of Pomerania, the Pomeranian Dog, long a favorite of royals and commoners alike, has been called the ideal companion dog. Its glorious coat, smiling, foxy face, and vivacious personality have helped make the Pom one of the world’s most popular toy breeds.
Alert and intelligent, Pomeranians are easily trained and make fine watchdogs and perky pets for families with older children. Poms are active but can be exercised with indoor play and short walks, so they are content in both the city and suburbs. They will master tricks and games with ease, though their favorite activity is providing laughs and companionship to their special human.
According to the AKC, the amiable Keeshond is a medium-sized Spitz dog of ample coat, famous for the distinctive “spectacles” on his foxy face. Once a fixture on the canal barges of his native Holland, the Kees was, and remains, a symbol of Dutch patriotism.
Known for years as the “Dutch Barge Dog”, the Keeshond is an old breed, once a companion and watchdog on the barges that traveled the canals and rivers of Holland in the 17th and 18th centuries. But, being a people-lover, the Keeshond is primarily a companion dog today and a beloved treasure of the Dutch people.
The best way to make a Keeshond miserable is to keep it separated from its family. The breed was born to be a companion and needs to be involved in all parts of family life, from backyard barbecues to movie night. Pass the popcorn.
7. American Eskimo Dog – Spitz Dog Breeds
Playful, Perky, Smart. The American Eskimo Dog combines striking good looks with a quick and clever mind in a total brains-and-beauty package. Neither shy nor aggressive, Eskies, as they are commonly called, are always alert and friendly, though a bit conservative when making new friends.
A companion dog, the Eskie comes in a small package of 10 to 30 pounds. But, he has a big dog attitude toward life.
The true origin of the American Eskimo Dog is unknown. What we do know is that in the United States, small, white Spitz-type dogs were commonly found in German immigrant communities, possibly decedents of white German Spitz dogs, white Keeshond, or large white Pomeranians that came to the Americas with their German families. They became collectively known as the American Spitz dogs, which in 1917 were renamed to the American Eskimo Dogs, although it’s unclear as to why.
An immensely strong, heavy-duty worker, the Alaskan Malamute is an affectionate, loyal, and playful but dignified dog recognizable by his well-furred plumed tail carried over the back, erect ears, and substantial bone structure.
Everything about Mals suggests their origin as arctic sled dogs: The heavy bone, deep chest, powerful shoulders, and dense, weatherproof coat all scream, “I work hard for a living!”
But their almond-shaped brown eyes have an affectionate sparkle, suggesting Mals enjoy snuggling with their humans when the workday is done.
The Alaskan Malamute possesses tremendous strength, energy, endurance, independence, and intelligence. Mals were originally sought to pull heavy sleds over long distances as well as to hunt seals and polar bears. Now chosen primarily for companionship, Alaskan Malamutes succeed in many dog sports, including conformation, obedience competition, weight pulling, backpacking, and recreational sledding.
5. Samoyed (Featuring Yeti from Yeti’s Place) – Spitz Dog Breeds
The number 5 place goes to the Samoyed. This is Yeti and he is a Samoyed. And, Samoyeds are known for their beautiful smile and are also known for their friendly disposition.
They’re great family dogs. They love everybody in the family, not favoring one over the other. They love strangers too. So, be careful when a stranger comes over because your Samoyed will race up to that stranger, wanting that stranger to pet them and cuddle with them and give them all types of love and attention. They’re not a guard dog.
They have high grooming demands and they like to kiss too. At least my pup does.
So, if you’d like to learn more about the Samoyed, this wonderful breed, be sure to come check us out at Yeti’s place. Come hang out there with us. There’s a link in the card and in the description below.
4. Shiba Inu
An ancient Japanese breed, the Shiba Inu is a little, usually weighing between 17-23 pounds, but well-muscled dog once employed as a hunter, flushing birds, and small game. Today, the spirited, good-natured Shiba is the most popular companion dog in Japan.
Brought to America from Japan as recently as 60 years ago, Shibas are growing in popularity in the West.
The adaptable Shiba is at home in town or country but needs plenty of room to romp and play. The Shiba learns quickly, but whether it chooses to do what it’s asked is another matter altogether, which may make this breed a bit frustrating for novice owners.
In Japanese, the word “Inu” means “dog”, and the word “Shiba” means “brushwood”, hinting to the breeds hunting origins. The Shiba is the smallest of the six native Japanese breeds, which also include the much large Akita Inu, which we’ll visit in a moment.
3. Siberian Husky – Spitz Dog Breeds
Perhaps one of the more iconic breeds on this list, at least for those of us in North America, is the Siberian Husky thanks in part to the movie (and real-life legend) Balto.
Weighing between 35-60 pounds, the loyal, outgoing and mischievous Sibie packs a lot of strength and endurance onto a medium-sized frame. Originating in the Siberian region to Russia, the Siberian Husky we know today is a thickly coated, compact sled dog developed to work in packs, pulling light loads at moderate speeds over vast frozen expanses. Sibes are friendly, fastidious, and dignified, making them a great companion for patient owners with good dog training skills.
2. Chow Chow
A bit more dignified and serious-minded dog than the Sibie is the Chow Chow. An all-purpose dog of ancient China, the Chow Chow presents the picture of a muscular, deep-chested aristocrat with an air of inscrutable timelessness.
Their distinctive traits include a lion’s-mane ruff around the head and shoulders; a blue-black tongue; deep-set almond eyes and a stiff-legged gait.
Owners say Chows are the cleanest of dogs: They housebreak easily, have little doggy odor, and are known to be as fastidious as cats. Well-socialized Chows are never fierce, but always refined and dignified. They are aloof with strangers and eternally loyal to loved ones. Serene and adaptable, with no special exercise needs, Chows happily take to city life.
Before we get to number one, here are some Spitz breeds we’re going to have to skip over, for now, Finnish Lapphund, Finnish Spitz, Icelandic Sheepdog, Norwegian Buhund, Norwegian Elkhound, Norwegian Lundehund, and the Swedish Vallhund.
1. Akita Inu/Akita – Spitz Dog Breeds
Few breeds get the honor of being dubbed a national treasure. The Akita Inu, named for the Akita prefecture of Northern Japan, has a known existence that goes back to the 1600s when the breed guarded Japanese royalty and was used for hunting fowl and large game (including bears).
The Akita Inu and the more westernized Akita is a big, bold dog with a distinctly powerful appearance: a large head in contrast to small, triangular eyes; and a confident, rugged stance.
This breed is renowned for unwavering loyalty to their owners, and they can be surprisingly sweet and affectionate with family members, although not a good choice for first-time dog owners thanks to its large size and willful personality.
So, which of these breeds would you have in your home? Let us know in the comments below.
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