Spitz is a type of domestic dog.
It is characterized by long, thick, and often white fur, and pointed ears and muzzles. The tail often curls over the dog’s back or droops.
There are between 50 and 70 distinct spitz dog breeds, but some aren’t easily categorized because there is no exact definition.
The exact origins of spitz dogs are not known, though most of the spitzes seen today originate from the Arctic region or Siberia.
Archaeological evidence suggests that as far back as the ‘Neolithic’ period (3,000 BC) medium sized ‘Spitzlike’ dogs lived in close proximity with humans. Fossil remains of this period from this Bronze Age people have been found among remains of pile dwellers in many parts of Europe.
Spitz type dogs may vary in size and colour, but all have long, thick fur, and pointed ears and muzzles, as well as a curly tail.
They often have an insulating, waterproof undercoat that is denser than the topcoat to trap warmth.
Small, upright ears help to reduce the risk of frostbite, and thick fur that grows on the paws protects the dogs from sharp ice.
Many spitz breeds, like the Akita and Chow Chow, retain wolf-like characteristics like independence, suspiciousness, and aggression towards unfamiliar humans and other dogs, and they require much training and socialization when they are puppies before they become manageable in an urban environment. Some, such as the Karelian Bear Dog, are more difficult to train as companion dogs. Some breeds, such as the Pomeranian, have manes.
Spitz breeds are often loyal, intelligent, and affectionate, but they can also be independent and bold.
Not always suited to the novice owner, these active dogs have working backgrounds, and their tasks ranged from helping hunters find game to hauling sleds with heavy loads to herding animals like reindeer. Their thick coats also need regular grooming to keep the shedding at bay!
The Siberian husky is one of the most famously known spitz dog breeds. Its wolf-like appearance runs strong, and seeing this working dog running through the frozen wilderness of its home makes you do a double-take—was that a wolf? The Siberian husky was bred for companionship and work, making them a great family dog for those who are up to their intense exercise requirements.
The Samoyed’s arctic roots clearly show in its dense, white fur and sled-pulling, hunting, and herding history. This spitz breed takes its name from the Samoyedic peoples of Siberia. The nomadic Samoyed people, came to northwestern Siberia from central Asia. They depended upon herds of reindeer for food, and had to keep on the move in order that the reindeer could find sufficient food for themselves.
The Alaskan Malamute is a strong, active spitz dog that originated in Alaska for hauling and hunting. It is developed by the Malemiut, an Eskimo (Inupiat) group from which it takes its name. Malamutes were thought to be bred by the Malemiut Inupiaq people of Alaska’s Norton Sound region.
Not all spitz dog breeds are big and wolf-like. The Pomeranian is a toy dog breed that is no larger than 7 pounds. Though these tiny fluff balls lack wolf-like sizing, they still sport the famous pointed ears, long snout, and curled tail. Don’t let these tiny pups fool you. They may be small, but they have big personalities. They are playful, bold, and intelligent, making great family dogs and watchdogs.
The American Eskimo Dog have nothing to do with the Indigenous Alaskan people known as “Eskimos.” It has German roots, and the German spitz is its ancestor. These dogs made it to America in the 1800s and quickly became loved for their smarts, good looks, and eager-to-please attitude.
The Shiba Inu originated in Japan as a hunting dog. This spitz breed is Japan’s most popular companion dog. According to National Geographic, Shibas are also the breed most genetically similar to wolves, further suggesting that it’s among the oldest domesticated dog breeds.
The Chow Chow is a unique and ancient breed that could be one of the original spitz-types. There are artifacts from China’s Han Dynasty depicting these dogs from around 200 BC Their long history has seen them be prized companions of the Chinese noble, guard dogs, and hunters.
Including large and small breeds, some of these dogs are bred for hard work and others are bred for hardly working—instead they prefer to snuggle up as a companion dog.
The word “spitz” in German means pointed.
In the United States the name spitz is often given to any small, white, long-haired dog.
The Spitz type of dog was described as Canis pomeranus by Johann Friedrich Gmelin in his revision of Systema Naturae in 1788.