What is a Spitz Dog?

June 25, 2014

Spitz PatiBy Langley Cornwell

Many years ago I rescued a dog that looked like a mix between a yellow Labrador retriever and a Samoyed. Her coat was longer than a Lab and she had a dense undercoat, especially around her neck and chest. In fact, she looked (and acted!) like she had a lovely mane.  Her ears were perky and triangular shaped and her tail was long and luscious, and curved over her back.

She was knock-down gorgeous. Out of all the dogs I’ve lived with, there’s never been another one that literally stopped traffic like this sweet pooch. Everyone we passed commented on her beauty and asked what type of dog she was. Upon learning that she came from an animal shelter, I was often told that she “had a lot of Spitz in her” or that she was a “Spitz type” dog.

At the time, I wasn’t clear on whether the term Spitz was an officially recognized dog breed, or if the designation was an umbrella term that referred to specific types of dogs. Turns out, Spitz is not an official dog breed. It’s more of an identifying term for a certain type of dog.

Physical Characteristics

Even though the term Spitz encompasses a wide range of dog breeds, they all have a few distinctly similar characteristics. Interestingly, genetic testing of a variety of Spitz tySpitz Jeffreype dogs reveals a strong link between Spitz and wild wolves. Some experts believe they originate from the breeding of wild dog packs with wolves, and that makes sense when you observe their appearance.

Most Spitz dogs have pointy, upright, smallish ears, almond shaped eyes and a strong jaw.  Their fur is dense and thick, with a wooly undercoat. A strong characteristic that is shared by many of the Spitz breeds is their tail, which is fluffy, feathered and usually curled over their backs.

Personality Traits

Spitz are usually smart, inquisitive dogs. They are also loyal and good natured, and generally get along well with children and other animals. The dogs are fairly easy to train but tend to have a stubborn streak, so a firm, consistent approach is required.

Spitz Ownership

Due to their naturally strong stamina and endurance, Spitz dogs are known for running long distances and pulling sleds in harsh weather conditions. Furthermore, their thick undercoat and long topcoat helps insulate them from the cold, so they are ideally suited for the job. Because of their double coat, Spitz dogs require a good bit of grooming. I remember pulling handfuls of undercoat from my dog. When they shed, it’s serious business.
Spitz Taro
These dogs are fit and need plenty of free space and a lot of high energy exercise. Spitz dogs, especially the husky type, make excellent running companions. It’s best to feed these athletic dogs a high quality, nutritious food like the CANIDAE grain free Pure formulas.

Common Spitz Dog Breeds

Dogs that are considered Spitz types cover a variety of different breeds. Some dogs that fall under the Spitz designation include Akita, Husky, Malamute, Shiba Inu, Eskimo Dog, Elkhound, Lundehund, Keeshond, Chow Chow, Pomeranian, Samoyed and Schipperke.

Mixed and cross breeds with ancestry from these dog breeds are also considered Spitz dogs. Because there are such distinct characteristics shared among these types of dogs, once you become familiar with the way they look, you will be able to identify these beautiful dogs immediately.

Top photo (Akita) by Pati Regina
Middle photo (Siberian Husky) by Jeffrey Beall
Bottom photo (Shiba Inu) by Taro the Shiba Inu

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

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