By Janice Jones |Last Edited May 2, 2019
The German Spitz is an affectionate and smart dog that loves to be with its pack. Their playful and curious energy is ideal both for families and individuals.
Whether they sound off to alert you to the presence of a rabbit on the front lawn or playing hide and seek with one of your shoes, any owner would love the mischievous type of humor that these tiny Spitz bring.
The name of the German Spitz gives a pretty good idea as to its origins. However, their history is not that simple. Spitz type dogs are considered one of the oldest dog types, if not the oldest.
Telltale features of these dogs can be found in a myriad of breeds. Just because they may be lacking “Spitz” in the title doesn’t mean that they don’t also hail from this ancient type of dog.
These dogs have been utilized for a variety of tasks, from the stone age to the present. These dogs, unlike some others whose instincts were diverted into fields that they’d be useful in, are thought to have been bred to be less animal.
The German Spitz was meant to be a companion and a useful farm dog. However, their personality and physique show that they were much more successful in the latter.
Germany was once made up of multiple kingdoms and feudal states, rather than the unified country we know today. In each of these kingdoms, it would not be a hard task to find one of these Spitz.
They were used for herding livestock, as well as watchdogs. Some trading caravans would have these dogs watch their goods and warn of the presence of strangers by barking. Due to the versatility of the breed on top of its already famous reputation, these dogs were everywhere.
As a result of their popularity, the consistency of the breed became hard to maintain. Some were smaller than others, some had different coat colors, and they all often went by the same name. This confusion is likely the reason for why there are both German Spitz type dogs and the singular breed.
As the size differences became more established, the Germans named them accordingly. The larger ones being the Wolfspitz or the Grossespitz, with the smaller ones being called Kleinspitz or Mittelspitz.
The breed reached its peak of popularity when it became a favorite of the English royalty in the 18th century. When adopted by the English, however, it was referred to as a Pomeranian.
This was because of the misconception that they came from a place called Pommern when realistically they could be found throughout Europe. Queen Victoria was also a supporter of the breed, more in favor of the smaller Spitz.
With their usefulness as a farm and watchdog paired with their popularity as companions, the population of the German Spitz and its subsets continued to increase.
These dogs grew in number likely until the eruption of World War 1. Dog breeds throughout Europe were ravaged by this conflict, especially those within Germany.
The economic hardship that the people faced meant that companion dogs were not the priority. Had the breed not been so useful in other practical applications, it’s likely that there would be even fewer.
World War 2 was no exception for this breed and many others. On top of their unfortunate situation in their home country, there was a lot of disdain for Germany and its people at the time. Anything tha
had to do with the country was frowned upon or met with understandable reluctance. It was around this period that the German Spitz made its way into the US. The dogs that made it to the new world were renamed to the American Eskimo dog, reiterating the hatred towards Germany.
Despite the hard times that were faced by the breed in the early 20th century, they apparently bounced back to be what they are known as today. The economic boom that the US experienced after the war meant that the Eskimo dog, as well as the Spitz, saw an increase in numbers.
Now that people could afford to have dogs again, many breeds slowly began to recover from the population dip of the two world wars.
Despite never having been registered as an official breed in the AKC due to its myriad of sizes and appearances, the German Spitz is recorded in the AKC Foundation Stock Service.
The German Spitz is a tried and tested breed, whose companionship and versatility has stood the trials of time. They are known to be playful, bouncing and happy dogs.
They love to be with their pack, enjoying spending time playing with their owners or fellow canines. As a result, they don’t like to be left alone and tend to have separation anxiety.
These dogs are great for families with kids, so long as they are raised and trained properly. Their size is ideal for this, as it’s doubtful that they could accidentally injure a child.
It’s ideal to have the dog raised with the kids, as it will make them more familiar and comfortable around them. This being said, it’s important that any small children are supervised and taught how to play with the dog appropriately.
This breed can get to be a bit mischievous when left to its own devices, especially when they’ve been cooped up in the house all day.
Daily exercise will not only keep these dogs healthy, but it will help quell some of the anxious energy that they can build up and take out of your household. Something as simple as a walk is enough to keep them at bay, helping to create a happier healthier dog at the same time.
The German Spitz tends to be a direct reflection of its owner’s treatment. The best way to get a Spitz to be kind to you is to be kind to it. This is very important in the training process, as it’s ideal to reward good behavior rather than punish mistakes.
Consistency is important with these dogs as well, as they are smart enough to sniff out weaknesses in their owners.
These Spitz are known to be hospitable towards strangers and friends of the family when socialized properly.
This being said, it’s hard to thoroughly train out their natural suspicion towards unfamiliar faces, as their instinct tells them to be wary and alert.
A Spitz that trusts its owner, however, will trust their judgment with people too, and will likely be playing with any guest as soon as it feels comfortable.
Socialization is key to this, as the more experience they have with unfamiliar faces, sights and sounds, the less anxious they will feel in new situations.
On top of being hospitable towards strangers, these dogs can coexist very well with fellow canines and pets.
They don’t have a high prey drive, so small pets tend to be left unbothered by these dogs. It’s ideal to have a Spitz raised with other dogs rather than have it be introduced to them as an adult, as they are very aware of who is in their pack.
Sharing the house with other dogs is also a great way to manifest some of that anxious energy that would otherwise be thrown into destroying your furniture.
The German Spitz doesn’t have a very strong prey drive. However, it’s still a dog. It’s important that they have some sort of enclosure to prevent them from chasing a squirrel into the street.
Using an electric fence is applicable, and their size makes this easy, as they have much less tolerance for pain. Some owners will opt for a physical fence, but it is not necessary with this breed.
These dogs tend to be fairly easy to train, as their intelligence allows them to pick up on things quickly. That being said, it’s all about the owner’s approach to the training process.
The German Spitz needs a pack leader, as without one they may assume the position themselves. If these dogs are given the opportunity to take charge, the training process will become much more difficult.
This breed is known to be fairly vocal, with evidence of this being found in their historical position as watch dogs. They will alert their owner to any changes in their environment, and this can be a nuisance to some.
For apartment living, it’s very important to condition them to not bark at every little thing. It’s ideal that they live in a somewhat sparsely populated area, as any sort of city will only provide them with more things to bark at or be anxious about.
The German Spitz is not known to be a difficult dog to groom. Their small bodies are covered in a double layer coat, and they are not heavy shedders for the majority of the year.
They still require regular brushing, however, and it is recommended that they are brushed 1-2 times a week. These dogs are known to shed fairly nominally and do not have too much of smell. They only need bathed when needed, or at least every other month.
It’s important that a German Spitz has its teeth brushed along with its hair. While fresh breath for dogs isn’t precisely a priority, dental health absolutely is.
Smaller dogs are more prone to dental issues, so it is essential that the proper dental care is provided. Regular brushing will remove plaque, keep breath fresh, and prevent tartar buildup. It’s recommended that they have their teeth brushed 2-3 times a week.
All dogs need to have their nails cared for. While some breeds tend to file down their nails naturally through play, most require this important part of the breeding process.
If a dog’s nails become too long, they may become uncomfortable and irksome to them.
Most Spitzes will need their nails clipped at least once a month. A telltale sign of long nails is when they can be heard clicking against the ground as the dog moves.
Checking and cleaning a dog’s ears is an important part of the grooming process as well. Dogs with more open ears, such as the Spitz, have less of an issue due to the greater amount of airflow they get.
This being said, it’s important to check and clean a dog’s ears at least once a week. This will remove excess wax, as well as any bacteria or things that may have managed to get caught inside.
The German Spitz is an all around healthy dog, with many breeds of their size boasting a relatively long lifespan of 13-15 years. Dogs are like people, however, and they can get just as sick. This being said, some breeds are more prone to certain diseases and conditions than others.
Prevention is by far the best medicine. A dog’s healthy lifestyle will be reflected in their absence of health issues, meaning a dog with an unhealthy lifestyle is, of course, more bound to be afflicted. While it’s possible that they will not be affected by any one of these conditions, it’s still important to be aware of them when purchasing a German Spitz:
This is not the absolute max of health issues that the breed may be affected by, as all dogs are at risk of things like ticks and fleas. These are just a few of the conditions that the breed itself is prone to.
On top of maintaining good health practices with the dog, it’s important that purebred dogs are purchased from a reputable breeder.
Any good breeder will know the breed inside and out, being capable of answering any questions you may have.
They should also be capable of passing health checks for their dogs, as bad breeders will try to suggest that their dogs are an exception.
Having been so popular with Queen Victoria, they were at one point referred to as “Victorian Poms,” named according to their misnomer and royal aficionado.
National Breed Club: http://www.gsboc.co.uk/