Huskies. Shiba Inus. Chow Chows. What do all these canine companions have in common? They’re all Spitz breed dogs. These ancient dog breeds have been man’s best friend for thousands of years—and it shows in these animals’ temperament, skills, and intelligence. Yet, there are some things new parents need to know before taking one of these poofy pals home.
Spitz breed dogs are fiercely independent, sometimes known as “one-human” pets. Still, by knowing what to expect, one can create the perfect forever home for their four-legged friend.
What Are Some Spitz Dog Breeds?
Before we get into the five things dog owners should know about spitz breeds, it’s helpful to know what these breeds are in the first place. Spitz dogs are:
- Chow Chows
- Shiba Inus
- Alaskan Klee Kais
- Shar Peis
This, of course, is not an exhaustive list.
Spitz Dog Breeds Have a Distinct Look
The American Kennel Club (AKC) reports that Spitz breeds originated from Russia, Scandinavia, Asia, and North America. The word “spitz” is actually German for “pointed,” which perfectly matches these fluffy, wolf-like companions.
While each spitz breed looks different, some common traits they all share include:
- Sharp ears
- Narrow muzzles
- Thick double coats
- Curly tails
- Stocky bodies
- Almond-shaped eyes
Some Spitz dogs do have distinct traits, however. For instance, some Chow Chows have purple/bluish tongues. Huskies are famously known for heterochromia, meaning they have two different colored eyes. Spitz mixes have slight variations, but these dogs have been around for thousands of years. So, when they parent puppies, their offspring generally take after them.
Spitz Breeds Are Bold and Independent
First things first: every dog has its own personality, so dog parents should take what comes next with a grain of salt. The AKC notes that spitz dogs are very independent, sometimes difficult to train. Yet, this independence is why many people swear by these companions. Chow chows, for instance, are fairly low maintenance when it comes to stimulation. The same goes for Shiba Inus, the “cats” of the dog world.
Will a spitz dog breed love its owner? Of course! Spitz dogs are extremely loyal, sometimes even risking their own lives to defend their owners. However, will a spitz dog curl up in someone’s lap the day it gets home from the shelter? Maybe––but odds are, it’ll need to warm up before it officially claims the couch.
Spitz Dogs Have Strong Prey Drives
And yes, this goes for the pint-sized Pomeranian, too. But what exactly is a prey drive? Is it a bad thing? The fact, all dogs have prey drives; it’s just part of being a dog. They all have the instinct to chase and catch small animals, just like they would in the wild. Some dogs see squirrels and don’t bat an eyelash. Others (like huskies) would go to the ends of the earth to catch a cat.
Here's what spitz owners should know about prey drives:
- Not all spitz dogs do well with small companions. Spitz dogs are known for being very territorial, meaning they don’t share their space willingly with others. This could make them “act out” with cats, small dogs, and, to some extent, children.
- Be cautious at dog parks. This goes for every dog owner. Yet, knowing that spitz dogs can be aggressive with smaller animals, dog parents should be especially vigilant of their dogs’ behavior around unfamiliar friends. They should take note of raised hackles, snarls, and growls when encountering other dogs.
- Spitz dogs sometimes chow down on rodents. Some spitz dogs look at rats, mice, and rabbits as snacks. If a dog eats a rodent, the owner should monitor their pet carefully for any troubling signs, like lethargy and vomiting. If they notice these symptoms, they should consult their local vet.
Spitz Dogs Make Great Bodyguards
Live alone in a seedy part of town? Like going for long walks at night? Spitz breeds are perfect for both situations. That’s because they’re naturally (and, to some extent, bred) to be territorial. Huskies and Samoyeds, for example, are closely related to wolves, which can claim anywhere from 50 to 1,000 square miles of wilderness. Chow chows were bred to guard monasteries in Mongolia and Tibet, making them professional watchdogs.
It's worth noting that dogs don’t always get it right. They may defend their territory when meeting well-intentioned strangers, for instance. In these situations, owners should be mindful of their dog’s behavior and slowly introduce them to newcomers. Spitz dogs aren’t aggressive, but they’ll do anything to protect their person - even if that means throwing hands (or, in this case, paws).
Spitz Dogs Need Grooming Once a Week
Because spitz dogs originate from cold climates, they have double coats, which regulate their body temperature. These coats need a lot of maintenance, primarily a good once-a-week brushing. Pomeranian parents might even opt for once-a-month bathing and shampooing in addition to weekly brushing sessions.
It’s important to regularly groom a spitz dog breed because:
- They shed a lot, leaving tumbleweeds of hair throughout the house.
- Their fur could get matted or tangled, looking unsightly.
- Ungroomed double coats might not regulate their body temperature properly.
- Ungroomed fur could lead to skin problems.
Spitz dogs are great companions for owners who want big personalities in their pets. By knowing some simple things about these guys, one can enjoy their fluffy friend for years to come.