This article also relates to: American Eskimo Dog, German Spitz (Klein), German Spitz (Mittel) and Japanese Spitz
The German Spitz Klein and the German Spitz Mittel are two distinctions of the oldest dog type, with fossil remains and ancient records indicating that the Spitz dates back to the early Stone Age. This is contested by modern genetic evidence, which places the Spitz in an even older lineage. The breed was traditionally developed to guard property and protect its masters. The Chow Chow and Akita can be traced back to the Spitz family, despite being classed as separate varieties. Introduced to the United States by German immigrants, the German Spitz was entitled the 'American Eskimo Dog' in 1917 due to anti-German feeling during WWI, and was categorized as a non-sporting 'utility' breed by the American Kennel Club. In the 20th century, it was also widely employed as a circus performer.
Perhaps the only immediate difference between the Spitz Klein and the Spitz Mittel is size-related, with the Mittel being slightly larger than its brother. Otherwise, there should be no notable distinctions between the two variations, in shape or in characteristics. No restrictions are placed on colour, with common variations seen in white with cream or biscuit markings. The German Spitz is classified by three sizes, including Standard, Toy and Miniature. Boasting a proportioned body with a thick, double coat, straight legs, a high-set, plumed and curled tail, and triangular ears. The Spitz is a notorious barker, in line with its guarding heritage, so training from an early age is essential with this breed.
Independent-minded, vigilant and agile, the modern Spitz maintains its original characteristics, inclining it to guard and protect. This by no means suggests the breed is anything but gentle, affectionate and mannered with its family, devoted to children and obedient to instruction. The average weight of a healthy German Spitz will vary depending on its size, although it can be anywhere between 2.5-16 kg, with a relatively long life expectancy of 15 years. It is not uncommon for a Spitz to outlive this expectancy when cared for accordingly.
Typically healthy, resilient and long-lived, the German Spitz is not prone to any known genetic diseases. As with any breed, the Spitz might be susceptible to hip dysplasia, skin allergies and optical disorders. As a breed it gains weight easily, so feeding human foods is not encouraged for this reason.