The American Eskimo Dog is a small spitz-type dog with a long, puffball-like coat that is usually solid white, although a light biscuit cream color is also possible. They were developed in Germany as a watchdog, and they tend to have an outgoing but protective nature. These little dogs are particularly talented at agility and performance related activities, especially those types of activities that allow them to work cooperatively with their owner or trainer. Their tendency towards showmanship and their bright white coats made them highly sought after as circus performers and helped to increase this dog breed’s exposure as they were spread throughout the United States by means of traveling circuses.
The average American Eskimo dog tends to be very sure-footed and is able to quickly and easily navigate most obstacles. They enjoy learning new tricks and are able to pick up complicated routines with very little difficulty, characteristics that made them sought after as circus performers in the 19th century. It was in the Barnum and Bailey Circus that an Eskie by the name of Stout’s Pal Pierre became the first dog ever to walk a tightrope. The same characteristics that allowed them to travel the United States as treasured circus stars also make them excellent candidates for agility training, both casual and competitive.
The American Eskimo dog breed is an energetic little dog with a natural bounce in their step; they are rarely if ever timid, and they tend to be quick in both mind and body. If these clever and active canines are not given a sufficient outlet for their high mental and physical energy, they can develop negative behaviors such as bossiness, destructive chewing, and problem barking. While some dogs might balk at the idea of jumping over a wildly whirling rope, most American Eskimo dogs will take to it rather well with a little thought and patience, and this is definitely an activity that gives the dogs a mental and physical workout.
Eskimo dogs became popular in the United States partially due to their popularity
as circus dogs. This was due to both their white
coats that shone brightly under the spotlight and their well-established
behavioral traits. Many of the traits that help the American Eskimo breed
to excel at agility training and competitions make them excellent candidates
for advanced or competitive obedience
lessons as well. These dogs are generally outgoing and rarely shy away from attention;
their overall friendliness and willingness to please coupled with a high level of
intelligence and a typically alert disposition make them well-suited to either endeavor.
While many American Eskimo Dogs are too small to safely pull a human behind them, some of the larger Eskies, those over thirty-five pounds, may be able to enjoy this winter sport, particularly if they are able to work in teams of two.
While American Eskimo dogs look very much like a sledding dog, they were not often used in that capacity. These dogs were usually used as watchdogs to protect both people and property, but Eskies are also very capable herding dogs with a strong herding instinct. This may give these little white dogs an advantage at a newer dog sport by the name of Treibball, in which inflated spheres are “herded” by the dog to a specified spot.
Eskies have many traits that give them an advantage when performing Canine Freestyle, traits such as agility, a flexible mind, and a willingness to please. They are better able to improvise than many breeds if the need arises, and they shine when they have an appreciative audience.