Traits, Personality and Behavior
The Eskie twinkles up at you with a keen, alert expression. He loves to have a good time and is always ready for an adventure. His curious and comical nature is sure to make you laugh several times a day. He is sensitive and dislikes discord among family members. Don't argue in front of him; he won't like it.
He bonds deeply to his people, but he is not necessarily the best choice for a family with young children. He can be impatient with being hugged or manhandled and skittish at being approached too quickly. He's wary of strangers and makes an excellent watchdog. Sometimes, he's too good a watchdog. It's not unusual for him to become a nuisance barker.
Train the Eskie with patience and consistency and he will be surprisingly responsive. For best results, use positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play and food rewards.
Brush the Eskie's thick double coat a couple of times a week to prevent or remove mats and tangles. Plan to brush it more often when he's shedding to keep loose hair off your clothes and furniture. You'll need a slicker brush, pin brush and metal Greyhound comb. Bathe the Eskie about every three months. In addition, trim the nails as needed, brush the teeth, and keep the ears clean and dry to prevent infections.
Last but not least, it should go without saying that a people-loving dog like the American Eskimo needs to live in the house. It's an unhappy Eskie who is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship.
Variations of the American Eskimo
The Eskie is active and requires daily exercise, more so for the standard (20 to 40 pounds) and mini (11 to 20 pounds) than the toy (6 to 10 pounds). He loves to run and will enjoy long walks and hikes. Toy Eskies and mini Eskies on the small side will be fine with a shorter walk or active play in the yard. Any of them can be super competitors in dog sports such as agility, obedience and rally.
Health Issues Common to American Eskimos
All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
American Eskimo Dogs have some health conditions that can be a concern, especially if you aren't cautious about whom you buy from. They include hip dysplasia and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).
The American Eskimo Dog Club of America, which is the American Kennel Club parent organization for the breed in the United States, participates in the Canine Health Information Center Program. For an Eskie to achieve CHIC certification, he must have an OFA hip clearance, an OFA DNA test for PRA, and an eye clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation. Tests that are recommended but not requires are OFA clearances for the heart, elbows, knees and thyroid, plus an evaluation for Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database. You can check CHIC's website to see if a breeder's dogs have these certifications.
Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.
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5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy American Eskimo Puppy
Finding a good breeder is more important than finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. For a list of breeders, visit the website of the American Eskimo Dog Club of America.
Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Sometimes health problems aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an adult dog, most of them can be ruled out. Eskies can live 12 to 14 years, so an adult dog will still be a part of your family for a long time to come.
Puppy or adult, take your American Eskimo to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You're more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to housetrain puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.
Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Pet Insurance for American Eskimos
Pet insurance for American Eskimos costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because American Eskimos are much more likely than mixed breed dogs to require claims for genetic conditions that are expensive to treat.
Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which American Eskimos are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your American Eskimo is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.