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The German spitz is an adaptive, friendly dog who can thrive in the smallest apartment or in a home with vast acreage—all she cares about is you being by her side.
Though ready to make herself comfortable in any home, the German spitz is an energetic and highly intelligent dog that needs to keep her little paws moving. If you can keep her from getting bored, she'll be a cuddly, bouncy companion.
When you see a German spitz at your local dog park, you may first think she's a tiny keeshond or a big Pomeranian—and you wouldn't necessarily be wrong.
Jerry Klein, chief veterinary officer for the American Kennel Club, says the Federation Cynologique Internaionale (FCI) recognizes German spitz dogs in five sizes: toy, klein (miniature), mittel (medium), giant (grosspitz), and wolfspitz. In the U.S., only two sizes—klein and mittel—are recognized. Toy German spitz are known stateside as Pomeranians and the wolfspitz are keeshonden.
The U.S.'s mittel and klein German spitz stand between 12–15 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 24–26 pounds. The German spitz has a stand-up coat, supported by a soft, woolly undercoat. Her mane-like collar, called a ruff, lends an air of regality to her appearance.
The German spitz's coloring varies, with coats in black, white, brown, cream, red, gray, and even parti-color. Her small, triangular ears are always at attention, seemingly listening to her owner's every word (and waiting for the magic phrase: "Let's go on a walk!").
A German spitz is energetic, intelligent, adaptive, friendly, loyal, and independent—all part of what makes her a terrific part of the family.
"The spitz is lively, observant, and walks with a spring in their step," says Stacy Choczynski Johnson, DVM, veterinary expert with Pumpkin Pet Insurance. "They are excellent family dogs because they become very attached to their owners and tend to [alert] their homes [to] strangers."
These energetic, happy dogs love to use their big brains to learn new things, and they take to training quickly. As with all dogs, it's best to socialize your German spitz puppy and begin training her early on so she adapts to new environments, people, and situations. A well-trained, well-socialized spitz will confidently take on the world and be able to share her home with cats and other dogs, too.
Whether in an urban apartment, in a house in the suburbs, or on sprawling acreage out in the countryside, as long as she's with you, your German spitz will be happy. Wherever she is, her adaptability will make her feel right at home.
And while a German spitz needs exercise like every other dog, that doesn't mean she'll need to jog beside you for miles on end (that is, unless you'd like her to). She'll be happy expending her energy indoors, whether playing games like hide and seek, chasing her favorite toy, or learning new tricks. She'll also be a star student in agility class!
Because of her energetic attitude and super smarts, a German spitz can easily become bored if she doesn't have enough to do. And that boredom can turn into undesirable behaviors, sometimes taken out on your couch cushions or through incessant barking. So if you ever leave her alone for a few hours at a time, make sure she has plenty of puzzles and dog toys to keep her busy.
These playful pups will also make great playmates for kiddos, but, as with all dogs, children should be supervised around animals and taught how to properly interact with pets.
The German spitz's coat does require a bit of care, but if you keep up with grooming, upkeep can be simple. Her double coat sheds twice a year—about two to three weeks each time—and you will want to brush her daily to remove the old coat and prevent her hair from landing all over your clothes and furniture. In the time between shedding seasons, a quick brush every other day should keep knots and mats at bay as will a deeper grooming weekly. The upside to all this brushing: fewer baths, which will no longer be necessary.
And while it can be tempting to shave off your spitz's thick coat in the summer (these pups don't exactly thrive in the heat), think again before you grab those clippers. As a double-coated dog, that fur provides natural insulating qualities in the heat and cold. So giving your spitz a haircut could actually make her more uncomfortable.
As with all dogs, take the time at home to ensure your German spitz's ears are free of infection with regular cleaning. You should also trim her nails and brush her teeth often.
With their high level of intelligence and loyalty to their owners, German spitzes pick up training basics quickly. Consistent and positive reinforcement training throughout her life will help her be polite and well-behaved.
German spitz dogs have a lifespan of 13–15 years and are generally healthy pets. But, as with all breeds, there are a few health concerns spitz parents need to be aware of.
"The spitz is prone to patellar luxation, an orthopedic condition that tends to impact smaller dogs," says Choczynski Johnson. "With this disease, the kneecap slides out of its natural groove causing an intermittent or constant lameness. When manipulating the knee, a 'popping' sensation when the patella moves outside of its normal anatomic location is noticeable.
"The spitz may also develop retinal diseases, including progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and retinal dysplasia," Choczynski Johnson adds. "Dogs with PRA will experience a gradual loss of vision caused by a degeneration in the photoreceptor layer in the back of the eye. Retinal dysplasia, on the other hand, can be detected in young puppies."
As your pup ages, be sure to consult your veterinarian if you suspect she is developing either of these conditions.
Aside from these potential conditions, your German spitz should visit the vet for regular checkups and vaccinations. You'll also want to talk to your vet about flea and tick prevention, either seasonally or year-round, depending on where you live.
The German spitz's ancestry dates back 6,000 years to the first Stone Age when spitz-type dogs were associated with the era's hunter-gatherers. In the centuries since, German spitz dogs became beloved for their alert nature and sharp bark—fishermen and traders took the spitz on their boats and wagons to work as watchdogs, and on farms they were used to warn of intruders.
The breed went from being a working dog to a companion dog when they caught the eye of Queen Charlotte and Queen Victoria. It was here, when the dogs were exported to other countries, that the Pomeranian and keeshond were recognized as separate breeds.
The German spitz declined in popularity at the beginning of World War I, but the mid-1970s marked their comeback. And though she's not yet officially registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC), the German spitz has been accepted into the organization's Foundation Stock Service.
- German spitz dogs are descendants of the Stone Age Peat Dogs, according to the FCI standard.
- The German spitz is considered to be the oldest dog breed in Central Europe from which other breeds were produced, according to the American Pomeranian Club.