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Princess Ludovika of Bavaria (1808–1892), mother of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, holding a spitz dog

Spitz (derived from the German word spitz 'pointed') is a type of domestic dog characterized by long, thick, and often white fur, and pointed ears and muzzles. The tail often curls over the dog's back or droops. Smaller breeds resemble foxes, while larger breeds resemble wolves.

The exact origins of spitz dogs are not known, though most of the spitzes seen today originate from the Arctic region or Siberia.[1] The type was described as Canis pomeranus by Johann Friedrich Gmelin in his revision of Systema Naturae in 1788.[2]


Spitzes are well suited to living in harsh northern climates. They often have an insulating, waterproof undercoat that is denser than the topcoat to trap warmth. Small, upright ears help to reduce the risk of frostbite, square proportions and thick fur that grows on the paws protects the dogs from sharp ice. Many spitz breeds, like the Japanese Akita and Chow Chow, retain wolf-like characteristics like independence, suspiciousness, and aggression towards unfamiliar humans and other dogs, and they require much training and socialization when they are puppies before they become manageable in an urban environment. Some, such as the Karelian Bear Dog, are more difficult to train as companion dogs. Some breeds, such as the Pomeranian, have manes. Several spitz breeds (such as huskies) are bred for one purpose only. However it is common for many spitz breeds (such as the Russian laikas) to be general purpose dogs in their native lands, used for hunting, hauling, herding, and guarding.[3]

Companions and toys[edit]

Spitzes, with their thick fur, fluffy ruffs, curled tails and small muzzles and ears, have been bred into non-working dogs designed to be companions or lap dogs. This trend is most evident in the tiny Pomeranian, which was originally a much larger dog closer to the size of a Keeshond before being bred down to make an acceptable court animal.

The Keeshond, the Wolfspitz variety of the German Spitz, is an affectionate, loyal, and very energetic pet that was bred as a watchdog for barges (hence the name Dutch Barge Dog). Often, these breeds are recognized for their "smiling" mouths. Other spitzes that have been bred away from working uses are the American Eskimo Dog, Alaskan Klee Kai, German Spitz, Volpino Italiano and Japanese Spitz.[4]

Spitz breeds[edit]

Sled dogs[edit]

Alaskan husky Alaskan Husky-tb20080501-cropped.jpg Origin: Alaska, United States Alaskan Malamute Alaskan Malamute.jpg Origin: Alaska, United States
Canadian Eskimo Dog Spoonsced.jpg Origin: Northern Canada Greenland Dog Greenland Dog.jpg Origin: Greenland
Mackenzie River husky MackenzieRiverHusky.jpg Origin: Alaska, United States Samoyed Samoyed dog Origin: Northwest Russia and Western Siberia
Siberian Husky Black-Magic-Big-Boy.jpg Origin: Siberia, Russia Yakutian Laika Yl01.jpg Origin: the Sakha Republic

Hunting dogs[edit]

Black Norwegian Elkhound BlackNorwegianElkhound.jpg Origin: Norway East Siberian Laika East Siberian Laika.jpg Origin: east of the Yenisei River
Finnish Spitz Finnish Spitz 600.jpg Origin: Finland Hällefors Elkhound Hades Mosshult Hälleforsare.jpg Origin: Svealand, Sweden
Hokkaido Hokkaidou inu.jpg Origin: Hokkaido, Japan Jindo Peeb the Korea Jindo Dog.jpg Origin: Jindo, South Korea
Kai Ken Kai-front.jpg Origin: Japan Karelian Bear Dog Karelski pies na niedźwiedzie sylwetka.JPG Origin: Karelia
Karelo-Finnish Laika Karelo-Finnish Laika (Lambert).JPG Origin: Karelia Kishu Ken Yama-Mochi.Male.Female.KishuInu.jpg Origin: Japan
Norrbottenspets Nordic Spitz.jpg Origin: Norrbotten, Sweden Norwegian Elkhound Norwegian Elkhound.jpg Origin: Norway
Norwegian Lundehund Lundehund-2003.jpg Origin: Norway Pungsan dog Poongsandogs.JPG Origin: North Korea
Russo-European Laika Russo European Laika 2.jpg Origin: European Russia Shiba Inu Taka Shiba.jpg Origin: Japan
Shikoku Shikokuken.jpg Origin: Shikoku, Japan Swedish Elkhound Jämthund.jpg Origin: Jämtland, Sweden
Swedish White Elkhound Swedish White Elkhound.jpg Origin: Jämtland, Sweden Taiwan Dog Formosan nina.jpg Origin: Taiwan
West Siberian Laika West Siberian Laika.jpg Origin: Russia

Herding dogs[edit]

Finnish Lapphund Finnish Lapphund Glenchess Revontuli.jpg Origin: Lapland, Finland|- Icelandic Sheepdog Icelandic Sheepdog Alisa von Lehenberg.jpg Origin: Iceland
Lapponian Herder Lapskvallhund.jpg Origin: Finland Nenets Herding Laika Ненецкая лайка 7 Origin: Russia
Norwegian Buhund Norwegian Buhund 600.jpg Origin: Norway Swedish Lapphund Svensk lapphund.JPG Origin: Lapland, Sweden
Swedish Vallhund Västgötaspets hane 5 år.jpg Origin: Västergötland Dikkulak Origin: Turkey
Pembroke Welsh Corgi Welchcorgipembroke.JPG Origin: Wales

Asian breeds[edit]

Akita Fels.jpg Origin: Akita and Odate, Japan Chow Chow ChowChow2Szczecin.jpg Origin: China
Donggyeongi Donggyeongi Origin: Korea Indian Spitz Indian spitz adult.JPG Origin: India
Japanese Spitz JapaneseSpitzPhoto1 - hiro.jpg Origin: Japan Jeju dog Jeju Island, South Korea
Kintamani Kintamani dog black.jpg Origin: Kintamani, Bali, Indonesia Nureonji Origin: Korea
Shar Pei Gorda - 100.jpg Origin: Guangdong, China Thai Bangkaew Dog บางแก้ว.jpg Origin: Bang Rakam District, Phitsanulok Province, Thailand

Companion dogs[edit]

Alaskan Klee Kai WOWAKK-Kukai-Alaskan-Klee-Kai.jpg Origin: Alaska, United States Mittelspitz Goldilocks.gif Origin: Germany
American Eskimo Dog American Eskimo Dog 1.jpg Origin: Germany Pomeranian Pomeranian.JPG Origin: Pomerania, Germany
Danish Spitz Danskspids.jpg Origin: Denmark Northern Inuit Dog NImale.jpg Origin: United Kingdom
Eurasier Eurasier BailyWtatze.jpg Origin: Weinheim, Germany Schipperke Schipperke0001.jpg Origin: Belgium
Grossspitz German Spitz Portrait.jpg Origin: Germany Tonya Finosu Tonya Finosu 03.png Origin: Turkey
Keeshond Keeshond Majic standing cropped.jpg Origin: Netherlands Volpino Italiano Szpic miniaturowy Volpino MWPR Katowice 2008 (cropped).JPG Origin: Italy
Kleinspitz Wiki Münchie!!.jpg Origin: Germany

Extinct breeds[edit]

Hare Indian Dog Hareindiandog.jpg Origin: Canada Sakhalin Husky Sakhalin Husky Jiro.JPG Origin: Sakhalin, Russia
Salish Wool Dog PaulKane - A Woman Weaving a Blanket (ROM2005 5163).jpg Origin: North America Tahltan Bear Dog Tahltan Bear Dog sketch2.jpg Origin: British Columbia, Canada


  1. ^ "Spitz or Northern Group - Dog Breeds". Archived from the original on 2010-05-15.
  2. ^ Linnaeus, C. (translated and revised by R. Kerr). 1792. The Animal Kingdom; or, zoological system of the celebrated Sir Charles Linnaeus. Class I. Mammalia and Class II. Birds. Being a translation of that part of the Systema Naturae, as lately published with great improvements by Professor Gmelin, together with numerous additions from more recent zoological writers and illustrated with copperplates. J. Murray, London, 644 pp.
  3. ^ Presberg, Carole (2014). "Herding Dogs of Asia: Russian Siberia". www.bordercolliemuseum.org. Retrieved 2022-02-12.
  4. ^ Gest, Jason (January 2016). "What Is a Spitz Type Dog?". Cute Pomsky. Retrieved 4 January 2016.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Spitz at Wikimedia Commons