40 Spitz Dog Breeds That Like to Be Cool

More than a curly tail unites this unique set of dogs

Spitz type dog breed walking in field

Mirza Graphy / 500px

Have you ever heard someone call their dog a “spitz"? A spitz dog isn’t a breed but a classification of many dog breeds with similar features—many hailing from colder regions, equipped with insulating fur.

This description sometimes gets blurred between certain breeds, making the exact number of spitz breeds impossible to nail down. However, according to breeds registered with the American Kennel Club, the United Kennel Club, and the international organization (FCI), there are about 50 to 70 spitz dog breeds. Including large and small breeds, some of these dogs are bred for hard work and others are bred for hardly working—instead they prefer to snuggle up as a companion dog.

Tip

Spitzes are double-coated dogs, and they shed profusely. Some drop their undercoat once or twice a year, and they will still drop hairs in between these shedding periods throughout the year. The best way to manage the dust bunnies around the house is regularly using a deshedding tool or ordering a deshedding service from a groomer.

Breed Characteristics

Features that unite this dog type include a wolf-like or foxy appearance with pointy ears, curled tails, almond-shaped eyes, and thick coats. With their double coats and curled tails, many are bred to be able to handle cold weather conditions and often originated in regions that experience harsh winters. A curled tail helps to protect them from cold weather. The coiled tail usually rests on their lower back or backside, helping to keep the heat in and making them less likely to catch a chill while outside or away from home for long periods of time.

Here are 40 spitz dog breeds that range from recognizable to very rare.

  • 01 of 40

    Keeshond

    Keeshound dog portrait


    Daniela Duncan / Getty Images

    The Keeshond is a kind, friendly, people-loving dog known for its beautifully unique “spectacle” facial markings. They are native to Holland and were kept as guard dogs and companions on the barges that sailed through the waterways. The Keeshond also sports a thick frill of fur that covers the shoulders and chest. You can find their thick coats in varying shades of gray, black, cream, or a combination.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Non-Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 17 to 18 inches

    Weight: 35 to 45 pounds

    Coat and Color: Famous “spectacle” markings around the eyes; very thick double topcoat, wooly, undercoat, and long outer coat; comes in cream, black, and gray color variations

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • 02 of 40

    Siberian Husky

    Siberian husky spitz dog breed


    Jan-Stefan Knick / EyeEm

    The Siberian husky is one of the most famously known spitz dog breeds. Its wolf-like appearance runs strong, and seeing this working dog running through the frozen wilderness of its home makes you do a double-take—was that a wolf? The Siberian husky was bred for companionship and work, making them a great family dog for those who are up to their intense exercise requirements.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 20 to 24 inches

    Weight: 35 to 60 pounds

    Coat and Color: Eye color is typically blue or brown (or one of each); double-layered coat can be black, gray, red, brown, tan, or white.

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • 03 of 40

    Icelandic Sheepdog

    Icelandic sheepdog standing on snowy hill


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    The Icelandic sheepdog is Iceland’s only native dog breed, making it a well-loved favorite. These happy, playful dogs are on the smaller end, topping out at 18 inches tall. Their ancestors traveled to Iceland with Norse settlers. Bred for herding sheep and ponies, these dogs were the forefathers of the modern Iceland sheepdog we know now.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding (AKC)

    Height: 16 to 18 inches

    Weight: 25 to 30 pounds

    Coat and Colors: Waterproof double thick coat, which can be short or long, and in a variety of colors: fawn, cream, chocolate, black, and gray; all variations have white markings and sometimes have a black mask

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 04 of 40

    Pomeranian

    Pomeranian dog outside walking


    ShutterRunner.com (Matty Wolin) / Getty Images

    Not all spitz dog breeds are big and wolf-like. The Pomeranian is a toy dog breed that is no larger than 7 pounds. Though these tiny fluff balls lack wolf-like sizing, they still sport the famous pointed ears, long snout, and curled tail. Don’t let these tiny pups fool you. They may be small, but they have big personalities. They are playful, bold, and intelligent, making great family dogs and watchdogs.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Toy (AKC)

    Height: 6 to 7 inches

    Weight: 3 to 7 pounds

    Coat and Color: Thick coat with an abundant frill of fur that covers the shoulders and chest; colors include white, black, blue, red, cream, gray-shaded, tan, orange, brown

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years

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  • 05 of 40

    Samoyed

    Samoyed dog portrait


    zhao hui / Getty Images

    The Samoyed’s arctic roots clearly show in its dense, white fur and sled-pulling, hunting, and herding history. These gorgeous white dogs are pack-oriented and form close bonds with their people. They are kind, hard-working, social, and loyal. Famous for their permanent smile, these pups have a friendly personality to match.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 19 to 24 inches

    Weight: 35 to 50 pounds (female); 45 to 65 pounds (male)

    Coat and Color: Medium-sized dog with a strong build and very dense, white fur for keeping warm; mouths are upturned in a permanent “smile"

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 06 of 40

    Shiba Inu

    Shiba Inu standing outside

    Eric Van der Veken / 500px

    The shiba inu originated in Japan as a hunting dog. This spitz breed is Japan’s most popular companion dog. They are loyal, bold, and confident. However, they are independent and strong-willed and can form very close bonds with their people. The shiba inu boasts a fox-like appearance—red color and all. They also come in black and tan-colored coats.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Non-Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 13 to 17 inches

    Weight: 17 to 23 pounds

    Coat and Color: Dense coat can be red, black, and tan, or black and sesame with white markings

    Life Expectancy: 13 to 16 years

  • 07 of 40

    Chow Chow

    Chow chow spitz dog breed lying on floor


    Hau Yee Wong / EyeEm

    This ancient Chinese dog breed has been bred more than a millennium and may even date back as early as 206 BCE. They were kept as companions, guards, hunters, and haulers. These distinct dogs are known for their blue-black-colored tongue, wrinkled face, and neck ruff. Though they are serious-mannered and aloof with strangers, chows can form extremely loyal bonds with the humans they love.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Non-Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 17 to 20 inches

    Weight: 45 to 70 pounds

    Coat and Color: Prominent neck ruff; colors include black, blue, fawn, cream, and red; famous for its blue-black tongue

    Life Expectancy: 8 to 12 years

  • 08 of 40

    American Eskimo Dog

    American Eskimo dog portrait


    nwbob / Getty Images

    These stunning snowy white dogs have nothing to do with the Indigenous Alaskan people known as “Eskimos." The American Eskimo dog has German roots, and the German spitz is its ancestor. These dogs made it to America in the 1800s and quickly became loved for their smarts, good looks, and eager-to-please attitude. They make wonderful, loving companions for anyone searching for an adventure buddy.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Non-Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 15 to 19 inches for standard; 12 to 15 inches for miniature; 9 to 12 inches for toy

    Weight: 25 to 35 pounds for standard; 10 to 20 pounds for miniature; 6 to 10 pounds for toy

    Coat and Color: Black nose, lips, and eye-rims with thick ruff around the neck and shoulders; the thick, white coat may also be seen in cream or "biscuit"

    Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

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  • 09 of 40

    Alaskan Malamute

    Alaskan Malamute standing outside


    LiuMeiLi / Getty Images

    The Malamute is a strong, active spitz dog that originated in Alaska for hauling and hunting. Despite their large size, these dogs are big softies and love to play an active part in the family unit. They make gentle, affectionate companions and generally do not make good watchdogs because of how friendly they are. Their dynamic way of life in Alaska means they need plenty of exercise. Anyone looking to add a lovable Malamute to the family will need to give them the exercise and loving attention these pups require to thrive.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 23 to 25 inches

    Weight: 75 to 85 pounds

    Coat and Color: Dense, double coat that can be white, gray, black, brown, or red

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • 10 of 40

    Norwegian Buhund

    Norwegian buhund puppy chewing on stick


    Anwar Sumar / 500px

    These dogs may be among some of the original spitz dog breeds, traveling centuries ago with the Vikings. They were used on farms as herders, guards, and all-around farmhands. Today, the Buhund is still used for active farm work in Norway. They are confident, smart, and very loving, making this spitz dog breed a wonderful working companion.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding (AKC)

    Height: 16 to 19 inches

    Weight: 26 to 40 pounds

    Coat and Color: A thick, hard and smooth-lying outercoat, with a soft and dense undercoat; coat is longer on the neck, chest and back of the thighs; colors are wheaten (ranges from pale cream to bright orange) or black

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • 11 of 40

    Norwegian Elkhound

    Norwegian elkhound portrait


    Tiffany Kelly/Noble Soul Photography / Getty Images

    The Norwegian elkhound was a Viking companion dog. These dogs were highly valued and loved, and some are even found in the tombs of their owners, alongside their sword and shield. The elkhound is mentioned in Norse history and mythology. Like the Norwegian buhund, the elkhound was used around the farm for herding and guarding. And, as their name suggests, the elkhound was also used for hunting elk. These brave, loyal, kind-hearted dogs make delightfully devoted companions to the adventurous type.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Hound (AKC)

    Height: 19 to 21 inches

    Weight: 48 to 55 pounds

    Coat and Color: Thick and long, lush coat with silver-gray coloration

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • 12 of 40

    Norwegian Lundehund

    Norwegian lundehund standing on grass


    CaptureLight / Getty Images

    The Norwegian lundehund is a truly unique spitz dog with extraordinary features. Bred to hunt "lunde" or puffins among rocky cliffs, these dogs have six working toes on each paw instead of dewclaws. Their necks are very flexible and can bend backward so far that their heads touch their spines. They have the ability to fold their pointed, upright ears closed, forward, or backward. And their front legs are so flexible that they can extend them completely to their sides.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Non-Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 12 to 15 inches

    Weight: 20 to 30 pounds

    Coat and Color: Double coat with a harsh, short outer and a soft and dense undercoat; males have a thicker ruff around the neck; coat may be black, white, sable, gray, or red;

    black hair tips that darken with age and can also have white, white with red, or dark markings

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

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  • 13 of 40

    Finnish Lapphund

    Finnish lapphund in snow

    Eerik / Getty Images

    These extra furry Arctic dogs were used by the Sami people to hunt and herd reindeer. This dangerous job requires bravery, intelligence, and quick action. In fact, a trademark trait of the Finnish Lapphund is their strong “startle response”. This trait helps the Finnish Lapphund to react quickly and avoid danger from angry reindeer.

    Though they are quick, brave hunters and herders, the Finnish Lapphund is extremely loving and affectionate. They are among the many Arctic dogs that huddled with their owners to keep warm during cold weather, contributing to a close bond between dog and human.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding (AKC)

    Height: 16 to 21 inches

    Weight: 33 to 53 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Thick double-coat can be black, white, sable, brown, or red

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • 14 of 40

    Swedish Vallhund

    Swedish vallhund in field


    Tara Gregg / EyeEm

    The Swedish Vallhund is another spitz dog that originated from the widespread conquests of the Vikings. It is thought that the breed came about as a cross between the Scandinavian spitz dog and the Welsh corgi. These dogs have a distinctive spitz look with a squat, long profile. These dogs are perfect cattle dogs since their short stature helps them avoid the hooves of kicking cattle.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding (AKC)

    Height: 11 to 14 inches

    Weight: 20 to 35 pounds

    Coat and Color: Medium length and harsh, with a close, tight topcoat and soft, dense undercoat; a sable pattern in various shades of gray through red, and combinations of these colors

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • 15 of 40

    Swedish Lapphund

    Swedish lapphund sitting with leash

    Mats Andren / EyeEm

    This intelligent, active breed is one of the oldest dog breeds and is thought to come from the ancient arctic wolf. They worked with the Sami people to hunt, guard, and herd. They love to be an active part of the family and always want to be included. Though loyal, these dogs think for themselves and can sometimes be stubborn. However, they love working alongside their humans and excel at agility, scent work, and other cooperative activities.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Spitz and primitive types (FCI); not an AKC-recognized dog

    Height: 16 to 20 inches

    Weight: 30 to 45 pounds

    Coat and Color: Long, thick coat that can be black or brown and may have small white markings

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 16 of 40

    Finnish Spitz

    Finnish spitz dog breed


    PavelRodimov / Getty Images

    The Finnish spitz, or Finkie, is a foxy spitz breed, complete with a sharp face and red coloring. These dogs were bred for hunting and found their niche in grouse hunting. They are also called the “barking bird dog” for their unique array of barks and yodels and the ability to bark up to 160 barks per minute. They have a distinct style of hunting. Once they find their prey, they mesmerize it with slow tail wagging and “yodeling" that alerts the huntsman to the catch. These happy, active dogs are great companions, even if they aren’t used for hunting birds.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Non-Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 15 to 20 inches

    Weight: 20 to 33 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Double coat; multi-shaded golden-red coat

    Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

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  • 17 of 40

    Kai Ken

    Kai ken dog standing


    MirasWonderland / Getty Images

    The Kai ken was bred for hunting a wide range of game in Japan. One of the six native breeds of Japan, the Kai ken is highly regarded and loved by many. They are extremely loyal to their people and are willing to go to great lengths to guard them. They are brilliant and learn new things extremely quickly. Known for their naturally camouflaged brindle coat, these dogs may be seen with black or red in their coats as well.

    Breed Overview

    Group: AKC Foundation Stock Service; not an AKC recognized breed

    Height: 15 to 20 inches

    Weight: 20 to 40 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short but thick coat; born black coat that may develop a red, black, or brown brindle pattern over the first five years of life

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • 18 of 40

    Alaskan Klee Kai

    Alaskan klee kai puppy sitting in grass


    goldenKB / Getty Images

    Though the Alaskan klee kai looks like a tiny husky, these dogs were bred for companionship rather than work. Still a relatively new dog breed, the Klee Kai is less than 50 years old and was only recently recognized as its own breed in 1997 by the United Kennel Club. Full of spunk and playfulness, the Alaskan Klee Kai makes a great companion dog for the active family. Though they are loving to their families, they are wary of strangers, making them excellent watchdogs.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Northern breed (UKC); not recognized by the AKC

    Height: 13 to 17 inches

    Weight: 10 to 20 pounds

    Coat and Color: Thick but not overly long, downy undercoat; classic “masked” coloration with a darker top and a dark mask and white underside; darker coat may be black, red, or gray

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years

  • 19 of 40

    Karelian Bear Dog

    Karelian bear dog running in grass


    slowmotiongli / Getty Images

    As suggested by its name, the Finnish bred the Karelian bear dog to hunt large game. Independent and confident, these dogs work well alone and often only bark to alert their hunter once their prey is treed or stopped. The innate fighting spirit of this spitz dog breed can make them territorial with other dogs but not with humans. These courageous dogs have also been used for search and rescue, sledding, and obedience trials.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC Foundation Stock Service)

    Height: 19 to 24 inches

    Weight: 44 to 50 pounds

    Coat and color: Dense, short coat in black with white markings  

    Life Expectancy: 11 to 13 years

  • 20 of 40

    Yakutian Laika

    Yakutian lakia dog


    noonika / Getty Images

    The Yakutian Laika was developed by the Yakut people in the Arctic northern part of the Russian Federation for hunting, herding, sledding, and companionship. They are loyal, gentle dogs that love to play an active part in the family unit. They are good with children and other dogs. Their friendly nature makes them wonderful companions, but not great guard dogs.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Spitz and primitive types (FCI); not an AKC-recognized dog

    Height: 21 to 23 inches

    Weight: 40 to 55 pounds

    Coat and Color: Thick, glossy, straight, medium-length double coat can be black, white, brown, red, or gray.

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 13 years

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  • 21 of 40

    Kintamani

    Kintamani puppy sitting on grass

    Imk0278 / Wikimedia Commons

    The Kintamani Bali dog is a wild dog found on the island of Bali. Though feral, this Indonesian dog adapts well to home living and are often kept as companions. These dogs were recognized as their own breed by the International Canine Federation (FCI) in 2019. Because of their wild origins, they are territorial and do not usually get along well with other dogs. They make great watchdogs and are very loving towards the members of its family. These dogs are known to be good at climbing, so keep an eye on them, even in fenced-in yards.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Spitz and primitive types (FCI); not an AKC-recognized dog

    Height: 17 to 23 inches

    Weight: 28 to 40 pounds

    Coat and color: Double-coat, harsh outer coat of medium length on the body and shorter on its face; may be white, black, fawn, red, or brindle

    Life Expectancy: 14 years

  • 22 of 40

    Thai Bangkaew Dog

    Thai Bangkaew dog on a road


    somnuk krobkum / Getty Images

    The Thai Bangkaew dog is a prominent breed in the Phitsanulok province of Thailand, named for a village there. Some suggest it may be a cross between an Asiatic jackal, the domestic Thai dog, and the shepherding dogs of the Song people. The Thai Bangkaew emerged from selective breeding starting in 1957. These dogs were kept as watchdogs and guardians for their protective and alert nature. Though wary of strangers, they make devoted, loving members of the family. Like the Kintamani dog, they can be aggressive towards other dogs, so proper socialization and training are important.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Spitz and primitive types (FCI); not an AKC-recognized dog

    Height: 17 to 21 inches

    Weight: 35 to 60 pounds

    Coat and Color: Thick fur ruff at the neck that is generally thicker on males; coat colors can be black, white, gray, chocolate, tan, or red

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 14 years

  • 23 of 40

    Danish Spitz

    Danish spitz dog portrait

    Jozef / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    Known as the “children’s dog,” the Danish spitz is a loyal, playful, patient family companion. These pups have had many names, including the Greenland spitz, Samoyed spitz, wolf spitz, and white spitz. They are popular farm dogs, and for many years, people used them to help watch and entertain the children. The Danish spitz has a gentle, kind nature that makes them an endearing dog to have around.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Not an AKC-recognized breed

    Height: 15 to 19 inches

    Weight: 26 to 40 pounds

    Coat and Color: Feathery coat around the neck and back of the legs; commonly white, but may also be biscuit in color

    Life Expectancy: 15 years

  • 24 of 40

    Eurasier

    Eurasier dog lying down

    Daniela Duncan / Getty Images

    The Eurasier may look like a tough, burly breed, but they are sensitive souls with a loving, calm nature. They need to be with their people to be happy. As suggested by their name, the Eurasier has both European and Asian descent. Its ancestors include the chow chow, the wolf spitz, and the Samoyed. Their coat comes in a wide variety of colors, and even their tongues can be a mix of purple or pink.

    Breed Overview

    Group: AKC Foundation Stock Service 

    Height: 19 to 24 inches

    Weight: 40 to 70 pounds

    Coat and Color: Double coat consists of a medium-long, straight, loosely lying outer coat and a thick undercoat; hair is shorter on the face, ears, and fronts of the legs and longer on the tail, backs of the legs, and neck; any color or combination of colors except pure white and piebald

    Life Expectancy: 14 years

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  • 25 of 40

    Schipperke

    Schipperke dog standing in grass

    slowmotiongli / Getty Images

    These unique little barge dogs were bred as watchdogs and were used to hunt rats aboard ships. Their strong jaws and necks made them perfect for the job. The schipperke is a confident, lively protector, earning them the name “little skipper." They are known for their fox-like face, their thick ruff of fur around the neck, and their bold personalities. They make active, fearless watchdogs and companions and are known for their affinity for water.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Non-Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 10 to 13 inches

    Weight: 10 to 16 pounds

    Coat and Color: Thick ruff around the neck and a dense coat that is commonly black, may also come in chocolate or cream

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 26 of 40

    Volpino Italiano

    Volpino Italiano dog portrait

    Bigandt_Photography / Getty Images

    Though this Italian dog breed is closely related to the Pomeranian and the German spitz, they have their own unique characteristics and history. These dogs have been around for hundreds of years and can be seen in paintings as early as the 1500s. They make fun-loving, active companions and alert watchdogs.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Spitz and primitive types (FCI); AKC Foundation Stock Service

    Height: 9 to 12 inches

    Weight: 9 to 12 pounds

    Coat and Color: Thick coat stands off of the body and creates thick ruff around the neck; commonly although can also be fawn, red, black, or champagne

    Life Expectancy: 14 to 16 years

  • 27 of 40

    Japanese Spitz

    Japanese spitz puppy

    mostlegendary@gmail.com / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5

    Another tiny spitz breed, these little white dogs are known for their happy-go-lucky, comedian-like personalities and loving attachments to their people. They are smart, eager to learn, and are up for any adventure, as long as it is with the person they love. This spitz dog breed makes a great watchdog since they have a large bark for a small dog. They adapt to apartment living quite well as long as they continue to get daily walks.

    Breed Overview

    Group: AKC Foundation Stock Service

    Height: 12 to 15 inches

    Weight: 10 to 25 pounds

    Coat and Color: Thick, upstanding coat and ruff around the neck; coat is pure white

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 28 of 40

    Indian Spitz

    Indian spitz portrait


    Srinivasan J / Getty Images

    Thought to have originated from the German spitz, the Indian spitz is known for its intelligence and friendliness. Their warm nature makes them great with kids and other pets. A noticeable feature of the Indian spitz is their expressive faces. Many have green or blue eyes that accentuate this quality. They are categorized into two size groups: the lesser Indian spitz and the greater Indian spitz.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Not an AKC-recognized breed

    Height: 8 to 10 inches for the lesser; 14 to 18 inches for the greater

    Weight: 11 to 15 pounds for the lesser; 26 to 44 pounds for the greater

    Coat and Color: Thick, upstanding fur; coat may be white, black, or brown and many have blue or green eyes

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 16 years

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  • 29 of 40

    Western Siberian Laika

    West Siberian Laika

    Pro2sound / Getty Images

    These born hunters are considered to be among some of the dog breeds that hunted alongside humans in prehistoric times. With such an ancient history, it is no wonder that these dogs retain some of the looks and traits of the wolf. They have a strong prey drive and a protective, territorial attitude. They are loving towards members of their adopted people or "pack." With proper training, they make devoted, protective companions.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Spitz and primitive types (FCI); Northern breed (UKC); not an AKC-recognized breed

    Height: 20 to 24 inches 

    Weight: 40 to 55 pounds

    Coat and Color: Medium-length coat that may be white, gray, black, or red

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 30 of 40

    Shikoku

    Shikoku dog portrait


    anahtiris / Getty Images

    These Japanese dogs originated in the Kochi prefecture on the island of Shikoku, which is where their name came from. Bred for hunting wild boar in mountainous regions, these dogs have a strong, agile build and plenty of energy. Coupled with intelligence and loyalty, these dogs make great companions when they get the exercise and attention they need.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Spitz and primitive type (FCI); not an AKC-recognized breed

    Height: 17 to 22 inches

    Weight: 35 to 55 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short to medium-length coat that can be black and tan, red, or sesame

    Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

  • 31 of 40

    Akita

    Akita dog standing outside


    Tara Gregg / EyeEm

    The spitz family’s usual wolf or fox-like face takes on a more bear-like appearance in the Akita. These larger, hefty Japanese dogs are known for their courage and loyalty. They are highly regarded in Japan. A famous Akita, Hachiko, waited for 9 years at a train station for his owner to return home. His owner had unexpectedly died many years back. These dogs are fiercely loyal and protective of their loved ones. They make incredible companions for those who can properly train and care for them.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 24 to 28 inches

    Weight: 70 to 100 pounds (female); 100 to 130 pounds (male)

    Coat and Color: Short, dense double-layered coat can be white, black, brindle, sesame, or red; some Akitas have a recessive gene that gives them a long coat

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 13 years

  • 32 of 40

    Russo-European Laika

    Russo-European Laika Standing Outside


    volofin / Getty Images

    The Russo-European laika is closely related to the Karelian bear dog. Though these tough hunting dogs can hunt large game like bear, their prey typically consists of squirrels or other smaller game. As suggested by its name, this breed was developed in the northern regions of Russia and Europe. This smaller laika breed is full of energy, smarts, and courage and is very affectionate to its family, including children. Its bold personality and protective nature make it territorial towards other dogs, so proper training is essential.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Spitz and primitive types (FCI); Northern breed (UKC); not an AKC-recognized breed

    Height: 19 to 23 inches

    Weight: 40 to 50 pounds

    Coat and Color: Dense coat is black or gray with white markings

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

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  • 33 of 40

    Pungsan Dog

    Two pungsan dogs outside

    Maeng9981 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Though their exact history is unknown, people bred the Pungsan dog in North Korea for hunting; these dogs love to be outside and are known for their courage. The Pungsan dog was used for hunting tigers and boar. These dogs are highly regarded in their homeland, and in 2000, the president of North Korea gifted two Pungsan dogs to the president of South Korea. Pungsan is also the name of a town in South Korea. They make loving family dogs and protective watchdogs.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Not an AKC-recognized breed

    Height: 21 to 24 inches

    Weight: 45 to 65 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short to medium length dense coat is either white or cream-white in color

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • 34 of 40

    Norrbottenspets

    Norrbottenspets dog on leash

    Klorinth / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Despite its small size, the Norrbottenspets is as tough as they come. These agile, rugged dogs were used for hunting in the frigid Scandinavian peninsula. For a while, it was thought that this breed had gone extinct, but they survived as watchdogs and companions in the area of North Bothnia. They are still a rare dog breed today. Though a fearless hunter, they make kind, loving companions at home.

    Breed Overview

    Group: AKC Foundation Stock Service

    Height: 16 to 18 inches

    Weight: 20 to 30 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, dense coat is white with red, brown, or tan patches

    Life Expectancy: 14 to 17 years

  • 35 of 40

    Kishu Ken

    Kishu Ken dog standing outside


    slowmotiongli / Getty Images

    The Kishu ken is extremely loyal and dignified. Bred to be a bold hunter in Japan, these dogs are very active but can easily be calm and loving when at home. They are attached to their loved ones but distant with strangers. Their strong prey drive may not make them the best choice for homes with other small animals. Viewed as a national treasure in Japan, these noble dogs are rarely exported outside their homeland.

    Breed Overview

    Group: AKC Foundation Stock Service

    Height: 17 to 22 inches

    Weight: 30 to 60 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, dense coat can be white, brindle, red, black, or sesame

    Life Expectancy: 11 to 13 years

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    Korean Jindo

    Korean Jindo dog outside


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    Once these fiercely loyal Korean dogs choose their person, they remain forever faithful to them. From the Korean island of Jindo, these dogs were used for hunting for thousands of years. They are a national treasure in Korea. The president of South Korea gifted the president of North Korea two Jindo dogs in return for the gift of two Pungsan dogs. The agile, intelligent Jindo requires plenty of mental and physical stimulation.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Spitz and primitive types (FCI)

    Height: 18 to 22 inches

    Weight: 30 to 50 pounds

    Coat and Color: Strong, solid build with a dignified, alert appearance; the thick coat can be white, black, brindle, black and tan, wolf gray, and red fawn

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

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    Hokkaido

    Hokkaido dog sitting


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    These hardy Japanese dogs are thought to have come to the island of Hokkaido with the Ainu people, where they adapted to the cold conditions of the area. They are devoted companions and brave hunters, being used for hunting large game like deer and bear. Their smarts and high energy levels make them excel at problem-solving. They are also very protective of their loved ones and wary of strangers, so proper socialization is essential.

    Breed Overview

    Group: AKC Foundation Stock Service; Spitz and primitive types (FCI)

    Height: 18 to 20 inches

    Weight: 44 to 66 pounds

    Coat and Color: Dense coat can be red, black, black and tan, sesame, brindle, or white

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

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    Greenland Dog

    Greenland dog standing outside

    Slaunger / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    The Greenland dog worked alongside the Eskimos for hunting and pulling sleds. They are valued for their stamina, strength, and work ethic. They have bold personalities and do not get overly attached to one person. They require clear boundaries and training, and once established in an adopted family or “pack,” they can be quite loving. Though independent, they are friendly towards people and do not make good watchdogs.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Spitz and primitive types (FCI); Northern breed (UKC); not an AKC-recognized breed

    Height: 21 to 25 inches

    Weight: 60 to 75 pounds

    Coat and Color: Medium-length coat can be black, white, gray, or brown

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

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    Caanan Dog

    Two Canaan dogs on leash

    Samorodokhanaana / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    The national dog of Israel, these dogs have been around herding and guarding for thousands of years in the area of what used to be called Caanan. For some time, these dogs have been wild in the deserts of Israel and were again domesticated in the 20th century. They were even used as service dogs during WWII. The Caanan dog is confident, agile, and tireless, but they make great companions for those able to give them the proper training and exercise.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding (AKC)

    Height: 19 to 24 inches

    Weight: 35 to 55 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short dense double coat, consisting of a harsh, flat outer coat and a softer undercoat; color can be white, black, brown, red, tan, or a mix

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

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    German Spitz

    German spitz dog portrait


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    Though they are sometimes confused with Pomeranians, the German Spitz is its larger cousin. Closely related to the Pomeranian and the Keeshond, this spitz dog breed shares much of the same history and features of both of these German breeds, including the famous neck ruff. Their alertness and tendency to be vocal make them perfect watchdogs. They are lively, loyal to their family, and wary of strangers.

    Breed Overview

    Group: AKC Foundation Stock Service; Spitz and primitive types (FCI)

    Height: 12 to 15 inches

    Weight: 24 to 26 pounds

    Coat and Color: Small, compact breed with distinct spitz features and iconic ruff around the neck; thick, upstanding coat can be white, black, black and tan, cream, brown, orange, or gray

    Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

Breeds to Avoid

Any dog classified as a spitz breed has eye-catching wolf-like qualities. Though they make beautiful companions, weigh other considerations before looks if you intend to add a furry friend into the family. Many spitz breeds like huskies and malamutes require a lot of physical and mental activity and, therefore, may not be suited for less active people. Other dogs, like the Finnish spitz, while beautiful, is known for being a prolific barking dog and may not be a good choice if you have close neighbors. Also, spitz breeds have a double coat and shed their coats twice a year, which can exacerbate allergies for those allergic to dogs. With hundreds of dogs in the canine world and with careful thought and research, you can find the right breed to suit your lifestyle and family situation.