13 Dog Breeds That Look the Most Like Foxes

akita dog

​Sandra Schmid / Getty Images

Ever spot what you thought was a fox, but it turned out to be your neighbor’s dog? It’s no surprise that some dog breeds are often confused with foxes, as today's dogs descended from wolves, a close fox relative. But unlike their wild cousins, dogs have evolved to understand and communicate with humans.

Breed Characteristics

Many dogs that look like foxes are spitz breeds. They tend to be intelligent, active, and high shedders. Spitzes are colder weather, double-coated dogs with perky ears, pointy muzzles, and curly or bushy tails. These predominant spitz qualities are what give these dogs a foxy look.

Here are 13 dog breeds that look just like foxes.


Spitzes prefer a cold climate. If you leave in an area without winters, these dogs might not tolerate it well or may be prone to overheating.

  • 01 of 13

    Shiba Inu

    shiba inu smiling


    Yuki Cheung / Getty Images

    Initially bred for hunting, the shiba inu is a spitz breed of Japan. These intelligent, independent dogs can be a challenge to train and can sometimes develop issues, including possessiveness and aggression. They're an affectionate, loyal breed with their families, however, although they might be wary of strangers. They need plenty of mental stimulation to keep them happy.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Non-Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 14 to 17 inches

    Weight: 17 to 23 pounds

    Coat and Color: Thick double coat; outer coat is coarse while undercoat is soft; colors include black and tan, cream, and red

    Life Expectancy: 13 to 16 years

  • 02 of 13


    akita on a leash

    Yuan Yao / Getty Images

    Often referred to as a "silent hunter," the Akita is the largest Japanese spitz breed. They're quiet, temperamental dogs that can be difficult to train. But they also tend to be fiercely loyal and have long served as guard and hunting dogs. As a high-energy breed, Akitas require rigorous daily exercise. While often aloof with strangers, the Akita can be silly and affectionate with their family.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 24 to 28 inches

    Weight: 70 to 130 pounds

    Coat and Color: Short, thick, double-layered coat; some have a recessive gene that gives them a long coat; colors include black, fawn, red, and more

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 13 years

  • 03 of 13

    American Eskimo

    american eskimo dog against blue sky

    nwbob / Getty Images

    The American Eskimo dog looks similar to the snowy white Arctic fox. These dogs tend to be affectionate, loyal, protective watchdogs for their families. They also love to play outdoors, even in cold weather, and they generally get along very well with children. Their heavy coats shed a lot and require diligent grooming.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Non-Sporting (AKC)

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

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

    Coat and Color: Alert expression; medium-length double coat; colors include white or white and biscuit

    Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

  • 04 of 13


    Schipperke on grass

    Mickilu / Getty Images

    The independent, spunky schipperke looks like a small black fox. While these dogs are usually loyal and loving, they're prone to barking. They love to be involved in daily activities, especially outdoor exercise, with their families, and are curious and playful. A pet peeve is that they will take off to chase a squirrel or other wildlife, however.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Non-Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 10 to 13 inches

    Weight: 10 to 16 pounds

    Coat and Color: Black, straight coat, slightly harsh to the touch; several lengths; can have white markings

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

    Continue to 5 of 13 below.
  • 05 of 13


    A Samoyed on a chair

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    The Samoyed is another spitz breed that originated in the Arctic, primarily the Siberian area of Russia. These solid and intelligent dogs were historically bred to pull sleds on polar expeditions. Today, they are mainly kept as affectionate and playful family pets, though they have retained their strong instinct to chase small animals. They get along very well with children and other dogs, but they can be barkers.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    Height: 19 to 24 inches

    Weight: 35 to 65 pounds

    Coat and Color: Double coat; colors include white, cream, and biscuit; thick undercoat beneath a soft, fluffy, and straight outer coat

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 06 of 13

    Finnish Spitz

    finnish spitz walking in snow

    Johnner Images / Getty Images

    Often called the barking bird dog, the Finnish spitz is a highly energetic breed that requires a significant amount of daily exercise for both its physical and mental well-being. These dogs make loving family pets but are prone to barking out of boredom, especially when their exercise needs aren't met. Still, with the right family, especially one with active children, this is a fine canine companion.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Non-Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 16 to 20 inches

    Weight: 20 to 35 pounds

    Coat and Color: Red-gold double coat

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 07 of 13

    Norwegian Elkhound

    norwegian elkhound lying on grass

    Hillary Kladke / Getty Images

    The Norwegian elkhound is a hound and a spitz. It's a playful and protective dog that makes a loyal pet and a good watchdog. It craves human companionship and can be prone to separation anxiety. The Norwegian elkhound is a highly energetic breed that requires rigorous daily exercise. These dogs generally get along well with children and other dogs, and they respond well to training.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Hound (AKC)

    Height: 20 to 21 inches

    Weight: 48 to 55 pounds

    Coat and Color: Curled tail; thick, long, lush coat; colors include black, gray, white, and more

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 year

  • 08 of 13

    German Spitz

    german spitz in a play bow

    westend61 / Getty Images

    Also known as the Eskimo spitz, the German spitz makes an exceptional companion because of its friendly and affectionate nature. These dogs tend to be loyal to their families and great with children. They're also a quick-learning intelligent breed, but they require a lot of daily exercise. They are not fond of strangers and make good watchdogs. They are typically easy to train.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Non-Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 12 to 15 inches

    Weight: 24 to 26 pounds

    Coat and Color: Straight and stand-off outer coat paired with a short, soft, dense undercoat; colors include black, brown, orange, red, and white

    Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

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  • 09 of 13

    Alaskan Klee Kai

    alaskan klee kai walking on the sidewalk

    Gotham / Getty Images

    The Alaskan klee kai looks like a lap-sized husky. These dogs are intelligent, playful, and highly energetic. They're usually loving and loyal to their families, but many are cautious around strangers. Although they come in various colors, the red-and-white version looks strikingly similar to a red fox. Generally, this breed requires less intensive exercise and playtime than many other spitz breeds.

    Breed Overview

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

    Height: 13 to 17 inches

    Weight: 10 to 15 pounds

    Coat and Color: Thick double coat; colors include black and white, red and white, and gray and white

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years

  • 10 of 13


    Long haired chihuahua sitting on chair next to couch.

    Tomoaki Takahashi / Getty Images

    Many Chihuahuas, especially those with long fur, look strikingly similar to the tiny, big-eared fennec fox. These dogs tend to bond closely with their favorite humans but might be standoffish with other people and animals. Despite their small size, they need a fair amount of mental and physical exercise to remain happy, although they do best with adults and older children. They also are quite protective and make good watchdogs.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Toy (AKC)

    Height: 5 to 8 inches

    Weight: Up to 6 pounds

    Coat and Color: Smooth or long coat; colors include black, tan, fawn, chocolate, and more

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 20 years

  • 11 of 13


    Pomeranian playing in leaves
    The Pomeranian is a joyful ball of fluffy fur. Rita Kochmarjova/Shutterstock

    The Pomeranian might be little in size, but it's big in spunky personality. These small, fluffy dogs have adorable, foxy faces that match their inquisitive, outgoing, friendly personalities. Although they require regular grooming, they aren't tremendous shedders, unlike some other spitz breeds. This energetic canine can be many different colors, but red or orange are the most common, adding to the Pomeranian's fox-like appearance.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Toy (AKC)

    Height: 6 to 7 inches

    Weight: Up to 7 pounds

    Coat and Color: Long double coat in almost any color or combination of colors, although red and orange are most common

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years

  • 12 of 13


    Keeshond Dog Breed Puppy Photo
    Photo © terri_brown on flickr

    The Dutch Keeshond is a spitz breed that often has markings resembling spectacles on its foxy, furry face. This is an intelligent, alert, and energetic canine that needs plenty of playtime and exercise. They are friendly dogs, but are protective of their family, making them a good watchdog as well as companion. Generally, Keeshonds get along well with children, other dogs, and dog-friendly cats, making them a fine family dog. They do require regular brushing, but don't shed too excessively.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Non-Sporting (AKC)

    Height: 17 to 18 inches

    Weight: 35 to 45 pounds

    Coat and Color: Long double coat in combinations of silvery gray and black

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

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  • 13 of 13

    Icelandic Sheepdog

    Icelandic Sheepdog


    HunterBliss / Getty Images

    Although not such a well-known breed, the Icelandic Sheepdog is a very devoted, affectionate, and intelligent dog that almost always has a happy, alert expression on its foxy face. These dogs were originally bred to herd sheep, but today mostly serve as family companions, thanks to their good nature and ability to get along very well with children, other dogs, and dog-friendly cats. They can be barkers, however, and do require a lot of attention and exercise to feel their best.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding (AKC)

    Height: 16.5 to 18 inches

    Weight: 25 to 30 pounds

    Coat and Color: Medium double coat in almost any color plus white

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

Breeds to Avoid

If you have your heart set on a foxy-looking canine, then certain breeds are at the opposite end of the doggy looks spectrum, such sighthounds and scenthounds; bully breeds; and giant breeds like Newfies, Great Danes, and Saint Bernards.