German Spitz: Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

German Spitz

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The German Spitz is a small to medium-sized, fluffy companion breed that hails from Germany. “Spitz” breeds, sometimes called Northern breeds, are a type of dog breed frequently found in cold climates. Spitz breeds, including the German Spitz, have thick double coats (a longer outer coat combined with a shorter, thicker undercoat), a wedged-shaped head, upright triangular ears, and a long tail that curls up and over the back. 

The German Spitz is a lively and entertaining family pet. Happy and outgoing with people he knows, the German Spitz is naturally suspicious of strangers and will bark to alert you to anyone approaching the home. German Spitz are extremely devoted to their owners. They are playful, adoring and simply fun to have around. Their small size and moderate exercise needs make them excellent apartment dogs. The German Spitz usually gets along well with older children who are taught to treat the dog gently and respectfully, and are generally good friends with other family pets.

Breed Overview

Group: Non-Sporting

Weight: Weight corresponds to size; about 25 to 40 pounds

Height: Klein: 9 to 11.5 inches tall at the shoulder; Mittel: 12 to 15 inches tall

Coat: A straight and stand-off outer coat paired with a short, soft, dense undercoat

Coat Color: All colors and markings

Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

Characteristics of the German Spitz

Affection Level High
Friendliness Medium
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs Medium
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark High
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the German Spitz

Originally a farm dog, watch dog and companion dog, the German Spitz is one of several closely related spitz breeds that have been known in Germany since the mid-1400s. In the breed’s home country, there is one German Spitz with five varieties; in other parts of the world these varieties are recognized as separate breeds. The five German Spitz varieties are the Giant Spitz, Wolfsspitz (recognized as Keeshond in other countries), Mittel Spitz (Medium), Klein Spitz (Miniature) and Zwergspitz (Toy, recognized as the Pomeranian in other countries). 

Although the breed’s history goes back hundreds of years and well-known in Germany, the German Spitz is a relative newcomer to the dog scene in the United States. It’s not yet recognized by the American Kennel Club, but it’s part of the AKC Foundation Stock Service, which is the first step toward eventual full recognition. The German Spitz is fully recognized by the United Kennel Club, where it is part of the Northern Breeds group. The breed is also recognized by the international kennel club Fédération Cynologique International.

German Spitz Care

Despite its abundance, the German Spitz’s profuse coat is easier to care for than you might expect. German Spitz should not be trimmed or shaved, and the coat usually looks and feels clean because the hair naturally repels dirt. Seasonally about twice a year, the German Spitz experiences a heavy shed, cropping much of the undercoat in a few week’s time (this is appropriately called “blowing coat”). Double down on your brushing during this time to remove the shedding hair. A moistening bath and blow-dry can also help work out more hair. Outside of these seasonal sheds, the German Spitz sheds very little and needs only weekly brushing. Weekly, trim your German Spitz’s nails and look into the ears (clean with a pet ear cleaner if they look dirty).

German Spitz are energetic and love to play, but they don’t need hours of exercise. Get into the habit of daily strolls around the neighborhood and sessions of fetch in a safely enclosed yard. If you live in a small apartment, it’s especially important to regularly take your German Spitz outdoors a change of pace.  

German Spitz are highly intelligent easy to train. They truly want to please you, and can be taught many tricks and basic commands using positive reinforcement like treats and toys. Begin socializing your German Spitz early, exposing the puppy to many different people, places and things to help him develop his natural confidence. Although some German Spitz are small in size, don’t get into the habit of carrying your German Spitz everywhere like a baby. The more your German Spitz walks on his own four paws, the better he can experience his world. Some German Spitz can become problem barkers; extra training (especially teaching the “quiet” command) can help curb this tendency. 

German Spitz
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German Spitz
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German Spitz
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Common Health Problems

Although the German Spitz is an extremely healthy breed, some instances of eye disease have been noted in the breed, including progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and retinal dysplasia. Some German Spitz might develop luxating patellas (loose kneecaps). Reputable breeders have special eye and knee screenings done on their adult German Spitz before breeding them to avoid passing these issues to future generations. 

Diet and Nutrition

Feed your German Spitz a high-quality dog food (if you need a recommendation, talk to your breeder or veterinarian). Smaller German Spitz might benefit from a small-breed or “small-bite” food, which has smaller kibbles for smaller mouths. Always portion out meals on a schedule (twice daily for adults) with a measuring cup or scale to avoid overfeeding. Leaving food out all day, although convenient, can lead to weight gain. Too much weight can place extra strain on the joints and contribute to other health problems like diabetes. 

Pros
  • Devoted family companion

  • Clean, easy-care coat

  • Good apartment dog

Cons
  • Some may be problem barkers

  • May be wary of strangers

  • Doesn’t do well when left alone

Where to Adopt or Buy

The German Spitz is very rare in North America. A breed club, the German Spitz Club of America, is seeking full AKC recognition for the breed. It can be difficult to find a German Spitz puppy because there are few breeders in the United States and reputable breeders breed few litters a year. If you find a German Spitz breeder, be prepared to get on a waiting list for a puppy.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you like the German Spitz, you might also like these breeds:

Otherwise, check out all of our other dog breed articles to help you find the perfect dog for you and your family.