German Spitz: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

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 frequently found in cold climates. These breeds, including the rare German spitz, have thick double coats (a longer outer coat combined with a shorter, thicker undercoat), a wedge-shaped head, upright triangular ears, and a long tail that curls up and over the back. 

Breed Overview

GROUP: Non-Sporting

HEIGHT: Klein (miniature): 9 to 11.5 inches tall at the shoulder; Mittel (medium): 12 to 15 inches tall

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

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

COAT COLOR: All colors and markings

LIFE SPAN: 13 to 15 years

TEMPERAMENT: Lively, devoted, attentive, trainable, entertaining


ORIGIN: Germany

Characteristics of the German Spitz

The German spitz is a lively and entertaining family pet. Happy and outgoing with people it knows, the dog is naturally suspicious of strangers and will bark to alert you to anyone approaching the home. A German spitz is extremely devoted to its owners. The breed is playful, adoring, and simply fun to have around.

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, watchdog, 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 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 is well-known in Germany, this breed 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

This sweet and cute breed is easy to live with and care for, and especially ideal for first-time owners. A German spitz is energetic and loves to play, but it doesn’t need hours of exercise. Despite its abundance, the dog's profuse coat is easier to care for than you might expect. The breed is highly intelligent easy to train. Although some German spitzes are small in size, don’t get into the habit of carrying your dog everywhere like a baby or it can't fully experience its world like a dog.


Get into the habit of taking your German spitz on daily strolls around the neighborhood and sessions of fetch in a safely enclosed yard. This dog only requires between 30 minutes to an hour of daily exercise to stay happy. This isn't the type of dog you can take on long, vigorous runs or hikes, however, because it can become too winded.


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 weeks (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 breed sheds very little and needs only weekly brushing. A weekly nail trim and look into the ears (clean with a pet ear cleaner if they look dirty) will help your dog stay comfortable.


A German spitz is highly intelligent and easy to train. It truly wants to please you and can be taught many tricks and basic commands using positive reinforcement like treats and toys. This breed is not inherently aggressive or nervous around people or other dogs, but it should begin socializing early by exposing the puppy to many different people, places, and things to help develop its confidence. Sometimes a German spitz can become a problem barker and 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 dogs 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. 

Where to Adopt or Buy

The German spitz is a very rare breed 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 puppy because there are few breeders in the United States and reputable breeders breed few litters a year. If you find a breeder, be prepared to get on a waiting list for a puppy. Though many experts will say that you can expect to pay under $1,000 for a German spitz pup, some breeders may charge upwards of a few thousand dollars per dog, too.

German Spitz Overview

  • Devoted family companion

  • Clean, easy-care coat

  • Good apartment dog

  • Some may be problem barkers

  • May be wary of strangers

  • Doesn’t do well when left alone

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.

  • Is the German spitz good with kids and other family pets?

    The German spitz usually gets along well with older children who are taught to treat the dog gently and respectfully. This breed can also typically become good friends with other family pets, even cats. However, smaller pets, such as birds or hamsters, may look like prey to a German spitz.

  • Why is the German spitz a good apartment dog if it bark a lot?

    Their small size and moderate exercise needs make them excellent apartment dogs, and you can train them to curb the barking. If you live in a small apartment, however, it’s especially important to regularly take your German spitz outdoors for a change of pace.  

  • What are the differences between the German spitz and the Pomeranian?

    Both dogs are part of the spitz family, they look similar, and have comparable temperaments. But the Pomeranian is much smaller with a fuzzier coat than the German spitz. Poms are very popular and more accessible in the United States than the German spitz.