The German Spitz is one of the oldest dog breeds originating from Europe. Attentive, energetic, and devoted, these pups have some of the best qualities among any dog breed around.
German Spitzes go by several other names such as Spitz, German Spitz Mittelspitz, and Deutscher Spitz. If you’d like to bring home a dog of this breed, look for them at your local shelter or rescue. Remember, adopt a pup, and don’t shop!
These adorable pooches can make great apartment dogs due to their small stature and are suited for any type of household or family, though they have a tendency to be yappy. If you want an energetic “firecracker” dog who will keep you on your toes, alert you to any potential dangers, and love you unconditionally, this may be the right dog for you!
Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn’t necessarily an apartment dog make. Plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents are all good qualities in an apartment dog.
Some dogs are simply easier than others; they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They’re also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies.
Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time dog parent to manage. You’ll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
If you’re new to dog parenting, take a look at 101 Dog Tricks and read up on how to train your dog!
Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called “easygoing,” “tolerant,” “resilient,” and even “thick-skinned,” can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive–barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.
Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can’t pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, your dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you’ll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
All Around Friendliness
Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they’ve been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn’t the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
See Dogs Less Affectionate with Family
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who’s on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (which are considered Pit Bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren’t always so family-friendly.
**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they’re not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs, even if they’re love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn’t the only factor. Dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least six to eight weeks of age and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with wagging tails and nuzzles; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was socialized and exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult. Remember that even friendly dogs should stay on a good, strong leash in public!
Health And Grooming Needs
If you’re going to share your home with a dog, you’ll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds. Some dogs shed year-round, some “blow” seasonally, some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you’re a neatnik, you’ll need to either pick a low-shedding breed or relax your standards. To help keep your home a little cleaner, you can find a great de-shedding tool here!
Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you’ve got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you’re a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department.
Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog who needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn’t mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they’re at an increased risk.
If you’re adopting a puppy, it’s a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you’re interested in. You may also want to ask if your shelter or rescue has information about the physical health of your potential pup’s parents and other relatives.
Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that’s prone to packing on pounds, you’ll need to limit treats, make sure they get enough exercise, and measure out their daily food servings into regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
Ask your vet about your dog’s diet and what they recommend for feeding your pooch to keep them at a healthy weight. Weight gain can lead to other health issues or worsen problems like arthritis.
Dogs come in all sizes, from the world’s smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if they’re compatible with you and your living space. Large dog breeds might seem overpowering and intimidating, but some of them are incredibly sweet! Take a look and find the right sized dog for you!
Easy-to-train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word “sit”), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training.
Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a “What’s in it for me?” attitude, in which case you’ll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don’t get the mental stimulation they need, they’ll make their own work–usually with projects you won’t like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in Retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn’t puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or “herd” their human family members, and they need training to learn that it’s fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a toy that’s been stuffed with kibble and treats.
Dogs who were bred to hunt, such as Terriers, have an inborn desire to chase–and sometimes kill–other animals. Anything whizzing by, such as cats, squirrels, and perhaps even cars, can trigger that instinct. Dogs who like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you’ll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren’t a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won’t chase, but you’ll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.
Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how often the dog vocalizes with barks or howls. If you’re considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you’re considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious “strangers” put your pup on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby? Then you may wish to choose a quieter dog.
Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they’ll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses–or that bunny that just ran across the path–even if it means leaving you behind.
High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they’re more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells.
Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you’ll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
A vigorous dog may or may not have high energy, but everything they do, they do with vigor: they strain on the leash (until you train them not to), try to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who’s elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise, especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, like herding or hunting.
Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don’t like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
Some dogs are perpetual puppies — always begging for a game — while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.
Dog Breed Group:Companion DogsHeight:12 to 15 inchesWeight:21 to 29 poundsLife Span:13 to 15 years
More About This Breed
- The Standard German Spitz comes in a wider variety of coat colors than some of its Spitz cousins, including black, brown, orange, wolf gray, and white.
- The German Spitz has a double coat; the undercoat is soft, short, and wooly, and over it, a long, fibrous layer makes up the topcoat. They’ll need a good brushing several times a week.
- Because the German Spitz is a small dog, they can be easily injured by overly excited children. German Spitzes prefer to be mostly around adults or older kids who know how to play gently.
- These dogs have high energy levels. Make sure they get at least one good half-hour- to hour-long walk per day with a few good, active play sessions and shorter walks mixed in.
- These small pups can be wary of strangers and are vocal, so they might bark around people they don’t know. They have a high pitch bark that sounds “yappy” to some.
- German Spitzes have a high prey drive and enjoy games where they can chase toys.
- German Spitzes are intelligent, but can be stubborn. They need strong-willed, consistent trainers.
The first mention of the German Spitz comes from Count Eberhard Zu Sayn of Germany around 1450. He praised the breed as a brave protector of their homes and fields. Many early German Spitzes lived in the province of Pomerania, located on the southern edge of the Baltic Sea close to what is now Germany and Poland.
The German Spitz is known to be an ancient dog breed and one of the oldest coming from Germany and Europe in general.
Though they are a small bunch, these dogs are very alert and vocal. Fisherman would take them on their boats as watchdogs for their goods and trades. They were also used on farms to alert the farmers of any nearby intruders. In Germany, they are sometimes referred to as Mistbeller, or dung-hill barkers, as they liked to sit somewhere high like a hill and keep watch.
They were popular among royalty and the upper class in England, and in the 18th Century when King George I took the throne, he and his wife had several German Spitz dogs.
Though they were almost extinct around the time of the first World War, they eventually made a comeback and are well off today.
Though the German Spitz is an ancient breed, there are a few standards when it comes to size. You can expect these pooches to be on the smaller side.
Most weigh in at 21 to 29 pounds and range in height from twelve to 15 inches at the shoulder. That said, many German Spitz can be smaller or larger than the norm.
The German Spitz is an energetic dog who loves to please the family and be the center of attention. They are high energy and would rather run around the yard or house than stay inside and cuddle. Since they are highly active, they love to play games that involve running and chasing toys.
These small pups can be wary of strangers and are vocal, so they might bark around people they don’t know. They have a high pitch bark that sounds “yappy” to some. They are very intelligent but can also be stubborn. It takes a strong-willed trainer to make sure these pups are obedient and well trained. If you want a watchdog who will alert you to anyone who might approach your door, you can’t do much better than the German Spitz.
The German Spitz also has a high prey drive. Although, they can be taught to curb their barking and chasing tendencies through early training.
They are well suited for household or families of any size and can live in an apartment or house, though they will need plenty of exercise and attention.
The German Spitz is a generally healthy dog breed but can be predisposed to the same general health concerns of any pup. While most are generally healthy, some may be prone to a few health issues, which is why it is important to maintain good care and regular veterinary checkups.
Some of the more common health problems the German Spitz suffer from include:
- collapsing Trachea
- patellar luxation
- progressive retinal atrophy
As with all dog breeds, you should keep up with your German Spitz’s regular veterinary checkups to detect any health concerns early. Your vet can help develop a care routine that will keep your dog healthy.
German Spitzes are prone to weight gain, and they have high energy levels. Make sure your dog gets at least one good half-hour- to hour-long walk per day with a few good, active play sessions and shorter walks mixed in.
Check their ears for debris and pests daily and clean them as recommended by your vet. Trim your dog’s nails before they get too long–usually once or twice per month. They should not be clicking against the floor. Your groomer can help with this.
Your main concern when it comes to your German Spitz’s care will be maintaining their oral health. You should brush their teeth daily, as small breeds are prone to dental issues. Your veterinarian can instruct you on how to brush your dog’s teeth properly.
An ideal German Spitz diet should be formulated for a small breed with high energy. They have a tendency to gain weight if they are overfed, so you should stick to a regular feeding schedule and not leave food out during the day. Limit the number of treats, as well.
As with all dogs, the German Spitz’s dietary needs will change from puppyhood to adulthood and will continue to change into their senior years. You should ask your veterinarian for recommendations about your German Spitz’s diet, as there is far too much variation among individual dogs–including weight, energy, and health–to make a specific recommendation.
Coat Color And Grooming
The Standard German Spitz comes in a wider variety of coat colors than some of its Spitz cousins, including black, brown, orange, wolf gray, and white.
German Spitzes have double coats. While the overcoat is long and straight, the undercoat is short, woolly, and a bit softer to the touch. Their coats are thick about the chest and neck and can look like a frill or ruff. This double coat is so fluffy that it can make the dogs look like they’re bigger than they actually are. Because they have such thick, fluffy coats, these dogs will need brushings a few times each week to pull away loose hairs and avoid matting or tangles.
Because they have long coats, the German Spitz might do fairly well in colder weather than in hot weather. Make sure to prepare them accordingly wherever you take them.
Children And Other Pets
Because the German Spitz is a small dog, they can be easily injured by overly excited children. German Spitzes prefer to be mostly around adults or older kids who know how to play gently. That said, for children who learn early how to properly approach and play with a small dog, the German Spitz can make a great, active companion.
When it comes to other pets, the German Spitz can get along with other animals if they are introduced slowly and calmly, and early socialization will help this go smoothly. It’s best if they get used to other pets early. That said, the German Spitz aren’t naturally fond of other animals and may prefer to be the solo pet in the household. They also might do well with pets smaller than them as they have a high prey drive.
Still, many German Spitzes get along just fine with other dogs and cats, so it really comes down to training, socialization, and the luck of the draw.
Because the German Spitz is a somewhat rare breed, it may be difficult to find a breed-specific rescue. However, you can always check with your local shelter, and you may want to try a rescue that caters to all types of dogs. You can take a look at the following:
- Wright-Way Rescue
- Angels Among Us Pet Rescue