There are between 50 and 70 spitz dog breeds, each with their own unique personality, but what they all share in common is a wolf-like appearance that’s characterized by pointy ears, almond-shaped eyes, a heavy, double coat and an adorable feathery tail.
Spitz dogs are known to come from countries with arctic climates and harsh winter weather, think Scandinavia, Russia and North America. Here they have served as hardworking dogs who have acted as hunters, reindeer herders, and sled-dogs tasked with transporting heavy loads across vast distances.
But while they may have strong work ethics, there is a lot more to these breeds than just that. Many of these dogs are highly affectionate, loyal, devoted, playful, and intelligent, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
If you’ve been thinking of welcoming a dog from the spitz family into your home, it’s worth noting that they’re not the best choice if you’re a novice owner. Their high level of smarts and pack-like mentality means they need a confident human with a firm hand who will let them know their place in the pack.
That being said, if you feel competent in asserting the alpha role and are prepared to put in the work to socialize and train these wonderful dogs, you’ll be rewarded with the most loving of companions. Let’s take a closer look at 10 of the most popular spitz dog breeds.
With ancient Japanese lineage, the Akita is a strong and muscular dog that’s famous for its courage and loyalty. They were originally bred to hunt game, thanks to their incredible work ethic, but their quiet nature and devotion to their humans has seen them become popular companion animals.
If you’re thinking of getting an Akita, it’s worth noting that these dogs are very wary of strangers, incredibly protective of those they love, and tend to have a strong intolerance of other animals. Early socialization and training is a must for this breed, but with a firm hand, they will make for a great addition to your family.
2. Alaskan Malamute
Playful yet gentle, affectionate yet dignified, the Alaskan Malamute is a popular pet and for good reason. These delightful dogs have a real sparkle in their eyes and love nothing more than curling up with their humans at the end of a long, hard day.
Powerful and hardworking, the Alaskan Malamute, or Mal as they’re often referred to, is one of the oldest sled breeds in the world. While they make wonderful companion animals, they have an independent streak that can cause problems if they’re not taught early on that it is you, and not them, that’s leader of the pack.
3. Chow Chow
Dating back to around 200 b.c., it’s thought that the Chow Chow might be one of the first spitz-type dogs to ever exist. Hailing from China, the Chow Chow is dignified, serious, and aloof, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make good companions.
While they may have a slightly standoffish nature, this tends to only apply with strangers, who they remain guarded around, but with their people, it’s a whole other story. Known to be eternally loyal to their humans, the Chow Chow has a calming presence and a serene nature. They’re also fastidious about cleaning themselves and are easy to housebreak.
4. Finnish Lapphund
Alert and agile, the Finnish Lapphund is a hardy little dog that has traditionally been used as a reindeer herder in the Arctic Circle - thank goodness their coats are weatherproof! They are extremely sociable, courageous, and calm, and their naturally submissive natures makes them the perfect family pet.
If you’re wanting to welcome a Lappy into your home, it’s crucial you have plenty of time to spend with them. This dog needs constant companionship and thrives around people, so this is not a pup that can be left on its own
5. Icelandic Sheepdog
They may be Iceland’s only native dog, but to be honest, given their wonderful personalities this dog is the only representative a country could ever need. Charmingly friendly, endlessly happy, and utterly devoted to their humans, the Icelandic Sheepdog is a dog lover's dream.
With a natural love of the outdoors, these dogs make great exercise partners, and because they’re so intelligent and eager-to-please, you’ll have no trouble training them. They also love to play and get on very well with children of all ages.
Famous for the distinctive ‘spectacles’ it sports across its face, the Keeshond is a medium-sized spitz that has a square and sturdy body shape and a dense coat that made it well suited to its former life living on canal barges across Holland.
If you’re looking for a friendly, lively and outgoing dog, the Keeshond ticks all those boxes, plus they’re hardy and adaptable, making them suitable to live in just about any situation. They’re great with children, other dogs, super affectionate, and highly trainable.
A small dog with a big personality, the perky Pomeranian is one of the world’s most popular dogs thanks to its bold and vivacious personality. It’s also quite the comedian, so you can be sure of plenty of laughs with this little guy by your side.
Fluffy and weighing less than seven pounds, the Pom was a popular companion of many royals and historical figures, including Marie Antoinette and Queen Victoria. While they love being lap dogs, they’re also highly intelligent and love mastering new tricks and competing in canine sporting events.
Definitely one of the most beautiful dogs in the world, the Samoyed has plenty to offer outside of its luscious white coat and smiling face. Sammies are smart, hardworking, and mischievous dogs who are highly social and will think nothing of demanding your attention and affection.
They require a lot of exercise and don’t tire easily, so they’re a great choice for active families, and their incredibly loving natures mean they form tight bonds with their people. But, they are pack animals, so make sure you teach them early on who’s top dog - you!
9. Shiba Inu
Like the Akita, the Shiba Inu comes from Japan where this muscular dog was once used as a hunter. But these days, this spirited breed is a popular companion animal thanks to its confident and good natured temperament.
The Shiba Inu is both active and attentive, making them a joy to housebreak. And while they love their owners, they must never be let off their lead in public areas as they are highly aloof with strangers. They’re also not great with recall, meaning they may not come back to you.
10. Siberian Husky
With captivatingly piercing almond-shaped blue or brown eyes, you’d be hard pressed to find a more stunning dog than the Siberian Husky. They may be medium-sized but they are incredibly graceful and quick footed and while powerful, they seem to move effortlessly, an important feature given that they have most commonly been used as long-distance sled dogs.
Energetic and friendly, these dogs are loyal, outgoing, playful and very mischievous, which can make them a delightful addition to the family. They do have a high prey drive however and they need a lot of physical and mental stimulation, so you’ll need plenty of time on your hands if you want to play pet parent to a Sibe.
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Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.