If you’re looking for a smart dog with a mind of its own, the German Spitz may be the breed for you.
The German Spitz temperament has a lot going for it. This little charmer captures attention because of her engaging and happy disposition.
If you’re not careful, though, she will come to believe that you are her pet. Some folks delight in her sometimes-bossy nature—others not so much.
Luckily, the German Spitz is very trainable, and if training begins early enough, this sweetheart can be an ideal companion dog.
German Spitz Temperament
The German Spitz’s temperament traits are a mixture of the delightful and the challenging.
The German Spitz is born with some lovely personality traits. Her natural temperament is:
Because of their intelligence, German Spitzes are easy to train. But also because of their intelligence, they don’t always choose to cooperate. You may need to be creative at making it fun.
The German Spitz wants nothing more than to be near her humans. This makes her an ideal companion dog.
Outgoing and Affectionate
She’s great company and is a wonderful companion for the elderly.
Her natural instinct is to be cheerful and engaging.
Bold and Adventurous
She likes to be busy and can get into trouble if she’s bored.
This breed is lively and active and needs only moderate exercise.
The German Spitz can do well in agility competitions.
German Spitzes love to poke around and explore new places.
This trait can be endearing. She may be small, but she has leadership qualities!
Good luck trying not to laugh when she outsmarts you!
She will always let you know when there’s someone at the door or a visitor in the yard.
The German Spitz has a strong personality, so this list may seem long. Most of these traits, though, are preventable with proper training started early. Consistency is key.
If her owner isn’t careful, she can be:
This little dog likes to be in charge. Some people find this adorable, but she needs a firm hand to remind her who’s boss.
She likes to do things her way. You will need to be more stubborn (or cagier) than she is.
Separation anxiety can be a problem for the German Spitz. It’s a direct result of her being so attached to her person.
Wary of Strangers
If you don’t train your German Spitz from an early age to accept strangers, she may develop stranger anxiety. Even with proper socialization, the best she may be able to do is tolerate them. Without that early training, she can become aggressive.
The German Spitz needs a lot of attention. If she feels she isn’t getting enough, she can bark incessantly. You may also see destructive behaviors when she feels ignored or finds herself home alone.
Not Always Good with Children
The German Spitz is happiest when she has your full attention. She may do best in a home with no young children, but she may do fine if training starts early.
A Boundary Tester
This breed will try your patience. She will love to challenge you to see what she can get away with. Again, you will need to be firm, and a good sense of humor won’t hurt!
German Spitz owners need to be consistent in teaching their Spitz to accept “no.”
Yes, they tend to be barkers. If you socialize her well as a puppy and prevent anxiety issues, this is less of a problem.
Again, this breed has the natural temperament to be a lovely companion dog. Consistency in training is the key to dealing with potential German Spitz temperament issues.
German Spitz Types
The German Spitz as we know it is descended from several German Spitz breeds. There is some disagreement as to which types are true German Spitzes today.
The main difference among the types is size. There is also small variation in coat colors.
The three types (and German Spitz size) that all seem to agree on are:
- Giant German Spitz (also called Grossspitz) – weight 37.5 to 41 pounds, height 15-1/2 to 17-1/2 inches.
- German Spitz Mittel (Standard Spitz, Mittel, Mittelspitz) – weight 15 to 22 pounds, height 12 to 15 inches.
- German Spitz Klein (Miniature, Kleinspitz) – weight 8.8 to 11.0 pounds, height 9 to 11 inches.
German Spitz vs Pomeranian
In many countries in Europe, the Pomeranian is known as a Zwergspitz, and the Germans consider this dog to be the smallest of the German Spitz family. Again, the AKC recognizes the Pomeranian a separate breed.
The German Spitz types can vary a bit in coat color. Common German Spitz colors are white, cream, orange, red, brown, gray, and black. Many people prize this breed for their beautiful, fluffy coats.
The German Spitz’s face looks a bit like a fox. Their ears are triangular. The snout is on the longer side.
They have a thick undercoat and a ruff around their necks that resembles a lion’s mane.
German Spitzes are broad-shouldered, sturdy dogs with fluffy, curved-up tails.
German Spitz Training
The German Spitz’s alert and intelligent temperament makes her easy to train—when she wants to be. She also likes getting her way and can be stubborn. Early and consistent training is most important to get the best out of this breed.
She has a dominant personality, so she needs to learn from the beginning that all humans are pack leaders. This is especially important in homes with children.
The most common training problem with this breed is its barking. Her natural German Spitz temperament includes the instinct to bark, which makes sense with the watchdog breeding in her heritage; see German Spitz History below.
You will need to teach her very young when it is appropriate to bark and to stand down when commanded. Otherwise, you are likely to have problems with the neighbors.
Luckily, this breed responds well to positive reinforcement. You will need to have a firm hand, though, and to be consistent. The German Spitz has in her temperament an independent spirit and a belief that she should be the pack leader.
Helpful Dog Training Resource:
For help with training your German Spitz dog take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.
The German Spitz, as its name suggests, originates in Germany. Records exist that place this breed in Germany as far back in history as 1450. Historians believe the Vikings brought them to Europe.
All types of German Spitz are companion animals now, but the Mittelspitz was once a farm worker. Some Spitzes were also bred as watchdogs.
The German Spitz arrived in America in the 1800s. They were initially quite popular, but during World War I, as the US became anti-German, the breed became less popular. (Today they are still hard to find in the US.)
Because of this, many breeders gave their German Spitzes a new name, and some became known as the American Eskimo Dog. This dog sometimes mixed with the Finnish Spitz, so it is not considered a type of German Spitz today.
Caring for the German Spitz
German Spitz Health Issues
The German Spitz is not prone to many breed-specific health problems. However, they may be more susceptible than other breeds to a few conditions.
Some health problems to look out for include:
This can be a problem, especially in the Klein. You will want to watch her weight closely.
This airway obstruction causes a chronic cough that sounds like honking. It is actually a collapsing of cartilage rings in the airway.
It’s not a serious condition in most dogs, but it can be worse in a dog who is overweight. In the worst cases, she may need a surgical implant to keep the airway open.
Seizures. Several diseases can cause epilepsy in dogs, but the most common form is idiopathic, meaning we don’t know what the cause is. We do know that it’s hereditary.
Medication can treat this condition, but dogs with epilepsy need lifelong treatment.
This is a condition where the knee goes “out of joint.” This makes it difficult or impossible for the dog to put weight on the knee.
It can be temporary and last for a few minutes, or in its late stages, it can become fixed. In this case, bracing, joint supplements, and exercise may help, but your dog may need surgery to correct it.
The German Spitz is susceptible to several eye conditions. Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is the most serious. This condition is hereditary and causes total blindness after 1-2 years. Your vet can test your dog to find out if she has the gene that causes PRA.
Note: Our Health is #1 Priority. It should be no different or your German Spitz. But you need to help him. The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health is the answer. This handy guide will help you recognize the symptoms of the health problems above. Get the knowledge to stay ahead of these terrible issues that can rob your lovely Affe from vigor and life. Help your friend make it to 14 yrs+ without pain and suffering.
German Spitz Lifespan
When well cared for, the German Spitz lifespan is 12 to 14 years. This depends somewhat on size, with the German Miniature Spitz having a slightly longer life expectancy than the Giant Spitz.
German Spitz Grooming
This breed has a gorgeous, fluffy coat that needs brushing two to three times a week. They have double coats, so they will shed heavily twice a year.
You will want to brush them more often during this time to help remove all of the undercoat. Otherwise, the coat can tangle.
The good news is that their coats are not oily, so they don’t need frequent baths. In fact, you may not want to bathe them at all when they’re shedding their coats, or the dead hair of the undercoat can become matted.
German Spitz Exercise
The German Spitz is active and energetic, so she keeps herself busy. She enjoys a short walk every day, but she doesn’t need a lot of exercise outside of the home.
This makes the German Spitz a good choice for apartment living.
Finding Your German Spitz
So you have decided that the German Spitz is a good fit for you. Unfortunately, it could take a while to find the dog you want. The German Spitz is still a rare breed in the US. Following is a list of options you might try.
Buying from a Breeder
Finding a German Spitz for sale can be tough. An Internet search finds very little information. They are easier to find in Europe, but there doesn’t seem to be a great Internet presence there, either.
It is possible to find European German Spitz breeders who will ship to the US, but the price of German Spitz puppies is high.
Expect to pay at least $1800 to $2400 for a German Spitz puppy. If you can arrange to have one shipped to you, the cost will be even higher.
German Spitz for Adoption
Because German Spitzes are so rare in the US, even finding one to adopt will be hard. You could try shelters near your area, but your best bet would probably be a rescue.
German Spitz Rescue
Spitz.rescue.me.org may be the best place to start if you’re thinking about a rescue. They work with several Spitz breeds and types, not just the German Spitz, but they currently seem to be the best option.
They maintain a nationwide database of dogs needing rescue, but again, there aren’t many available. At the time of this article, there are only 14 Spitzes in their database countrywide.
If you’re lucky enough to find a rescue, you will spend a lot less than if you were to buy a puppy from a breeder.
Is the German Spitz the Right Dog For You?
The German Spitz is a unique breed with a strong personality that can be vivacious and fun.
Many German Spitz behaviors that can be so delightful, though, can turn into challenges without proper training.
If you’re willing to do the work to tame some of these strong German Spitz temperament traits, this bright and lively little enchanter will be an ideal companion who will steal your heart.
Paula is an experienced writer who loves dogs and had many of them through the years. Her family always had large dogs—Border Collies, Labs, and Golden Retrievers. When her beloved Golden died of cancer, she decided to practice what she preached and do some research before choosing her next breed. She now shares this knowledge with thousands of dogtemperament.com readers worldwide.