The Spitz is believed to be one of the most ancient dog breeds, and this theory is backed up by some archeological evidence. There are many different breeds of Spitz and Spitz-type dogs. Originally, this breed was meant to be a working dog, and you can find them and related breeds all over the world that were bred to help people hunt for food, herd domestic animals, and even pull heavy sleds over snow.
What does a Spitz look like? They are usually spotted by a very lush and long coat of fur that is usually white, small and pointed ears, and a pointy muzzle. Typical Spitz tails either curl or hang down to the ground. Original Spitz-types were rather large, but there are some breeds that have been produced that are smaller and either met for lighter duties or as companion dogs.
It is exciting to trace back the history of these dogs because remains have been found that date back to about 3,000 BC – or about 5,000 years ago. These remains were found in Central Europe, and it is believed that is where the breed originated. Even today, many types of Spitz breeds are in the region, but since that time, they have also migrated into Europe and even to North America.
It is believed that Spitz dogs bred with wolves commonly in the early years. Genetic testing has demonstrated that the Spitz and related breeds are still more closely related to their wolf ancestors than many other breeds. It is true that some related breeds, like the small Pomeranian, don’t look a lot like wolves, but looks can be pretty deceptive when it comes to canine ancestors.
In any case, scientists suggest that the Spitz breeds are one of the oldest actual dog breeds in the world. This is probably easy to understand because many features of these useful canines makes them vary useful to people. It is easy to imagine that ancient people bred these dogs for certain characteristics that they needed at the time to help them with pulling heavy loads, hunt game, or even protect them from predators and other people.
Apparently the Spitz lived in Europe for a long time, but about 2,000 years ago, they also migrated into Asia, mostly Mongolia and Siberia. These Siberian dogs may have been the ancestors of today’s Alaskan dogs, but they were surely taken from Siberia into Alaska by humans as there was no way to cross by land. There are also other contemporary Asian breeds like the Akita and Chow Chow that are now pretty popular all over the world.
There are three important working functions of these dogs. These were helping with managing herds of domestic animals, hunting game, and pulling loads on sleds in the snow and ice. There is no doubt that these dogs were very useful to people from prehistoric times to the present times.
Spitz Big Game Breeds:
Karelian Bear Dog
Spitz Small Game Breeds
Not all Spitz dogs are huge, and these are some examples of smaller dogs in related breeds that were used more for hunting smaller mammals and birds:
From five to two thousand years ago, in mostly prehistoric times, this breed traveled through parts of Europe and Asia. It is likely that these handy dogs traveled with humans who bred and kept them. Today, you can find examples of many dog breeds that originated from this original source, and they vary quite a bit in size and appearance.
What habitats where these dogs bred for? It is pretty obvious from their modern appearance and the places where bones have been found that these dogs were first bred to thrive in a pretty cold and tough climate. This is also obvious by some common features of most of these dogs.
For example, the coat of these dogs is lush, and they also have an undercoat that provides some protection from water and also insulation. They have fairly modest-sized ears that are less likely to suffer from frostbite. Their feet are also pretty furry, and this helps pad their feet against cold and sharp ice. These adaptations help them thrive in cold climates that would punishing to other breeds of dogs without these features.
The Spitz breeds are incredibly useful, and they are also known to be very loyal dogs. With that said, they still retain a fairly independent spirit and mistrust of both strange people and dogs that may have come from their close relationship to wolves.
While these are fantastic working dogs, they may not be the first choice for people who want a friendly pet around lots of other dogs, kids, and strangers. Also, since they have a lot of energy, some Spitz breeds are not OK for living in an apartment or other spaces without a good yard and place to run.
There are smaller Spitz dogs, and one example is the popular Pomeranian. These are small dogs that may be fine to keep in a smaller area, but they still need exercise, walks, and plenty of good training.
Overall, most Spitz breeds are very handy working dogs. If you are a rancher, farmer, or hunter, you are likely to find that your Spitz or related dog is your best friend. However, if you live close to a lot of other people, you should know that these dogs may need a lot of training and socialization to live safely. They are the perfect dog breed for some, but they are not a good choice for everybody.
July 29, 2014