Types of Spitz Dog Breeds

Eduarda Piamore
By Eduarda Piamore, Expert in canine and feline psychology, education and training.. Updated: May 7, 2024
Types of Spitz Dog Breeds

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Spitz dogs are a distinctive group of dog breeds instantly recognizable by their thick double coats, pointed ears, and curled tails. They originate from northern regions of Europe and Asia, historically bred for hunting, herding, and companionship. Today, these loyal and intelligent canines are cherished family pets around the world. There are generally between 50 and 70 distinct Spitz dog breeds recognized worldwide. Each type offers unique characteristics and appearances, making them suitable for a variety of lifestyles and preferences.

Explore the most popular Spitz dog breeds and their unique traits in this AnimalWised article.

You may also be interested in: Types of Akita Dog Breeds
  1. German spitz
  2. Finnish Spitz
  3. Italian Volpino
  4. Norrbotten Spitz
  5. Swedish Vallhund
  6. Eurasier
  7. Chow Chow
  8. Japanese Spitz
  9. Akita Inu
  10. Korean Jindo
  11. Other types of spitz dogs
See more >>

German spitz

The German Spitz is a breed category encompassing five distinct varieties recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) under a single breed standard.

These varieties exhibit significant size variations, with the Pomeranian (Dwarf Spitz) standing at just 11-22 cm tall, while the Giant Spitz (Gross Spitz) reaches a height of 43-55 cm. The other three varieties fall between these extremes: the Klein Spitz (Small Spitz), Mittel Spitz (Medium Spitz), and the Wolfspitz (Keeshond).

Despite their size differences, all German Spitz varieties share a common genetic heritage linked to the Stone Age tundra dogs (Canis familiaris palustris Rüthimeyer). This ancestry is evident in their double coat, typically consisting of a long, straight outer coat and a dense, wooly undercoat, ideal for cold climates.

Additionally, all varieties possess a characteristic vulpine appearance, featuring pointed ears, a tapered muzzle, and a bushy tail carried high over the back. Notably, the Keeshond variety is distinguished by its wolf-like markings, including a black mask and distinctive markings around the eyes.

There is some ongoing debate among dog breed experts regarding the specific origins of the Keeshond. While the FCI classifies it as a German Spitz variant, some kennel clubs recognize it as a separate breed due to potential historical divergence. Regardless of this classification distinction, all German Spitz varieties remain undeniably linked by their shared ancestry, functional double coat, and playful personalities.

For an in-depth look at the five fascinating variations of the German Spitz breed, check out this article.

Types of Spitz Dog Breeds - German spitz

Finnish Spitz

The Finnish Spitz, also known as Suomenpystykorva, is a medium-sized Spitz-type dog breed originating from Finland. Primarily bred for hunting purposes, it boasts a rich history intertwined with the Nordic region. While the exact origins remain unclear, some theories suggest a close genetic link to wild wolves, hinting at an ancient lineage.

This versatile hunting dog possesses a sturdy, square build with a well-muscled body, reflecting its athletic nature. Its most striking feature is the double coat, typically a vibrant reddish or golden-red color. This dense fur provides excellent insulation, allowing the Finnish Spitz to thrive in the harsh cold of its native environment.

Beyond its physical prowess, the Finnish Spitz is known for its friendly and playful personality. It exhibits patience and sociability, making it a suitable companion dog, particularly for families with children.

Today, the Finnish Spitz remains a popular choice for hunters due to its exceptional tracking and pointing abilities. However, its affectionate and adaptable nature has also earned it a place as a cherished family dog breed admired by enthusiasts worldwide.

Many Spitz dogs share a fox-like appearance, with pointed ears and a narrow muzzle. If you'd like to discover other dogs with similar features, check out this article.

Types of Spitz Dog Breeds - Finnish Spitz

Italian Volpino

The Volpino Italiano boasts a rich history in Italy, favored by Italian courts since Roman times.

Unlike the Pomeranian, it falls into the non-sporting group due to its size. Standing up to 30 centimeters (11.8 inches) tall and weighing between 4 kilograms (8.8 pounds) and 5 kilograms (11 pounds), it's slightly larger than the typical toy breed classification.

This breed comes in two recognized coat colors: white and red. The double coat is typically thick and plush, requiring regular brushing to maintain its healthy appearance.

Known for their lively and dynamic nature, Volpino Italianos thrive on human companionship. They enjoy playful interactions with children but can also exhibit alertness and watchdog tendencies. This energetic breed requires consistent training and socialization for a well-adjusted temperament.

The Volpino Italiano remains a relatively rare breed compared to the Pomeranian, offering a unique choice for those seeking a lively and loyal companion dog.

Explore other popular Italian dog breeds in this informative article.

Types of Spitz Dog Breeds - Italian Volpino

Norrbotten Spitz

Originating most likely from the northern region of Sweden, particularly Norrbotten County, the Norrbottenspets boasts a history dating back to the mid-17th century. Known for their resilience and adaptability, these dogs have served diverse roles including hunting, herding, sled pulling, farm guarding, and companionship.

Norrbottenspets typically stand around 45 centimeters (17.7 inches) tall for males and slightly smaller at 42 centimeters (16.5 inches) for females. They possess a square-shaped body with a slim build, complemented by well-developed muscles, especially in their extremities.

Their coat is short and double-layered, featuring a dense and soft undercoat. The outer coat is rigid or semi-rigid, often exhibiting tufts of longer hairs around the nape, back of the thighs, and under the tail. According to breed standards, their coat color is predominantly white with prominent wheat-colored patches on both sides of the head and ears, though variations in markings like red or fawn can occur.

Types of Spitz Dog Breeds - Norrbotten Spitz

Swedish Vallhund

The Swedish Vallhund, also known as the Swedish Shepherd Dog, is a small herding breed originating from Sweden.

Their history stretches back over 1,000 years, with evidence suggesting Viking usage for herding, guarding, and protection duties. The breed faced near-extinction in the early 1940s but was successfully revived and remains relatively rare outside of Sweden.

Swedish Vallhunds typically have a compact, slightly rectangular body, with males reaching a height of up to 35 centimeters (13.8 inches) at the withers and females slightly smaller at 33 centimeters (13 inches). Their medium-length, double coat comes in various colors, including gray, chestnut, red, reddish, and grayish yellow.

Known for their intelligence, dedication, and loyalty, Swedish Vallhunds are also protective of their families. Their energetic and alert temperament makes training and socialization crucial. Additionally, their herding instincts may manifest in behaviors like nipping or circling, requiring proper management.

Types of Spitz Dog Breeds - Swedish Vallhund


Developed in Germany during the 1960s, the Eurasier is a medium-sized dog breed with Asian roots. Created through selective breeding between the Chow Chow, Samoyed, and Keeshond, the Eurasier combines desirable traits from each parent breed.

These dogs stand out for their elongated body, solid build, and a thick double coat that comes in a variety of colors. Their features often reflect their heritage, with an elongated face reminiscent of Samoyeds and a long, bushy tail often carried curled over the back. Some Eurasiers may inherit a lion-like ruff and a bluish tongue from the Chow Chow, though this isn't present in all individuals.

Eurasiers are known for their calm, playful, and sociable temperament, making them well-suited for families with children. However, they can also exhibit an independent streak, requiring consistent training and positive reinforcement techniques. Overall, the Eurasier's loyalty, trainability, and friendly nature make them appealing companions for active families.

Discover the diversity of Asia's dog companions. Learn about other popular Asian breeds here.

Types of Spitz Dog Breeds - Eurasier

Chow Chow

The Chow Chow is a renowned breed of Chinese origin, instantly recognizable by its distinctive bluish-black tongue and lion-like mane of fur around the face.

This medium-large dog boasts a rich history dating back over 2,000 years, making it one of the oldest known breeds worldwide. Originally serving as guardians of homes, temples, and working as herding and hunting dogs, today Chow Chows are prized companions.

Chow Chows are known for their calm and independent temperament. They form strong bonds with their families but can be reserved with strangers. Early socialization is crucial for these regal dogs to adapt and thrive in various situations.

Chow Chows possess a high-set tail that curls over the back and small, almond-shaped eyes that add to their dignified expression. Their double coat comes in a variety of colors, including red, black, blue, cinnamon, and cream.

Did you know Chow Chows have blue tongues? It's just one of their many unique features! Dive deeper into this fascinating breed here.

Types of Spitz Dog Breeds - Chow Chow

Japanese Spitz

The Japanese Spitz is a breed developed in Japan during the early 20th century. While the exact origins are not fully established, it's believed to be a result of crosses between various European Spitz breeds, possibly including the German Spitz and Russian Spitz. Some speculate a connection to the American Eskimo and Samoyed, though the Japanese Spitz is distinctly smaller.

Standing at a height of 30 to 38 centimeters (11.8 to 15 inches) at the withers and weighing under 10 kilograms (22 pounds), the Japanese Spitz is instantly recognizable by its pure white double coat. This thick fur requires regular brushing to maintain its beauty and prevent matting. Their most striking feature is their triangular, erect ears, adding to their alert expression. Unlike the Samoyed, which can have cream or biscuit colors, the Japanese Spitz's coat is uniformly white.

Known for their exceptionally friendly, lively, and alert temperament, Japanese Spitz dogs thrive on companionship. With proper socialization, they can excel as family companions and adapt well to living with other pets. However, their white coat requires consistent grooming to keep it clean and healthy, a factor to consider for potential owners.

Types of Spitz Dog Breeds - Japanese Spitz

Akita Inu

While the movie about Hachiko brought renewed popularity to Japanese dogs, the Akita Inu's history is far richer. Matagi Akitas, the forerunners of the Akita Inu, were smaller hunting dogs used for bear hunting. However, in the early 1600s, dog fighting led to crossbreeding Matagi Akitas with mastiffs and Tosas to increase size and strength.

By the early 20th century, dog fighting was outlawed, but the Akita Inu had already undergone significant changes, losing some of its spitz characteristics like a curled tail and a thick double coat. World War II further threatened the Akita population, with the remaining dogs displaying a wider range of appearances due to continued crossbreeding, possibly including German Shepherds.

Faced with this situation, dedicated Japanese breeders set out to restore the "true" Akita Inu. They focused on breeding lines solely from Matagi Akita ancestry. This effort resulted in the modern Akita Inu, a larger dog compared to its Matagi predecessor, yet one that retained its spitz heritage without the influence of mastiffs, German Shepherds, or Tosas.

Explore the rich heritage and unique characteristics of the Akita dog breed in this other article.

Types of Spitz Dog Breeds - Akita Inu

Korean Jindo

The Jindo dog, also known as the Chindo dog, is a spitz breed primarily found in its native South Korea. While not uncommon there, it's considered rare outside the country. Originating from Jindo Island, Jindo dogs have a rich history as guard dogs and hunters of various game. Their ancestry is believed to be a mix of native Korean dogs and Mongolian dogs brought over during the 13th century.

Interestingly, there are three recognized body type variations within the Korean Jindo breed:

  • Tonggol or Gyupgae: this is the most common type, recognized by the breed standard. It boasts a muscular and well-proportioned build.

  • Hudu or Heutgae: these dogs have a slimmer build with a longer back and shallower chest compared to the Tonggol. Their heads, snouts, and ears also tend to be more elongated.

  • Gakgol: a blend of the two, Gakgol dogs possess the body length of the Hudu but the chest depth of the Tonggol.

Holding the prestigious title of South Korea's national dog, the Jindo even had a moment in the spotlight during the opening ceremony of the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.

Types of Spitz Dog Breeds - Korean Jindo

Other types of spitz dogs

The FCI recognizes many other spitz-type and similar dog breeds. To maintain brevity, we'll focus on the breeds classified within Group 5 of the FCI. First, within the section dedicated to Asian spitz and similar breeds, we find:

  • American Akita
  • Hokkaido
  • Kai Ken
  • Kishu Ken
  • Shiba Inu
  • Shikoku

Additionally, within Group 5, there are other breeds of spitz dogs classified in different sections as "Nordic dogs," which include:

Nordic guard and herding dogs:

  • Finnish Lapphund or Lapinporokoira
  • Finnish Lapphund or Suomenlapinkoira
  • Icelandic Sheepdog or Íslenskur Fjárhundur
  • Norwegian Buhund
  • Swedish Lapphund

Nordic hunting dogs:

  • Karelian Bear Dog
  • Norwegian Lundehund
  • Russian-European Laika
  • West Siberian Laika
  • East Siberian Laika
  • Swedish Elkhound

Nordic sled dogs:

  • Canadian Eskimo Dog
  • Siberian Husky
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Greenland Dog
  • Samoyed

Since you've explored the world of Spitz dogs, delve deeper into the fascinating realm of Hounds with this article on popular hound breeds.

Types of Spitz Dog Breeds - Other types of spitz dogs

If you want to read similar articles to Types of Spitz Dog Breeds, we recommend you visit our Comparisons category.

  • International Cynological Federation. Group 5: Spitz type and primitive type dogs . Available at:

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Types of Spitz Dog Breeds