I'm thinking about buying a German Spitz. Do they make good pets?
On the whole,yes. They are bright, intelligent and lively. They are also independent and have a tendency to be noisy if not taught otherwise from day one. They should be bold, which combined with their lively and adventurous temperaments, means a dog that cannot be ignored. As they are a small dog they need comparatively little physical exercise, but they should be kept occupied as their keen intelligence shouldn't go to waste. They have a profuse coat which means regular grooming is essential.
Do they have good temperaments?
As described above, they can be lively. Raised properly, and given the appropriate socialisation they mix well with people, other pets and dogs.
What do they look like?
A compact, square bodied dog with the characteristic spitz features of the tail carried over the back, well arched neck, wedge shaped head and prick ears set well on the head. They should have a profuse, offstanding coat. They can ( and do ) come in any colour although gold and black dogs tend to predominate. Wolf sable, black and white particolours, blue, cream and the occasional black and tan can be seen.
What size are they?
They come in two sizes - 'klein' and 'mittel' in the uk. The kleins are between 9 and a half inches and 11 and a half inches at the withers. The mittels between 12" and 15" at the withers. Please note that in the UK the sizes have only been treated as two separate varieties for a few years, sizes not having stabilised yet, so you may occasionally get a klein that is mittel in size and a mittel that is klein in size. If the size is important to you make sure your breeder is aware of this and look carefully into the percentage of dogs they have that are the correct size. If you wish to breed show, correct size is essential to achieve success in the show ring.
Are they easy to train?
Tricky question! There is no doubting their intelligence and ability to learn quickly. However, traditional methods of trying to make a dog do things, rather than teaching them to want to do things for rewards, will give an owner very limited success. A few have achieved success in obedience and agility competitions, and inevitably attract attention with their lively and energetic attitude to the job in hand. Using the right methods, they can be taught to do any number of things ( within their physical capabilities) and will tackle it with enthusiasm. You will be doomed to disappointment if you want a dog that gives 100% unquestioning obedience and may be better off considering a different breed if this is one of the major requirements you seek in your new dog.
How much exercise do they need?
They can take a surprising amount for their size, but on the whole they don't need miles of exercise everyday. They should however, like any dog, get out and about to have a change of scenery and the opportunity to socialise and meet other dogs and stimulii.
Are they destructive?
They shouldn't be if they are given enough to do. Even the most bored German spitz isn't particularly inclined to destroy the house. They may, however, steal food and be very resourceful in attempting to reach any left around.
I've been told they're noisy - is that right?
A number of the varieties of spitz have reputations for noisiness - not without foundation. Often a German spitz's first reaction to many new or alarming situations is to bark and they are very alert guard dogs. It is certainly possible to keep them quiet, but you will need to be aware of the potential noise if you have neighbours to worry about and therefore ensure it isn't allowed to develop.
Do they need a lot of Grooming?
Yes and No. It is easy to assume as they are a heavily coated breed that they need brushing everyday. In fact, this isn't always the best for the coat and a quick brush every other day coupled with a deep groom once a week is normally fine. Their coats should never be clipped in any way and even in summer, clipping the coat is not recommended as it then loses it's insulating qualities and the dog may infact be hotter. an occasional bath won't hurt, but they don't need them if grooming is kept up.
Are they good with children?
The question should really read would your children be good with the German spitz? They are a small breed and therefore more liable to suffer injury with the sort of rough handling children often expect of the family pet. A wrongly placed football or a falling toddler can do a lot of damage to a small dog. However, they are game to join in most activities with enthusiasm and unlike larger dogs, they are unlikely to pull or knock over the children.
Do they have any health problems?
Compared to some breeds they are pretty healthy. The breed standard is such that exaggeration of any feature which may lead to ill health is actively discouraged. You would be wise to ensure both parents of any potential purchase are certified clear of Patella luxation as there have been a few incidences of it in both sizes of German spitz. Poor mouths are also evidence which although not a serious health problem, can mean premature dental care will be needed.
What if I want a bitch so I can breed from her?
If you opt to buy a puppy you have to ensure you have bought her from typical, healthy lines and it helps to be as familiar as possible with her antecedents. You cannot however consider breeding from her until she is mature and all her virtues and faults are evident. No matter how well bred she is if there are unacceptable faults such as nervousness or aggressive temperament or if there are physical problems such as patella luxation, then she musn't be bred from. You may however decide to buy an adult. In this case be sure you know why the bitch is being sold as it is very rare for a breeder to let a good breeeding bitch go. Having said that some breeders will occasionally part with a good breeding bitch due to having too many dogs already in their kennel. Finally, if you are intending to breed, then you should be sure you can find permanent loving homes for the off spring and also be prepared to shoulder full responsibility for their well being if the need arises.
Where can I see some and find out more about German spitz?
The German Spitz Club runs two shows a year which are certainly the largest gatherings of German spitzes in any one place. See details below. General championship shows also have classes for German spitz but only a few offer challenge certificates ( more spitz showers attend these shows) - the UK Kennel club can give you a list of these shows. Most breeders enjoy the opportunity to discuss the breed and will be happy to talk to you and answer questions. Some breeders will be happy to let you visit and have a chat if it's clear you are serious in your interest in the breed, but please don't just drop in on them un announced. They are generally very busy people and you will need to make an appointment to see them. Speak to the German Spitz Club secretary, who will be happy to help and give you advice.
Where can I get details of puppies and breeders?
contact the German spitz club Hon Sec Mrs Val Dyer Waterend Cottage Hayes End Longney Gloucestershire England Tel: 01452 720594
or The Kennel Club
1 Clarges Street
Telephone: 0870 606 6750
Facsimile: 020 7518 1058