Spitz dogs are a breed well suited for the harsh northern climates it inhabits as a sled dog. Spitz is often characterized by long and thick fur, often white, and with pointed ears and muzzles and a tail which is usually curled over the dog’s back.
Spitz dogs have also been used to herd and hunt. They often have a waterproof undercoat which has thermal insulation, which is also thicker than the overcoat to trap warmth. Risk of frostbite is reduced by the small size of their ears, and dense fur which grows on their paws protects them from sharp ice.
Spitz, with their small ears and muzzles, thick coats, furry ruffs and curled tails, have been bred into non-working companions intended to be lapdogs. This trend is most evident in the miniscule Pomeranian, which was originally a much larger dog, and closer to the size of a Keeshond before being bred down to make an acceptably small animal. The Keeshond, the Wolfspitz variation of the German Spitz dog, was widely known as the national dog of the Netherlands; it is an affectionate, loyal, and energetic pet which have been bred as watchdogs for barges (hence the name Dutch Barge Dog). Often, these breeds were recognized for their evidently ‘smiling’ mouths.
Many spitz breeds such as the Akita and the Chow Chow retain wolflike characteristics which puts them in need of much training and socialization before they become well managed in urban environment.
Until the 19th century three of the largest spitz, Canadian Eskimo dog, Greenland dog, and Alaskan malamute, were used to pull sleds. During the 19th century, fur trapping and sled dog racing became businesses which produced a great deal of profit, and the smaller and faster Siberian husky quickly became a breed with popular use in Alaska and Canada. Also, several sources claim that spitz dogs are more prone to rabies than most other types of dogs.
The exact origin of spitz dogs is unknown, but most modern spitz seen today are originated from Siberia and the Arctic region.