The Eurasier is a breed of Spitz-type dog developed in Germany to be a companion animal. A very recently developed breed, the Eurasier was first created in the 1960’s. The Eurasier is most well-known for its attractive appearance and suitability as a family companion. Although the breed remains quite rare, Eurasier numbers are growing both in Europe and the United States. The Eurasier is also known as the Wolf-Chow and the Eurasian.
The Eurasier is one of the most recently developed breeds to achieve widespread international recognition. Because careful breeding records have been kept of the Eurasier since it was first developed, much more is known about the ancestry of this dog than most others. The history of the Eurasier begins in the 1950’s in Germany. During that time, a German man by the name of Julius Wipfel lived in Weinheim an der Bergtrasse, Germany with his black Spitz-type dog. Wipfel greatly cherished his dog and its intelligence, independence, and wolf-like behavior. In 1960, Wipfel’s beloved Spitz died, and he began to seek out a replacement. He decided to acquire a female German Wolfspitz which he named Bella. Bella proved to be much easier to live with than his previous dog, but Wipfel found that he missed the primitive wolf-like nature of his earlier animal. Wipfel decided that he should create a new breed that combined the appearance of the Wolfspitz, the behavior of the wolf, and a high degree of suitability as a family companion.
By the end of 1960, Wipfel had developed a clearly defined goal for his breeding program. He wanted to develop a medium-size, Spitz-type dog with an attractive appearance but that still commanded respect. He deemed it necessary for his breed to have a calm, even-temper and for it to be adapted to all kinds of domestic life. Most importantly, his breed needed to be an excellent companion for the entire family, including children.
Wipfel decided to base his breed on the German Wolfspitz, which he admired for its appearance, ability to endure harsh weather, good health, long lifespan, intelligence, and devotion to its family. Wipfel also liked that the breed had a very minimal hunting instinct and a high degree of fertility. An avid dog lover, Wipfel was very familiar with the works of Nobel Prize winner and behavioral scientist Konrad Lorenz, who had written extensively on his work with Chow Chow and German Shepherd Dog crosses. As a result of this work, Wipfel became very interested in crossing the Chow Chow with the Wolf Spitz. The Chow Chow exhibited a number of characteristics which Wipfel found highly desirable, including a primitive wolf-like temperament, extreme devotion to its family, intense loyalty, calm nature, and a tendency to bark very little. Because his breed was to be based primarily on the German Wolfspitz and the Chow Chow, Wipfel decided to name it the Wolf-Chow.
In 1961, Julius Wipfel founded the “Kynologische Zuchtgemeinschaft fuer Wolf-Chow-Polarhunde,” which loosely translates to, “Canine Breeding Association for Wolf-Chow-Northern Dogs.” He began his breeding program in earnest, producing a substantial amount of puppies. By 1966, Wipfel had officially registered his organization with the German government and developed the first official written standard. Wipfel had seen the genetic and temperamental problems which had arisen by breeding dogs exclusively in one or two colors and deliberately avoided selection based on color. Wipfel primarily focused on temperament and health, although general appearance did play a role in his efforts. At the time, Chow Chow mixes were becoming increasingly popular in Germany, and there was a substantial amount of interest in Wipfel’s dogs. Various local and national media reports helped to popularize the Wolf-Chow, which rapidly gained a number of followers. One of the most important early fanciers was the renowned Austro-German canine researcher Eberhard Trumler, who called the, “mixture,” a success; although he emphasized that the new breed should have as large a breeding pool as possible. A number of other breeders became involved with the Wolf-Chow, of which the most important was Charlotte Baldamus. Most fanciers agree that Baldamus was the breeder who most successfully achieved Wipfel’s goals for the Wolf-Chow, even Wipfel himself who worked closely with Baldamus for many years. Likely as a result of contact with Wipfel, Konrad Lorenz himself became very interested in the Wolf-Chow and followed its development closely. In 1972, Lorenz purchased a Wolf-Chow puppy from Baldamus, a dog he later described as, “one of the dogs with the best qualities I have ever had.”
Despite the best efforts of Wipfel, Baldamus, and other breeders, the small gene pool of the Wolf-Chow eventually led to severe inbreeding. Health and temperament issues began to appear in the breed, which was considered anathema to its fanciers. Breeders had also begun noticing that a few Wolf-Chows exhibited, “rough” temperaments. Wipfel decided that it was necessary to introduce new blood into the Wolf-Chow. The Samoyed breed was selected due to its medium size, typical Spitzen appearance, and friendly attitude. In 1972, Wipfel purchased the male Samoyed Cito von Pol and began to use him as a stud dog. These crosses proved to be a great success, and it was generally agreed that the temperament, health, and appearance of the Wolf-Chow dramatically improved as a result. As a result of changes introduced via Cito von Pol, the Wolf-Chow standard was rewritten in 1974.
In 1973, the Verband fuer das Deutsche Hundewesen (German Kennel Club or VDH) and the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) both agreed to officially acknowledge the Wolf-Chow. However, they demanded that the name be changed. At the time, the VDH did not allow existing breed names to become a part of a new breed name. Additionally, the German Wolfspitz Club strongly protested against the name Wolf-Chow because they felt it too closely associated the new breed, which many club members were not fond of, with the ancient German Wolfspitz. To appease everyone, Julius Wipfel decided to officially rename his breed. He selected the name Eurasier to emphasize that the dog is descended from both European dogs. There was some confusion as to the breed’s name, and it also became known as the Eurasian. Julius Wipfel also officially renamed his club the Eurasier-Klub e.V., Sitz Weinheim (Eurasier Club, officially registered in Weinheim).
The Eurasier continued to grow in popularity in Germany throughout the 20th Century. By the end of the 1980’s there were three independent Eurasier clubs operating in Germany. FCI recognition greatly improved the international awareness of the Eurasier, and substantial numbers of puppies began to be exported to other countries across Western Europe. The International Federation for Eurasier Breeding (IFEZ) was founded to make it easier for breed fanciers across the world to promote and protect the Eurasier. Based on FCI rule changes, the three German Eurasier clubs met to change the breed standard in 1992. The agreed upon standard was officially published in 1994.
Over the past 2 decades, a number of Eurasiers have been imported to North America. Most of these dogs ended up in Canada, where the colder climate makes a breed with the long coat of the Eurasier more desirable, and the Canadian Kennel Club granted official recognition to the breed in 1995. However, a fair number of these dogs have also made their way to the United States. There are currently around 450 Eurasiers in North America, of which approximately 150 reside in the United States. In 1996, the United Kennel Club (UKC), the second largest purebred dog registry in both the United States and the world, granted full recognition to the Eurasier as a member of the Northern Breed Group. In 2005, the United States Eurasier Club (USEC) was founded to protect and promote the Eurasier in the U.S. Since its creation, the USEC has worked closely with other Eurasier clubs from around the world, especially those in Germany. The primary goal of the USEC is to have the Eurasier officially recognized with the American Kennel Club (AKC). In 2008, the USEC achieved the first step of its goal when the AKC officially entered the breed into the Foundation Stock Service (AKC-FSS). If the USEC and the Eurasier breed can make certain benchmarks in the United States, the AKC will eventually move the breed into the Miscellaneous Class and then give the breed full recognition as a member of the Non-Sporting Group.
The Eurasier has been developed exclusively as a companion dog, and it is ill-suited for any other purpose. Currently the vast majority of Eurasiers are companion animals and/or show dogs, although a few have been used for other purposes including therapy work and canine competitions such as obedience and agility. Although the Eurasier is currently found in most European Union countries, along with the United States, Canada, and a few other countries, the breed’s total population remains very low. There are currently only approximately 6,450 purebred Eurasiers in the world, of which 6,000 reside in Europe. The IFEZ and various national Eurasier clubs are currently working to increase Eurasier numbers slowly and responsibly. Although the Eurasier is a rare breed, it has a very dedicated group of fanciers and the breed’s future looks bright.
The Eurasier is very similar in appearance to other Spitz-type dogs, although its appearance is quite distinct in the group. Many of these dogs closely resemble the Chow Chow, and most Americans would probably mistake them for a Chow-mix. The Eurasier is the epitome of a medium-sized dog. Most males stand between 20½ and 23½ inches tall at the shoulder while most females stand between 19 and 22 inches. Males typically weigh between 50 and 65 pounds, while females typically weigh between 40 and 55 pounds. Most of the Eurasier’s body is obscured beneath its long, dense coat, but underneath is a very sturdily constructed animal. The tail of the Eurasier is quite long. The tail is always held over the back, although it may be straight forward, bent slightly sideways, or curled.
The head and face of the Eurasier are somewhat variable, with some breed members appearing very similar to the Chow Chow and others looking much more like the Wolfspitz. Although the head of the Eurasier is proportional to the size of the dog, the extensive hair makes it look much larger than it actually is. When viewed from above, the head of the Eurasier forms a wedge-shape. The skull is not overly broad, but it is definitely broader than it is narrow. The muzzle of the Eurasier should be at least as long as the rest of the skull. The muzzle and skull are barely distinct and blend in almost seamlessly, but the breed’s hair often makes it appear that it has a flat face. The muzzle itself is straight and tapers slightly towards the end. Some breed members have muzzles which are quite wide and reminiscent of the Chow Chow, while others have narrower muzzles more like those of the Wolfspitz. The nose of the Eurasier is of medium-size and should always be black in color. The ears of this breed are naturally erect, and should always stand straight up. The ears are medium-in-size, triangular-in-shape, and slightly rounded at the tips. The eyes of the Eurasier are medium-in-size, dark-in-color, and set slightly obliquely. The eyes should never be obscured by the dog’s coat.
The coat of the Eurasier is probably the breed’s most important feature. The Eurasier has a double-coat. The undercoat is short, soft, and very thick. The outer coat is loose, and medium to medium-long in length. The hair on the muzzle, face, ears, and fronts of the legs is short, while the hair on the tail, backs of the legs, and thighs is long and flowing. The hair on the neck is slightly longer than that of the rest of the body but it does not form the mane common to many Spitzen. Eurasier breeders have long felt that breeding dogs based on color is one of the major reasons why so many purebred dogs suffer from disease. As a result, all colors and combinations of colors are permitted in the Eurasier with three exceptions. Eurasiers may not be pure white, have white patches, or be solid liver. Occasionally, white, white-patched, or liver Eurasiers will be born. Such dogs are ineligible in the show ring and should not be bred, but otherwise make just as acceptable pets as other breed members.
The Eurasier has been developed exclusively as a companion animal, and it has the temperament one would expect of such a breed. This breed is well-known for its calm, even-temperament. The Eurasier is known to form extremely close bonds with its family, to whom it is intensely devoted. Unlike many similar breeds which tend to become one person dogs, the Eurasier usually forms equally strong bonds with all members of the family. The Eurasier is a breed that wants to be in the constant company of its family, and often suffers from severe separation anxiety in their absence. However, this breed is far from needy and most Eurasiers are dogs that want to be in the same room as their owners but not necessarily right next to them. Although the Eurasier is an affectionate breed, few would be described as fawning. When properly trained and socialized with children, most Eurasiers are very good with them. This breed tends to be among the most tolerant and gentle with children of all Spitzen.
Although the Eurasier is very fond of its own family, most of these dogs are very reserved with strangers. Eurasiers are usually very aloof with new people, and many take weeks or months to warm up to them. This definitely does not mean that the Eurasier is an aggressive breed, quite the opposite. In fact, human aggression is not tolerated by Eurasier breeders and has largely been eliminated from most breeding lines. Socialization is very important for this breed, however, in order to ensure that its natural distrust and suspicion does not become nervousness or fear. Eurasiers generally make very good watchdogs that will reliably alert their owners of the approach of a stranger. This breed makes a very poor guard dog as most breed members would warily watch an intruder for hours from across the room before they would ever show them aggression.
Bred as a companion animal, the Eurasier tends to get along very well with other dogs. Although it is not unknown, dog aggression is quite rare in the Eurasier (most breed members quickly back down from any confrontation), and most occurrences are the result of two unaltered males developing issues with each other. When properly trained and socialized, most breed members do very well with other dogs, and most would greatly enjoy sharing their lives with at least one other canine companion. Eurasiers were bred to have very low hunting drives. Although all breeds will chase animals with which they have not been socialized, the sizable majority of Eurasiers will live in peace and harmony with cats and other pets which they know well. Some Eurasiers will prowl the backyard hunting squirrels and lizards, but many show little to no interest in doing so.
The Eurasier is considered to be of average training difficulty. Most breed members are willing to please and learn very quickly. Eurasiers generally respond very well to training and have had some success as competitive obedience, agility, and other canine events. Families looking for a dog that will obediently obey basic commands will probably be very pleased with the Eurasier. However, this breed can pose some training difficulties. Some breed members can be stubborn, and most will refuse to perform boring and repetitive tasks. Eurasiers respond far, far better to rewards-based training techniques (especially those that emphasize food rewards) than those that emphasize correction, which they frequently ignore entirely. Although the Eurasier is quite intelligent, it is probably fair to say that this breed’s training ceiling is significantly lower than a breed such as a German Shepherd Dog or Standard Poodle, and those looking for a working or high-level competition dog would be better suited to a different breed.
Although the Eurasier is generally an active breed, it is certainly not an exceptionally energetic one. Most breed members are very satisfied with a long daily walk of between 30 and 45 minutes and perhaps some playtime with children or other dogs. Most average dedicated families will be able to meet the needs of this breed without being burdened. Although the Eurasier does not need much exercise, breed members who are not provided enough may develop behavioral problems such as destructiveness, hyperactivity, over excitability, and nervousness. Even though the Eurasier is not an exceptionally active breed, this dog is quite physically capable and will gladly accompany its family on hikes through the mountains or other rigorous activities.
The Eurasier possesses a number of characteristics which make the breed an excellent house dog. Eurasiers tend to bark very little. Most breed members will let out a few alert barks when someone is at the door and then be silent for many hours. This breed is also known to be very clean, and most Eurasiers have very little odor. Although all dog’s can become destructive when not properly cared for, the Eurasier tends to be considerably less so than most. When these factors are combined with the breed’s marginal exercise requirements, the Eurasier makes a much better apartment dog than most breeds of its size, and this breed is considered an excellent choice for families of all living situations.
Despite what one might think by looking at the Eurasier’s coat, this is actually a relatively low maintenance breed. Eurasiers do not require extensive grooming only a weekly or biweekly thorough brushing. These dogs generally do not need professional grooming, although many owners do choose to have their coats cut in the hot summer months. Other than that, the Eurasier only requires those routine maintenance procedures which all breeds need such as teeth brushing and nail clipping. Eurasiers do shed, and they can shed very heavily. This breed replaces its entire undercoat once or twice a year, a process which takes about three weeks. During this period, Eurasiers are incredibly heavy shedders that will leave a trail of hair almost wherever they go. For the rest of the year, shedding is only average and can be largely controlled by regular brushing.
Health has always been one of the major concerns which have driven Eurasier breeding, and most Eurasier breeders put it as either their number one priority or number two behind temperament. As a result, the Eurasier tends to be significantly healthier than most purebred dogs. This breed lives a relatively long life. Most breed members live to between 12 and 14, although it is far from uncommon for a Eurasier to reach 15 or 16. Because at one point the Eurasier had a very small gene pool, a few health defects are known to occur in this breed, although generally at lower rates than are found in most purebred dogs. Those problems which are of sufficient concern to be routinely checked by Eurasier breeders include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, patellar Luxation, hypothyroidism, and a number of eye problems.
Because skeletal and visual problems are known to occur in this breed, it is highly advisable for owners to have their pets tested by both the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF). The OFA and CERF perform genetic and other tests to identify potential health defects before they show up. This is especially valuable in the detection of conditions that do not show up until the dog has reached an advanced age, making it especially important for anyone considering breeding their dog to have them tested to prevent the spread of potential genetic conditions to its offspring. It is highly advisable to request that breeders show any OFA and CERF documentation that they have on a puppy or its parents, which essentially all reputable breeders will have.
A full list of genetically inherited health problems which have been identified in the Eurasier would have to include: