Illustrated breed standard of the German Spitz

What should a Spitz actually look like?

There are small Giant Spitzes with a shoulder height of 43 cm and large Giant Spitzes with almost 60 cm. There are Spitzes with a lot of fur and others with little, there are piebald and solid colored large Spitz, some have a head like a German Shepherd Dog and others do have a swine's nose. There are Spitzes with huge ears, others have cuddly soft baby plush... Since there are now so many different types of Spitz that differ strikingly in appearance, I wanted to know what the Spitz originally looked like. Here are the results of my research. 


My considerations of the old standard concern in principle all Spitz sizes, since originally the smaller Spitzes were also true copies of the large ones and only differed from them in their smaller size (cf. "Der Deutsche Spitz", no. 67, p. 48). 

General appearance of the German Spitz

Giant Spitz Medium sized Spitz appearance standard breed
On the left an old photo of a black Giant Spitz, on the right a piebald bitch from 2023 (Photo: F. Pelikan)

A good guard dog must have an impressive appearance. This includes a broad, well-developed chest and the resulting broad stance. His legs are straight, with very little angulation of the rear extremities. In order to be able to guarantee the Spitz's inherent jumping power, agility and nimbleness, it is essential for power transmission reasons that the rear metatarsus is much longer than in most other dog breeds. The piebald Spitz on the pic has none of this at all, and she also lacks any substance whatsoever. However, a guard dog with skinny, porcelain-like legs impresses no one.


A German Spitz still has to have a triangular, strong head, as can be clearly seen in the left picture. The dog on the right, on the other hand, has a head that is much too narrow and a stop that is completely wrong - at least for a Giant Spitz. The breed standard also speaks of a weatherproof, double coat with a good, dense undercoat. The fur of a Spitz must be off-standing even in summer and not lie flat and close to the body, like the piebald on the right. This is not a question of aesthetics, but of functionality, since the insulating effect of the fur in summer and winter is based on the layers of air between the fur and the skin. However, these air layers are only found in stand-off hair. A proper Spitz also has a strong, well-defined mane-like ruff around the neck - which you won't find on the dog on the right.

Head of the German Spitz

Seen both from above and from the front, the Spitz's medium-sized head tends to form an isosceles triangleIn fact, this means that a Spitz's face does not (!) have to be narrow, but on the contrary is wide. The muzzle shouldn't be too long either. I've often seen "Spitzes" with such pointed, wedge-shaped faces that in comparison some German Shepherd Dogs have a really wide head. Sorry, but that's not what a proper Spitz should look like...

Kopf Form Deutscher Spitz Pomeranian Großspitz Mittelspitz Kleinspitz Keeshond Schnauze Rassestandard Fuchs
Kopf Form Deutscher Spitz Pomeranian Großspitz Mittelspitz Kleinspitz Keeshond Schnauze Rassestandard Fuchs

The representations are exemplary, but should not be understood as completely exact.

- The medium-sized head corresponds to the type "Foxy Head"

- If you look at the head from above, it is wedge-shaped

- Head has a slight cheek base 

- The head is rounded, nothing is angular or flat (as in Alsatians), heads that are too round are not desirable too ("apple head")

- Muzzle is neither too long nor too short, it's in a proportionally pleasing ratio of 2:3 to the top of the head

- The muzzle should be neither too blunt, coarse or heavy nor too narrow or snipy

- Nose is pure black on all Spitz, only dark brown on the brown Spitz 

HEAD SHAPE (from left to right): Picture 1 and Picture 2 : Top of head neatly rounded with moderate stop (fox head); Picture 3: Samoyed with a head that would be much too flat for a Spitz, muzzle would be too long ; Picture 4 Too flat skull, the muzzle is too long on this Giant Spitz; Picture 5: The stop of this Lapphund would be too abrupt for a Spitz, the head would be too exaggeratedly round (apple head).

- From side view, the top of the head should show a good stop. The skull should not be flat, which tends to give the dog a Collie- or Alsatian-like expression, but too much stop or a stop which meets the muzzle abruptly is equally undesirable

- Bridge of the nose should be slightly round, Ram's Noses are undesirable

- A bit of a pushed-out nose is fine, but when too stumpy, too coarse or too turned-up (Swine's Nose) the look becomes coarse and heavy

Image A: Foxy Head - corresponds to the ideal German Spitz head type with a nicely rounded forehead and a moderate stop. Image B: Apple Head - here the stop is too abrupt, the forehead is too rounded. Picture C: Ram's Nose - the stop is too flat, there is hardly any talk of a rounded forehead. Image D: Swine's Nose - although a bit of a pushed-out nose is desirable for the Spitz, you can also overdo it. The muzzle is far too pushed out and really looks like a pig's nose. *oinkoink* 🐷🤭

The lips of the German Spitz

- German Spitz's muzzle is clean cut

- Lips and soft tissue are neat, not thick, coarse or sagging

- The angle of the nasal cleft is very flat

THE LIPS  (from left to right): Image A: The lips are tight, the angle is very flat. This is the optimum for Spitz. Image B: The angle is a little more pointed than in image A, so the lips hang down a little more.  Image C: Ideal catch. The angle between the top and bottom lines is relatively wide. Image D: Sharp angle - drool snout!

The Spitz's ears

Ears German Spitz correct ivy laurel Pomeranian Keeshond Elkhound

- Ears are triangular and as small as possible

- They are set high, the closer together they are, the better

- Ears are always worn upright with a stiff tip

- Too long and too large ears that remind one respectively of the ears of a German Shepherd Dog or an Elkhound are wrong

- The edges of the ears should be clear-cut; too thickly coated ears forming a downy fringe (as seen in Samoyeds) are undesirable


⚠️ That's the theory. However, you can see in almost all old pictures that the dogs' ears back then were neither close together, nor did they always have a completely stiff tip, nor were they small. If the Spitz is relaxed, so are the ears. Some specifications then completely ignore reality!

EARS (from left to right): Picture 6  The ears are close and are quite small. Rarely seen in reality. Picture 7 to Picture 10 : Ears that are too big and too far apart or folded ears. Not the standard, but in keeping with reality.

The eyes of the German Spitz

- Eyes are medium-sized, elongated and set slightly slanted (almond-shaped)

- Eye color is dark

- Eyelids are pigmented black in all colors, dark brown in all brown Spitzes

- Protruding, "goggle", "drooping" or large eyes are a serious fault - and pretty ugly

EYES (from left to right): Image 10: Perfect eye shape; Image 12 : Great eyes that are not too big and conform to the standard almond shape; Picture  13: The shape of the eyes is incorrect, they are too straight and too elongated; Picture 14: Eyes too round; Image 14a: The shape of the eyes is too big, too straight and too protruding

Correct body of the German Spitz

Breed standard german Spitz body figure back chest belly ratio

- Figure is short, stocky and strong

- Ratio of the height at the withers to the length of the dog is 1:1

- Back itself is short, tight and straight

- Croup is broad and short, not sloping

- The deep chest is well-arched and extends as far back as possible

- Forechest is well-developed and broad

- Neck is moderately long, coated with thick mane-like ruff

- Belly is only slightly drawn up (slightly, not like the greyhound's) 

FIGURE  (from left to right): Picture 15 to picture 16a:  The dogs have an excellently short and straight back; Picture 17: The back is too long. Picture 18: The back is much too long, the legs too short.

The appearance of the Spitz's legs

- The legs are straight and strong, with good substance and in medium length

- The hocks are only slightly bent (previously the legs of the Spitzes have always been really steep)

- The hind metatarsus is medium long, very strong and stands perpendicular to the ground

- Upper and lower legs of the hindquarters are approximately the same length

ANGLE OF HINDQUARTERS (left to right): Image 19, Image 20 and Image 21: Good, steep angle of hocks; Picture 22: The hindquarters are too strong and incorrectly angled; Picture 23: Hocks bent too strong

The feet of the German Spitz

- The feet should be as small as possible

- The shape is rounded, pointed, with arched toes (cat-footed)

- The sole color matches that of the nose 

- Thick, upstanding hair, growing in between the toes as in many Arctic Spitz varieties (Samoyed), is considered a fault in German Spitzes 

PAW SHAPE (from left to right): Picture 24 and picture 25: Very good and heavy bone substance, the paws are still cat paws that fit the body shape. Picture 26: This Spitz does not have small, round cat's paws, but simply paws like plates which are much too hairy by the way. The paws of this "Spitz" do look more like the ones of a Samoyed; Picture 27: The paws of a Samoyed look like snowshoes compared to the cat's paws of a German Spitz

The tail of the German Spitz

Rute Schwanz Deutscher Spitz Samojede Husky

- The tail is set on high and carried well over the back and close to the body

- Tail itself is very big and strong, substantial with a well-feathered thick plume

- Hair should be long, off-standing

- The closer the tail is to the neck, the better

- Both single and double curl is correct, in case of a single curl it lies flat across the back

TAIL (from left to right) : Picture 40 and 41: The dogs' tail is set high and rolled in a very bushy circle. Picture 42: This male dog's tail hair doesn't stick out impressively, it just hangs down sadly. Picture 43: In the Samoyed, the tail is carried lying "limp" across the back, but without being particularly rolled.

The coat of the German Spitz

- Double coat, consisting of an off-standing topcoat that is long, harsh and straight, and a shorter, thick and downy undercoat

- Head and ears are covered with short, velvety hair; legs too, except for a slighting "feathering" from the elbow to the knee and a thickish coat, from stifle to hock, often described as "trousers"

- Coat should be especially long on the neck, shoulders and chest, forming a definite "mane-like" ruff 

- The tail is bushy and hairy and should carry a thick plume

- The coat is neither wavy, crinkly, curled nor even shaggy and is not parted on the back

- A silky, soft or flabby coat is a serious fault in German Spitz because it is under no circumstances weatherproof as required by the breed standard

THE COAT (from left to right)Picture 35  and  Picture 36: Moderate and yet very stately coats, in which the short-haired, velvety areas can be clearly separated from the mane-like areas; Picture 37: The mane of the Giant Spitz stands off clearly from the rest of the fur. The German Spitz - in complete contrast to this Samoyed - does not have a "full-body-mane" down to the butt; Picture 38:  The dog's coat does not stand-off, but lies flat, and no definite ruff is visible here; Picture 39: The dog has flat, non-stand-off fur, too.

The way the Spitz is standing

- If the German Spitz pushes his legs straight, the whole body literally comes under tension - this tension is characteristic of the breed

- In addition to the short back, this tension is one of the most important reasons for the German Spitz's enormous jumping power and agility

- This tension is only possible if the angulation of the hindquarters is correct (that means steep)

STAND (from left to right)Picture 44 and Picture 45: The whole body is under tension and is ready to jump at any time. Picture 46 and Picture 47: Both dogs look as if they had forgotten their legs behind them.

Own comments

It can be clearly seen here that the original breed standard for German Spitz and Wolfspitz was primarily a standard for working dogs, because not so long ago the Spitz were listed as working dogs in the FCI. Here, the focus was on working ability, so the Spitz could neither be too big (Giant Spitz only around 40 cm, maximum 45 cm) nor too long in the back in order to be agile and nimble.


Overall, in the past, emphasis was placed on a visually homogeneous and working dog that had the classic fox head, a short back, was not too big, but rather stocky and strong. The old Spitz had to be strong in that he also had to look impressive to potential thieves. And that requires a lot of substance, which unfortunately has become rare these days. Due to his moderate amount of fur and the fact that he was always shed heavily in the summer, he was extremely easy to care for and was able to work even in midsummer: “Form follows function” has always been the motto.


By revoking this working dog status, the German Spitz became an unemployed lapdog. Unfortunately, this is not just an empty phrase: from 1973, the German Spitz was divided into a new FCI group. From former group 1 "Shepherd, guard and protection dogs" he was moved to group 3 "Companion and toy dogs" until the FCI category 5 "Spitz and Primitive Types" was founded in 1990, in which the German Spitz has been since 1990 is represented (more detailed information: The history of the Spitz from 1900)


"Brehms Tierleben" (1915), "Die deutschen Hunde" Richard Strebel (1904), "Unsere Rassehunde" (1981), "Rassehunde" (1970), "Kamerad Hund", "Das neue Hundebuch" Otto Fehringer, "Unser Hund" Otto Fehringer, "Das kleine Hundebuch" (1934), "Bi-Lexikon Hunderassen" (1985), "Rassehunde" Albert Georgi, "Der Hund und seine Rassen" H. Eberhard (1941), "Enzyklopädie der Rassehunde" Hans Räber, "Hunde" E. Tylinke (1964), "Hunde -Schönheit und Leistung" Ingrid und Gerhard Seupel,  "Treue Gefährten - Ein Sammelband  für die Leser der Süddeutschen Zeitung" (1962), "Hunde in der Stadt" Günther Huth (1979), "Hunderassen - Rassenhunde" (1929), "Welcher Hund passt zu mir?" Alois Fink (1968), "Die Hunderassen" Walter Busack, "Der Deutsche Spitz in Wort und Bild" (1937)


Image 5:

Image 6: Ellinor von den flauschigen Wächtern

Image 10:  © Birgit Kaiser Photography  (  

Image A:  © Birgit Kaiser Photography  ( 

Image E: Ellinor von den flauschigen Wächtern

Image D + F: With kind approval from Monika Putzer

Image 14: Book cover “The new American Eskimo” by Nancy J. Hofman

Image 16: Edna von den flauschigen Wächtern

Image 23: "The complete American Eskimo" by Barbara Beynon, page 115 (Kiska)

Image 26: Pinterest (

Image 41: Edna von den flauschigen Wächtern

Figure 47:

Image 4, 13, 38, 46:  ©  Friederike Pelikan ( www.fritzis-wö )


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