Pomeranians

Pomeranians

History

Pomerania is a region along the southern Baltic shore, that was split between Germany and Poland. Even the name Pomerania is derived from the Lechitic language, which means “along the sea”.    

So are Pomeranian dogs, the little fluff balls of energy we see today, the same as those  from yesteryear?  The short answer is “No”.     The Pomeranian we know today was derived from the German Spitz breed that now has 5 divisions, which include the Keeshound (Wolfsspitz), giant spitz (Großspitz), medium sptiz (Mittelspitz), Miniature spitz (Kleinspitz) and the Pomeranian, which is a dwarf spitz (Zwergspitz).  The word Spitz is German for sharp in reference to their sharp pointy noses.

 So how did the German Spitz, which weighs around 50 lbs, become the 3-7 lb dog we know today?  The answer is, as most dog-related answers are, due to selective breeding of smaller and smaller Poms over a long period of time. Every generation, breeders would pair ever smaller Pomeranians, until it got down to the breed standard we see today. Key breeders of note were none other than Queen Charlotte and Queen Victoria of England, who both dramatically influenced the Pomeranian breed.   Records show Queen Charlotte owning Pomeranians as far back as 1767 when she purchased two named Phoebe and Mercury, and they were among the first dogs to live in Buckingham Palace.   While these two dogs weighed around 30 pounds, being owned by a Queen brought notoriety to the breed, and Pomeranians became a very desirable pet. 

Queen Victoria, however, was the real dog breeder with over 11 dogs in her kennel.   Through selective breeding she was able to drop the size of the Pomeranian by over 50% with one of her dogs, Windsor Marco, a red sable tipping the scale around 12 lbs.  Marco even won the 1891 Cruft’s dog show as best of breed.   Of course, it was remarked that “What judge would put the Queens dog in second place?”   Victoria also popularized the dog breed by selling them to the elites of the day.  Notables who owned Pomeranians were Amadeus Mozart, Michelangelo, Isaac Newton, Emile Zola, and even Empress Josephine Bonaparte, who was gifted the dog from Victoria herself.

Crossing the Atlantic

Pomeranians arrived in the US in the 1800’s but were first recognized as a distinct breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1900.   The first Pomeranian only breed show was held in 1911 and had a whopping 138 participants.  

FUN FACT: Two Pomeranians survived the sinking of Titanic on April 15, 1912.  ‘Lady’ was owned by Margaret Hays of Paris and boarded lifeboat #7 wrapped in a blanket by her owner.   Also, Elizabeth Rothschild’s dog, whose name is unknown, was snuck onto lifeboat #6 -- and after being rescued by the Carpathia, Elizabeth insisted that her dog would come aboard with her.   The Titanic was equipped with a first-rate dog kennel and dogs were regularly exercised on deck.  Even a dog show was scheduled for April 15th but, due to the iceberg tragedy, it never took place. Only 3 dogs survived the sinking and, unfortunately, the other 6 dogs known to be onboard perished with 1500 passengers.

Breed Characteristics

Typical features

Pomeranians, according to the AKC, should be a height of 6-7 inches at the shoulder and weigh approximately 3-7 pounds.  They have a large variety, if not the largest variety, of coat colors of any breed of dog.   In Queen Victoria’s day, the popular coat colors were white, black, blue, brown and red; however, today colors include but are not limited to orange, cream, sable tan, brown and tan combination, spotted, brindle and many other color combinations including the plus most recently, the merle.  

Pomeranians get their puffball appearance from their thick double coat, which protects them from harsh temperatures. Daily combing/brushing is recommended to prevent matting, remove shedding hairs, and keep the coat looking its best.  This combing is especially important during their biannual shedding times to prevent matting.  Trimming by a groomer should be done every 1-2 months to shape up the coat.   Their behavior is very gregarious, and often is thought to have a ‘big dog’ type of personality.   They are regarded as intelligent dogs, learning tricks and training with ease.   They are very alert dogs and will bark at strangers or unusual activities around them.   These extroverted dogs are playful and can be great for families, especially for those with limited household space.

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