The Spitz family of dogs comes from the Arctic of Iceland. Their original purpose was herding, pulling sleds and guarding. Pomeranians are Spitz and started out as a much larger breed that guarded the property of their owners and warned of intruders. The Spitz races had several wolf-like characteristics in common: small ears to protect against frostbite; an insulating, thick undercoat to trap heat; and a tail curled tightly over the back.
Over time, the Spitz was brought to Europe on the south coast of the Baltic Sea. This region was called Pomerania and today includes parts of what is now Poland and Germany, where the breed got its name. Pommore or Pomeranian means “on the sea”. Dog historians believe that this is where the breakdown of the breed began. Many 18th century paintings and prints show poms of various sizes and colors.
The dog-loving British royals liked the Pomeranian and helped promote the breed’s popularity. Queen Charlotte influenced the progress of the breed when she brought two poms to England in 1767. Phoebe and Mercury were depicted in paintings by Sir Thomas Gainsborough. Although the pair were taller than today’s Pomeranian and probably weighed 30 to 50 pounds, Queen Charlotte’s poms nonetheless had the small ears, heavy fur, and curled tails that are hallmarks of the breed. The Prince of Wales (later George IV) had a black and white, two-tone pom named Fino, which was the subject of a painting in 1791.
The Kennel Club (England) was founded in 1873 and the so-called Spitzhund was one of the first recognized breeds. The poms shown at the time weighed about 18 pounds. In 1888 a Pomeranian from Florence, Italy named Marco was sent to see Queen Charlotte’s granddaughter, Queen Victoria. Marco weighed 12 pounds and was the start of a large kennel established by Queen Victoria. Because she was such a popular monarch, the popularity of the Pomeranians, especially the smaller ones, also grew. Once she had up to 35 poms in her kennel and on her deathbed she asked Turi, a favorite pom, to be by her side.
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The Pomeranian in America
Pomeranian were first issued in this country in 1892. In 1900 the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed and the American Pomeranian Club (APC) was established. The APC held its first national special show for the breed in 1911 and attracted 262 poms. (Did you know: two of the three dogs that survived the sinking of the Titanic were poms, one bundled in Mrs. Rothschild’s bag on a lifeboat.
Poms and artists
Throughout history, Poms has fascinated composers and artists. Mozart dedicated one of his finished arias to his pet Pom, Pimperl. Frederic Chopin, bewitched by a friend’s pom chasing his tail, wrote the song Waltz of the Little Dog. While Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel, his pom sat down on a satin pillow and watched the action.
The Pomeranian color palette
No other breed has as many colors and color patterns as the Pomeranian. You can find them in all solid colors (black, blue, chocolate, red, orange, cream, white); Parti colors (white with evenly colored spots); black, blue or chocolate, each with brown spots over the eyes, on the cheeks and on the lower legs; brindle (stripes); and merle, a color pattern that gives a mottled or marbled appearance. Whatever your heart desires, from delicate pastels to bold, dramatic multicolor, there will be a pom somewhere to satisfy your taste.
Coat and grooming
The Pomeranian is a double coated breed. The official breed standard states that the body “should be well covered with a short, dense undercoat through which long, hard-textured protective hair grows and forms the longer, abundant outer hair that stands out from the body. The fur should form a ruff around the neck that frames the head and extends over the shoulders and chest. “While grooming isn’t difficult, the thick coat tangles easily. It is therefore recommended that the mats be combed out and brushed thoroughly several times a week. Frequent grooming to keep the mats in check is especially important if the undercoat is shed twice a year.
The Pomeranians are confident, friendly, and lively. Excessive barking needs to be addressed early before it becomes a chronic problem. This breed loves to be the center of attention, which can sometimes get them in trouble when they get too demanding or want to face a bigger, stronger dog that they believe is stealing their headlights.
Celebrity pom people
Pomerania is very popular with entertainers and jet-setters. Poms are always ready for the next close-up. Pomeranian actors include Gwen Stefani, Jessica Alba and Keanu Reeves. Celebrities and TV celebrities who are never without their poms include mom and daughter Sharon and Kelly Osbourne, as well as real Beverly Hills housewife Lisa Vanderpump.
Allan Reznik is a journalist, editor, and broadcaster who specializes in dog-related topics. He is the former editor-in-chief of Dogs in Review and the former editor of Dog Fancy magazine. He has been a city dweller on both coasts all his life and now enjoys the rural south with its Afghans, Tibetan Spaniards and various rescue workers.