by Doris Donnerman
(last updated August 17, 2009)
Now running in weight close to around seven pounds, the Pomeranian originally was a rather large dog weighing upwards of thirty pounds. It is generally accepted that his ancestor was the large white Spitz dog bred down from the Iceland and Lapland sledge-dogs. The sharp and foxy muzzle, small, erect, and pointed ears, fluffy coat and curling plumed tail are all characteristics of the dogs of the Spitz group.
The breed derives its name from Pomerania. Some authorities claim that the dog existed before the country, and, very much in its present form, was a favorite of the ladies of Rome and Greece. Practically all of the old descriptions refer to the Pomeranian as the wolf and sheep dog of its native country, which is sufficient evidence that some of the breed, at least, must have been dogs large enough to do the hard work required. Invariably the Keeshond is comparatively mentioned whenever the Pomeranian's origin is discussed. Certainly the breed, in its original form, was not confined to the northern part of Germany, for somewhat similar dogs were found in many parts of the world.
Queen Victoria brought a small dog of this type from Florence in 1888, where she had gone to spend a winter, and it was her favorite for a number of years. This marked the beginning of the breed's popularity in England, for the first importations met with considerable indifference, if not downright prejudice. Queen Victoria founded a kennel and was a frequent exhibitor of Pomeranians.
In the early part of the nineteenth century, the Pomeranians in England were dogs weighing around 30 pounds. Occasionally one or two puppies in a litter would be unusually small. At first these were destroyed. Later it was found that they would fully mature, yet were of much smaller size than their parents. The same luxuriant growth of coat maintained and these small dogs began to attract much attention, particularly when shown with normal-size members of their own breed. These smaller dogs weighed around sixteen pounds and it was quite unusual to find one which weighed as little as twelve pounds.
Despite this change in type, the breed failed to catch the fancy of the English until Queen Victoria's interest gave it a terrific boost. Breeders found that they could produce smaller dogs without sacrificing coat or character. These features of smaller size and brilliant colors in various shades made the breed much more fashionable. The sable color was developed and became the rage, dogs of this color bringing high prices and being much in demand. Many of these small dogs were exported to other countries and so the breed's popularity spread. Although the fanciers of the larger dogs continued breeding, the smaller type went far ahead of the original stock in numbers and popularity. Finally the larger type all but disappeared, and Pomeranians weighing four and five pounds were not at all uncommon.
Pomeranians, with their prideful, vivacious manner, never fail to attract attention in the show ring. They possess an alert spirit that makes them an excellent watchdog, and while they are quite bold, their temper is even.
The Pomeranian in build and appearance should be a compact, short-coupled dog, well-knit in frame. His head and face should be fox-like, with small erect ears that appear sensible to every sound. He should exhibit great intelligence in his expression, docility in his disposition, and activity and buoyancy in his deportment.
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