German Spitz (Mittel) and (Klein)

German Spitz (Klein)German Spitz (Klein)

'German Spitz', from small to large sizes in between, have existed since the earliest civilizations. Today, the different breeds of German Spitz are distinguished by their height and colour. When 'pure breed dogs' came into existence, Stud Books and Breed Standards defined these modern breeds with new names. German Spitz (Klein) and German Spitz (Mittel) are modern varieties of the original medium sized German Spitz.

The German Spitz Varieties

During the 1990's, five separate sizes of the German Spitz, differentiated by height were recognized as separate pure breeds by the FCI. These are:

  1. The smallest is the Zweg Spitz, (Dwarf) or Pomeranian, weighing 1.8-2.2 kgs (4-5.5 lbs)
  2. German Spitz (Klein) height: 23-29cms (9-11.5 ins) and
  3. German Spitz (Mittel) height: 30-38cms (12-15 ins)
  4. The Wolfsspitz or Keeshond height: 43-46 cms (17-18 ins)
  5. The Giant Spitz which is 49 cm (plus or minus 6 cm) tall

The German Spitz (Mittel) and German Spitz (Klein) fit neatly between the Wolfsspitz and Zwerg Spitz. But because the English were hostile towards anything German at the time these sizes of German Spitz first began to separate[1], his rightful title of German Spitz had to wait two hundred years before the name had become 'politically correct'.

History of the German Spitz (Mittel) and (Klein)

German Spitz 1892German Spitz 1892

German Spitz 1791German Spitz 1791

The presence of German Spitz (Mittel) and (Klein) in England is evidenced by the accompanying pictures. On the left is picture painted for George IV, King of the United Kingdom in 1791 of his favourite dog "Fino', and on the right we have the front page of a newspaper featuring Queen Victoria's favourite dog 'Marco' published a century later in 1892. These two are clearly German Spitz (Mittel) pictured one hundred years apart. Another 100 years later, he was finally recognized by the Kennel Club (UK).

The German Spitz becomes a Pure Breed

Medium sized white German Spitz were first brought to England in 1761 by 17-year-old Charlotte, wife of England's soon to be crowned King George the Third. Naming the dogs 'Pomeranian', because Pomerania was the province of Germany from whence they came, Queen Charlotte gave them to several of her peers[5b]. Then Gainsborough famously painted them with several of the aristocracy like the attached painting of 1785. It is interesting to note that Gainsborough painted innumerable portraits of these 'Pomeranian Fox Dogs' with family groups, but never included them in his famous landscapes which featured shepherd and sporting dogs[1b].

The pure breeds we know today had their beginnings with the birth of dog shows. The first two dog shows ever held were for Gundogs only. But at the third and fourth dog shows - Manchester and Birmingham, both held in 1861 - a few other breeds were listed. These included German Spitz listed in the 'Foreign Dogs' section[5]. But because of public prejudice against foreign dogs by the general public which remained in place for around 80 years - until well after World War Two[3], they were first called 'Pomeranian Fox Dogs'.

White German Spitz pups 1890White German Spitz pups 1890

By 1862, Birmingham shortened their name to 'Pomeranians' giving them their own classes. London followed in 1863. By 1869 'good classes' of these white Spitz dogs which originated in Germany were exhibited in Birmingham and London. So although the Pomeranian can be reliably traced back to 1870 as a pure breed in England, it would be 1995, more than 100 years later before this medium sized Spitz breed would become recognized as the German Spitz (Mittel) and (Klein)[5a]. In the same year 1995, Australia followed[6].

The German Spitz (Mittel) and (Klein) Today

German Spitz (Mittel)German Spitz (Mittel)

The German Spitz (Mittel) and (Klein) are compact, short coupled dogs with an almost square outline.The only difference between the two varieties is their height, the Klein measuring 23-29cms (9-11.5 ins) and the Mittel 30-38cms (12-15 ins) from withers to ground. Their profuse coat comes in all colour varieties, except merle. Their wedge shaped head is moderately broad and almost flat skull when viewed from above, with clean cheeks. The stop is moderately defined separating a skull and muzzle of equal length.

German Spitz (Klein)German Spitz (Klein)

The nose should be black in black, white, black/white parti-colours, and black/tan bi-colours. Otherwise the nose may be self coloured in other coloured varieties. The mouth closes in a normal scissors bite. The eyes are medium size, oval shaped and obliquely set but not too wide apart. They should always dark with black rims in blacks, whites, black/white parti-colours, and black/tan bi-colours, but as dark as possible in other colour varieties. The completely erect ears small, triangular set rather high and covered with soft short hair.

German Spitz (Klein)German Spitz (Klein)

The neck is clean and moderately short. The shoulders have a moderate slope and the upper arm should have sufficient length to ensure elbow is vertically below point of withers. There is a moderate forechest, with the elbows equidistant between ground and withers. The well-boned, straight forelegs have strong and flexible pasterns ending in small, rounded cat-like feet. The body is square, the topline is level and the loin short and well-developed. The dog is well ribbed-up and there is a moderate tuck-up. The distance from the brisket to the ground should be not less than half the height from the ground to the withers. The hindquarters have moderate angulation with hocks moderately well let down.

German Spitz (Mittel)German Spitz (Mittel)

The tail is high set and profusely covered with long spreading hair. It curls right up from root and lies curled over back. He moves straight coming and going, without exaggeration from any angle in an effortless, brisk action, retaining his topline. He has a double coat consisting of a soft woolly undercoat and a long harsh textured perfectly straight top coat covering the whole of the body. This is not a trimmed breed and evidence of trimming and shaping, other than tidying of the feet, anal area and the legs below the hocks, unacceptable.

Comparison between Pomeranian, German Spitz and Japanese Spitz

During the late 1970s, several German Spitz were imported into the U.K  in an attempt to resurrect colours previously lost to the breed, particularly white. These German Spitz were bred to the English Pomeranian until 1984 when the Kennel Club set up a separate register for the German Spitz. Some Pomeranians still have German Spitz in their pedigrees.

Pomeranian German Spitz (Mittel) and (Klein) Japanese Spitz
Country of Development Britain

Germany

Japan
Size Weight:1.8-2.2 kgs (4-5.5 lbs)

Height: Klein 23-29cms (9-11.5 ins) Mittel 30-38cms (12-15 ins)

Height: 30-37 cm (12-14.5 ins)
PomeranianPomeranian German Spitz (Klein)German Spitz (Klein) Japanese SpitzJapanese Spitz
Skull:muzzle ratio Slightly shorter in muzzle than length of skull. Length of skull and muzzle equal. Slightly longer in muzzle than length of skull.
Ears Small triangular shaped erect ears often so small they are hidden by the ruff. Triangular shaped erect ears that are set high on the head, are a little larger so they will always be visible. The triangular shaped ears are high set and facing forward but not too wide apart.
PomeranianPomeranian German Spitz (Klein)German Spitz (Klein) Japanese SpitzJapanese Spitz
Body Length Body is short and compact Length from point of shoulder to point of buttock equal to height at withers Height to body length is in the ratio of 10:11
Tail The Pomeranian is the only Spitz breed whose heavily plumed tail lies flat and straight up his back, with his buttocks behind the tail-set. The German Spitz's tail curls over the back and is carried to one side or curls into a ring shape. The Japanese Spitz's tail is well plumed, high set, of moderate length and carried curved over the back.
PomeranianPomeranian German Spitz (Klein)German Spitz (Klein) Japanese SpitzJapanese Spitz
Coat The Pomeranian's abundant double coat may be trimmed for the show-ring. German Spitz's double coat should not be trimmed except for the legs beneath the hocks, the anal area and the feet. The pure white coat has a straight and stand-off outer coat and a profuse, short, dense undercoat which is soft in texture.
Colour All whole colours permissible including parti-colours. Whites must be quite free from lemon or any other colour. The German Spitz comes in comes in all colour varieties, except merle. Pure white only.

In other words, today the major differences between these breeds are:

  1. The Pomeranian should weigh should be 1.8 - 2.2 kgs (4-5.5 lbs)whereby the German Spitz comes in two height sizes the Klein measuring 23-29cms (9-11.5 ins) from withers to ground, and the Mittel 30-38cms (12-15 ins).
  2. The Pomeranian has a skull-muzzle ratio of 3:1 or 3:2 with a deeper stop than the German Spitz whose skull:muzzle ratio is roughly equal. The Japanese Spitz is slightly longer again in muzzle.
  3. The Pomeranian's skull is not as flat as the German Spitz whose head is shaped more like a broad wedge.
  4. The Pomeranian's small triangular shaped erect ears are often so small they are hidden by the ruff, especially if the coat is abundant. In contrast the German Spitz's triangular shaped erect ears that are also set high on the head, are a little larger so they will always be visible.
  5. The Pomeranian appears shorter in body than the German Spitz but both are much shorter than the Japanese Spitz whose body length is in the ratio of 10:11. This enables the Japanese Spitz to have longer stride than the other two breeds considered here.
  6. The Pomeranian is the only Spitz breed whose heavily plumed tail lies flat and straight up his back, with his buttocks behind the tail-set. In contrast the German Spitz's tail curls over the back and is carried to one side or curls into a ring shape.
  7. The Pomeranian's abundant coat may be trimmed for the show-ring whereby the German Spitz should not be trimmed except for the legs beneath the hocks, the anal area and the feet. When seen in silhouette, the German Spitz should not have so much coat that it resembles the Pomeranian.

References and Further Reading

Published as 2018 - Jane Harvey "Small Sized Spitz Breeds" Published in Dog News Australia (Top Dog Media Pty Ltd Austral NSW) September 2018, Page 8

[1] Alice Gatacre, 'The Keeshond' Published by London Country Life Ltd 1938 'The German Spitz Page 18

[1b] ibid 'The Keeshond in History and Art' Page 4

[3] Clifford Hubbard 'Dogs in Britain' Published by MacMillan & Co London 1948. Chapter 17 'The Spitz Group' 'The Pomeranian' Page 183,

[5] Alan Bendelow, Editor 'A Publication to Commemorate the Centenary of the Pomeranian Club 1891 - 1991' Self-Published Kimbering Pomeranians, Chapter 7 'Development of the Breed Standard' Page 78 - 80

[5a] ibid., Chapter 5 'The Pomeranian in the British Isles from the 18th Century Page 55

[5b] ibid., Chapter 6 'The Pomeranian and the Royal Family Page 73

[6] ANKC Breed Standard Extension


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