German Spitz (Mittel) and (Klien)

Spitz-England c 1750Spitz-England c 1750

'German Spitz', from small to large and several sizes in between, have existed since the earliest of civilizations. But when 'pure breed dogs' came into existence, Stud Books and Breed Standards defined the breeds, sometimes with new names. German Spitz (Klein) and German Spitz (Mittel), are modern varieties of the original medium sized German Spitz. From this old type German Spitz, UK developed the Pomeranian and USA developed the American Eskimo Dog.

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

In the last couple of decades, the five sizes of the German Spitz, differentiated by height were recognized as pure breeds by the FCI. These are:

  1. The smallest is the Zweg Spitz, (Dwarf) which UK call the Pomeranian
  2. German Spitz'(Klein)
  3. German Spitz (Mittel)
  4. Gross Spitz which is unrecognized in UK.
  5. The tallest is the Wolf Spitz which UK call the Keeshond.

Fitting neatly between the Gross Spitz and the Zwerg Spitz or Pomeranian are the German Spitz (Mittel') and German Spitz' (Klien) which come in several colours including white. These were only recognized by the Kennel Club UK in 1985. the first Challenge Certificates being awarded in England 1995. In the same year, Australia followed.

From German Spitz to Pomeranian

Small Spitz dog 1859Small Spitz dog 1859

Medium sized white German Spitz which were a type of dog rather than a breed, have been known in Britain since Gainsborough famously painted them with the aristocracy in the latter part of the 1700's. Britain named them 'Pomeranian', Pomerania being the province of Germany from whence they came.

Before pure breeds came into existence, these white Spitz type dogs were first catalogued the 'Pomeranian Fox Dog'. Listed in the 'Foreign Dogs' class at Britain's first couple of Shows catering for more just Gundog breeds - Manchester and Birmingham, these Shows were  both held in 1861. By 1862, Birmingham had named these dogs 'Pomeranians' giving them their own class, with London following in 1863. By 1869 'good classes' of these white Spitz dogs were exhibited in Birmingham and London and 1870 seemed a common date when the Pomeranian can be reliably traced back as a breed in England[5a].

By 1872 it was written:

'This pretty little dog is now very common in this country as a ladies' pet, his pretty white coat and lively manners rendering him a general favourite'[2].

In 1879 the first English Stud book was published, and the first breed description of the Pomeranian was independently written, it described

'a remarkable black or pure flake white coat without any shade or spot of yellow... a red strain in Germany which is unknown in England.... a coat more like fur than hair with a furry undercoat rather than woolly and... obliquely set eyes... [1].

Because of fashionable taste, UK began miniaturizing this German Spitz type of dog through selective breeding. The first Pomeranian Breed Standard written in 1891 states 'they should not exceed 20 pounds in  weight, the smaller specimens being preferable[5] '. Queen Victoria influenced this trend around 1888 when she returned from Florence (Italy) where she was attracted by the Volpino Italiano. Around that time there was public prejudice against foreign dogs by the general public which remained in place for around 80 years - until well after World War Two[3]. Around 1892 Crufts had restricted their classes for Pomeranians to 7 pounds[5]. So the pure breed, the Pomeranian we know today was born!

From German Spitz to American Eskimo Dog

In the same way, from the German Spitz America developed the American Eskimo Dog as a pure breed. In the early 1800's, when German immigrant farmers arrived and settled in the Mid-West part of America, they brought their culture with them. They also brought their medium sized German Spitz to be used as farm dogs. After World War One, these small white dogs became the ancestors of the 'American Eskimo Dog'. These famously performed in the popular travelling circuses, one of which was 'Barnum and Bailey'. The AKC also only recently recognized the American Eskimo Dog as a pure breed.

This white Spitz breed comes in Toy, Miniature and Standard size varieties. The first two of these sizes roughly correspond to the German Spitz (Klein) and the German Spitz (Mittel). This breed which was first registered with the United Kennel Club as the American Spitz before its current name of American Eskimo Dog was adopted. In 1995 the American Kennel Club recognized the American Eskimo Dog in the 3 sizes we know today, the Toy, 22 - 30 cm (9 - 11 inches) , the Miniature 30 - 38 cm (12 - 15 inches) , and the Standard 38 - 48 cm (15 - 19 inches).

The German Spitz Today

This page is presently under construction. This section will be completed and more pictures will be added so please visit us again soon...

References and Further Reading

[1] Stonehenge 'The Dog in Health and Disease' Third Edition Pub. Longmans, Green & Co 1879 Chapter V Section V 'The Pomeranian (Large and Small) B. 'The Smaller Pomeranian or Spitz  Page 185

[2] 'Idstone' 'The Dog' Published by Cassell, Petter and Galpin London 1872 Chapter XXX1V The Pomeranian Dog Page 231

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

[4] W.A.Crosse ''The History of Purebred Dogs in Australia' published by OzDog Newspaper 1997 'German Spitz' Page 156

[5] Alan Bendelow, Editor 'A Publication to Commerate 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 Pomeranina in the British Isles from the 18th Century Page 55


top