Pomeranian

Pomeranian PupsPomeranian Pups

The Pomeranian is one of our oldest and best known pure breeds. Active and alert, they make excellent watch dogs. Developed as a pure breed from the very first dog shows, their lovable, inquisitive nature and good looks has consistently maintained their popularity for over a century. Coming in a wide range of colours, they are a compact intelligent toy breed. They thrive so much on affection that they quickly develop a powerful bond with their human family members. No wonder they are one of the world's most recognizable breeds!

History of the Pomeranian

German Spitz England 1785German Spitz England 1785

The Pomeranian developed from the "Esquimaux" dog, a medium sized white German Spitz type type of dog. They became known in Britain after 17-year-old Queen Charlotte, wife of England's soon to be crowned King George the Third, brought them England in 1761. Naming them 'Pomeranian', Pomerania being the province of Germany from whence they came, the Queen gave them to several of her peers[5b]. Then Gainsborough famously painted them with the aristocracy, this 1785 painting being one example.

But they really came into their own when dog shows began. The first two dog shows were for gundogs. But at the third and fourth dog shows - Manchester and Birmingham, held in 1861 - a few other breeds were listed. These included the 'Pomeranian Fox Dog', named in the 'Foreign Dogs' section[5].

Pomeranian 1879Pomeranian 1879

By 1862, 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] Birmingham named these dogs 'Pomeranians'.  Giving them their own section, London followed in 1863. By 1869 'good classes' of these small Spitz dogs were exhibited in Birmingham and London and 1870 seemed a common date when the Pomeranian can be reliably traced back as a pure 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].

PomeranianPomeranian

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] '.

Pomeranians c 1907Pomeranians c 1907

At the Leeds Show that year, a gold medal was awarded to the Best Pomeranian under 10 pounds. Queen Victoria could have influenced this trend around 1888 when she returned from Florence (Italy) where she was attracted by the Volpino Italiano. By 1892 Crufts had restricted their classes for Pomeranians to 7 pounds[5].

In 1896, 42 Pomeranians had 42 dogs were entered at the Pomeranian Club Show, which undertook to provide classes for 'Toy' Pomeranians under 7 pounds and not to encourage those over 20 pounds. Encouragement was also to be given to white Pomeranians. By 1909 Crufts had an entry of 90 Pomeranians and by 1912, the Pomeranian Club Club boasted an entry of 389. They have enjoyed enormous popularity ever since.

History of the Pomeranian in Australia

Pomeranian Australia c 1895Pomeranian Australia c 1895

Australia followed Britain as both Pomeranians and dog shows first evolved. The catalogue of the first dog show held in Melbourne in 1864 reveals 2 'Esquimaux dogs'[6] which were probably early Pomeranians as the Breed Standard in Britain was not written until 1891. Despite this, in August 1883, the Victorian Poultry and Dog Society Intercolonial Show held classes for Pomeranian Dogs. But there was still confusion as to whether these were Pomeranians or not because a report from 'the Argus 1888' newspaper of a later Show said "Pomeranians are poorly represented, the winning dog being neither more nor less than a black Esquimaux."

May Till's Pomeranian Trophies 1930May Till's Pomeranian Trophies 1930

'Tyzack's Annual' was Australia's first attempt at a Stud Book. It reveals that in 1889 Dr Graham imported several Pomeranians. Then Mr Ffench had a dozen from 12 to 16 pounds. Then Lady Davis had two blacks bred by Lord Kintore. From 1893 to 1911, 23 more importations are recorded. An additional 31 are listed in the Stud Book section, more than half of which were bred or owned by Mrs Waters, under the 'Wavenor' prefix[4].

A similar situation occurred across Australia. In the 'Western Australian Times', a Pomeranian Dog was first mentioned in 1875, and another exhibited in Coolgardie, around 1896. In Tasmania the Hobart Kennel Club had classes from 1886. In Queensland a Pomeranian was exhibited at the Gympie Show in September 1891. In Adelaide South Australia, it was 1902 before a Pomeranian made its appearance and in NSW it was 1910 before a dog owned by the late Jack Maude's father was exhibited[7].

Mrs Durkin 'Kelvin' 1934Mrs Durkin 'Kelvin' 1934

The Pomeranian has remained popular across Australia through the First World War and beyond. By the 1930's Pomeranians were supported by prominent socialites like Mrs Helpmann mother of the famous multi-talented, Sir Robert Helpmann, Mrs Durkin (pictured), Mrs Esler and Mrs Ernest Sandford, formerly the celebrated London dancer, May Till whose trophy table is featured.

Mrs Durkin claims in an adevrtisement she won 'Best Dog in Show' at the 1931 Royal Melbourne Show, the largest dog show in Australia[8a]. Mrs Esler's advertisement also said she on this award at the 1937 Melbourne Royal. On this very solid footing, Pomeranians have retained their popularity in Australia ever since.

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 Pomeranians, particularly white. Japanese Spitz were already in UK by this time. But records show it was German Spitz that were bred into the Pomeranian until 1984 when the Kennel Club set up a separate register for the German Spitz in their two sizes. That is why some Pomeranians still have German Spitz in their pedigrees.

Today, the major differences between the three breeds are:

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 summary, the major differences between the three 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

[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] Tyzack's Annual' Compiled by T. W.Tyzack and C.S.Turner  Published by the Victorian Poultry and Kennel Club 1912 by Bellamine Bros. Printers, 66-70 Flinders Lane Melbourne Page 88 (Importations) and 29-31 (Stud Book).

[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] Catalogue of the First Exhibition of Sporting & Other Dogs, Thursday & Friday April 7 & 8, 1864 promoted by the Council of the Acclimatisation Society, printed in Melbourne by Mason & Firth, Printers, Flinders Lane West Page 16.

[7] www.Pomeranians.org

[8] 'KCC of Victoria Annual 'On the Bench and in the Field 1933 - 1938' published by F C Morant 7 Crimea St St Kilda printed by the Horticultural Press Pty Ltd., 78a Victoria St Melbourne. Annual of 1937 Page 9, Annual of 1933 page 22, and Annual of 1934 page 46.

[8a] ibid - This last reference is perplexing as Mrs Durkin claims the judge was Mr Theo Marples, a very famous Englishman who was founding Secretary of the First Pomeranian Club of England. According to his Obituary, Mr Marples was 83 years old when he died on June 7th, 1931 and Melbourne Royal was held in the September of that same year!

[9] Additionally, his obituary does not record him ever judging in Australia. However, the Catalogue of the Royal Melbourne Show 1931 does list him as one of the judges!

Also according to the 1930's catalogues of the Melbourne Royal, only 'Best Dog in Show' and 'Best Bitch in Show' was judged pre-World-War Two. In other words, there does not appear to be any award for 'Best In Show' where the dog and bitch compete.


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