- Pomerianans have Arctic roots — Poms are the likely descendent of spitz-type dogs used for pulling sleds. Today, the Pomeranian still has a thick coat but a cozier gig. Poms make great lap dogs.
- Notable figures have been Pomeranian owners — Queen Victoria, credited with popularizing the breed, is one famous Pom lover. Others include Queen Charlotte, Marie Antoinette, Sir Isaac Newton, and Wolfgang Mozart. Michelangelo had a Pom by his side when painting the Sistine Chapel.
- The size of the breed has changed — It took several centuries for the Poms to become the small dogs we know and love today. The first-depicted Poms may have weighed up to 50 pounds — a lot more than the breed standard today (3-7 pounds).
As a toy, the Pomeranian breed may be a smaller size than other dogs. However, the tiny Pomeranian has a long history. The first Pomeranians likely descended from Arctic sled dogs hence the thick double-coat that the breed still has today. Throughout the years, the toys have been one of the most popular breeds, with members of the English monarchy and commoners alike. Here’s a look at the Pomeranian dog history, from the pups’ ancestors built for cold weather to today’s toy breed dogs with big personalities and a love for warm laps.
The Pomeranian is a descendant of the Spitz family of dogs native to Iceland and Germany. Spitz breeds had wolf-like characteristics like small ears and thick coats to keep them warm in cold weather.
The pups were used for herding, sledding, and as guard dogs. How could a dog weighing only seven pounds pull heavy sleds? The Spitz breed was made up of much larger dogs at the time — the Pomeranian is a miniature version of these early pups. In fact, the Pom is the smallest of the Spitz breeds. The Pomeranian name is derived from the old Pomerania region in Central Europe along the Baltic Sea. It covered what is now northwestern Poland and northeastern Germany.
Late 18th century: The move to Europe
The first known reference to the little dogs known as Pomeranians came from a diary entry by James Boswell on November 2, 1764. “The Frenchman had a Pomeranian dog named Pomer whom he was mighty fond of,” Boswell wrote.
Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III, played a major role in the soaring popularity of the Pomeranian, which has continued to this day. She became a Pomeranian owner when she brought a pair of Poms to England in 1767. Their names were Phebe and Mercury, and they appear in paintings by Sir Thomas Gainsborough. Queen Charlotte’s dogs in the artwork seem to be about 30-50 pounds — much larger than the size of the breed today. However, the thick double coats, curled tails, and small ears resemble a modern Pom.
In 1873, the English Kennel Club, formally known as the Royal Kennel Club, was formed. The Spitz breed was one of the first recognized. At this time, the Pomeranian was about 18 pounds, still much larger than the breed in modern times.
The 19th century: Queen Victoria and Marco, the Pom
Queen Victoria of England, the granddaughter of Queen Charlotte, adopted a dog named Windsor Marco after visiting Italy in the late 1800s. Victoria was a serious breeder and played a significant role in today’s Poms, including the breed’s small size.
Her new dog Marco was one of six she showed in the Crufts Dog Show in 1891, in which he placed first for the Pomeranian dog breed. The red sable Pom likely weighed 12 pounds. The smaller dogs became an overnight sensation. Breeders adapted, using smaller dogs to breed.
Reportedly, Queen Victoria once had 35 Poms in a kennel. One of her Pomeranians, Turi, was by her side when she died.
1900: The American Kennel Club recognizes the breed
In the United States, Pomerianians were shown as Miscellaneous Class beginning as early as 1892. The breed received American Kennel Club recognition in 1990, the same year the American Pomeranian Club (APC) was formed. The APC began holding specialty shows in 1911. Early winners had larger ears, weighed under 6 pounds, and their coats weren’t as thick as today’s Poms. That said, the Pomerianans shown at the turn-of-last century are largely similar to the ones of modern times.
In 1912, two Pomerianans survived the sinking of the Titanic.
Pomeranians come in many different coat colors considered acceptable — more than any other breed. You may see black, brown, red, orange, blue, sable, black and tan, and other colors of Pomeranians. Orange, black, and cream/white are the most common.
Poms remain one of the most popular dog breeds, coming in at No. 23 on the American Kennel Club’s 2022 list. Their personality traits — loving, alert, charming, and lively — make them a popular pick for a family dog. It’s always a good idea to get information on several breeds — one of the things for families to note about Poms is they aren’t always keen on young children. But otherwise, the breed’s almond-shaped eyes, big heart , and tendency not to need much space make them a good fit for a variety of homes.
Frequently asked questions
What was the original purpose of Pomeranians?
Pomeranians are descendants of Spitz dogs. These Arctic animals pulled sleds and served as guard dogs (hence today’s Pom’s vocal personalities).
When did Pomeranians originate?
Poms have developed over the years. The first reference to them was in a 1764 diary entry by James Boswell. Queen Charlotte owned a pair of Pomerianians around the same time — albeit larger ones than today (30 to 50 pounds).
What two dogs were bred to make a Pomeranian?
Did they have Pomeranians in the 1800s?
Yes, but they were larger, around 18 pounds. In fact, Queen Victoria of England showed six dogs at a show in the late 1800s. One of Queen Victoria’s dogs, Marco, won first place for the breed and was smaller than many other Poms (about 12 pounds). Smaller Poms became more popular, leading to the toy breed we know today.
Why do we call the dog Pomeranian?
The Pomeranian name comes from the historical region of Pomerania (now Poland and Germany).