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Pomeranian in a red sweater

The essentials

  • A wolf in miniature — The Pomeranian breed originated in Northern Europe and was created by breeding different types of Spitz dogs found in Iceland, Lapland, and other Nordic countries.
  • Royal favoritism — While once much larger, the breed was developed to become the small toy-sized dogs we see today, thanks to royal enthusiasts like Queen Charlotte and her granddaughter, Queen Victoria.
  • Small dog, big bark — Despite their small size, Pomeranians have powerful watchdog instincts and an impressive bark, making them a popular choice among city dwellers looking for a loyal, protective companion to keep them company on their lap.

This feisty, toy breed has a surprisingly long and fascinating history that dates back hundreds of years.  Pomeranians were originally bred for hunting and herding in cold northern climates but have evolved into beloved companion animals, famous for their spirited personalities, friendly nature, and fluffy appearance.

A dog bred for extreme cold

The Pomeranian dog breed is a Spitz type dog, descended from the German Spitz. Initially, they were much larger dogs – weighing around 30 pounds – and were used for herding sheep and other livestock, and as sled dogs. The breed was created by breeding different types of Spitz dogs found in Iceland, Lapland, and other Nordic countries.

It’s worth noting that Pomeranians (also called Poms or Pom Poms) share similarities with others from the Spitz family of dogs, such as the Keeshond, Siberian Husky, and Samoyed. All are characterized by their thick, double coats, which protect them from the harsh, snowy climates of Northern Europe and Asia. They also have pointed ears, curled tails, and an alert, energetic disposition. As one of the smallest members of the Spitz family, they prove that size does not necessarily determine a breed’s abilities or character traits.

One interesting fact about the Pom that may perfectly illustrate their resilience and resistance to the cold is that two of the three dogs that survived the sinking of the Titanic were Pomeranians.

Little alarm bells

Despite their small size, Pomeranians are natural guard dogs and will sound the alarm if they perceive any danger. As part of the German Spitzen group, they were also highly valued for their ability to pull sleds, as well as for general hunting and herding in Iceland and other Nordic countries. Today, they are still greatly valued for their watchdog capacity.

The move to Europe and a life of luxury

The breed got its name from Pomerania, a region bordering the Baltic Sea, now part of Northern Poland and Germany. It was in the Pomerania region where breeding efforts were aimed at creating smaller-sized dogs that would be easier to care for and could be kept indoors – the start of a shift to where Pomeranians were bred to be the ultimate companion dog. By the early 19th century, breeders had successfully developed a smaller version of the dog weighing around 10 to 12 pounds.

The 18th and 19th centuries saw the rise of the Pomeranian breed in popularity among the elites of Europe. During this time, the breed became a favorite of many royals and aristocrats, including Queen Charlotte and Queen Victoria of England, who played a crucial role in shaping the appearance and personality of the modern Pom.

In the late 18th century, Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III of England, fell in love with the Pom and brought them to England. Her two Pomeranians, Phoebe and Mercury, were often the subject of famous British artist Sir Thomas Gainsborough. Her love of Pomeranians helped make them popular among the wealthy and aristocratic classes in England.

Her granddaughter, Queen Victoria of England, also had an affinity for the breed. Her most beloved Pom, Marco (also called “Windsor’s Marco”), was brought back with her from a trip to Florence in 1888. She is credited with fueling the desire for smaller, more compact Pomeranians, which would closely resemble the breed as we know it today.

She also had a hand in the breeding itself, carefully selecting smaller Pomeranians of various colors from countries all over Europe to help create the perfect companion. In fact, it’s said that her breeding efforts helped reduce the size of the Pomeranian by 50% and created a breed with one of the largest coat color varieties.

By the late 1800s, the first breed club was established in England. As the breed’s popularity spread, various Kennel Clubs followed suit. In 1898, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the Pomeranian, and it became increasingly popular in the United States. The United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized the breed in 1914, followed by the Canadian Kennel Club in 1917. In 1926, Glen Rose Flashaway became the first Pomeranian to win the Toy Group at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

The modern Pomeranian’s role – lap and guard dog

Today’s Pomeranians have become supremely popular as lap dogs for their small size, cute appearance, and affectionate nature. They are excellent dogs for people living in apartments because they are compact and require little exercise to keep fit.

Though Pomeranians are bred to be lap dogs, their bark makes them perfect protectors and, in a pinch, they can be trained to become effective guard dogs. While they are not meant for sustained outdoor activity, they are agile and energetic, enjoying short walks and playful activities. So if you’re looking for a small but brave pet that is great for indoor living, the Pomeranian is the perfect choice.

Their small size and unique personality traits have made them a popular pet among Hollywood’s elite. The list of famous Pomeranian owners is fairly extensive: Paris Hilton, Jessica Alba, Christina Aguilera, David Hasselhoff, Kate Hudson, Kim Kardashian, and the late, great Liza Minnelli are just a few of the celebrities who have adopted Poms throughout the years.

But the prevalence of social media has made it so that these fluffy goofballs don’t need humans to share in their fame. Adorably named Poms like Jiff (better known as Jiffpom), Mango, Zoe, and Boo have garnered millions of views on Instagram and other platforms.

Popularity, the breed standard, and outlook

The American Kennel Club (AKC) sets out the breed standard for Pomeranians as a toy dog with a compact, short-backed body, and a thick, long, and vibrant double coat. The breed typically weighs between 3 to 7 pounds and stands between 6 to 7 inches tall at the shoulder.

The Pomeranian breed standard includes a wedge-shaped head, a short and straight nose, and small, erect ears. The breed should be lively, alert, and intelligent, with a distinctive gait and a bright, curious expression.

Like most dogs, Pomeranians are susceptible to certain health problems. Patellar luxation, hip dysplasia, Legg-Perthes disease, dental problems, and congestive heart failure are common issues among Pomeranians. They are also susceptible to breathing difficulties due to their short snouts. To minimize health issues, proper nutrition, checkups with a veterinarian, and regular exercise are essential.

The breed standard allows for a wide range of coat colors and patterns, but the most common colors include orange, cream, black, and sable. They also come in parti-colors, brindle, and merle. The Pomeranian’s double coat can range from short to long, with a soft and dense undercoat and a straight outer coat. Regular grooming is essential to maintain the breed’s luxuriously thick coat.

One of the most interesting things to watch for with Pomeranian puppies is the color change that happens as they mature from puppy to adult. It’s not uncommon for orange Poms to start out white, or wolf sable Poms to appear completely black at birth.

These tiny dogs are delightful and cherished for their loving, and gentle nature. In fact, modern Poms consistently rank in the top 20 of most popular dog breeds. While they are small and compact, they have large personalities and great energy, making them a wonderful companion for people of all ages.

Frequently asked questions

What is the Pomeranian breed known for?

Pomeranians are known for their cute, fluffy appearance, playful personalities, and their ability to make great lap dogs. Despite their small size, Pomeranians have a strong watchdog instinct and a powerful bark, which makes them excellent protectors. They also have a rich history in Northern Europe, where they were bred to be sled dogs and herders. Today, Pomeranians are popular among city dwellers for their small size, affectionate personality, low exercise needs, and suitability for apartment living.

What two dog breeds make a Pomeranian?

While there may be many theories about the exact breeds that make up a Pomeranian, the American Kennel Club (AKC) does not recognize any particular breed as being the sole ancestor of Pomeranians. However, it is believed that the Pomeranian breed developed by breeding various Spitz-type dogs found in Northern Europe, such as the German Spitz, with the ultimate goal of creating a dog of a smaller size that could be kept indoors.

Where do Pomeranians come from?

Pomeranians come from the region of Pomerania, which is a historical region located in present-day Germany and Poland. Pomeranians were developed by breeding different types of Spitz dogs found in Iceland, Lapland, and other Nordic countries, with the goal of creating a smaller-sized dog that could be kept indoors.

This breed was initially used as herders, sled dogs, and versatile working dogs in cold climates. Royals like Queen Charlotte and Queen Victoria popularized the breed, making it fashionable among the wealthy and aristocratic classes in England.

Were Pomeranians hunting dogs?

Yes, Pomeranians were hunting dogs in Iceland and other Nordic countries where the breed was first developed. They were used to hunt small prey, such as rodents and birds, and were also used for herding sheep and other livestock. Pomeranians were highly valued for their ability to adapt to the cold weather and harsh conditions in these regions and were used as versatile working dogs.

What are the unique qualities of the Pomeranian dog breed?

The Pomeranian breed is known for its charming personality and affectionate nature, making it a popular companion pet. They also have a strong watchdog instinct and often make excellent protectors. This breed, like other Spitz breeds, has a thick double coat that protects it from harsh climates and also requires regular grooming. Pomeranians are highly intelligent and can be trained to perform tricks and other commands. They are energetic and playful and can be a great fit for families with children. Additionally, Pomeranians are highly adaptable and can thrive in various living situations, including apartments and houses.