Most breeds start out by stirring one breed into another for a specific purpose, then tweaking the outcome until the desired result is achieved and the dogs breed “true”, that is, they reproduce themselves generation after generation.
Not so the Pomeranian. If royalty is achieved through consanguinity, than the Pom is royal indeed. It can trace its lineage with no sidebars or swoops to the wrong side of the blanket straight back to the canine’s first ancestor, the wolf. The northern type breeds (which range from the Malamute to the Akita, the American Eskimo to the Pomeranian), are genetically the closest canine relatives to the wolf. All of these breeds share the basic physical traits; the thick double coat, erect ear and long plume of a tail of their direct ancestor.
And while there is no trace of “big bad wolf” temperament left in a Pom, they are extremely loyal to their own people. They don’t howl, but can be pretty chatty, voicing detailed opinions about the neighbor’s cat, the length of the grass and the sun coming up.
What route did the Pomeranian travel to morph from a grey wolf loping along the icy tundra to a five pound ball of fluff watching its owner eagerly for his next move? Well, that is:
THE REST OF THE STORY
In about 1000 AD, the Vikings in Scandinavia and northern Europe decided that they could have a better life farming than burning and pillaging. There rose a need for traders to deliver goods to the various villages along the North Sea and Baltic Ocean. These middlemen worked in boats but really were more merchant than sailor. They needed tough and hardy canine companions to keep them company, but realistically, they needed more buddy than protector. After all, these traders wanted to make friends with the villagers, not intimidate them. So, over many generations, they picked the most out-going, cheerful and energetic puppies available to be their road companions. The result was a medium sized dog with a rough coat, erect ears and a cheerful, happy-go-lucky temperament. The Dutch version of this trader's dog became the Keeshond, whose job was to accompany the barge owners along the many canals of Holland. The northern European version became the family of "German Spitz" dogs (spitz meaning pointed in German, perhaps referring to their wedge-shaped muzzles) and came in five sizes, ranging from the Wolf Spitz to the Zwerg (miniature) Spitz. They accompanied their masters along the watery byways of northern Germany and Poland. They watched the boat when their owners went dirt-side to trade or for a pint and were at all times a cheerful and uncomplaining buddy.
Fast forward 700 years to 1767 and meet a lonely 17 year old bride. She is a long way from her native Mecklenburg, a small duchy on the Baltic Sea. Wanting something to remind her of home, she asks for two of her native Zwerg-Spitz dogs. A pair arrives in due course from Mecklenburg’s neighbor to the east, Pomerania. They are white, weigh about 30 lbs., and are sweet and cheerful. Young Queen Charlotte, wife of Great Britain’s King George the Third, is captivated and so is the entire country, especially after the dogs’ portrait is done by the renowned Thomas Gainesborough. The breed, now called Pomeranians after the duchy they came from, gains in popularity in England.
After King George III came King George IV; and while the new king kept a Pomeranian or two, the country waned in its affection for the breed at about the same rate it grew tired of its monarch. George IV had no children, so when he died, his niece Victoria ascended the throne.
That Queen Victoria plays a pivotal role in the development of the Pomeranian comes as no surprise. Arguably one of the earliest and certainly one of the most influential catalysts in the popularity of more than 20 breeds, Victoria championed the novel idea that one should love their pets "not wisely, but too well". Ascending the throne as a jejune 18 year old, she proceeded to preside over her nation for the following 64 years. Under her reign, Britain expanded to the far reaches of the world; from India to South Africa to China. The country experienced an explosion of world influence, coining the phrase "The sun never sets on the Union Jack" (Great Britain's flag). And at the top sat the doyenne, the Empress Victoria. When her husband Albert died at 42, she turned to her beloved dogs for solace. After that, all royal events, no matter how formal, had several of her pets present. Victoria, (who could teach current politicians many lessons in public relations) remained a revered role model for her entire long reign. So the passions of the queen invariably became the passions of the nation.
In 1888, Victoria fell in love with a 12 pound Pomeranian sprite named Marco she found in Florence while touring the Mediterranean. Who can say no to a queen? Marco, as well as several of his female relatives, were acquired by the royal canine connoisseur. Marco was considerably smaller than Queen Charlotte's larger and coarser dogs and a rich orange as opposed to the earlier Queen's white and cream dogs.
Dog shows were then in their infancy but Victoria had no hesitation in putting her Poms in competition. "Windsor's Marco" was one of many so exhibited. As an aside, one can only wonder what it felt like to campaign against one of the queen's dogs! The shows also brought her Poms in front of the general public, all such events were followed avidly by the press.
So Poms became smaller and smaller, following Victoria's fancy, and turned from the cream and white preferred by an earlier generation to the Queen's favorite deep orange.
As the Queen lay dying in 1901, one her last acts was to ask that her dear Pom Turi be put on the bed next to her. It is a testament to this cheerful and very loyal breed that Turi snuggled in tight -- it's easy to see the pricked ears and liquid brown eyes resting gently on an arm, watching every labored breath, doing all she can to comfort her dying mistress.
In the years before WWII Mary S. Brewster began to breed Pomeranians under the prefix Robwood. She had many top winning dogs over the years and her kennel supplied national contenders for many others, including today's well known judge Edd Bivin. He started with Pomeranians at the age of 12. His parents told him he could show whatever breed he wished, as long as it was small. Edd chose the Pom because it was a little dog with a big attitude.
No talk of exceptional Pomeranians within the last 25 years is complete without mentioning Ch. Great Elms Prince Charming II, owned by Olga Baker and Skip Piazza and bred by Ruth Beam, (culminating a long line of Great Elm winners). The applause was like thunder as this penultimate show man strutted his stuff to the top of the leader board of Westminster in 1988. He personified a big dog in a small compact package and the loving bond between dog and handler, tight as a drum, left no eye dry.
By the Numbers
Size: Toys: 3 to 7 pounds
Coat Care: 8 – high. Requires regular brushing to keep tangles and shedding down.
Trainability: 8– medium to high. Pomeranians learn easily but also are easy to distract.
Energy level: 8. They are a high energy dog but because of their size they can be high energy in a relatively small space. They are good watchdogs and love a daily walk. They do best with lots of attention from their owners.
Good with Children: 5 – They are fine with older children and are eager to join in the fun.
Noise level: medium to high – 8: They can be noisy, especially when bored.
Low Shedding/hypoallergenic: – 10, very high The breed sheds copiously.
To get more information or to find a puppy, contact the American Pomeranian Club to start your search. Be sure to to check out What Males a Responsible Pet Owner to make sure you have what it takes as well.
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