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Group: Toys
Breed Family: Pomeranian

Despite its small size, the Pomeranian is a member of the Spitz family, which originated in the Arctic circle and all of which have certain characteristics in common: prick ears, a mane of hair around the neck, and a high-set plumed tail carried over the back.

The exact origin of the breed is obscure, but there is no doubt that it is an ancient one. The Hon. Mrs. Neville Lytton, in Toy Dogs and their Ancestors, claims to have traced the Pomeranian's history back to Greece around 400 B.C., and from there to the Roman empire, taken through Italy to France, Germany, and England.

The name of the breed is taken from Pomerania, a former province of northern Germany, on the Baltic Sea. It was probably here that it was bred down in size from the larger Spitz types. The original Pomeranians were a good deal larger than the dogs of the present day, weighing up to thirty pounds or more. Some were so large that they were used to herd sheep or to pull carts.

The first imports that arrived in England from Pomerania early in the nineteenth century failed to excite the interest of the public or dog authorities of the day. Indeed, there was little attention paid to a breed that had no sporting background, and one that compared unfavorably with British Sheep dogs. Breeders soon discovered, however, that undersized puppies appeared occasionally in otherwise normal litters, and while most considered these small puppies to be runts, a few were raised which matured into perfectly normal, tiny replicas of their littermates. Called Toy Pomeranians, these little miniatures quickly attracted a great deal of attention.

The Kennel Club officially recognized The Pomeranian in 1870. Classes for the breed were first offered at The Kennel Club show in June of 1871. As with so many different breeds in England during the last half of the nineteenth century, public attention became focused on Pomeranians as a result of Queen Victoria's interest. After a visit to Florence in 1888, the Queen acquired several Pomeranians. Edward C. Ash writes that her Pomeranian line was started by Sasha, a dog presented to her by her granddaughter, Princess Airbert of Anhalt. Also in the royal kennels were Beppo, a white with a lemon patch on one eye and Marco, a rich deep buff color. Queen Victoria exhibited several dogs at The Kennel Club show in April of 1891 and won all the prizes in her class with Windsor Marco winning first place. The Queen preferred dogs in the twelve to sixteen pound range, which made the old style Pomeranian appear gigantic. Within a short time, the style set by the Queen became the norm.

Even this smaller Pomeranian was soon to be considered large as breeders discovered they could reduce its size even further, and that they could accomplish this feat without endangering the dog's health or losing its coat. The early specimens were white and black, and later, a wide range of vivid colors were introduced. As one writer notes in Hutchinson's Dog Encyclopedia, "The smaller size, the wonderful coat and the brilliant colors made the breed yet more fashionable, and when, later, sables were evolved, the breed forged yet further ahead in that particular direction, which meant high prices: a dog of fashion which no well-dressed lady could be without."


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