You probably know Pomeranians for how alarmingly adorable they are. These dogs, affectionately known as Poms, do indeed happen to resemble pompoms with big brown eyes and a cute, charismatic demeanor.
However, Pomeranians are more than just a pretty face. They’re big dog energy in a tiny package, and there’s an interesting history behind why and how they got to be so tiny whilst still so fierce. Keep reading to learn all about the origin of the breed, how they’ve changed over time, and what they’re like today.
The Pomeranian we know and love is thought to have originally descended from the Spitz family, which includes breeds like Huskies, Akitas, Malamutes, and Samoyeds that all have thick coats and pointed features.
The Spitz family of dogs was much larger than the modern Pom, and their main role was that of a working dog — pulling sleds, herding flocks, and acting as guard dogs in the Arctic regions of Iceland and Lapland. The Spitz breeds were also popular in Germany, and it’s one of the many German Spitz dogs that is considered the true ancestor of the Pom.
If you’ve ever noticed the wolflike qualities of a Pomeranian, you’re pot on. Their small, pointed ears helped their ancestors reduce the risk of frostbite in their snowy conditions, and their dense, insulating undercoat protected them from the harsh weather conditions.
Pomerania: The Land of Origin
As mentioned, the Spitz breeds were, at some point in time, transported to Europe — to a region along the southern coast of the Baltic Sea — and became popular in Germany.
The particular Baltic region in question was called Pomerania, which includes parts of present-day Poland and Germany and split into two separate countries after WWII. This region is where the Pomeranian was specifically bred down from these larger dogs and downsized to pooches of around 30-40 lbs to serve more as guard dogs than working dogs.
Of course, this is where the Pom got its name. Pommore or Pommern translates to “on the sea,” in Slavic languages, although we don’t think modern-day Pomeranians are particularly seafaring pups.
Pomeranians, as we know them today, have always had a connection to royalty. It’s said that two members of the British Royal Family significantly influenced the evolution of these dogs — Queen Charlotte and King George III, who brought two Poms to England in 1767.
These two dogs, called Phoebe and Mercury (which we think are fabulous names), were adored by their family and depicted in various paintings by Sir Thomas Gainsborough.
By looking at these paintings, you’ll be able to notice that these dogs look very similar to what you know in terms of their thick coats and curled tails. However, they were still much larger than the pint-sized Poms we’re now familiar with. This is because they were yet to be bred smaller and smaller in the coming years by the Royal Family themselves.
Queen Victoria’s Influence
Queen Victoria, who ruled from 1819 to 1901, was the one who truly popularized these dogs and turned them into what we know as Poms today.
As huge dog and horse breeding enthusiasts, the family established a large breeding kennel, and at one time, the Queen kept 35 Pomeranians! Some of these pooches were trained as show dogs and won at least two championships, while others were simply loved and pampered. It’s even said that the Queen’s most beloved Pom, Turi, was by her side when she passed away.
Not only did she make these dogs popular, but the monarch is also credited with reducing their size through years of breeding, downsizing them into the minute 5-pound pups we know and love.
Poms in Pop Culture
Throughout the ages since, Pomeranians have always been popular pups, and have featured in the lives and works of a few famous artists.
Michelangelo is believed to have had his Pom by his side as he painted the famous ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and both Mozart and Chopin supposedly have pieces dedicated to their respective pooches. Even Sir Isaac Newton owned a Pomeranian who accompanied him in his research!
Modern celebrities love their Poms, too, and they’ve played a significant role in pop culture. Kate Hudson, Cindy Williams, and Fran Drescher have made their love for their Pomeranians very public. Drescher even starred alongside her pooch, Chester, in the 1990s hit TV show, “The Nanny,” and advocates for every human to own a dog because of the amazing impact they can have on our lives.
The recently popular Netflix show, ‘Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story,’ also featured the aforementioned queen and her beloved Poms.
It’s not just Queen Victoria and other major celebrities and artists who have seen the potential of wonderful companionship in these dogs. In the modern era, Pomeranians are wildly popular as family pets and compadres to those living on their own as well.
Due to their history as guard dogs, Poms make pretty awesome alarm systems, but they’re also notorious for their excessive barking. Not to worry, though; this behavior can be managed and minimized with proper training!
Poms have also retained their dense double coats and the foxy pointed ears that characterized their ancestors in Europe. While they may not be working dogs today, they’re still eager to please and easy to train due to their affectionate nature and high intelligence, making them excellent pets for all ages.