With more fur than body, these tiny dogs boast a surprisingly storied history. Read on for more facts about the fluffy breed.
1. THEY USED TO LOOK A LOT DIFFERENT.
Believe it or not, Poms used to pull sleds and herd animals. That’s because they were once a lot bigger. Originally, the dogs weighed an average of 30 pounds and were all white, until the 19th century, when they were bred down to become companion animals. The gene for bigger dogs is still present in the breed: Sometimes breeders will get a "throwback" Pom. These dogs resemble their larger ancestors in both size and behavior.
2. THEY'RE CLOSELY RELATED TO SLED DOGS … AND WOLVES.
Don't let their fluffiness fool you: Pomeranians are closely related to wolves. They’re a spitz breed, meaning a type of dog that has several wolf-like characteristics. (Other breeds that fall into this category include the Alaskan malamute, the Akita, the Samoyed, and the Norwegian elkhound.) More specifically, they're part of the German Spitzen group, a subgroup of the spitz type, which is comprised of five different sizes of dogs. The Poms are the group's smallest members.
3. THEIR NAME COMES FROM A REGION BY THE BALTIC SHORE.
Pomeranians are probably from Iceland, but the breed didn't begin to resemble the dogs we know today until it reached Germany. There, Poms were bred in a small region in the northeast, Pomerania. The region’s name comes from the Slavic po more, or “land by the sea,” referring to its proximity to the Baltic Shore.
4. QUEEN VICTORIA LOVED THEM.
Queen Victoria of England first fell in love with the breed in 1888. She imported four Poms from Italy: Marco, a sable colored male; Gina, a white female; and two others. The queen’s love of the breed was infectious and soon Pomeranians became the era's hottest pet. Dogs that looked like Marco were especially in-demand. The Toronto Daily Mail had this to say about the pampered pet in 1894:
The Queen has her favorites among the dogs, and some of them become jeaIous of the attentions she pays to others. Among those she likes best is one named “Marco.” This is said to be the finest Spitz dog in England. It has taken a number of prizes. He weighs just about twelve pounds and he has brighter eyes, quicker motion, and sharper bark than any other dog in the kennel. He is just three years old, and he carries his tail over his back as though he owned the whole establishment.
At one time, Queen Victoria had 35 Poms in her kennel, and on her deathbed, asked for her Pomeranian Turi to be at her side. The queen (and her dogs) likely influenced the standard of smaller Pomeranians.
5. THEY’RE SURVIVORS.
Along with the approximate 2240 people that boarded the Titanic in 1912, there were also 12 dogs, all in first class. Unfortunately, only three dogs survived the accident: one Pekingese and two Pomeranians. One was named Lady and belonged to Margaret Bechstein Hays, who was returning from a trip to Europe with her friends. The other was an unnamed pet of Elizabeth Jane Anne Rothschild, the wife of clothing magnate Martin Rothschild.
6. THEY HAVE AN IN WITH ARTISTS.
As companion dogs, Poms make excellent friends and have rubbed shoulders with some of history's greatest creative minds. Mozart dedicated one of his finished arias to his pet Pomeranian, Pimperl. Frédéric Chopin, inspired by his friend’s pet Pomeranian chasing his tail, wrote the song “Waltz of the Little Dogs.” When Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel, his Pom was sitting below on a satin pillow watching the action.
7. THEY HAVE A LOT OF FUR.
The dogs no longer pull sleds, but they've held on to their warm, fluffy double coats. This luxurious fur needs a lot of attention to keep it from getting knotty or matted; the dogs need to be brushed twice a week and have regular appointments at the groomers.
8. THEY’RE EVEN CUTER IN GROUPS.
As if a group of Pomeranians isn’t cute enough, they have special names. A Pom duo is called a “puff,” while a group of three or more is called a “tuft.” We’ll give you a minute to let that sink in.
9. THEY HAVE SOME TROUBLE COMPETITIVELY.
Despite Queen Victoria’s little Poms cleaning up in competitions, the rest of the breed has had trouble bringing home the gold—at least at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Since its inception, only one Pom has won Best in Show: Ch. Great Elms Prince Charming II, who weighed a mere four and a half pounds, took home top honors in 1988.
10. BUT THEY STILL SET WORLD RECORDS.
In 2014, a Pomeranian named Jiff made headlines when he set the Guinness World Record for "Fastest Dog on Two Paws." The California pup can scurry on both his front and hind legs at an impressive clip: He can run 10 meters on his hind legs in 6.56 seconds and five meters on his front in 7.76 seconds. Unfortunately, Jiff's status as top dog didn't last long; soon after, a mix named Konjo completely smashed his record. The newcomer’s front paw five meter run clocked in at 2.39 seconds.
All images courtesy of iStock unless otherwise stated.