Pomeranians are spirited small dogs with a bold personality. With their fluffy coats, they’re always smiling bright. But have you ever looked at one and wondered, what were Pomeranians bred for?
Pomeranians were originally bred for jobs that you’d least expect, such as pulling sleds, guarding homes and protecting livestock. Prior to the 19th century, Poms weighed 30 pounds, but were eventually bred down to become family companions.
The history of the Pomeranian is a long and interesting one. Let’s dive in and explore the roles and jobs of these dogs, and how they developed into the little cheerful dogs we love today.
Table of Contents
The History of Pomeranians
Like with so many dog breeds, the history and origins of the Pomeranian is a questionable one. Though they probably originated from Iceland, along with the other spitz dogs, they were popularized by Germany.
Pomeranians are internationally popular dogs today, but their history can be traced as far back as 400 BC, as evident by various paintings and artifacts.
The ancestor spitz dogs of the Poms were much larger than the ones you see today. In fact, they have many wolf-like characteristics, even among Poms today.
With how friendly and cheerful these dogs are, you would have never have guessed. But all dogs from the Spitz family are closely related to wolves, including the Akita Inu, Alaskan Malamute and more.
We all know about Queen Elizabeth II and her Royal Corgis, but did you know that Poms also experienced royal treatment and fame too?
Prior to the 18th century, these dogs were simply known as “wolf dogs.” This breed was actually brought into the royal family by Queen Charlotte in 1761.
When Queen Charlotte married King George III, she brought along her pet wolf dogs. Quickly, they captured the interest (and the hearts) of English royalty.
After growing in popularity with the royal family, these wolf dogs were renamed to the Pommeranian (yes, with two M’s). Queen Charlotte renamed them after the German region in which they were imported from, called Pomerania.
From there, they became popular companion dogs even among the commoners (later on in the 1800s). The amazing thing is that they’re still popular companions centuries later.
Queen’s Royal Poms
As previously mentioned, Pomeranians didn’t “explode” in popularity until the 1800s. In 1888, Queen Victoria paid a visit to Florence, Italy.
It was there that she fell in love with the Volpino Italiano – it was love at first sight. She couldn’t resist the big round eyes and elegant fluffy coats.
What really struck a chord was the fact that these dogs reminded her of her grandmother’s (Queen Charlotte’s) pet dogs. So of course, she brought back four Volpino Italianos into the royal family.
Like with the wolf dog, the Volpino Italiano is a member of the Spitz family and have similar origins. Eventually, they were renamed to the Pomeranian despite having an older history.
The Queen has her favorites among the dogs, and some of them become jealous of the attention 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.– The Toronto Daily Mail (1894)
Queen Victoria was one of the most beloved royals of all time, especially during the Victoria era. As such, she had a huge influence on the pop culture of the country.
It didn’t take long because Pomeranians were seen as a “fashion statement” and became the highest demanded toy dog breed in the country.
Pomeranian Jobs & Roles
The original jobs and roles of the Pomeranians are those you’d expect out of a Siberian Husky, Great Pyrenees or a Rottweiler – all large dog breeds. But a Pom?
Believe it or not, Pomeranians were highly skilled and capable sleigh dogs, guardians and livestock protectors back in the day. And according to Pet Pom, the ancestor Poms weighed up to 30 pounds!
Breeders and dog enthusiasts refer to these ancestor dogs as “throwback poms” and though rare, well still see some in litters today.
Let’s explore the various interesting jobs that these now toy dogs were originally tasked to do.
Though they may not have the speed, endurance or physical capabilities of a Siberian Husky, the Pomeranian was once used to pull sleds and carts.
With their double coat that protected them, ancestors of Poms were ideal for working in freezing temperatures of snowy regions.
One Pomeranian owner on Reddit tells us:
I may not have the agility dog I want, but I’m sure happy I have a Pom that lives to join me when I go sledding. But only if he gets to run with it and not be in it.– Goombawrangler (Reddit)
Perhaps, this Pomeranian is showing its ancient instincts of running with sleds?
It’s hard to imagine these toy dogs pulling you on a sleigh, but you must remember that they were much larger in the past.
Needless to say, after they were bred to be small family companions, they no longer participated in this type of work. Today, more qualified (and much larger) spitz breeds do the pulling instead.
While they were much larger, Pomeranians were effective guard dogs for properties such as farms. Now? Not so much.
However, Pomeranians can still make effective watch dogs because of the temperament and qualities they share with modern guard dogs.
For instance, they’re vigilant and confident dogs, as are Rottweilers and Doberman Pinschers. Both of which, are some of the most feared and reputable canine guardians.
Few things can get past my Pom. She will bark at anything and everything, so you can feel confident they’ll let you know if someone unusual is on your (more like ‘their’) property.– Greg S. (Pomeranian owner)
And according to The Spruce Pets, Poms will alert you through their barking if they sense an intruder. They’re great dogs if you need a second pair of eyes, or ears in this case.
The only thing is that you shouldn’t rely on a Pomeranian to actually protect your territory. Weighing in at under 8 pounds, there’s very little they can do.
Pomeranians are fantastic at getting your attention if they suspect that somethings “off” around the house. But if you can get your hands on a rare “throwback” Pom, then maybe!
All-purpose Farm Dogs
One of the most interesting and surprising jobs of the old Pomeranians are the ones that they had to do on farms. Their roles included guarding livestock and herding sheep.
Yes, that’s right – Pomeranians were sheepdogs! According to National Purebred Dog Day, these dogs were used as herding dogs for sheep.
If a 25-pound Pembroke Welsh Corgi can herd cattle, then old 30-pound Poms can certainly herd sheep.
Unfortunately, we don’t have much information on this, as they likely haven’t seriously participated in herding for many years. However, we suspect they were decent herders.
We took a look on YouTube and found downright hilarious and adorable videos of small Pomeranians trying to herd cattle. Perhaps, the herding instincts are still intact!
Had I known about these hidden ancient instincts, I would have sent our family Pomeranian to herding trials.
The Modern Pomeranian
Though those historic jobs of Pomeranians are interesting, you likely won’t find a Pom that pulls sleigh, guards homes or herds cattle now. So, what were Pomeranians bred for today?
Pomeranians are part of the Toy Dog Group, according to the AKC. And like all the other dogs from this group, they were bred to be companions – and companions only.
Top Dog Companions
These dogs are sociable, cheerful, bright, warm and lively – all the best qualities of a top toy companion dog. They were bred for this role and they excel at it.
Although they will alert you of intruders, they’re generally quite friendly dogs. They can easily live in harmony with other dogs and pets, at least with the proper training.
There’s no place a Pomeranian would rather be than on your lap. If you need a buddy to lounge around, they’re there for you. Want to stretch your legs? Poms will happily go for a walk.
Poms are such an intuitive breed. They can see your heart. I had a rough day and was sitting on the cold steps of my office building waiting for my bus…all the sudden a big, fluffy pom runs up to say hi (made my day).– Smtrixie (Reddit)
Many owners claim that their Pomeranians are great at reading emotions. In other words, they have an extremely high EQ. If you’re having a bad day, they’ll somehow know and come comfort you.
However, this is also why they’re such sensitive dogs. For a great companion relationship to transpire, you must reciprocate their love and affection.
After all, there’s a reason why Pomeranians are consistently on the AKC’s list of top 30 most popular dog breeds – year after year. They’re just that great of a dog companion!
Is a Pom For Me?
Having personally owned a Pomeranian for 13 years, I can tell you that Pomeranians are some of the most joyous and bright dogs you can find.
They are bred for companionship and they do their jobs as good as any dog. You may not be able to count on them to protect the house or track down small game.
However, if you’re looking for a canine friend that will always have your back (your family’s too!), then a Pom is an excellent choice.
But just because they’re “lap dogs” doesn’t mean that you can ignore their physical and mental needs. They don’t need much, but daily walks are still necessary.
Grooming can take some time as they tend to shed quite a bit, especially during shedding season. So if you’re allergic to dogs, I’d suggest one of these hypoallergenic dogs instead.
Overall, Poms are some of the best dogs. They were literally bred to be a “man’s best friend.” So if you bring one home, you won’t regret it!
Posts you may like: