What Were Pomeranians Bred For? Past Role, Jobs, History, and More

Written by Dayva Segal
Updated: August 23, 2023
© KristinaSh/Shutterstock.com
Share this post on:


Listen to Article

Pomeranian is an insanely adorable dog breed. It’s hard to walk by one without saying “Awww!” and asking its owner if you can pet it. They are small, furry dogs that kind of resemble a pom-pom. However, that is not where their name comes from. They are called Pomeranians because the breed originated in Pomerania, which is a region split between Germany and Poland along the Baltic Sea. In Germany, the original name for the breed was the German spitz until 1974.

Pomeranians are known as cute little lap dogs, weighing between just three and seven pounds. Despite being a toy breed, they have hard-working origins that may completely surprise you!

Pomeranian dog
Pomeranians don’t shed much, despite the thick and fluffy coat.

©wirakorn deelert/Shutterstock.com

A 30-Pound Pomeranian?

Believe it or not, Pomeranians were first bred to do hard labor and be guard dogs. You may giggle to think of a tiny Pom scaring away a visitor, but the original Pomeranians were around 30 pounds. This allowed them to pull sleds and herd livestock.

These larger Pomeranians were around as early as 400 BC, according to archaeological artifacts. According to paintings, Pomeranians may have been larger as recently as 1767. Queen Charlotte, the Queen of England from 1761 until 1818, was painted with her two beloved Pomeranians, Phebe and Mercury. These dogs showed similar traits to the modern breed but are estimated to have weighed somewhere between 30 and 50 pounds.

As time went on, the breed transformed into a family dog popularized by royals who adored them. In 1873, with the formation of the British Kennel Club, the Pomeranian (then called the spitz) was one of the first breeds to participate in the program. Those Pomeranians weighed around 18 pounds.

In 1888, Queen Victoria, The Queen of the United Kingdom from 1837 until 1901, was given a 12-pound Pomeranian. She later adopted another one that was just over seven pounds. By the time of her death, she had at least 35 Pomeranians, and requested her favorite one, Turi, to be at her side while she was on her deathbed. Queen Victoria is credited with popularizing the smaller size Poms that we know and love today.

By the early 1900s, the toy size Pomeranian was well established.

The Pomeranian’s Wolf Origins

Pomeranians are in the spitz family of dogs, which likely originated in Iceland. These dogs are more closely related to wolves than other dog breeds and include Samoyeds, huskies, and malamutes. Dog breeds in this family have more wolf-like characteristics including:

  • Erect, pointy ears
  • A pointed snout
  • A curled tail
  • A double coat

Smaller spitz dogs like Pomeranians sometimes have a more foxlike appearance. However, the resemblance to wolves is clear in the larger breeds.

Pomeranian Color Choices

The original Pomeranian colors were black, white, brown, and parti-colored (dogs with patches of either black or brown and the rest white). It wasn’t until Queen Victoria had a red one in the late 1800s that the classic orange Pomeranian coloring came to be a classic look for the breed.

Nowadays, the Pomeranian comes in a wide variety of colors, with the reddish color being the most common. However, other color possibilities include:

  • Cream
  • Orange sable
  • Blue
  • Black
  • Brown
  • White
  • Red
  • Brindle

Past Pomeranian Jobs

Sled Dog

As hard as it is to believe, in their past, Pomeranians were sled dogs. Their double coats made them ideal outdoor working dogs for the harsh northern environment. They would pull sleds and carts in the snow. Today, some Pom owners report that their pups are very happy to run alongside their sled on a snow day, and love to run around in the snow in general. These are just anecdotes, but it could be that their sled dog instincts are still intact.

Guard Dog

Today, some Pomeranians are still vigilant and protective of their home environment. There is evidence in Italy of Pomeranians guarding their owner’s belongings. They were also used in other countries to let their owner know if someone was approaching the residence. Before the invention of the video doorbell, this was an essential service these dogs performed!

Nowadays, your Pomeranian can still be a good guard dog if you simply need someone to alert you to visitors. But if you’re looking for an intimidating presence, a Pommy probably isn’t the best choice!

Farm Working Dogs

It’s likely that Pomeranians were used to help herd livestock hundreds of years ago. There is not much information available, but experts believe they may have done other common jobs on a farm.

Pet stairs
It’s hard to imagine such a petite dog doing laborious work like pulling sleds or herding livestock.


Famous Pomeranians in History

The Pomeranian is kind of an iconic breed. There have been many famous Poms throughout history. As a beloved dog of royal families for centuries, there are plenty of listings of Poms as king’s and queen’s favorites. However, there are modern well-known Pomeranians too!

Two Pomeranians survived the sinking of the Titanic. A Mr. James Clinch Smith even made a joke about finding a little life jacket for Margaret Hayes’ Pom as she was waiting for a lifeboat and holding the dog. Ms. Hayes and her dog survived. Unfortunately, Mr. Smith did not.

Composer Frederic Chopin originally called his Waltz in D-flat major, Op. 64, No. 1 “Valse du Petit Chien” or Waltz of the Little Dog. It was inspired by his friend’s Pomeranian running around and chasing its tail!

It is also rumored that Michelangelo had a beloved Pomeranian who sat below him on a satin pillow while he painted the Sistine Chapel.

Today, Pomeranians are popular dogs for celebrities. They can be the perfect cute accessory to tuck into a back or under your arm. Nicole Richie, Paris Hilton, Eva Longoria, and Kelly Osborne are all well-known Pomeranian owners. However, it’s not only women who go gaga for Poms. Gavin Rossdale, Sylvester Stallone, and Keanu Reeves have also had a Pomeranian.

The Modern Pom

So, Pomeranians were once working dogs, but what do they do now? As part of the toy dog breed group, they are companions. Some people might refer to them as lap dogs. And, they make amazing furry friends, which is why they are one of the most iconic and popular breeds. They are typically very friendly and can easily get along with other people and animals, especially with proper training.

However, perhaps due to their past as guard dogs, they can be sensitive. So, positive reinforcement training plus plenty of good old-fashioned TLC can help your Pom live its best life. They won’t be pulling a sled anytime soon, but perhaps you can see a bit of that fierce working dog spirit in your toy-sized Pomeranian.

Is Pomeranian the Right Breed for You?

Are you thinking about getting a Pomeranian? Check out these articles about the breed to help decide:

Learn About Breeds Similar to Pomeranians

Ready to discover the top 10 cutest dog breeds in the entire world?

How about the fastest dogs, the largest dogs and those that are -- quite frankly -- just the kindest dogs on the planet? Each day, AZ Animals sends out lists just like this to our thousands of email subscribers. And the best part? It's FREE. Join today by entering your email below.

What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?


If you have kids or existing dogs select:

Other Dogs

Should they be Hypoallergenic?

How important is health?
Which dog groups do you like?
How much exercise should your dog require?
What climate?
How much seperation anxiety?
How much yappiness/barking?

How much energy should they have?

The lower energy the better.
I want a cuddle buddy!
About average energy.
I want a dog that I have to chase after constantly!
All energy levels are great -- I just love dogs!
How much should they shed?
How trainable/obedient does the dog need to be?
How intelligent does the dog need to be?
How much chewing will allow?

The Featured Image

Pomeranian dog
Pomeranians like to be active, but they are a little temperamental with the outdoor weather. Since they are prone to heatstroke, they may want to go home sooner than other breeds would.
© KristinaSh/Shutterstock.com

Share this post on:
About the Author

I'm a freelance writer who has been working in the field of content creation and digital marketing for more than seven years. My favorite topics to write about include health, animals, fitness, and nutrition, though as a professional content provider and ghostwriter, I can easily write about pretty much anything! I love all animals and have been some form of vegetarian or vegan for over 10 years. My favorite animals are cats, dogs, and chickens, especially my own cat, Tula.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.