The natural features, erect ears, foxy face, and curled tail characterize all the breeds in what we call the Spitz family and most of the northern and primative group of dogs. The German Spitz, specifically, is thought to descend from sled or draft dogs brought to Germany sometime in the early middle ages. Early reports of Queen Charlotte’s dogs describes them as herding dogs, and in all likelihood the prototypical German Spitz was an all-around farm and family dog fulfilling many different roles depending on the needs of their owner- simple herding, crittering, playing with children, and as a watchdog and companion. The smaller sizes evolved as companions.
The German Spitz was originally introduced to England by Queen Charlotte, the wife of George III in the 18th century. At the time, it was a much larger dog- around 30 pounds. At the time, these were called Pomeranians, since they were believed to originate in Pomern. The modern toy form of the Pom originated with Queen Victoria over a hundred years later when she found her first toy speciman of the breed (In Italy? need source -ed.) and the standard was revised to the modern size. But the original, larger form persisted in Germany, merely known as the Spitz and divided by size (and color.)
In the 1970s, a Pomeranian fancier in England decided to look to Europe in an attempt to reintroduce the color white into the British Pom, where it had apparently been lost. This led to a group of fanciers trying to incorporate a larger size of Pom (the “Victorian Pom”) which was unsuccessful due to the resistance of fanciers of the smaller modern version of the breed, and it was decided instead to bring the German Spitz into the UK as a separate breed, and not allow interbreeding of the two smaller varieties (Mittel and Klein.) The first Spitz imported into the United States under that name arrived in the mid-90s and their numbers have grown slowly since then.
There is some confusion in the US about the origin of the American Eskimo. American Eskimos come, originally, from German Spitz, but a century of indepdent development has created a unique standard and character.
“The New Complete Pomeranian”
German Spitz World UK website, http://www.germanspitzworld.co.uk and the article there by Rosemary Bergman.
Picture courtesy of http://www.georgianindex.net/Prinny/pwales.html