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History of the German Spitz Breeds.

In Europe, spitz-type dogs were associated with the hunter gatherers of the first stone age, going back some 6000 years, but if we want to look for the origin specifically of the German spitz, we turn to it's immediate forebear, the Turfspitz (canis familiaris palustris). In the Northern German plain which stretched from the Rhine to vistula in the east and covering most of Denmark, was a very swampy area. People living in this area had to build their houses on stilts above the swamps and were buried in,what today has turned into peat-bogs. The remains of people and their dogs have been excavated from these peat-bogs and the dogs are believed to be the forerunners of the Wolfspitz.They were all in a remarkable state of preservation. There is evidence that people living from Bodensee, in Germany, to L.Ladoga(east of Leningrad) kept these dogs and , because house-dogs and herders were of the greatest use to non-nomadic people, it is believed that they set out to deliberately breed out the hunting instinct that characterises dogs of nomads. Any one owning a spitz could argue that they were only partially successful unless compared to the likes of the Beagle or Afghan breeds.

It is also believed that dogs with whitest coats were preferred and were probably the first to be bred from as their colour enabled the owners to distinguish their dogs from marauding wolves which scavenged for food around the villages after dark. The colour preventing them from being killed by the villagers.

Prior to 1871 Germany did not exist in its present form, but consisted of small kingdoms, princedoms and dukedoms, whose boundaries, especially the further east they travelled, were constantly changing. It is not suprising to find that different countries developed different spitz to suit their own needs. All of them came under the general name of 'Mistbeller', a word which sounds charming to an english ear but which actually translates to 'dung-hill barker'. They were invariably dogs which would stand on top of the dung heap and bark. Not many people have the dung heap but most can boast the 'beller' part of the name.

Goods were often transported via wagons and most coachmen had a 'coachman's'spitz which would run alongside of the wagon or ride on the horses back and would warn of strangers when parked up for the night.There are also many other types of spitz which popped up all over the various european landmass. They all varied in colours/heights but were all used to watch over various buildings or boats/areas of importance.A good example is the Keeshond used very successfully on the barges in Holland.

In England the breed became popular in the 18th Century.When Queen Anne died in 1714, the great grandson of James 1 came to the throne. he was of course the elector of Hannover, better known as George 1. his wife was German and his descendents also married german aristocrats bringing german visitors to the english court to visit. They brought with them the forerunners of today's German spitz which became very fashionable and were know as 'Pomeranians' as they were believed to origionate from a place called Pommern. They did not resemble the breed known as a pomeranian today however as they were much larger in size. Queen Victoria was later to be a devotee to this breed too.She was known to have imported 'kleinspitze' between 3lb and 7lbs in weight.

The decline of the breed in the UK is believed to have begun due to the First world war and along with many other German breeds went rapidly out of favour in the wave of patriotism which swept the country at this time.

The re-emergence of the breed

The first German spitz ,as we know them today in the UK, was imported by Mrs. Averil Cawthera (Lireva) who was wanting to re-introduce the white Pomeranian (not the German spitz). She imported many white Poms from Holland including Tum-Tum van het Vlinderhof of Lireva (Tum-Tum) in 1975 followed by Venestien's Mauricia of Lireva (Velvet) in 1976. This was followed by Rosemary Bridman importing April Folly at Tordown in 1977. She was an oversized Pom which Rosemary hoped to gain KC acceptance for as a larger size in Poms.Rosemary later in 1977 gained Tum-Tum and Velvet from Averil who had bred her white Poms. In 1979 Julie Smith and Janet Edmonds( now known as J. Al-haddad) along with Rosemary, imported a Dutch bred bitch - Tefanra-Leona's Lady Xabrina (Minty). She was registered under the Joint affix of Julie and Jannat of 'Dovetrees'. She was the first to qualify for Crufts in our breed in the UK in Any variety not separately classified class at West and East Ladies kennel club championship show (WELKS). In 1981 Ms. J. Haddad went to Vienna and brought back Prinz Schneeflocke von cottas (schani). He was Austrian bred but of czech pedigree and registered as German Kleinspitze in Austria.

In the meantime the three (Tum-Tum, Velvet, and Folly) had been mated with the Pomeranian breeds in the UK and also to each other, due to the KC registering them as Poms.This caused major problems. It was decided to form a separate club, after opposition to two sizes of Pomeranian by the small Pomeranian breeders and a decision was taken to attempt to get recognition for a breed separate from the pom called the German Spitz.Despite revelations that some of the above mentioned dogs had infact been registered in holland as Dwerg Keeshonden which was infact Pomeranians when translated and after lots of talks with the KC in the UK they agreed that there would be two sizes of German spitz to be called Klein (small) and Mittel (middle) and any progeny from the 'First four dogs could be added to the German spitz register. The puppies to be registered as German spitz who had only one of the four in their breeding would be put on a development register, whilst puppies with two of the first four as their sire and dam would be registered as full German spitz in one of the two sizes. The owner to decide which size. Once registered there was to be no inter-breeding of sizes and an agreement was required that The newly formed German spitz club would agree to no colour/markings barred.You now have our present day German spitz in two sizes in the UK. They are gaining popularity due to their happy diposition and the high placings reached in both Crufts and championship shows around the country giving them a higher profile in the media. We gained Challenge Certificates (C.C.'s) in the breed in 1994 for the first time and in 1999 the club show in November has it's first set of CC's to give out.

Acknowledgement for information in this page must be given to Ms. Jannat Al-haddad who wrote 'The German Spitz' and from which I sourced my information. The book (in English) can be bought by contacting the Secretary of the UK German Spitz Club, Mrs Val Dyer,@ the following address:

Mrs. Val Dyer
Waterend cottage,
Hayes End,

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