The German Spitz is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. They are bred in different sizes and divided into different subspecies according to their height at the withers. Aside from size and coat color, the German Spitz are similar in many respects. In this overview, we primarily cover the Mittelspitz, which comes in many color variations and is a direct ancestor of many modern dog breeds.
Characteristics of the Mittelspitz at Glance
Mittelspitze and her close relatives have accompanied humans for thousands of years and have hardly changed on the outside. Many modern dog breeds owe their striking appearance to their Spitz genes. Even long-haired Molossians like Newfoundland most likely carry Spitz genes. Despite outward similarities, European Spitz is not related to Asian Spitz such as the Akita Inu or the Shiba Inu.
Overview of German Spitz species
- Pomeranian (Pomeranian): With a height at the withers of between 18 and 22 cm, it is one of the smallest dog breeds in the world.
- Kleinspitz: Ideal height at the withers between 23 and 29 cm.
- Mittelspitz: Ideal height at the withers between 30 and 38 cm. All coat colors are acceptable for small Spitz.
- Great Spitz: Ideal height at the withers between 42 and 50 cm, permitted colors are black, white, and brown (single color).
- Wolfspitz (Keeshond): Height at the withers between 43 and 55 cm, the coat is silvery gray with black and dark gray patches on the back, head, and sides of the body.
Similar breeds and modern relatives
- Samoyed Dog: Siberian herding dog, larger than German Spitz, is bred only in white.
- Volpino Italiano: Italian Spitz, bred white only.
- Eurasier: Originated from crossings between Wolfsspitz and Chow-Chow.
- American Eskimo Dog: White purebred German Mittelspitz.
- Suomenpystykorva (Finnish Spitz): Large Spitz specialized in hunting big game.
- Japanese Spitz: Resembles a medium-sized white Spitz.
Identifying features of the Mittelspitz: The dogs with the unique coat of hair
- The head is very broad at the back with a pronounced, round forehead. Towards the snout, the skull tapers markedly (pointed because of the pointed snout and the pointed ears).
- The eyes are not too small and a bit slanted. In most dogs, the iris is so dark that it can hardly be distinguished from the pupil. The dark eyelids are also striking in all color variants.
- The triangular ears are set far back on the skull and stand up stiffly.
- The dogs have a lush mane on the well-developed chest, which makes the neck appear very voluminous. The belly is only slightly tucked up. Because of the dense undercoat, the outer hair on the entire body stands out slightly and gives the dogs a typical appearance.
- The bushy, hairy tail is curled over the back or carried like a saber.
What colors are found in the German Spitz?
- Gray tipped (all Spitz species) – often with a black mask and cream markings on legs and tail
- Black, gray with black hair tips, or black with tan markings
- Brown – solid color or white with brown markings
- White or cream, also cream-sable
- Brown (from dark brown to chocolate brown, brown tips are evenly colored)
- Orange, white with orange markings or orange-sable (Mittelspitz, Kleinspitz and Pomeranian only)
The Origin of the Mittelspitz: Direct Descendants of the Peat Dogs?
Outwardly, Wolfspitz resembles the prehistoric peat dogs that accompanied people as early as the Bronze Age and served as a guard and hunting dogs. The Wolfsspitz is the oldest breed among the German Spitz and only comes in one color. Large and medium spitz was very popular throughout the Middle Ages – in Germany, the spitz was the most popular dog breed until the late 19th century. After the introduction of international breed standards and the associated cult of dog breeds with a special appearance, the Pomeranian prevailed internationally.
Once the reputation is ruined, the spitz lives quite unashamedly
The lace used to be traditionally kept free-living on German farms. They hardly have any hunting instincts, but they do have a keen guard instinct – foxes and other predators keep them away with loud barking. This trait has earned dogs a bad reputation over time. Today’s industrialized agriculture rarely requires classic guard dogs and bark is rather unsuitable as a companion dog in the city. Today, Mittelspitz is therefore considered an endangered breed of domestic animals.
The German Spitz as a designer dog
Following an American trend, more and more Spitz owners are breeding so-called Designer Dogs and crossing purebred Spitz with other pedigree dogs in order to breed dogs with the most positive characteristics possible and a unique appearance. The puppy Pomeranian is most commonly bred to other miniature dog breeds like the Pug to create small dogs with fluffy fur.