I feel sure that all Review readers know that color-breeding dogs is not like mixing colors on an artist’s canvas – even if they are not themselves breeders. Thus, a white Pom bred to a black Pom does not result in a litter of grey puppies, and neither does the darker black color always cover up the lighter white and give us a litter of all black puppies. It is not nearly as simple as that! After the English Pomeranian Club was formed in 1891, breeding in that country worked with the foundation stock they had acquired from various sources on the continent to stabilize size and type and to establish good lines that would breed true.
At first well-known breeders chose to specialize in different colors, and, for the most part, they tried to keep the colors pure for generation after generation. Pictures show us that most of the early show winners were decidedly of the spitz type. Faces were longer, bodies were often long and many poms stood quite high on leg. Flat feel with long toes were very common, although some of the larger Poms had magnificent coats, many of the smaller specimens failed to develop the length of coat desired today.
Some of those early Pomeranians were very large. A white dog good enough to win was 28lb Belper Bounce. But gradually the size of most Poms was reduced, and in 1915 the Kennel club (England) finally withdrew the 2 CC’s formerly given for “overweight Poms,” and no dog over 7 pounds could gain the title of champion, although the large poms could still be shown. Miss Ives say in her book, Show Pomeranians, “there is no difficulty in tracing their (white poms) downfall to the fatal edict of 1915…All the white champions were over weights. After 1915 their decline was rapid.”
But long before the so-called “fatal edict” of 1915, English breeders had started to experiment with their Poms of white, chocolate, black, blue and biscuit color-bred lines and around 1907, first wolf-sable, then orange-sable and shaded-sable specimens began to appear on the scene. They immediately became the rage, and breeders all over the country tried to produce them by breeding the different colors together, until very few of the “pre-bred” colors remained. Even though breeders may have tried to keep their colors pure, before this time, when they saw the much better type and conformation on the sable Poms, most abandoned all desire to preserve the various colors strains of less good conformation. The sable Poms, then as now, were noted for e their cobby (chunky) bodies, short backs, high tail sets, shorter muzzles, tiny ears, harsh coats and catlike feet. Many will ask how those first sable Poms suddenly appeared, and the answer can one be surmised.
Probably the so called “pure” colors carried recessive (hidden genes for other colors and other markings, such as black and tan and sable. In the early days, when “off color” puppies appeared in litters, they were discarded in the universal desire for solid colors. But the appearance of the first overwhelmingly beautiful sables can be traced directly to the influence of a rusty black dog named Little Nipper. His sire was an imported black dog, to quote miss Ives, “of unknown pedigree,” Ch. Hatcham Nip, a dog of perfect type and grand coat. He was sold to America.” There is no doubt that Ch. Hatchams Nip must have carried genes for sable markings strongly linked to outstanding conformation and type, passed down to his rusty black son, Little Nipper. Outstanding sables sired by Little Nipper included Ch. Sable atom and Ch. Sable Mite and innumerable other winners, all of such excellent type that breeders rushed to duplicate them.
Although orange Poms were known early in the new century, (no doubt evolving from the biscuit or fawn color), the did not become popular until the advent of ch. Mars, who carried a coat of brilliant orange and whose color, style and showmanship proved to be pre-potent factors transmitted to his progeny. It is interesting to know that Ch. Mars was a grandson and great-grandson of Little Niper. Many of the early orange Pomeranians had brown noses and eye rims, a heritage form their fawn ancestors, but by the end of World War I, pigment was predominantly black. By this time, orange was established as the most popular color, as it remains to this day. The typically cobby bodies, sweet faces, tiny ears, etc. could only be found in animals carrying sable or orange hidden by a coat of some other color. Thus it is that all modern black Pm champions in this country are of mixed color background, and it can readily be demonstrated that breeding black to black for several generations will cause the conformation to revert to the “old-style” Pom. Breeders have also found, on the other hand, that continual breeding of the orange to orange will result in slab-sided bodies, of, flat coats and dilute pigment on nose and eye rims. When this occurs, a good dark sable should be introduced into the line.
White Pomeranians of American breeding are really dilute oranges. Unfortunately the dilutions factor also affects the pigments of nose and eye rims – thus most American white Poms have grey, tan or even pink noses and eye rims. The original white seen in England were of the genetic type still found in Germany today. The white color of the coat is caused by a gene which restricts the production of dark pigment in all cells except those of eyes, eye rims, noses, lips and foot pads. As the Germans are bound by very strict breeding rules there is far less experimentation and interbreeding of lines and colors than in England and the United States. Some years ago, a white male Pom, Igo (or more properly Jago) von Zuaberwald was imported into this country from Germany (I think by Phyllis Seeley). This dog was pure white with good black pigment, but he was large and conformation was the old-fashioned Spitz type. He was sold several times, finally coming into the possession of Mrs. Orpha Brooker of Maine. Mrs. Brooker worked diligently for years, combining the lines of the German white stud with various American strains of color-bred whites – which were better in conformation but whose coats were usually “tinted” with cream or pale orange, and whose pigment was not black. As the ure white coat and jet black pigment of the German white was strongly “linked” to the less desirable type of conformation, very seldom did offspring combine the best qualities of both genetic backgrounds. When Mrs. Brooker ceased breeding operations, she had achieved a measure of success in the case of the white stud, Brooker’s Tumblin Tumble Weed, which I bought. Although slightly longer in body than the best male Poms of other colors, with a hint of the German ancestry in his longer toes and taller ears, he does posses a huge coat of coarse texture and pure white color, and his eye , eye rims, nose, lips and foot pads are the blackest I’ve ever seen. (note: Tumbles is nine years old and is no longer at public stud). On his sire’s side. “Tumble’s” pedigree shows some cream but no white breeding at all in 5 generations, going back twice to the orange sable, Ch. Aristic Wee Pepper Pod. On his dam’s side, the all-white breeding shows two crosses to Jago V. Zauberwald (his dam was both a daughter and a grand daughter). With the others being American-bred whites of Chandley and Chrisman breeding – two prominent lines of color bred whites. I have tried many combinations too numerous to discuss here, even breeding two different whites (slightly cream tinted) daughters back to Tumbles, but have never quite achieved the desired conformation while keeping the pure white color. All his progeny do seem to inherit his good black pigment. Bred only to white bitches, Tumbles had never sired anything but (almost white puppies, until a litter of April, 1973. I had used him with an outcross bitch of near white color whose pigment is brownish-grey on nose and eye rims. Her pedigree shows 4 generations of all-white breeding, the 5th generation and the 6th generation being at least ½ white. I was surprised to get a litter of one BLACK male! There was absolutely no chance of a mis-mating, nonetheless, I was somewhat relieved to find one ancestor in the dam’s 5th generation registered as “black”. The pup later turned blue, but as his conformation was strictly pet quality, he was sold at 5 months.
Many of the American all-white lines have been dispersed. White bitches frequently appear in the Review. “Behind the New Champions” pedigrees, usually with the Brooker prefix, showing that white is a color desired by many, but discouraging to most who have thus given up the attempt at color-breeding and used their white sin producing orange and sable stock. Faults of conformation linked to color-bred blacks, chocolates and whites are similar: Loss of modern pom type, larger ears, soft coats, long toes and long bodies, and often sharper dispositions. While the darker pigment of a black coat will readily disguise the recessive colors linked to better type, chocolates lose their deep solid coloring and become shaded on chest and breechings, and whites carry a “tint” of cream or orange. Thus while applauding the many recent black champions of outstanding type and conformation, we are still struggling to produce the first white Pom champion since 1949. It is certainly not my intention to convey the impression that I am presently the only breeder trying to improve the whites, or that it is impossible to breed white Poms of top show quality conformation, pure white coat color and deep black pigment. I have heard of several excellent type whites, usually males, that appeared from stock of other color backgrounds, but in each case, I have been told, “He is not as white as yours,” or “He doesn’t have a black nose.” Some day that near-perfect white Pom will appear. I hope it will carry the may Morning prefix!