Pet Connection by Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker

A Passion for Pomeranians

Round and cute, Pomeranians resemble fluffy animated stuffed toys, but their loving, intelligent companionship is what draws people to them

By Kim Campbell Thornton

Andrews McMeel Syndication

You may still be watching it, but I binged the new Netflix show “Bridgerton” on Christmas Day. All eight episodes. And one of the things I loved best was the tuft of Pomeranians -- yes, that’s a real phrase describing a group of three or more Poms -- accompanying the character Queen Charlotte, sitting in her lap or being held by her ladies-in-waiting.

While the show’s writers took liberties with the social conventions of the time (Britain’s Regency period, which lasted from 1811 to 1820), Queen Charlotte’s love of Pomeranians was the real deal. As a 17-year-old princess from the German duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz who was about to become queen of England through her marriage to George III in 1761, she traveled to her new country with a pair of Pomeranians, Phoebe and Mercury. Cheerful and lively herself, the young princess may have appreciated Pomeranians for the same characteristics.

Not much is known about Charlotte’s dogs, but clearly they were special to her. A 1779 portrait of her by Benjamin West includes a white Pomeranian at her feet. And when she and George moved into Buckingham House (now better known as Buckingham Palace), the furnishings included a “square deal tub” for bathing her dogs.

The queen is said to have given Poms as gifts to her ladies, and artist Thomas Gainsborough painted a pair of Pomeranians belonging to musician Carl Friedrich Abel in 1777 (“Pomeranian Bitch and Puppy,” now at London’s Tate). Gainsborough also depicted the foxy looking dogs in his paintings “The Morning Walk,” in the National Gallery, and “Perdita (Mrs. Robinson),” in the Wallace Collection. Gainsborough himself had a pair of the dogs, Tristram and Fox, whom he painted as well.

The canine actors in “Bridgerton” are smaller than they would have been in Queen Charlotte’s time. The Poms of the 18th century were larger, weighing up to 30 pounds. Pomeranians take their name from a region of northern Europe on the Baltic Sea and are members of the Spitz, or Nordic, family of dogs: the ones with prick ears, thick double coats and tails that curl over their backs.

Poms were gradually bred down in size, moving from the 30-pound range to 20 pounds to the current breed standard calling for dogs of 3 to 7 pounds. Although you won’t see them prancing in the show ring, it’s not out of the question for modern Poms to produce pups that grow to be on the larger side: 12 to 14 pounds. Poms of this size may be good choices for families, but little Poms and little kids aren’t a good mix. Children should be old enough to know the difference between a toy-size dog and a toy, says breed expert Charlotte Creed.

Whatever their size, Pomeranians have a big-dog demeanor. Golda Rosheuvel, who played Queen Charlotte, said in interviews that the dogs on the set were feisty and rowdy.

Creed admires their glorious coat, smiling foxy face and vivacious personality. Speaking of that glorious coat, it comes in an array of colors and patterns. In real life, Queen Charlotte’s dogs were typically white or cream, but these days orange and orange sable are the most popular colors. Pomeranians can also be black, cream, blue, brown, black and white, brindle, merle, black and tan, and tricolor, to name just a few of the many colors and patterns that make up their palette.

Whether “Bridgerton” will have an effect on the Pomeranian’s popularity is yet to be seen. In 2019, the Pom was the 23rd most popular breed registered by the American Kennel Club and the fourth most popular toy breed. It wouldn’t take much to bring these former royal favorites back into the spotlight.

Q&A

How to make

brushing fun

Q: Our puppy hates being brushed; he runs and hides when he sees the brush come out. How can we get him to welcome being groomed?

A: Puppies have a good memory for experiences that are painful or scary. If you accidentally pulled his fur during previous grooming sessions, he may want nothing more to do with it. The secret to getting him back into the grooming groove is to pair brushing with positive and enjoyable experiences. Before you do that, though, schedule a veterinary visit to make sure he doesn’t have a painful condition, such as an ear infection, that is causing him to balk at being touched. Once that is ruled out, you can start teaching him to love being groomed.

First, make sure the grooming tools you’re using don’t have hard metal bristles that pull at his fur, or bristles that have lost their protective ends, causing them to poke into his skin. Try a soft, flexible detangling brush and a dog-specific detangling product to help make tangle removal less painful. Work out tangles slowly and gently.

Start to associate the brush with good things. Place it on the floor and surround it with treats. Let him investigate it at his own pace -- and snarf up the snacks. Once he’s comfortable around it, sit on the floor and hold it. Let him approach it, and give treats and praise when he does, even if all he does is look at it.

When you start brushing, keep it brief. Continue only as long as he remains in place without struggling. Offer a plentiful stream of treats to hold his interest. You can gradually increase the amount of time you spend brushing before you hand out a reward. You can find more Fear Free care tips at FearFreeHappyHomes.com. -- Mikkel Becker

Do you have a pet question? Send it to askpetconnection@gmail.com or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.

THE BUZZ

Pets gain weight

during lockdown

-- Has your pet joined you in putting on pandemic pounds? A recent study by Hill’s Pet Nutrition found that 33% of pet owners say their pets have become overweight during the pandemic. And it’s not just because of the holidays. With people spending most of their time at home, showing love to pets in the form of treats has become a full-time occupation. More than half of the survey respondents reported giving their pets treats for no reason. “Ironically, too much ‘treat love’ during these difficult times is the main culprit,” officials said in a statement.

-- Dogs with extremely short muzzles and rounded heads are called brachycephalic, from the Greek words for “short” and “head.” Those features give them an adorable, almost-human expression, but they also bring with them a host of related health challenges. Bulldogs, boxers, pugs and other brachycephalic breeds often have difficulty breathing after even slight exertion. They drool and snore from one end and produce stinky, gaseous emissions from the other end. Brachycephalic dogs are notoriously heat intolerant, and their teeth are crammed into a mouth that’s too small, causing dental issues. And those large, round eyes with the endearing expression? They have a tendency to pop out in response to rough play or other head trauma. Facial wrinkles commonly develop infections. If you have one of these dogs, talk to your veterinarian about ways to help relieve these problems.

-- Cats like to watch the world go by, but they also want to keep themselves safe from predators. That’s why you’ll often find them curled up in a small space or checking things out from on high. A tall perch or the sides of a box, basket or drawer provide protection -- a little cat-size fortress -- and a safe place to sleep. What could be better? -- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker

ABOUT PET CONNECTION

Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet care experts headed by “The Dr. Oz Show” veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker, founder of the Fear Free organization and author of many best-selling pet care books, and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. Joining them is behavior consultant and lead animal trainer for Fear Free Pets Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at Facebook.com/KimCampbellThornton and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at Facebook.com/MikkelBecker and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.