The Pommersche Hütespitz

Pomeranian Hütespitz herding spitz Sheepdog Pommerscher
Pommerscher Hütespitz [1]

The "Pommersche Hütespitz" (herding Spitz from Pomerania) is a now extinct breed of herding dog that was bred throughout Pomerania until the first half of the 20th century. The Hütespitz is not considered identical to the Giant Spitz and the Mittel Spitz, but is considered to be related to them. In older literature, Spitz and German Shepherd-like dogs are either traced back to a common ancestor or the Spitz is seen as the more original type of dog from which, among other things, German Shepherd Dogs developed.


In the book “Lexikon der Hundefreunde" (Lexicon of Dog Lovers) from 1934 there is the following about the Hütespitz:


"Schäferspitz (Shepherd's Spitz, means same as "Hütespitz"), one of the three native herding dogs. The Schäferspitz is a medium-sized, erect-eared, stocky-looking dog with medium-long stock hair. The shape of the Schäferspitz's ear is a small, taut ear with a blunt tip, the inside of the ear and the edges of the ear are well haired. The Schäferspitz's hair is a good, medium-length stock hair. Undercoat is present, but depends on the change of seasons. The guard hairs are particularly strongly developed on the cheeks and in the neck area, and thus form the breed characteristic of the mustache and the ruff. Any hint of silky or even just soft hair absolutely devalued. The tail is short, bushy and very hairy and is usually carried downwards."


The Pommersche Hütespitz differs from the German Spitz in its athletic, elongated body, which makes it a very endurance runner. The Spitz, on the other hand, is a square-built, very nimble sprinter, but not a good endurance runner. Like the Spitz, the Hütespitz had a harsh, weatherproof coat with a dense undercoat and - like many other dog breeds from Pomerania - was bred exclusively in the color white. The white Spitz was previously also called “Pommerscher Spitz” or “Pommer”. This choice of color is of particular importance for a herding dog because its light fur color means it can be easily distinguished from a wolf at night and from a distance, and the farmer or shepherd does not run the risk of shooting his own dog. A detailed description of the deeper meaning of the white coat color in herding dogs can be found in Hohberg's "Georgica Curiosa" from 1701:

Pommerscher Hütespitz Spitz German herding dog sheepdogs CRUFTS
Pommersche Hütespitze at 1938 CRUFTS

"[...] The sheepdogs should firstly be strong and courageous, of a good breed. The white-haired ones are brought in to protect the sheep for the others and are preferred over the dark-colored ones because the wolves can recognize the dark ones from a distance if they are present or absent, but those of the same color as the sheep, cannot be distinguished from a distance, so that the wolves do not know on which side they should attack, because they do not know the dog and sheep from each other; but if they go through were deceived and discovered two or three times by mistake they do not dare to make the attack soon, since they can see the dusky brown and red dogs from afar; and since they sense them absent or lying on the other side, they can more easily look at the side they have seen an attack and do damage. When a war between the wolf and the dogs breaks out at night, a shepherd can distinguish his dogs from the wolf more easily, since he cannot distinguish the dark-colored dogs from the wolf at night, and as soon as he suspects hitting the Wolf, he is hitting his own dog."


The white coat color also has the additional practical benefit that the wolf cannot tell whether the sheepdog is present or not. So he can never be sure whether he can safely grab an animal from the herd or whether there will be trouble.


What the Pommerscher Hütespitz and our German Spitz have in common are, among other things, the erect ear - regardless of whether the tip is completely stiff or not, this used to happen often with the Spitz - the dense, harsh fur with the contrasting ruff and the small, round paws, the so-called cat's paws. Especially in the picture of the Pommersche Hütespitze at CRUFTS, you can't ignore the relationship between Hütespitz and German Spitz. 

Collie old type Hütespitz Pomeranian herding Spitz
Old Collie type: The relationship to the Hütespitz is undeniable 😉 [2]

The Pommersche Hütespitz was useful for all herding tasks, no matter how difficult, from herding sheep and pigs to driving cattle in the northern German lowlands. Herding sheep is not in itself a challenge for the average sheepdog, but with cattle or pigs things are a little different. This requires dogs with a certain assertiveness, as pigs and cattle are very self-confident and would probably start laughing if the border collie stares and stares. In addition to this assertiveness, the Hütespitz also had to master the heel bite in order to be able to drive the cattle. This heel bite is innate to them and does not need to be trained. Even today, a few old herding dog breeds are still capable of this heel bite, including our large German Spitz, the "Harzer Fuchs" and the "Westerwälder Kuhhund".


It was not without reason that the Pommersche Hütespitz was considered the best herding dog in Europe. In order to take advantage of these outstanding herding characteristics, in the past the Hütespitz was crossbred into British herding dogs, such as the Shetland Sheepdogs and Collies - which can be clearly seen in the picture of the old Collie type on the right - but also into German herding dog breeds, such as the white German Shepherd Dog (now known as the White Swiss Shepherd Dog). And although the Hütespitz is now extinct, it still lives on in many other dog breeds today.


I read that the Hütespitz went officially extinct in 1936, as the purebred breeding stock was used to create the White German Shepherd, as a government project. This can be true or false, I have no idea. 

Pommerscher Hütespitz Pomeranian Sheepdog
When these collector's pictures were published in the 1950s, the Hütespitz must still have existed.

[1] From: "Das Lexikon der Hundefreunde" (1934)

[2] Strebel "Die Deutschen Hunde", Band 2, Seite 82


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