The “German Spitz” breed is unique in the dog world because of its big variety, and was for a long time the most common dog breed in Central Europe. There are five varieties of Spitz, which differ mainly in size: the Wolfspitz, the Giant Spitz, the Miniature Spitz and the Toy Spitz - and of course the Mittel Spitz, the youngest variety. Common characteristics of the Spitzes are the beautiful stand-off coat, the mane-like ruff around the neck and the foxy head. The quick, clever eyes and the pointed ears give the breed its characteristic courage.
The Mittel Spitz - like all German Spitz - has always been an incorruptible guard and can look back on a long tradition not only as a guard dog, but also as a dog of the people. German zoologist Alfred Brehm (1829-1884) already stated:
"The Spitz means the same thing to house and farm as the Shepherd Dog means to the shepherd."
With a shoulder height of between 30 and 40 cm, the Mittel Spitz is the representative of the breed with the former classic Spitz size. In the past, a Spitz like him was probably the standard for the normal Spitz that you would meet everywhere. He accompanied carters, small farmers, inland boatmen, jugglers and craftsmen, but of course has always been a family dog. To this day, he has shaped the image of the German Spitz with his cheeky and funny nature and was not always, but mostly, welcome everywhere.
For a long time, it was believed that the prehistoric "Torfhund" (Canis familiaris palustris Rütimeyer, "Peat Dog") was the ancestor of the Mittel Spitz, largely due to the close similarity between the two. Archaeological findings show that the peat dog accompanied people as early as the Stone Age and was kept as a pet. In old illustrations of Greeks or Romans, you can also find dogs that have a surprisingly close resemblance to today's Mittel Spitz. Nevertheless, the theory of the "Torfspitz" or "Torfhund" is now considered outdated, as more detailed investigations have shown that the skeletons and especially the skulls of the Spitz differ significantly from the "Torfhund". They also have a genetic similarity, but probably not enough to assume a clear ancestry.
Until the 19th century, the German Spitz was the dog breed most commonly found in Germany and Central Europe. He used to belong on every property and guarded houses and yards, warehouses and transport carts. Its job was to warn its owners by barking when thieves or intruders were approaching, and often scare them away just by barking as hell. In contrast to today, however, in earlier times the Spitz was not judged by its appearance, but by its characteristics and its work ability. Dogs that left the property for hunting or straying were useless as guard dogs and were left to their fate.
The Mittel Spitz was the dog of the little people, the so-called people's dog, which for a long time led a shadowy existence alongside its small and large cousins. Like the other Spitzes, he reliably guards his human's property. As a carriage dog, he used to run alongside or under the carriage and guard it, or he would sit up on the carriage seat next to the coachman. This is how the nickname "Fuhrmannsspitz" ("Coachman's Spitz") came about. Although Mittel Spitzes - like all German Spitz - have no interest in hunting, they are nevertheless very meticulous removers of mice, rats and other vermin. Since the Spitz was modest and ate whatever he found in his bowl, also people who had little money could afford to keep a Mittel Spitz.
While in the past there was the Spitz literally everywhere, with the end of large-scale rural agriculture and with the beginning of industrialization and the move of the rural population to the cities, the Spitz became unemployed. Gradually, the medium and large Spitz became less common as people moved from the countryside to the city and preferred quieter dogs in their apartments.
It was only with the Second World War that the Mittel Spitzes experienced a renewed upswing, because they were modest and required little care and secured the few possessions that people still had at the time. After the war, however, a lot changed again in Germany: various foreign dog breeds were discovered that were “chic” and “modern”, and the trend towards “fashion dogs” arose. The Spitz was now really and truly “old-fashioned”.
With regard to the external appearance, the same applies to the Mittel Spitz as can be said about all other German Spitz. What is characteristic is the lush, stand-off double coat with the mane-like ruff, the well-feathered back of the forelegs and of the hind legs from croup to hocks. Only the fronts of the fore and hind legs, the paws and the head including the ears are short and have velvety hair. The high-set, bushy tail carried curled over the back is characteristic, as is the foxy head with the small, quick, almond-shaped eyes. Last but not least, you can recognize the German Spitz by its upright ears, which notice every little noise and follow it like a radar.
The current FCI standard specifies a size of 30-40 cm for the Mittel Spitz and its weight is approx. 7-10 kg. They are approved in the colors:
The dense, double coat of the Mittel Spitz protects against cold, heat and injuries. It is never (!) sheared down to a few millimeters, which is a sin on the Spitz's adornment, its fur. Because the most beautiful thing about a German Spitz is his magnificent coat. Not only does shearing cause immense damage to the fur's structure, but the hair often doesn't grow back normally afterward. A dog like this looks crabby for the rest of its life. In addition, in the worst case scenario, the fur loses its insulating ability and no longer provides sufficient protection against heat and cold. The old Spitz is an exception: if his fur bothers him too much in the summer, you can certainly trim it, but you can't shear it down to the skin.
If Spitz is neutered, the fur often degenerates into misshapen masses of fur that can hardly be cared for. Therefore, a Spitz should only be castrated for reasons of illness, but not to make it easier to manage. This is a terrible, irreversible fallacy.
House, yard, bicycle or shopping bag: everything that belongs to the master is guarded well by the reliable German Spitz. Like all Spitzes, the Mittel Spitz is known to be an incorruptible, loyal and vigilant dog that barks to defend its human's property, but does not immediately get on every visitor's pants.
The German Spitz was purely a guard dog until the middle of the last century, and great attention was paid to his working qualities, particularly in the large varieties Wolfsspitz and Giant Spitz. The smaller varieties, on the other hand, have always been more of a domestic dog for lovers (exceptions prove the rule, such as the black "Mannheimers", pretty sharp Miniature Spitzes). Since the Mittel Spitz has its origins in the Miniature Spitz (see below), it is usually more sociable and less primitive and sharp than his larger cousins. The Mittel Spitz is sometimes more jittery, cheeky and lively than the large Spitz - and is always up for a joke. 😋
Nevertheless, the Mittel Spitz is of course a watchdog; after all, all Spitz dogs have been selected for their guarding duties over centuries and millennia. Paying attention is his passion, he doesn't miss anything – even at night. With a Mittel Spitz in the house, you can go to sleep without worrying. Although intruders are loudly reported, with the right training the Spitz should not become a yapper. Unfortunately, this reputation still sticks with him today. However, if you educate yourself about the breed and train your Spitz properly, you will definitely have a welcome companion in him. The Spitz - like all Spitz - does not necessarily need to meet strangers, and therefore behaves reservedly at first contact.
The Mittel Spitz is particularly practical because of its size. On the one hand, it has a size that allows it to be perceived as a guard dog, on the other hand, it is not too big, so you can carry it in your arms or in the bike basket.
Like all Spitzes, the medium-sized Spitz is quite hungry too, and if there is a lack of exercise or excessive feeding, his figure will soon be lost. However, if it is not fattened, the Spitz is quite long-living up to 15 years and more. His fur care and grooming doesn't require much effort - not even with the white one - because the coat is dirt-repellent.
Of course, all Mittelspitzes are happy about a house with a garden, but they can also easily be kept in the apartment. They love long walks or hikes, but can sometimes get by with less exercise. The Mittel Spitz is quite athletic, extremely nimble and surprisingly powerful in jumping. Due to its lack of hunting drive, long walks in nature are pure relaxation for dog and owner, because even if fallow deer crosses, the Mittel Spitz stays with its owner even when off-leash. He doesn't tend to stray at all. The regular Mittelspitz is more focused on hearing and seeing, and therefore doesn't really shine with particularly good nose work. It is therefore better to avoid man trailing, tracking etc. with a Spitz if you still do not want to have a hunting drive. However, if dog sports like man trailing are the greatest fun ever to you, you should perhaps rethink about your choice of breed. A Bloodhound would fit so much better!
The Spitz has another great quality that cannot be valued enough, especially when dealing with children: it doesn't hold grudges. Even if his lips or tail are pulled, he prefers to flee, only to be there again a few minutes later and, if in doubt, have to endure the same procedure again. Even the adult Spitz remains absolutely harmless towards children, family members and smaller animals. Where, in his opinion, adults can certainly take a bump, he walks past small children with such caution that you might think he even wanted to stop wagging his tail just to be on the safe side. Of course there are exceptions, but they are often based on bad experiences, that the Spitz made. It is important that the boundaries of handling are shown not only to the dog, but also to the children.
The German Spitz is a bright and extremely intelligent guard dog that is very attached to its owner and family. Like all Spitzes, he loves children more than anything and can easily be kept with other pets. He has a lot of wit and temperament, doesn't hunt or stray and learns quickly. Although he has the cliché of the "grandma-dog" attached to him, he is by no means a "grandma-dog".
Anyone who understands that German Spitzes learn a little differently than other dog breeds will be able to teach them a lot. However, if you want to do the same exercise over and over again with the Spitz, there will be no fun in working with him. The Spitz loves changes, even professional dog trainers often do not know this and therefore the desired success is not achieved. The Spitz is then quickly labeled as a breed of dog that is good for nothing. It was just a result of wrong upbringing. The key to the Spitz is that you only repeat each exercise a few times and then do it slightly differently. Then he understands in no time what you want from him and learns with great pleasure. Even with drill and a hard tone, nothing works for him, but with consistency and praise it will.
The Mittelspitz still has a reputation for being sneaky and snappy. Apparently, a lot of Spitzes used to really be like that. By nature, however, the Spitz is touchingly affectionate, loyal and obedient towards his master and mistress. He would do anything for them. Harsh, unloving treatment, deprivation (kennel, chain) and poor upbringing have certainly spoiled many things here and ruin every Spitz sooner or later, because the German Spitz absolutely needs to be close with his family. Therefore, keeping the Spitz in a kennel or keeping it exclusively in the garden is an absolute no-go!
The Mittel Spitz is very intelligent and tends to outsmart its people if the leadership is too lax - that's the other side of the "intelligence" coin. He observes his people permanently and tries to undermine the existing rules, because he has excellent powers of observation and combination. Many strict regulations have already fallen victim to this dog's cunning charm. But that's exactly what makes the Pomeranian so lovable, and so living with him is never boring.
When the German Spitz Club "Verein für Deutsche Spitze" was founded in 1899, there was only a size division into small Spitz on the one hand and large Spitz on the other hand. But the size Mittelspitz existed at all times, it was there, and it was listed in the studbook - as an oversized Miniature Spitz. However, when classification and breeding according to size was introduced, there was a black “nothing” between 28 cm and 40 cm height, because the dogs within this size range were excluded from all shows and judgements, and therefore they could not be admitted to breeding. As a result, many good and strong top genes were lost because the concerning dogs were only allowed to be sold as pet quality (not for breeding).
Although there were always breeders and enthusiasts who fought for an own standard for the Mittel Spitz, the majority of the club in Germany seemed to fundamentally not want to deal with it. For decades, the question of the Mittelspitz was on the agenda at the general assemblies of the German Spitz Club, but was repeatedly rejected. This variety did not have a sufficient lobby, although the first application for recognition of the Mittelspitz was submitted as early as 1906. A few years later, the Westphalia regional group requested that the Mittel Spitz be recognized as a "Mittelschlag" (middle size) at the 1927 general assembly. In advance, however, the Spitz Club had paid out 400 RM (Reichsmark) at the dog show in Saxon town Plauen to 17 winning dogs (at that time there were still cash prizes at the shows); Understandably, no one wanted to add dozens of additional prize categories, as the club itself was still badly affected by the previous inflationary turmoil. That was the end of the application; it failed because of the frickin' question of money.
It was at the general assembly of the German Spitz Club on June 22, 1969, after many years of endless discussions, that it was decided to include the Mittelspitz in the current Spitz standard - due to the strong competition from the dissident Club at this time, which had already recognized the Mittelspitz. This gave the German Spitz Club the reason to also get this recognition. However, this only applied to the Federal Republic of Germany; in the GDR, the Mittelspitz was never accepted. The last time a corresponding initiative by GDR breeders was rejected by the GDR Spitz Club "VKSK" in 1980 with a majority of just one vote.
On June 22, 1969, the introduction of the Mittel Spitz was unanimously decided, and the main board of the German Spitz Club was commissioned to immediately work out the change to the statutes and the transition and breeding conditions. These transitional provisions were then discussed and decided at the general assembly on July 27, 1969, in Cologne.
The transitional regulation only applied to oversized Klein Spitzes, but not to Giant Spitzes or Wolfsspitzes that were too small; these were initially excluded from the mating process of the Mittelspitzes.
The “new” Mittel Spitzes could also be transferred retroactively, and the wording “transferred to the Mittelspitz' class ” was added to the pedigree. Mating was only permitted between Mittelspitzes, but their litters were again entered into the pedigrees as Miniature Spitz and then re-transferred as Mittelspitz if they were oversized. This was to continue for six generations. The amendment to the statutes in 1969 also clearly states that the Mittel Spitz is related to the Miniature Spitz. In "Der Deutsche Spitz" (German Spitz Club magazine) No. 67, page 47 you can read "that the Mittelspitz only differs from the Kleinspitz in its larger height of over 28 cm to 36 cm."
In contrast to the Giant Spitz, which in 1969 was only available in the pure colors white, black and brown, the Mittelspitz was recognized in five different colors:
d) orange and
e) wolf-colored/gray-clouded Mittel Spitz.
At that time, color crossings were only permitted for the Mittelspitzes between the colors black and brown.
It is absolutely incomprehensible to the unbiased viewer of Spitz breeding why the recognition of the Mittel Spitz took so long. There has always been a middle size of German Spitz, as can be proven from the historical documents. However, they were consistently disqualified as being too large for a Miniature Spitz or too small for a Giant Spitz and were therefore completely excluded from breeding. The question of “why” cannot be answered, especially since throughout the entire history of the German Spitz Club there has been repeated struggle for recognition of this great variety.
After the Mittelspitz was approved as an independent Spitz variety in 1969, no litter was registered until 1973. The first "official" Mittelspitz puppies were born in kennel "vom Hohen Bohl" in the same year. In 1975 there were four litters with fourteen black puppies. In 1976, the white Mittel Spitz bitch “Corrie (Overbeck)” was imported from the Netherlands. She became the ancestral mother of the “von Wold” kennel and of many white Mittel Spitzes. Corrie's first litter included the white male "Amor von Wold", who was reclassified as a Giant Spitz because of his size, even though his father was a Miniature Spitz. A few years later, a Miniature Spitz was born in a pure Giant Spitz litter (kennel "von Berg Sonnenhof"). The ancestor of this litter was Amor. Some old genes have probably pushed through. Genetics is not mathematics, after all! 😋
The male dog “Loriot von Wold” became particularly famous, coming from Mrs. Overbeck’s (“von Wold”) Miniature Spitz litter, and was reclassified as a Mittel Spitz because of his size. He was the most highly awarded Mittelspitz of his time and can still be found everywhere in the current pedigrees.
Only one Mittel Spitz was more famous than Amor: Adriano, who, in an adventurous story from 1994, was entered into the register of the German Spitz Club. Adriano was discovered by Ms. Heilmann in a homeless shelter while he was playing with children. Ms. Heilmann immediately recognized the breeding value of the beautiful Mittelspitz and negotiated with the owner until he could no longer resist her offer to buy him. Adriano changed hands for DM 300,- and was then entered in the stud book as "Adriano (Heilmann)" with registration number 00840. Dogs whose ancestry cannot be clearly proven by FCI-accepted documents (FCI pedigree) are entered into the register of the stud book. However, their value for breeding can be confirmed by a special judge from the Spitz Club. Adriano then began his “victory march around the world” and went from being a nobody to one of the most successful dogs of this time. Despite his many titles and victories, Adriano only bred relatively little and was from 1996 onwards slightly forced out of breeding by the new general studward, as this guy paid very little attention to registered dogs. Unfortunately, Adriano died early at the age of nine.
In the first twelve years of "legalized" breeding of the Mittelspitzes, only a little more than 100 puppies were entered into the stud book. Only from 1982 onwards one can speak of real breeding of Mittel Spitz puppies, and from that year onwards the number of puppies clearly increased. The reason for this was certainly that enough “stable” Mittelspitz kennels had now been established. Since then, the number of litters has increased slowly but steadily.
The numbers of litters have developed quite differently in the individual countries. While quite high puppy numbers are reported in countries such as Finland and Great Britain - sometimes more Spitz puppies are born there than in the Spitz's motherland - in Germany sadly the Mittelspitz is still on the red list of domestic breeds threatened with extinction. The black and brown Mittel Spitzes in particular are at great risk, as there are still only a few litters of these two colors.
The problem with Mittelspitz breeding is still that the breeding base is too small. In addition, you still can't get by without help from Miniature Spitz breeding. This, in turn, naturally always poses the risk of setbacks when such mating results in Mittel Spitz puppies, which, once fully grown, very often look like oversized Miniature Spitz puppies. Such Mittel Spitzes may have the required shoulder height, but are often inadequate in terms of their substance. But there are also Mittel Spitzes that, apart from their size, can hardly be distinguished from the Giant Spitz. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that Giant Spitzes, which were repeatedly reclassified as Mittelspitz, were incorporated into Mittelspitz breeding. On the other hand, the original standard stipulated that all (! ) Spitz varieties should correspond to each other and only differ from each other in their height. A proper Miniature Spitz bred in this way looks just like a small Giant Spitz; and the same applies to the Mittel Spitz.
Since 2014, the German Spitz Club has allowed Mittelspitzes and Giant Spitzes to breed with each other as part of a new breeding program. However, the mating itself requires approval. In order to be allowed to be bred with a Large Spitz, the examinations required for the Large Spitz must be carried out, such as hip X-rays. However, some owners of Mittelspitzes were shocked when they received the evaluation of their dog's hip x-ray, because it turned out that the dogs had surprisingly bad hips. A Mittelspitz with a hip that is too bad for the Giant Spitz breeding is logically also being thrown out of the Mittelspitz breeding, the response to the Giant-Spitz-Mittel-Spitz-breeding-program from the Mittelspitz camp is rather modest.
It is no exaggeration to call the Mittel Spitz the “Swiss Army Knife” of dogs, because there is actually (almost) nothing that it cannot do or is not suitable for. He is sporty, agile, loves exercise and is really up for any nonsense. It is therefore suitable for many activities, from cycling to agility and hiking to trick dogging. The weather usually doesn't cause him any problems. No matter whether it's rain, sunshine or snow, the Spitz loves being outside. He goes on long hikes just as easily as he can cope with the fact that perhaps due to illness he can only do small walks for a few days. He loves his family, he loves children and prefers to be with him everywhere.
The size and weight of the Mittelspitz correspond exactly to something in between the large Wolfspitz and the tiny Pomeranian, so that the Mittelspitz is a "real" dog, but it is still compact enough to be easy to handle. It can be kept both in the house and in the city apartment, and with the right training it counteracts the cliché of the yapper.
The Mittel Spitz is all guard dog and all family dog and would give his life to protect his people. He is an unfairly underestimated and unfortunately forgotten dog. So if you're looking for the jack-of-all-trades among dogs, then the Mittelspitz is the right, the best choice. 🙂
 Frechen town hall group: material bronze; Artist: O. Höhnen. Source: www.skulpturen.kulturraum.nrw/rhein-erft-kreis/olaf-hoehnen/rathausgruppe.html
 Hartwig Drossard: “Spitze sind spitze”, page 45
 With kind permission of Ms. Hildegard Stamann