The Pickelhaube was originally designed in 1842 by King Frederick William IV of Prussia, perhaps as a copy of similar helmets that were adopted at the same time by the Russian military. It is not clear whether this was a case of imitation, parallel invention, or if both were based on the earlier Napoleonic cuirassier. The early Russian type (known as "The Helmet of Yaroslav Mudry") was also used by cavalry, which had used the spike as a holder for a horsehair plume in full dress, a practice also followed with some Prussian models (see below).
Frederick William IV introduced the Pickelhaube for use by the majority of Prussian infantry on 23 October 1842 by a royal cabinet order. The use of the Pickelhaube spread rapidly to other German principalities. Oldenburg adopted it by 1849, Baden by 1870, and in 1887, the Kingdom of Bavaria was the last German state to adopt the Pickelhaube (since the Napoleonic Wars, they had had their own design of helmet, called the Raupenhelm, a Tarleton helmet). Amongst other European armies, that of Sweden adopted the Prussian version of the spiked helmet in 1845 and the Russian Army in 1846
From the second half of the 19th century onwards, the armies of a number of nations besides Russia (including Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, and Venezuela) adopted the Pickelhaube or something very similar. The popularity of this headdress in Latin America arose from a period during the early 20th century when military missions from Imperial Germany were widely employed to train and organize national armies. Peru was the first to use the helmet for the Peruvian Army when some helmets were shipped to the country in the 1870s, but during the War of the Pacific the 6th Infantry Regiment "Chacabuco" of the Chilean Army became the first Chilean military unit to use them when its personnel used the helmets—which were seized from the Peruvians—in their red French-inspired uniforms. These sported the Imperial German eagles but in the 1900s the eagles were replaced by the national emblems of the countries that used them.
The Russian version initially had a horsehair plume fitted to the end of the spike, but this was later discarded in some units. The Russian spike was topped with a grenade motif. At the beginning of the Crimean War, such helmets were common among infantry and grenadiers, but soon fell out of place in favour of the fatigue cap. After 1862 the spiked helmet ceased to be generally worn by the Russian Army, although it was retained until 1914 by the Cuirassier regiments of the Imperial Guard and the Gendarmerie. The Russians prolonged the history of the pointed military headgear with their own cloth Budenovka in the early 20th century.
In 1847, the Household Cavalry, along British dragoons and dragoon guards, adopted a helmet which was a hybrid between the Pickelhaube and the traditional dragoon helmet which it replaced. This "Albert Pattern" helmet was named after Albert, Prince Consort who took a keen interest in military uniforms, and featured a falling horsehair plume which could be removed when on campaign. It was adopted by other heavy cavalry regiments across the British Empire and remains in ceremonial use. The Pickelhaube also influenced the design of the British army Home Service helmet, as well as the custodian helmet still worn by police in England and Wales. The linkage between Pickelhaube and Home Service helmet was however not a direct one, since the British headdress was higher, had only a small spike and was made of stiffened cloth over a cork framework, instead of leather. Both the United States Army and Marine Corps wore helmets of the British pattern for full dress between 1881 and 1902.