The Pomeranian dog breed is the smallest of the spitz-type breeds, which are characterized by their foxy faces, plush fur, prick ears and tails that curl over their backs. Poms literally look like cute stuffed toys come to life.
The petite size makes them ideal pets who are able to live comfortably in an apartment or share travel adventures with their human companions. Despite their petite stature, Pom dogs have a plus-sized personality.
- Breed Group: Toy
- Height: 6-7 inches
- Weight: 3-7 pounds
- Life Span: 12-16 years
- Coat: Long, double-coat
- Color: Any color, any pattern
Pomeranian History: A Royal Companion
A Pomeranian dog is a miniaturized version of ancient spitz-type sled dogs. Spitz dogs arose in Europe and Asia, and there’s historical evidence in paintings and elsewhere that show these dogs have been around since 400 B.C. The ancestors of Poms not only pulled carts and sleds, but they also guarded homes and livestock. These smallest versions of spitz-type dogs were treasured as pets.
The actual country of origin for Pomeranians is open to debate. Several similar-looking spitz-type breeds were called by other breed names that had nothing to do with Pomerania, a historical region in Europe. In Italy, the dog was called several breed names including Italian Spitz, Lupino and Volpino, which usually were bright orange or yellow. And France had a dog called Chien de Pomeranie (or dog of Pomerania).
In the 1700s, Carl Linnaeus of Sweden classified many dog breeds of the times, and he suggested that the Canis Pomeranus dogs were quite common in Central and Northern Europe. They were 18-20 inches tall and pale yellow to cream color.
In the 18th century, a white spitz breed known as the Wolf Dog, became known in England when Queen Charlotte married King George III in 1761. She imported her dogs from the territory of Pomerania in Germany and referred to her dogs by that name. Subsequently, the Fox Dog or Pomeranian became even more popular when Queen Charlotte’s granddaughter, Queen Victoria, became the first to show the breed.
It became popular to breed this dog as small as possible. The first Pomeranian specialty show in the United States was held in 1911, and by 1916, only the smallest “Toy” varieties of the breed appeared in the show ring.
Today, the Pomeranian consistently ranks in the top 10-15 most popular dog breeds. Due to popularity, the breed’s price range falls between $500 to $5,000, with the dog’s health and show prospects greatly influencing the cost.
What does a Pomeranian look like?
The Pom dog is one of the smallest of the Toy group, weighing only 3-7 pounds, with a height of 5-7 inches at the shoulders. These portable pooches enjoy going everywhere with their people when on the end of a leash, tucked under an arm or in a carrier.
Pomeranian dogs often are described as “foxy” due to their pricked, upright ears and pointed, sharp muzzles. The head and face typically have shorter, smoother, close-lying fur that enhances the dog’s large, expressive, intelligent bright eyes. They should look square and robust rather than delicate.
The face is framed by very thick, luxurious fur that stands straight off of the rest of the body. This can make Poms appear nearly twice as large as their actual size. Their short, dense undercoat and long, harsh water-shedding outercoat serves them well in cold weather but requires extra care.
Their distinctive, heavily plumed tail is a hallmark of the breed. It lies nearly flat over the breed’s back and remains curled even during happy wags. Shorter fur on their paws makes them look like they’re tip-toeing. Poms come in any color and pattern, from shades of light gold to deep red, solid black or parti-color (white with another color).
Pomeranian Temperament: Big Dog Personality in a Petite Package
This tiny, intelligent dog is a sturdy-looking, smart and sassy companion who makes a wonderful pet. Poms tend to love kids, but very young children potentially can injure the fragile dog.
Their guardian heritage makes them excellent watchdogs. Don’t let the small size fool you. Every Pom pooch thinks he’s big and will bark-alert warnings for the people he loves.
Keeping Pomeranian Dogs Healthy: 8 Issues to Watch
While most Pomeranian dogs from responsible breeders enjoy good health, any dog can suffer illness and injury. There are some breed-specific issues that can cut a Pomeranian’s lifespan short. It’s important to understand what breed-specific issues could arise so you are alert and able to prevent or quickly intercede on your Pom’s behalf. Ask your breeder about any tests your puppy’s parents had to screen for some of these conditions.
Alopecia X or Severe Hair Loss Syndrome (SHLS):
Also called Black Skin Disease, Pomeranian puppies can lose their hair, though the condition mostly affects males. Your pup may have lots of fur, but without guard hairs and when the puppy coat sheds, the fur doesn’t grow back.
The coat loss usually happens when the Pom is 14-16 months old. But, some older dogs possess a normal coat that slowly thins at the back of the thighs, moving up his back.
Hypothyroidism (Low Thyroid):
This endocrine abnormality, in which the thyroid doesn’t function properly, enough is common in older Pomeranians. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) has a database of the results of dogs tested, so ask your breeder about your puppy’s parents and what tests have been performed.
Slipped Kneecap (Luxating Patella):
Patellar Luxation is the most common health problem in Pom dogs. If afflicted, you’ll notice your dog limping or holding up one leg. There are different levels of severity, and minor problems (Grades 1 and 2, as specified by OFA) are not unusual in Toy breeds. Dogs with higher grades, though, may require corrective surgery early in the puppy’s life.
Collapsed trachea commonly afflicts Pomeranian dogs and is characterized by a honking cough often prompted by pressure on the throat from a collar or during exercise. The condition is diagnosed by X-ray and controlled with drugs to reduce the cough.
A variety of heart issues are common in Toy breeds and can be minor to deadly. Enlarged hearts are particularly common in Poms and can result in congestive heart failure as the dogs age.
Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar):
Low blood sugar primarily affects young puppies, especially very small or active ones. You would notice your dog acting weak, sleepy, drunk, trembly and possible seizures. Keeping your puppy fed on a regular schedule helps prevent this issue, and most pups outgrow this as they mature.
Seizures can be frightening for pet parents and their dogs. Idiopathic (of unknown cause) seizures affect some Pomeranian dogs. This usually develops between 3 to 7 years of age and may be inherited, so ask your breeder about your dog’s parents.
Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease (LCP):
LCP affects the hip joint conformation and most often is seen in small breeds around 4 months to a year of age. Caused by an interruption of the blood supply to the joint, LCP causes bone cells to die. The body compensates by remodeling the femoral head deficit, causing a poor joint fit so movement becomes painful. It’s thought to be inherited, so dogs with the condition shouldn’t be bred.
Caring for Your Pomeranian Dog
All dogs need basic care, and the Pomeranian is no different. In addition, though, your Pom will benefit from some Pom-specific care to help him be all that he can be. Health care goes beyond the physical, and you’ll want to ensure your Pomeranian’s emotional and social needs are met as well.
Because of their thick double coat, Pomeranians benefit from frequent grooming. Do Pomeranians shed? In a word, yes! At a minimum, they require thorough brushing with a pin brush, like the JW Pet soft pin dog brush, two or more times a week. This is particularly important during the spring and fall seasons, which are shedding season. It also is important during the “puppy uglies” that Pom babies go through.
Puppies develop a striking coat that begins to shed at 3-6 months of age. That can leave Pom pups looking straggly and unkempt.
The “puppy uglies” last about five months, until the puppy coat is gone. Removing the shedding fur through brushing and bathing helps the new adult coat come in more quickly. It also prevents potential health problems.
If the shed fur isn’t removed, it can mat, causing painful bruising as it pulls against the skin. Mats also create an environment for parasites like fleas and ticks. Hot spots—a skin infection—may develop under mats where you can’t see them.
The dogs may swallow their fur during licking, self-grooming and nibbling itches, thus developing hairballs similar to what cats experience. The swallowed fur collects in the tummy, causing irritation. It may be passed in the stool or vomited up in wet, tube-shaped globs. In the worst case, swallowed fur may cause constipation or life-threatening blockage.
Dirt can damage the Pom coat, so a regular bath keeps these dogs looking plush. Show dogs may be bathed twice a week, and pet Poms do well with monthly baths and thorough brushing in between. Always brush out mats before bathing your Pom, because the water makes the mat worse. Here’s how to bathe your Pomeranian:
- Use lukewarm water in a sink no deeper than the dog’s tummy.
- Dip the water over the dog to thoroughly soak his fur to the skin.
- Use a dog grooming shampoo mixed in a bit of water, and lather his body and neck below his ears.
- A washcloth or sponge works best to wash and rinse the dog’s face. Avoid getting water or soap in his ears or eyes.
- Thoroughly rinse the soap from his coat using the spray nozzle against the fur.
- Apply a dog fur conditioner as directed. Most are then rinsed out of the coat.
- Blot your pet’s coat dry with towels. (Don’t rub, that can damage the coat!)
- Use a handheld blow dryer (forced air only) and fluff his fur with a pin brush as you dry. NEVER leave your Pom unattended in a crate to dry. Human hairdryers are too hot and dangerous for dogs.
Part of grooming includes nail care. Keep your Pom’s toenails trimmed so you don’t hear “clicking” on hard surfaces. Ask the veterinary staff or groomer to show you how to nip off the ends of the nails without cutting the pink area of vessels that will hurt and bleed. Click here for a guide on how to trim your dog’s nails.
No dog is hypoallergenic, not even hairless breeds. It’s the skin, dried saliva and other body secretions that make up doggy dander that prompts human sneeze attacks. Dogs with lots of fur act like dust mops that collect and hold allergens (including dust and pollen).
Regular baths to rinse off the allergens can help Pom lovers who are allergic to dogs. Simply wiping down your Pom with a wet washcloth each day also works well.
Pomeranians do well on complete and balanced foods from reputable pet food companies. They don’t need much, either. Feeding recommendations vary depending on the formulation.
Puppies won’t eat as much, but they do need to eat more often—up to five times a day—to avoid developing hypoglycemia. Tiny puppies may do best on wet or moist diets. Many Poms enjoy fresh foods, so experiment with veggies like carrots and broccoli or fruits like melon.
Pomeranians are energetic, active dogs who require regular exercise, but they don’t need much space. Healthy Poms may go on long walks with you and have enough endurance for long distances of a couple of miles. Just remember, their small stature means a short stride, and one step for you may mean multiple steps for them. Twice a day, 20-minute sessions, are a good target.
Offer daily play periods of fetch or other interactive games. Try tossing a toy down a long hallway for your pooch to chase and retrieve.
The Pom coat is well suited for cool weather, but they easily can overheat in hot temperatures, so limit hot summer play. They’re so little, Poms can be victims of hawks or other hunters, so keep them safe when outside!
While Poms can swim (and often love it!), keep safety in mind. Chlorine in pools isn’t good for their fur or eyes, and a tiny dog easily can get tired. Always supervise and gage your dog’s interest. It should be fun for the dog or find something else.
Training Your Pomeranian Dog
Pomeranians are highly trainable and can learn to compete in several canine sports, from obedience trials to agility. Poms don’t realize they’re tiny, so their mighty attitude gives them the confidence to try—and often excel at—surprising tasks.
Find a training class that describes itself as “positive training” or “clicker training” for your dog. Classes should be a fun, happy experience for everyone, and experienced trainers know how to make classes into a pooch party of fun. Because of the potential for trachea collapse in Poms, you’ll want to avoid collars and rely on a halter for training sessions.
Puppies may take longer to potty train than other breeds. That’s partially due to their small size—they have less space to “hold it”—so puppy pads are a good option. Give your baby dog 24/7 access to a legal outlet.
Pomeranian dogs are great family pets, and these canine extroverts want to be part of everything. They’re very smart and highly trainable, but they might train YOU if you’re not careful. With consistent training, Pomeranian dogs become wonderful pets and have the potential to be great obedience dogs or therapy animals.