Pomeranian

Ana Oliveira
Dr Ana Oliveira (DVM, University of Lisbon)
 
Photo of adult Pomeranian

The Pomeranian is a Spitz type toy dog that looks like a fox, with its fluffy and abundant outer coat and ruff of fur on its neck. The Pomeranian is a lively, yappy and somewhat cocky breed that loves attention but is also quite independent in its character. While active, Pomeranians, do not demand much exercise, being a perfect pet candidate for the elderly.

Pomeranians can be charismatic, headstrong little dogs, but they are also very friendly and good companions, being most of the times quite hard to resist. They are very curious and extroverted, making great watchdogs, and some have been used as therapy and assistance dogs, with great success.

About & History

Despite its small size, Pomeranians descend from large sled dogs from the Arctic regions of Iceland and Lapland. Some of their ancestors include the Alaskan Malamute, the Samoyed, the Siberian Husky, the German Spitz and the Keeshond. Spitz is a German word that means “sharp point”, referring to the shape of the nose and muzzle of Spitz type dogs. The name of this dog breed comes from the European region of Pomerania, located in Germany and Poland, along the Baltic sea, where it is believed the original Pomeranians were bred.

It is unclear when Pomeranians first started to be bred, though the first reference to the breed dates to 1764 when James Boswell, a Scottish biographer and diarist, included one in his diary entries. Later, in 1767, historical records mention Queen Charlotte having brought two Pomeranians to England, called Phoebe and Mercury. She was later depicted in Sir Thomas Gainsborough’s painting with a Pomeranian that was much larger than the breed we know today.

In fact, it was not until the 19th century, with Queen Victoria of England, that the Pomeranian became the small toy dog of today. Queen Victoria was passionate about dogs, and particularly enthusiastic about Pomeranians. Records have it that on a trip to Florence she fell in love with a red Pomeranian named Marco. Marco was a small dog, weighting 5.4 kg, and considered responsible for the new trend of small Pomeranians, as Queen Victoria loved the small version of these dogs. The popularity of small Pomeranians increased and it is said that during Queen Victoria’s lifetime the bred was downsized by 50%. Such was her affection for the breed, that some say Queen Victoria requested the presence of her favourite Pomeranian, Turi, next to her when she died.

Other fanciers of the breed included members of the Royalty, such as King George IV of England, and the wife of Napoleon I of France. Other famous historical figures include Mozart, Emile Zola, the theologian Martin Luther, Isaac Newton, and Michelangelo. Another interesting fact is that two of the three dogs that survived the sinking of the British passenger liner Titanic in 1912 were Pomeranians.

The first Pomeranian club was established in England in 1891 and the first dog registered in the American Kennel Club (AKC) was in 1898. Later, in 1900, the breed was recognised by the AKC, ranking 14th today among the 155 breeds and varieties it recognises. Besides being a popular pet, Pomeranians excel in dog sports, such as obedience, agility, and flyball, and have also been used as therapy dogs in hospitals and nursing homes, as well as hearing assistance dogs.

Appearance

Pomeranian Large Photo

Pomeranians are compact small dogs with a short thick undercoat covered by an abundant, textured, and fluffy longer outercoat that can come in any colour. The most popular and common colours are:

  • Red
  • Orange
  • Black
  • Cream or White

Other colours include:

  • Black
  • Brown
  • Blue
  • Sable
  • Brindle
  • Spotted
  • Black and tan

Pomeranians have a profusely plumed tail, set high and fanning forward over their back. They are also known for their ruff of fur on the neck that gives them their characteristically cocky looks. They weigh between 1.9 and 3.5 kg (4.2 – 7.7 lb) and are usually 13 to 28 cm tall (5 – 11 inches).

Character & Temperament

Pomeranians are yappy, feisty dogs that demand a lot of attention and pampering. They love being spoiled and they are so cute that it is almost impossible not to meet their needs for attention and love. They are very excited and energetic pets, and also quite athletic, despite their small size. They are mainly companion pets and are actually great at that, though they are also good athletes, especially in obedience, agility and flyball competitions. Pomeranians are also known as 'Poms' and are affectionately (and truthfully) nicknamed as “the little dog who thinks it can”.

They are extroverted, curious, and lively creatures that like to explore the world around them and are interested in what is going on. In fact, although they do enjoy curling up on the sofa close to their human parents, they are much more likely to spend most of their time walking around the house, trying to satisfy their curiosity, always alert and inquisitive. Because they are alert and defensive of their territory and people, they make excellent watchdogs. They also have a tendency to bark a lot, which adds to their guarding abilities but may also become a nuisance, which is why appropriate training is needed, especially in in regard to their barking habits.

Pomeranians are proud and believe they are larger than they actually are. These features may turn them into bossy little dogs, prone to small dog syndrome. It is the owner’s responsibility to educate them and be the pack leader, as to generate a well-rounded dog that is respectful towards people and other animals. When such boundaries are not given, Poms can become wilful and anxious, suffer from separation anxiety and even become aggressive to people and animals. Due to their size, they are usually in disadvantage towards other dogs, which strengthens the need for a Pomeranian’s proper socialization and training.

Poms are generally friendly and playful, very intelligent and eager to learn new tricks. They have been used as circus dogs for quite a long time due to their ability to perform tricks and their liveliness. They are great pets for the elderly and are also good with children. However, they are not the best pets for a family with small children. First, because children may not discern what is appropriate handling of such a small dog, and second because Poms can be possessive of their toys and food and may also become resentful of children for taking the attention away from them.

Despite their craving for attention, Poms are the most independent of the toy breeds. They are not clingy and know how to spend time alone, especially when given toys with which they can entertain themselves. Though they can be hard to train due to their stubbornness, Poms are docile dogs, loyal, adaptable, and bright. They are happy dogs and great entertainers, having the potential to be nice, well-mannered pets that get along with people and other animals, as long as they have calm and firm owners who lead them and give them rules to follow.

Trainability

Photo of Pomeranian puppy

The Pomeranian may be a difficult dog breed to train, partly due to its stubborn personality. It tends to like being the boss and surely knows how to manipulate their owners into doing what it wants. Food and praise are good for motivating and rewarding intended behaviours and short training sessions may have the best results, as long as the dog is not the one determining the end of a session.

They need consistent leadership and firm commands, especially regarding barking, as they can be heavy barkers. Socialization is as important as training, as they are suspicious of strangers and can become aggressive or fearful if not exposed to a variety of people and situations when growing up.

Health

Sturdy and healthy, Pomeranians have typical lifespans of 12 to 15 years. However, they may be more prone to some diseases and conditions, such as:

  • Patellar luxation – This is a condition of the kneecap that may occur in most small and toy breeds due to a malformation of the kneecap or following an injury, causing the kneecap to jump out of place sideways. It causes pain and lameness and sometimes the affected leg may be held up in the air for a few moments. Treatment includes anti-inflammatory drugs to deal with the swelling and rest, although surgery may be recommended in more severe cases.
  • Heart problems – Among the heart problems, Poms can have are heart murmurs and dilated cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart), which, if not severe, will not affect their overall health and lifespan.
  • Tracheal collapse – Due to a weakening of the tracheal cartilage, the rings normally supporting the trachea collapse, blocking the passage of air and causing cough (that sounds like geese honks), fainting due to insufficient oxygen reaching the brain and intolerance to exercise.
  • Black skin disease – This is a disease caused by hair loss and hyperpigmentation of the skin that is probably inherited and occurs more frequently in males. The diagnosis of black skin disease includes ruling out other more severe diseases that can mimic this condition, such as Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism.
  • Injuries – Due to its small size and adventurous spirit, Pomeranians may be driven by their curiosity to jump from high places or to fall, injuring themselves. Broken bones or head injuries are among the most common injuries that may occur.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Pomeranians are very energetic dogs that like to be always on the move. However, because they are so small, walking around the house may be considered exercise. A daily walk is recommended, not only because they are curious dogs that can become bored, but also because it is an important part of their socialization habits. Pomeranians will also appreciate running around in an enclosed yard from time to time, as well as regular playing sessions with their owners.

Grooming

With their long, plush coat, Pomeranians require regular grooming. Biweekly brushing is recommended, although daily brushing would certainly make the task easier, as their hair is prone to tangle. Occasional baths and optional trimming every one to two months are also part of their grooming needs. Additionally, nail trimming, cleaning and checking its ears for signs of redness, and brushing its teeth will complete the Pomeranian’s health and beauty routine.

Famous Pomeranians

Pomeranians have become famous in television and films, and have also been popular among celebrities, such as socialite Paris Hilton, singer Gwen Stefani, actress Jessica Alba, and even Elvis Presley. Examples of films in which Pomeranians starred are:

  • To Die For (1995), with Nicole Kidman.
  • Dumb and Dumber (1994), with Jim Carrey.
  • Harlem Nights (1989), with Eddie Murphy.
  • Cadillac Man (1990), with Robin Williams.

Cross-Breeds

Pomeranians are a favourite when it comes to crossbreeding. The most common Pomeranian crossbreeds are:

  • Bichon-A-Ranian – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Bichon Frise
  • Brusselranian – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Brussels Griffon
  • Cairanian – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Cairn Terrier
  • Cavapom – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Cheke-A-Pom – Cross between a Pomeranian, a Chihuahua, and a Pekingese
  • Chineranian – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Japanese Chin
  • Chipaperanian – Cross between a Pomeranian, a Papillon, and a Chihuahua
  • Chiranian – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Chihuahua
  • Cockeranian – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Cocker Spaniel
  • Corgipom – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Dameranian – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Dachshund
  • Ewokian – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Havanese
  • French Pomchi – Cross between a Pomeranian, a Chihuahua, and a Bichon Frise
  • Jack-A-Ranian – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Jack Russell Terrier
  • La Pom – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Lhasa Apso
  • Maltipom – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Maltese
  • Paperanian – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Papillon
  • Pineranian – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Miniature Pinscher
  • Pom Terrier – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Toy Fox Terrier
  • Pom-A-Nauze – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Miniature Schnauzer
  • Pom-A-Pug – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Pug
  • Pom-Shi – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Shiba Inu
  • Pom-Silk – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Silky Terrier
  • Pomapoo – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Poodle
  • Pomapoochi – Cross between a Pomeranian, a Poodle, and a Chihuahua
  • Pomeagle – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Beagle
  • Pomerat – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Rat Terrier
  • Pomimo – Cross between a Pomeranian and an American Eskimo Dog
  • Pominese – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Pekingese
  • Pomshinese – Cross between a Pomeranian, a Shih Tzu, and a Pekingese
  • Pomsky – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Siberian Husky
  • Pomston – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Boston Terrier
  • Poshies – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Shetland Sheepdog
  • Schip-A-Pom – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Schipperke
  • Shi-Pom – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Shiba Inu
  • Shiranian – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Shih Tzu
  • Weeranian – Cross between a Pomeranian and a West Highland White Terrier
  • Yoranian – Cross between a Pomeranian and a Yorkshire Terrier

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