Pomsky

Stuart Fitzgerald
Dr Stuart Fitzgerald (MVB MANZCVS, University College Dublin)
 
Photo of adult Pomsky

Fresh on the designer dog scene is the Pomsky, the unlikely, but adorable, marriage of the Siberian Husky and Pomeranian. These two breeds are vastly different in size, but share many physical traits, and their puppies are invariably fluffy balls of fun. Pomskies are energetic and extremely playful little dogs that are usually highly intelligent and easy to train. Though they can be kept as indoor dogs, they do need plenty of exercise, and they are known to take after their parents in being very heavy shedders, meaning they will definitely leave a hairy trail around the home. Most are very gentle and very good with children, although the Pomeranian is not always so inclined, and every hybrid dog must be judged individually, as one or other parent’s traits may come through more strongly.

Pomskies also often show the Pomeranian’s instinct to protect, and they can make good guard dogs, although they are usually too small to present a real threat to a determined intruder. Both parent breeds are very vocal, and the Pomsky may inherit the Husky’s howl and the Pomeranian’s bark, allowing it to produce a cacophony of sound when alarmed or bored. This vocalisation can be a problem in dogs left alone during the day, and should be borne in mind by owners needing to leave home for work. The Pomsky’s incredibly dense coat provides ample protection against cold weather, but becomes a liability in heat, and this hybrid does need to be protected from the elements during the warm summer months. It is generally a very healthy dog, and has a life expectancy of 13–15 years, but this range is based on assumption rather than data, as the Pomsky has only been widely bred very recently.

About & History

It seems to be only in the last five years that the Pomsky has become widely available, but it has enjoyed a rapid surge in demand, largely based on its irresistible appearance. All hybrid matings involve a large element of luck, as the offspring will inherit the parent’s characteristics randomly, and so a litter of Pomsky pups can range in appearance and temperament. However, the Siberian Husky and the Pomeranian share the same Arctic heritage, and their similar coats and body shapes mean that the variability in their pups’ appearance is often more a matter of size than anything more substantive. Generally, the Pomeranian is the sire (father), as the reverse arrangement would be likely to create significant birthing difficulties.

The personalities of the two parent breeds make for an interesting contrast, and it is here that there is perhaps more room for variation in the Pomsky. Siberian Huskies are intelligent, gentle dogs that are driven to please their owners. They are generally easy to train, and are very sociable, both with people and other dogs, and are almost universally placid and non-aggressive. The Pomeranian is a plucky little dog that lives to please itself above all others. It has a confidence and brazen attitude toward the world that have led many to say it personifies “small dog syndrome”. As such, it needs a loving, but firm owner who is able to appreciate this spirit while at the same time controlling it. A Pomeranian who is allowed to set its own rules will become obstreperous and snappy, and far from the ideal pet it was intended to be. So, where on the spectrum between Husky and Pom does the Pomsky fall? Unfortunately, one cannot say with certainty, but hopefully most will blend these characteristics more or less evenly.

Appearance

Pomsky Large Photo

Most Pomskies are quite small, but they range in height from 25 to 38 cm (10–15 in) at the withers, and weigh between 9 and 14 kg (20–30 lb). They are prone to obesity, something that can be disguised by the thick coat, so one must check regularly that the ribs and points of the spinal column are just palpable beneath the hair. They generally resemble miniature Huskies, and have a dense, insulating coat that is some combination of black, grey, red, and white in colour. They have a particularly thick ruff around the neck that forms a mane.

The head is wolf-like with large, erect ears and eyes that can be a range of colours, and may even be different in colour from each other. The muzzle can be quite fine in relation to the skull in some smaller individuals, and the body is athletic its proportions. The Pomsky has reasonably long, well-muscled limbs and a curled tail that is held over the back, even at rest.

Character & Temperament

As discussed above, the genetic lottery can result in Pomskies having very different temperaments, potentially even within litters. However, it is fair to generalise that most are extremely playful and good-natured. Unlike the Pomeranian, they tend to be gentle and tolerant of children, although smaller Pomskies may be more delicate and easily injured, so might be better suited to older children.

This is a very intelligent hybrid, and they bond strongly with their owners, sometimes more so with one person within the family. They have the instinct to protect their pack and their territory, and can make quite good guard dogs, but their ability to bark loud and long in sounding an alarm can spill over into nuisance barking, especially when bored. Like any dog, the Pomsky needs companionship and stimulation, and it is important to provide opportunities to socialise and play, and to have a range of toys for entertainment, to ensure this energetic dog does not become destructive or hyperactive.

Trainability

Photo of Pomsky puppy

Pomskies are intelligent, quick learners, and most like to please their owner, so they can be relatively easily trained. It is important that training begins young, for even the most biddable Pomsky will have the Pomeranian’s stubbornness and potential to see itself as the pack leader buried somewhere deep down.

Early obedience training is the surest way to override these tendencies. Though most are extremely sociable, early socialisation training is important to ensure the Pomsky’s protective instinct never leads to snappiness or aggression, though these problems appear rare.

Health

Both the Pomeranian and the Siberian Husky are very healthy pedigree breeds, meaning that health problems in their hybrid pups are quite rare. However, all cross-bred pups do run some risk of inheriting those conditions that are more prevalent in the parent lines, with the following being those of note:

  • Collapsing trachea – A common cause of a harsh upper respiratory cough in Pomeranians. Rare in larger breeds, so small Pomskies are more likely to be affected. A weakness along the main airway allows the tracheal walls to collapse inwards during exercise.
  • Glaucoma – Increased fluid pressure within the eye as a result of impaired function of the “angle”, which is responsible for maintaining the balance between fluid production and drainage. Usually encountered in middle-aged dogs, causes discomfort and loss of vision. Inherited in the Siberian Husky.
  • Growth hormone-responsive dermatosis – Seen in adult Pomeranians as hair loss and skin pigmentation affecting the torso. Though primarily a cosmetic problem, it can be resolved by the administration of hormone treatments.
  • Hip dysplasia – Disordered growth of one or both hip joints, manifesting as lameness in dogs between the ages of six and twelve months. Largely genetic in origin, it can also be the result of excess exercise and poor diet in this phase of growth.
  • Hypothyroidism – Damage to the thyroid glands inflicted by autoimmune disease can cause weight gain, lethargy, and hair loss. Skin and hair signs can potentially be confused with those of growth hormone-responsive dermatosis (see above). Responds well to thyroid hormone supplementation.
  • Inguinal hernias – Generally seen in young female pups, where failure of the muscles in the groin to fully develop allows fat or other abdominal contents to slip under the skin, producing a palpable, and sometimes painful lump. Requires surgical correction
  • Patellar luxation – Slipping of the patella (kneecap) medially out of its groove in the distal femur during exercise. Can be caused by inadequate bone structure, malalignment of the hindlimb, or a combination of both. Surgery may be required.
  • Zinc-responsive dermatosis – Seen in Huskies and other Arctic breeds, who have a relatively high requirement for dietary zinc. Deficiency causes crusting sores to form, often around the eyes, lips, and nose.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Pomskies need plenty of exercise, and can be deceptively active despite their small size. As they are clever and highly trainable, owners may consider agility or other sports as an outlet for their mental and physical energy. Though their exact requirements are somewhat dependent on size, most need around an hour of activity every day.

Grooming

The thick coat sheds heavily all year, and “blows” twice a year, coming out in seemingly endless clumps in the spring and summer. It needs to be brushed at least every second day for most of the year, and daily during these moulting periods, to remove loose hair and to distribute the vital oils produced from the follicles. The Pomsky also needs frequent baths, with some needing to be washed fortnightly to keep the coat in top condition. Other routine chores, such as nail clipping, ear cleaning, and tooth brushing should be introduced to the Pomsky in puppyhood to establish good habits that can last a lifetime.

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