Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
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Two of the smaller Spitz breeds, the dainty Pomeranian and the feisty Shiba Inu have been paired together to create a novel hybrid breed known as the Pom-Shi or ‘Shi Pom’. Not only is this dog smart and remarkably self-assured, Pom-Shis tend to enjoy human company and get on well with children of all ages. Due to their shrill yap and alert nature, the Pom-Shi makes a superb watch dog.

Pom-Shis retain those physical characteristics of their Spitz parents, including the wedge-shaped nose and erect ears; features that many agree give them foxlike qualities. Their dark, round eyes are one of their most streaking features and lend them an intelligent and pensive expression.

About & History

While pedigrees haven been bred together over the years to produce litters that are similar in both looks and temperament, designer dogs are a recent invention and, as such, there remains a great deal of variability from one Pom-Shi to the next. A relative newcomer to the scene, these dogs have only been around for a couple of decades and have yet to become particularly well-known.

The Pomeranian

The Pomeranian (or ‘Pom’) originated close to the Baltic Sea some time before the 18th century and we know that two Poms were imported to England by Queen Charlotte. It is clear that she held these dogs in high esteem as they even appeared in art work alongside her. Continuing with the royal theme, Queen Victoria was also a big fan and, in fact, played an important role in their history.

She took an interest in the physical traits of the Pom and was of the opinion that the smaller ones were superior. Due to this, she bred only the small ones together and this led to the size of the breed decreasing dramatically during her lifetime. Again, it is obvious that these dogs played a huge role in their owners’ lives, with Queen Victoria opting to be buried with her most beloved Pom, Turi. The Kennel Club recognises Pomeranians within their Toy Group owing to their diminutive size.

The Shiba Inu

Shiba Inus are a Japanese dog that are classified under the Kennel Club’s Utility Group. While their name may mean ‘small dog’, this is actually a reference to the size of prey that they were bred to hunt rather than their own physical dimensions.

Though the Shiba Inu was once extremely popular within their homeland, they came close to extinction after the First World War. Around this time, a small number of dogs were exported to the USA and, since then, they have slowly been developing a reputation worldwide. These dogs have a natural affinity for hunting and roaming which some sedentary owners may find off-putting.


Pom-Shis are foxy in their appearance with their plush coat and well-plumed tail. Dogs are larger and more robustly built than their Pomeranian parents and have denser bones. They have small feet and rather slender limbs, allowing for a quickness of foot that affords them a good deal of athleticism. Their skull is built in proportion to their body and they have a narrow muzzle that tapers toward their nose. Their erect ears are triangular in shape and can be quite large in some individuals.

The Pom-Shi is a small crossbreed that will reach heights of between 25cm to 40cm and will weigh from 6kg to 8kg. They are not densely muscled and should not feel or look heavy. For many, the coat of the Pom-Shi is one of their most attractive features and their lush coat can be a variety of shades including fawn, dark brown and cream. Many dogs will have a two-tone coat, which is lighter on their chest, belly and paws.

Character & Temperament

Pom-Shis are naturally charismatic and do not take themselves too seriously. They are generally happy to socialise with people and will be very affectionate with those that are familiar to them. As they are vibrant and playful most agree that they make good companions for children, though it should be said that they don’t all have a high tolerance for being pushed about and some will nip when defensive.

For those who live in apartments and have neighbours close by, they may want to consider the fact that most Pom-Shis will bark and yap a lot of the time. They bark when happy, excited, nervous and bored! This trait does mean that they are a good ‘alarm’ for when any new people come to the home and they do make good watch dogs. Due to their size and lack of natural aggression, they should not be thought of as guard dogs however.

Curious and clever, the Pom-Shi enjoys being given things to do and puzzles to solve. They are not one for lazing about all day and would much prefer to get involved with whatever their owners are doing. They will often follow behind people, interested in what they are doing and keen to be a part of everything.


As the Pom-Shi is both vivacious and clued-in, they make enjoyable training partners. However, there is a stubborn streak running throughout this crossbreed and some will only choose to respond to training cues if they are in the mood.

Most Pom-Shis are food-driven and best results are achieved when plenty of delicious food is on offer. It can also be useful to use a consistent praise word such as ‘yes’ or ‘great’ when the dog does what is asked of it as they learn to associate this positive word with doing well.


Pom-Shis are prone to an array of health issues but, in general, enjoy a good quality of life and will live into their early teens.

Patellar Luxation

When kneecaps pop out of place (either temporarily or permanently), this is known as ‘luxating’ patellae. Small dogs are especially prone to this orthopaedic disorder and can develop it at practically any age. When the knee cap is out of line, dogs are unable to walk and run as normal and often ‘skip’ for a few steps. While surgery is not always advised, it can be beneficial for some.

Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

PDA is a congenital heart disease, meaning those affected are born with the condition. The ductus arteriosus remains open rather than snapping shut shortly after birth resulting in an improper blood flow and the development of eventual heart failure. On exam, vets can appreciate a loud heart murmur which some describe as a ‘washing machine murmur’ as the turbulent blood can sound like clothes in a washing machine.

Tracheal Collapse

A windpipe that narrows over time results in a reduced airflow, cough and difficulty breathing. Those that are over-weight and small tend to suffer the most. This condition can be confused with kennel cough due to the similar loud ‘goose honk’ that dogs make. It can sometimes be diagnosed on a plain x-ray, though contrast may be needed.


Low levels of thyroid hormone result in a slower metabolism and an array of health issues, such as chronic skin infections and obesity. Thankfully, this condition is easy to both diagnose and treat. Those that are put on tablet medication need to continue for life, otherwise their symptoms will return.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Pom-Shis are energetic little dogs that like to run about their house and back garden but don’t need excessively long runs to keep them happy. This makes them a good choice even for those who live in smaller homes. However, owners should not assume that these dogs don’t need walks at all and should allow them out a couple of times a day to socialise with others and enjoy some fresh air.


The thick fur of the Pom-Shi should be brushed regularly, and a good quality brush will help to prevent tugging and discomfort. As those with smaller jaws can be prone to dental disease, it is a good idea to get them used to tooth brushing from a young age.

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