The Pomeranian is a compact, short-backed, active toy dog of Nordic descent. The double coat consists of a short dense undercoat with a profuse harsh-textured longer outer coat. The heavily plumed tail is one of the characteristics of the breed. It is set high and lies flat on the back. He is alert in character, exhibits intelligence in expression, is buoyant in deportment, and is inquisitive by nature. The Pomeranian is cocky, commanding, and animated as he gaits. He is sound in composition and action.
Merle colored dogs may suffer from mild to severe deafness, increased intraocular pressure, ametropia, microphthalmia, and colobomas. Merle dogs born from parents who are also both merles may additionally suffer from abnormalities of the skeletal, cardiac and reproductive systems.
Luxating patella is another health issue in the Pomeranian breed. It occurs when, through either malformation or trauma, the ridges forming the patellar groove in the knee are not prominent and are too shallow to allow the patella to properly sit securely. This can cause the patella to “luxate” (jump out of the groove) sideways which will cause the leg to lock up with the foot off the ground. While the muscles are contracted the patella cannot return to the correct position. The initial pain is caused by the knee cap sliding across the ridges of the femur. Once out of position, the dog does not feel any pain caused by the slipped disc.
Tracheal collapse is caused by a weakening of the tracheal rings in the windpipe. It occurs when the rings that normally hold the shape of the windpipe collapse, closing the airway. The symptoms of a collapse include a honking cough that can sound similar to a goose honk, an intolerance to exercise, fainting spells and a cough that is worsened by hot weather, exercise and excitement. The tendency for episodes of tracheal collapse typically increases in frequency and severity as the dog ages.
In Pomeranians, a condition often called “black skin disease” occurs which is a combination of alopecia (hair loss) and hyperpigmentation (a darkening of the skin). Other names for this condition include woolly coat, coat funk, pseudo-Cushing’s disease, or severe hair loss syndrome. This condition affects male Pomeranians more than females, and may be inherited. Although most affected dogs show signs following puberty, it can occur at any age. Other conditions can mimic this condition including Cushing’s syndrome, hypothyroidism, chronic skin infections, and reproductive hormone disorders.
Another common disorder in male Pomeranians is cryptorchidism. This is when either one or both of the testicles do not descend into the scrotum. It is treated through surgical removal of the retained testicle.
Pomeranians weigh about five pounds but they have the personalities of something a lot larger. They are curious dogs, alert and interested in everything that is going on around them. Often, their favorite spot at home is perched on a windowsill where they can take in as much neighborhood action as they can, barking often to let you know that someone is walking by. They love to be the center of attention, and have been known to behave mischievously in order to garner the attention they crave. Poms are very well suited for active seniors who can devote all of their time and energy to their dog.
Pomeranians can live happily in homes of all sizes. They are small enough to live in apartments or condos, but active enough to flourish in a large home. They should be walked daily to burn off energy, and this helps maintain temperament. They enjoy running, so some yard time every week will be welcome. Poms need to keep their minds active. They are smart dogs and if left to their own devices will get into mischief, so to keep them happy many owners enroll their Pomeranians in agility training to keep both mind and body in tip top shape.
Poms are notoriously difficult to train. They like to be the boss and don’t take kindly to someone telling them what to do. They are stubborn, bossy, manipulative and require gentle but firm leadership. It can be easy to back off of training because they are so small and they can charm the pants off even the most heard-hearted trainer, but consistency is the key to training. Poms don’t have to be unruly; they can be trained and socialized to be well-mannered. Food is an excellent motivational tool, as is lots of happy, exuberant praise. Keep training sessions short, but never let your Pom decide when it’s time to pack it in. Early socialization is also important in raising a well-mannered Pomeranian. They are naturally standoffish around strangers, and this can easily get out of hand and become fearfulness or even aggression. You must teach your Pom as a puppy that new people, new animals, and new situations are exciting adventures. Once leadership is established and basic obedience has been mastered, Poms can do well on the agility course. They are spry little dogs who like to use their brains, and while they can be stubborn they will eat up the extra bonding time with you, and will enjoy the physical exercise.
Pomeranians are not recommended for families with small children. They are possessive of their toys and food and can snap or bite toddlers who do not understand how to respect a dog’s boundaries. They demand a lot of attention and can become resentful of children who may take the focus away from them. It can be easy to shelter a Pomeranian because of their tiny size, but sheltering your Pom is not a good idea. Over-sheltered Pomeranians can become very high strung. It is important to give your Pomeranian independence. Let him walk on a leash rather than tote him around in a bag and socialize him around people and other animals so that he knows how to greet and be greeted with proper manners. Pomeranians bark at everything and everybody and it can be difficult to train this tendency out of them. Socialization and proper exercise can help, but the consensus among Pom owners is that this is a yappy dog and patience is required to own one.
Pomeranians are moderate shedders. Males shed their entire undercoat once per year and unspayed females shed their undercoats when they are in season, after delivering a litter and when under stress. Poms should be brushed at least twice per week to remove loose hair, prevent tangles and distribute the natural oils of the skin and hair, keeping the coat shiny and healthy. The Pomeranian can be trimmed around the feet, face, ears and rear for the sake of neatness. Baths are required as needed. For some dogs this may be weekly, others monthly or less, depending on the activity level of the individual. Small dogs are prone to dental problems, especially later in life, so teeth should be brushed once per week at a minimum. Daily brushing is best to help prevent tooth loss later in life. Check the ears on a weekly basis for signs of irritation, infection or wax buildup. Cleanse with a veterinarian approved cleanser and a cotton ball – never stick a cotton swab in a dog’s ear canal. Trim nails monthly. If they click on hard floor surfaces, they are too long.
The forerunners of today’s Pomeranian breed were large working dogs from the Arctic regions. These dogs are commonly known as the Wolfspitz or Spitz type, which is German for “sharp point” which was the term originally used by Count Eberhard zu Sayn in the 16th Century as a reference to the features of the dog’s nose and muzzle. The Pomeranian is considered to be descended from the German Spitz.
The breed is thought to have acquired its name by association with the area known as Pomerania which is located in northern Poland and Germany along the Baltic Sea. Although not the origin of the breed, this area is credited with the breeding which led to the original Pomeranian type of dog.
An early modern recorded reference to the Pomeranian breed is from 2 November 1764, in a diary entry in James Boswell’s Boswell on the Grand Tour: Germany and Switzerland. “The Frenchman had a Pomeranian dog named Pomer whom he was mighty fond of.” The offspring of a Pomeranian and a wolf bred by an animal merchant from London is discussed in Thomas Pennant’s A Tour in Scotland from 1769.
Queen Victoria, Queen Charlotte’s granddaughter, was also an enthusiast and established a large breeding kennel. One of her favoured dogs was a comparatively small red sable Pomeranian which she possibly named “Windsor’s Marco” and was reported to weigh only 12 lb (5.4 kg). When she first exhibited Marco in 1891, it caused the smaller-type Pomeranian to become immediately popular and breeders began selecting only the smaller specimens for breeding. During her lifetime, the size of the Pomeranian breed was reported to have decreased by 50%. Queen Victoria worked to improve and promote the Pomeranian breed by importing smaller Pomeranians of different colors from various European countries to add to her breeding program. Royal owners during this period also included Joséphine de Beauharnais, the wife of Napoleon I of France, and King George IV of England. The first breed club was set up in England in 1891, and the first breed standard was written shortly afterwards. The first member of the breed was registered in America to the American Kennel Club in 1898, and it was recognized in 1900.
In 1912, two Pomeranians were among only three dogs to survive the sinking of RMS Titanic. A Pomeranian called “Lady”, owned by Miss Margaret Hays, escaped with her owner in lifeboat number seven, while Elizabeth Barrett Rothschild took her pet to safety with her in lifeboat number six.
The Pomeranian has been among the more popular dog breeds in the United States, featuring consistently in the top 20 of registered AKC dog breeds since at least 1998, when it was ranked #10; the breed was #17 in the 2011 rankings, dropping two spots from the previous year. In 2012 and 2013 it remained in the top twenty and was ranked at #19. It is not listed in the top 20 breeds in the UK in either 2007 or 2008. In Australia their popularity has declined since 1986, with a peak of 1,128 Pomeranians registered with the Australian National Kennel Council in 1987; only 577 were registered in 2008. However, this is an increase from 2004, when only 491 dogs were registered. It is more popular in American cities in 2008, ranking joint tenth (with American Bulldog) in Detroit and Orlando, ninth in Los Angeles, a joint seventh in Seattle (again, with the American Bulldog), but third in Honolulu, only bested by the Labrador Retriever and the German Shepherd Dog.