ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Pomeranian

Pomeranian dog
John Walton
Written by John Walton

If you’ve ever seen a Pomeranian, you wouldn’t believe that they are descended from large sled dogs. As members of the Spitz breed, they have very fox-like faces and thick soft fur. But beneath all of that cuteness is a dog who is extremely active, serves as a loyal companion animal, and excels wells in agility and obedience.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
TrainabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessAbove Average
Exercise NeedsAbove Average

Dog Breed Group: Companion dogs
Height: Seven inches to one foot at the shoulder
Weight: Three to seven pounds
Life Span: 12 to 16 years

What the Pomeranian lacks in size, he certainly makes up for in personality. Being the smallest of the Spitz family, weighing anywhere between three to seven pounds, he definitely does a good job of it. They are a highly intelligent dog breed and display loyalty that is almost unrivaled by any other small dog breed. However, they can also be quite independent and bold, taking risks that no other dogs their size would take.

They’re not afraid to attack other dogs and animals several times larger than their own size. They’re extremely curious about the world around them and have minds of their own. This can often get them into trouble if they’re not properly trained.

Their independence makes them a suitable dog for older people and those who leave the home to work throughout the day. However, they’re not recommended to families with small children, as they can suffer injury quite easily. It is also this independence that requires you to have a firm hand in training.

They take to it quite easily, but if you are not consistent, then they won’t take you seriously. If he doesn’t know that you’re the top dog, then he can become quite snappy with you during training sessions.

For a dog his size, the Pomeranian is known for having quite a loud bark. This makes them the perfect breed to keep as watchdogs around the home. However, without training, they may never know when to stop barking. This can become somewhat of a nuisance, especially after your guests are already inside.

Like sledding dogs, Pomeranians have very high energy levels and need exercise on a regular basis. They’re quite happy to go on walks, however, and have no qualms about running agility courses, engaging in tracking, and playing flyball. Because they want a job to do, Pomeranians also make good assistance and therapy dogs, and do well at providing affection and comfort to the sick and elderly in hospitals.

Main Highlights
  • Pomeranians can be very suspicious of strangers, and will bark a lot until they have been finally introduced.
  • Their independence can make it difficult for them to be house trained, so a crate is definitely recommended to make the process easier.
  • Due to their small size, Pomeranians can overheat quite easily when they’re outside during the hot months of the year. They should not be kept outdoors, and signs of overheating should be looked out for. At the first sign of these symptoms, bring your dog back inside immediately. Leaving them outside also makes them appear as prey to owls, eagles, hawks and coyotes. Never leave them outside unattended, or a large bird of prey may carry them off.
  • Their size and cute appearance also makes them easy target for dog nappers. People are tempted to sell off pure breed dogs to make a lot of money, and your dog may be a target if he’s left alone outside.
  • As your dog gets older, he may experience some hair loss in his fur, resulting in bald spots. This isn’t a condition that can be prevented.
  • Due to their big dog attitude, Pomeranians put themselves at risk to being injured. They don’t back down from dogs more than twice their size, which can spell disaster if you aren’t there to save them. Early socialization can prevent your Pomeranian from becoming a bit of a bully, as well as teaching him a good recall.
Breed History

Pomeranians were originally bred in the province of Pomerania from the ancient Spitz breeds that resided there. These breeds were also ancestors to the Norwegian Elkhound, the German Spitz, and the Samoyed, just to name a few. The earliest versions of the Pomeranian weighed as much as 30 pounds, and were much larger than the toy breed you see today. However, they were still quite popular back then, and were a breed of the celebrities of the time. These included Martin Luther, Michelangelo, Isaac Newton, and Mozart.

The appeal of the Pomeranian was brought over to England when a princess from a neighboring province of Pomerania married King George III. Her dogs gained some notoriety with the royal circles, but never caught on with the general populace.

However, this all changed during the reign of Queen Victoria, who became particularly fond of the breed during a trip to Italy. It was at this time that more and more people were attempting to make the breed smaller. After Queen Victoria’s death, the Pomeranian surged in popularity and had the largest number of entries in dog shows. It was at this time that the standard for the breed became stabilized, and the variety of coat colors was increased.

In America, the Pomeranian became popular in 1888 when one was entered into an American Kennel Club stud book; the first show dog didn’t appear until 1892. That popularity continued to grow and is now ranked 14th in the list of 155 dog breeds registered by the AKC.

Size

Pomeranians are a very small breed of dog, and stand at roughly seven to twelve inches at the shoulder and can weight about three to seven pounds. They used to be a bit larger, and some litters still show these traits, growing to be about twelve to fourteen pounds.

Personality and Character

The Pomeranian is extremely extroverted and eager to meet anything and everything in the world. He can be quite vivacious, smart, and inquisitive. This makes them excellent watchdogs, as they will bark at anything out of the ordinary. Without training, however, this can be an annoying trait that can last for hours.

Early socialization with other animals and people is key in order to develop a better-rounded dog. Puppies should be curious and playful, and be willing to approach strangers and allow themselves to be held. Any signs of aggression or shyness will not diminish with time, so be careful about the puppy that you choose.

Health and Potential Problems

They’re generally quite healthy dogs, but they do have some health concerns that are genetic or can develop over time.

  • Allergies: Pomeranians can have a range of allergies, from food to contact allergies. If you notice that your dog is licking his paws frequently or rubbing his face, then an allergy is suspect and you should take your dog to the vet immediately.
  • Epilepsy: signs of epilepsy can develop over time, and results in your dog having seizures. These can be short episodes, but the best thing that you can do is to remain calm and provide support to your dog after one has occurred. Your dog’s first seizure doesn’t require any medical attention, but be sure to sure to write down the time, date and length of the seizure. Take your dog to the vet immediately if another seizure occurs, whether immediately after or some point in the future.
  • Eye problems: because Pomeranians have large eyes, they can develop eye problems. They can suffer from cataracts (where the lens of the eye becomes cloudy), dry eye, and problems of the tear duct. If left untreated, these problems could lead to blindness.
  • Hip dysplasia: this is a hereditary condition that causes degradation of the hip joint over time. It doesn’t present until the dog starts to get into his senior years. Maintaining your Pomeranian’s weight and not overdoing exercise can minimize the damage and pain that is caused from this condition. Supplements can definitely help to relieve the pain and prevent the degradation from occurring too quickly, and should be attempted before surgery is considered as an option.
  • Legg-Perthes disease: this disease involves the hip joint, where the blood supply to the head of the femur is decreased. This causes the bone to disintegrate and makes it more difficult for the hip to fit together as it should. The first signs, which include limping and atrophy of the leg muscle, may develop when your dog is roughly 4 to 6 months old. Surgery can be performed to remove the diseased femur and the scar tissue present creates a «false joint» that doesn’t cause the dog any pain.
  • Patellar Luxation: this is a common problem in small dogs, where the patella region of the leg doesn’t fit together properly. This leads to an abnormal gait and can lead to lameness and pain. It is a condition that is present from birth, but doesn’t present itself until the dog is much older. The rubbing together of the bones can lead to arthritis, and have varying degrees. The most severe grade requires surgery in order to repair the damage.
  • Collapsed trachea: the trachea, which carries air to the lungs, can collapse quite easily. When this occurs, your dog will have a dry, harsh cough as he tries to get air back into his lungs. Even something as pulling too hard on a collar can cause a trachea to collapse, so it’s important that you teach your Pomeranian to walk nicely on a lease. This condition can be treated through medication or surgery.
  • Dental problems: Pomeranians are prone to early tooth loss, as well as teeth and gum problems. Be sure to brush their teeth on a regular basis and report any missing teeth to your vet immediately. Taking your dog to get regular dental exams will help to keep his teeth healthy.
Care Features

Pomeranians work well in all kinds of environments. They can thrive in homes with large sprawling yards just as well as apartments, as long as daily exercise is provided. They can become bored quite easily, so they should be provided with lots of toys to keep them mentally stimulated. Toys that challenge them, such as treat puzzles, work exceptionally well. Their size makes it easy for them to succumb to heat very easily, so playtime outside during the summer months should be carefully monitored.

Outside of playtime and walks, Pomeranians do very well in trick training. They enjoy learning new things as well as being the centre of attention, so anything you teach them that puts them in the spotlight in front of company is certainly a bonus. These training sessions, however, should be kept short and fun, as this breed is known for having a short attention span. Praise and treats work well to keep your Pomeranian motivated.

Feeding Schedule

Because the Pomeranian is so small, they don’t need more than about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of food in the day, divided between two meals. However, this is still dependent on the dog’s size and energy levels, as well as the quality of the food being provided.

Coat, Color and Grooming

Pomeranians are known for their thick and wonderful coat. It consists of an undercoat that is soft and fluffy, and a top coat that is long and straight but can be harsh to the touch. The hair around the neck and chest tends to stand out in a frill, which gives the Pomeranian a rather proud appearance. His tail is also a very outstanding feature of the breed, with the plumed tail fanning out against the back. The puppies are not born with this, however, and it takes many months for the hair to grow in this way.

Pomeranians are available in a wide range of colors and patterns, making it easy for owners to pick one that suits their aesthetics. They can be black, black and tan, blue, blue and tan, chocolate, chocolate and tan, cream, cream sable, orange, orange sable, red, red sable, sable, brindle, and white.

When it comes to shedding, it’s quite moderate and depends on the sex of your dog. Males tend to shed only once a year, while females can shed when they are in season, after they’ve given birth to a litter, or when they are particularly stressed.

Brushing your dog’s coat should be done at least twice a week in order to keep the hair off your clothing and furniture. Using a wire slicker brush and a metal comb will help to distribute the natural skin oils evenly so that his coat can remain luxurious. Trimming of the hair can be done around the toes and face in order to maintain his appearance.

Bathing can be done as often as you like, as long as a mild shampoo and conditioner are used. This prevents the skin from drying out and causing irritation. If he starts to smell a bit «doggy» between baths, simply sprinkle baby powder onto his coat and brush it out a few minutes later.

The teeth and nails should also be maintained on a regular basis in order to prevent loss or breaking. Teeth should be brushed at least once a week or daily if you have the time and patience. Introduce teeth brushing early as a puppy, or reward your dog every time he remains patient during brushing. He will come to enjoy the experience and put up less of a fuss.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

Pomeranians love to play and you’ll often find them bringing you a toy for you to throw. Although he’s quite sturdy, he doesn’t do well in homes with extremely young children. He can be injured too easily and can be dropped or stepped on by an irresponsible child.

Supervision is always recommended to show a child how to behave around a dog and provide the Pomeranian with the space he needs, especially when he’s sleeping or eating. When it comes to other animals in the home, the Pomeranian is fearless, and won’t shy away from them. However, they should be monitored, as they will challenge dogs much larger than them at the risk of being injured because they don’t realize how small they are.

Pomeranians can be plucky little dogs with hearts the size of the world around them. Their bravery is certainly unrivaled, and they have no qualms about going against dogs much bigger than them. This can make them somewhat of a tiny bully, but with training and socialization, your dog can learn to behave more appropriately around other animals.

With this in mind, you should never try to curtail the personality of your Pomeranian with harsh treatment. Though he can be quite independent, he is still a social animal and looks to you for fun and play. Be stern in your approach, but do not be aggressive. In that same light, let him know that you are his master, or you may end up with your Pomeranian stepping all over you.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • Red Smith

    I love the look of Pomeranians, although they do shed a lot. Is it justifiable for cafes to allow Pomeranians entry? They leave a lot of hair on chairs and on the floor. In fact the hairs even stick to clothes and shoes.

    • This is one of the reasons why some cafes restrict pets from entering the premises because there are dogs that leave so much hair, Pomeranians are some of the most heavy shedders in the pocket-sized category.

  • MarieMarieBrown

    We have a male Pomeranian and a female Coon Hound who justloves play-fight. The Coon enjoys holding down the Pomeranian, while playfully biting his ears. Should I stop this kind of play before it gets out of hand? Or is this just a normal phase since they’re both under 8 months old?

    • It is just a phase. Coonhounds are even-tempered and can tolerate the playfulness of the Pomeranian. They can go along very well and will eventually outgrow this phase.

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