The tiny Pomeranian, long a favorite of royals and commoners alike, has been called the ideal companion. The glorious coat, smiling, foxy face, and vivacious personality have helped make the Pom one of the world’s most popular toy breeds.
- AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 22 of 192
- Height: 6-7 inches
- Weight: 3-7 pounds
- Life Expectancy: 12-16 years
- Group: Toy Group
About the Pomeranian
The Pomeranian combines a tiny body (no more than seven pounds) and a commanding big-dog demeanor. The abundant double coat, with its frill extending over the chest and shoulders, comes in almost two dozen colors, and various patterns and markings, but is most commonly seen in orange or red.
Alert and intelligent, Pomeranians are easily trained and make fine watchdogs and perky pets for families with children old enough to know the difference between a toy dog and a toy. Poms are active but can be exercised with indoor play and short walks, so they are content in both the city and suburbs. They will master tricks and games with ease, though their favorite activity is providing laughs and companionship to their special human.
The Pomeranian is a miniaturized relation of the powerful spitz-type sled dogs of the Arctic. The breed is named for Pomerania, the area of northeastern Europe that is now part of Poland and western Germany. It was there, hundreds of years ago, that the Pom’s ancestors were bred down from their much bigger, burlier cousins.
The Pom, also known as the Zwergspitz in some countries, is the smallest of the spitz breeds. With their elegant appearance and regal bearing, you might say Poms are “fit for a queen”—and you’d be right. The Pom’s popularity is largely due to Queen Victoria, who became smitten with the breed while visiting Florence, Italy. When the dog-happy Dowager Queen returned to Britain with Poms in tow, the breed’s fame was assured.
Victoria became a serious breeder and exhibitor of Poms. At the 1891 Crufts dog show, Victoria showed six of her breeding. One of her favorites, Windsor Marco, won first place in the breed. (A British historian wrote, “It would have been a brave judge to have placed her second.”) Victoria is credited for reducing the Pom’s size from about 30 pounds to their current toy stature. It was reported that as the aged queen lay dying in 1901, her favorite Pom, Turi, kept vigil at the foot of her bed.
Other historical figures of refined sensibilities who were Pom owners include Marie Antoinette, Emile Zola, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
A high-quality kibble or raw diet is important to keeping your Pom healthy. Find a dog food that is age-appropriate and has sufficient protein and fat to keep their coat healthy and shiny. The kibble should be the right size for a small dog to chew, but large enough to keep the teeth clean. Do not feed only canned food, as this can lead to dirty teeth. Avoid feeding extra treats, such as table scraps, as being overweight can cause health problems for your Pom. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.
The Pomeranian’s profuse double coat is one of his most distinguishing features. Frequent brushing is necessary to maintain the beautiful coat that we admire. Brush through the dog with a pin brush and a slicker brush down to the skin once a week to keep the hair from matting. Pomeranians are active dogs, so it is important that their nails are kept short. It is highly recommended to find a groomer to do a full groom—including bath, brushing, ears, nails, and anal glands—every four to six weeks, if you are not comfortable with doing the full groom at home. You should also pay close attention to the Pom’s teeth. It is a good idea to brush their teeth during their weekly grooming session.
As much as Pomeranians enjoy being lapdogs and family companions, they do benefit from some exercise and enjoy the chance to run, play, and go for walks. Be sure to keep a close eye on your Pom when he or she is outside. They are notorious for escaping through small crevices or gaps in fencing, or climbing over short fencing. Small breeds like Pomeranians can be mistaken for rabbits or squirrels to large, predatorial birds such as hawks and owls, so it is vital to keep a Pom under cover or stay with them at all times. When taking your Pom for a walk, be cautious of your surroundings. Other dogs who are not being controlled can easily hurt your Pom.
The Pom should be trained to walk on a leash early on and taught to come when called. Housebreaking can be a challenge, so consistency and patience are key. It is important to keep your Pom from jumping on and off couches or beds, as they can injure joints or even break a bone. Poms are alert and highly intelligent, and they enjoy and can excel in canine activities like agility, rally, and obedience, or working as therapy dogs.
Pomeranians are generally healthy little dogs, though owners should be aware of several conditions that are occasionally seen. Luxating patellas (kneecaps that slip out of place) are the most common problem in the breed. Be sure to check the knees of any prospective puppy. One with higher grades at a young age will probably be a candidate for surgery. In addition, low thyroid, collapsing tracheas, congestive heart failure, seizures, and alopecia X (black skin disease) are other issues that can affect the breed. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) is a registry that keeps health screening information in a public database. Be sure to request to see copies of OFA results of the litter’s parents from the breeder when considering a puppy.