The Pomeranian is an enthusiastic and lively little dog that only weighs about 5 pounds, but has a big personality. They are confident, mischievous and curious, and make great companions for the elderly and for families. Their little face looks a little like a fox, and their coat makes them look like a big fur ball.
Both male and female adults reach a height of 7 to 12 inches, and weigh 3 to 7 pounds at maturity.
Pomeranians are descended from a ‘Spitz’ type dog, which means ‘sharp point’ in German. Their ancestors were large sled-pulling dogs from the Arctic region, with a pointed nose and muzzle. It is thought that the Pomeranian was bred mostly in the area of Pomerania, a region that spans part of Poland and North-East Germany. Other spitz type dogs include the Samoyed, Akita, and Norwegian Elkhound.
Queen Victoria fell in love with them when she visited Italy, and brought some back with her to England to breed. It is widely thought that she was behind their size being reduced from 30 pounds to about 5 pounds, as she preferred the smaller types. She asked for her favorite to be brought to her bed as she lay dying. Other famous Pomeranian owners include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Marie Antoinette, Martin Luther, and Isaac Newton. The artist, Michelangelo, reportedly had a Pomeranian that sat on a pillow and watched while he painted the world famous ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. And two Pomeranians were among the three dogs that survived the sinking of the Titanic.
Curious and alert, these dogs are interested in everything going on around them. They will bark when someone walks by, and are always ready for adventure. They like to be the center of attention, and may create mischief in order to get it. Always friendly, Pomeranians love meeting people, but they can sometimes be cocky and self-confident and show some aggression with other dogs.
Pomeranians are small dogs, so you will need to be wary of dognappers that can easily walk off with them. Also owls and other prey animals such as coyotes might find them an easy target, so it’s best not to leave them outside unattended. They have a soft undercoat, with a long outer coat – the most common colors being orange, cream and black. A heavily plumed tail usually lies across their back. They have a fox-like alert expression on their face, and almond shaped eyes.
Because of their thick double coat, Pomeranians can cope well in cold weather, but not so well in hot weather. Keep an eye on them in humid weather with high temperatures, as they may come down with heatstroke if they are left out in the sun for too long. They do well in apartments though, since they don’t need a whole lot of space or activity. They also make good therapy dogs, and are great for giving comfort and companionship to the sick or elderly.
Pomeranians are good with children, but because of their size can be hurt if they aren’t handled with care. So generally they are not recommended for families with young children, and shouldn’t be left unsupervised with children. They like to make friends with new people, but can become aggressive with other dogs, and forget how small they are. Cats won’t usually be a problem, especially if they’ve been raised alongside them. Strangers will get barked at, but these dogs quickly make new friends.
Shedding is moderate with this breed, and undercoats are shed seasonally. A twice weekly brushing is recommended to keep the hair off your clothes and furniture and to distribute their natural oils. Their nails should be kept short, and a thorough grooming given every four to six weeks. Teeth should be brushed once a week. Special care should be taken with teeth, since Pomeranians are prone to gum disease and losing their teeth.
Pomeranians are difficult to train. Housebreaking is challenging, and probably should be done using crate training. They are charming, manipulative and cocky, so will resist doing things that they don’t like, and may well convince you to stop trying. However firm consistency will help, as well as short training sessions, with praise and food as rewards. Barking is common with these dogs, so they make excellent watchdogs. Early socialization is necessary to help them become well rounded and have good manners. Their reserve around strangers can turn into aggression, or fear, so lots of opportunity to experience different situations and people will help avoid issues.
Even though they are small, Pomeranians should still be walked daily to get rid of some of their energy. They also enjoy a run, so having some time in a fenced yard is helpful too. Make sure you stay close to them, and keep an eye on them at all times. Because of their size they can easily be hurt by a large dog or a bird of prey, and they can also easily escape through small holes and cracks in your fence. They can hurt themselves if they jump off high furniture, so it’s important to keep an eye on them and train them not to climb too high.
Look for high quality food that contains a good source of protein, fruit, vegetables and other nutritional supplements. You can also cook at home for your Pomeranian, but you should give a vitamin and mineral supplement if you do this to make sure they don’t become deficient. And consult your vet to get advice on a balanced diet.
When you first bring your puppy home, you should keep him on the food that his breeder gave him. If you are planning to change to a different food, then transition slowly, over the course of a few weeks. That way they won’t get an upset stomach. In the early days it is often recommended to let them feed freely, to reduce the risk of their getting hypoglycaemia, where their blood pressure drops too quickly.
Once they are 3 months old they can be fed three times a day. After 1 year old, it depends on the individual dog – some are fine with two meals, but others do better with three a day. If yours needs to be fed three times and you are going to be out for the midday feeding, then you could try filling up a toy with their food, for them to play with and eat gradually.
Pomeranians should start on adult food once they are a year old. Otherwise they will be taking in too much fat content. Avoid foods that contain fillers, and ingredients such as corn, soy, hulls and husks. Fillers are cheap ingredients that are made to fill up their stomach without having any nutritional value. Also avoid chemical additives, coloring and preservatives, as these cause many allergic reactions and also digestive issues.
Recommended daily feeding amount: ¼ to ½ cup of high quality dog food, divided between two meals.
Because Pomeranians are small they do eat very tiny portions, so don’t worry too much about them not eating very much unless they look like they are skin and bones! The amount that they eat will also depend on how much exercise they get, how fast their metabolism is, and how old they are.
Common Health Concerns
Pomeranians have quite a high life expectancy compared to other breeds, and are generally very healthy so long as they are given enough diet and exercise. One condition that should be screened for by breeders is Patellar Luxation, where the kneecaps slide in and out of place. This can lead to lameness, but dogs that have it still manage to cope well. Breeders should also screen for Hypothyroidism and cardiac issues such as Congestive Heart Failure.
Tracheal collapse can occur – where the windpipe rings give way. The potential for this condition increases with age. This breed is also prone to certain eye problems, such as dry eye, cataracts, and problems with their tear ducts. It is rare, but Pomeranians are susceptible to Alopecia X, which is also called ‘black skin disease’. This is a hereditary condition and makes the skin turn black and all or most of the hair falls out. Some Pomeranians may develop Epilepsy and be affected by seizures.
Pomeranians are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Pomeranians in need of adoption and or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. If you don’t see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a Pomeranian rescue.