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Pomeranians are tiny but mighty. These pint-sized pooches weigh 3–7 pounds, making them the smallest of the spitz (or Nordic) dog breeds, but they have the demeanor of a much more formidable canine. Bright and spunky, Poms, as they are often called by admirers of the breed, are whip-smart. Training a Pomeranian is easy because they love to learn new tricks and make their owner happy. But they are also happy to spend time on their own. "These pups live to learn tricks and can alternate between wanting to please and being independent," says Pam Nichols, DVM, president of the American Animal Hospital Association.
While this toy breed is petite enough to fit into a purse, Pomeranians would much rather walk on their own four paws. They have the courage and stamina of much larger dogs, and you'll often find them keeping busy trotting all around the house. The perennially popular breed—historically favored by royalty—may have a thick, beautiful coat that comes in nearly two dozen colors and patterns, but they're surprisingly easy to groom. While they can get a bit sassy, Pomeranians (also known as the Zwergspitz, dwarf spitz, and loulou in some places), are ideal, loyal companions for many.
There's much to love about the Pomeranian's smiley face. The smallest of the spitz breeds—weighing in at no more than 7 pounds—their face is often described as fox-like thanks to a wedge-shaped head and erect ears. Their sweet, almond-shaped eyes are dark and their noses are either dark or the same color as their coat.
And when it comes to coats, Poms come in a whole spectrum of hues and patterns. Orange and red are the most common Pomeranian colors, but they can also be black, black and tan, blue, blue and tan, chocolate, chocolate and tan, cream, cream sable, brindle, and white. Poms that are white with patches of any other color are called "parti-colored."
Like a proud lion, a Pomeranian's signature appearance includes a frill around the neck and chest, and ample fluffy fur all over thanks to a thick double coat. The best part: A Pom's coat only looks like it would be difficult to care for. And don't forget their fancy, plumed tail—this develops with age—that feathers out in the back.
The Pomeranian temperament matches his proud looks. Alert and inquisitive, Poms spend their days lively and active, without being hyperactive. They're very clever dogs who can adapt from snuggling on your lap—they love to give kisses!—or trotting around the house on some self-prescribed mission to competing on agility courses and going for brisk walks to greet everyone in the neighborhood. They are born extroverts.
"They're just gentle little souls and they have this funny sense of humor," Nichols says. "[Pomeranians are] just funny. They're playful, happy little dogs and they'll just assimilate to whatever you have them do. If you teach them to ride in a purse all day, they will. If you teach them to be a little outdoor fetching dog, they will. They'll do whatever you want them to do."
Be aware of their curiosity, independence, and take-charge temperament. Pomeranians like to explore new things and will be watchful around their home and family—with plenty of barking as a soundtrack—but may also get themselves in trouble by challenging larger dogs. Poms may be aware of their beauty, but they don't seem to process their stature.
If you're older or have a busy schedule, Pomeranians make an ideal pet because they don't need much pampering or fussing. Poms are also an ideal indoor pet, perfect for apartment life or in a home with a small yard (or without a yard at all). They don't take up a lot of space, but are surprisingly hearty, active little pups who enjoy getting out for walks. They especially love to meet new people and furry friends along the way. But do keep an eye on them when outside, as they are escape artists—slipping through cracks or even climbing small fences—and are susceptible to predatory birds because they are so petite.
Poms are great in homes with older kids who know how to handle a small dog. Younger kids sometimes think of them too much like a toy—and let's face it, they do look like little stuffed teddy bears. Make sure you supervise young children around any dog and teach them how to properly interact with animals. Poms can also co-exist with cats and other dogs, although they will need supervision around bigger dogs.
Don't tell a Pom he's tiny: These pups are fearless and have a bark to match. To keep them from getting themselves into trouble, socialize your Pomeranian puppy early so he's comfortable around new people, dogs and situations.
A double coat means double the fun when it comes to grooming your Pomeranian. Their undercoat is soft and dense, while their outer coat is long, straight, and coarse. Luckily, they're so small that the coat is (deceptively) easy to groom and doesn't take too much time. Their ample coat should be brushed a few times a week with a medium to hard brush that can get all the way to their skin. This will help reduce their shedding. They only need to be bathed every couple of months. Make teeth brushing part of your regular routine, too, as Pomeranians are prone to dental health issues.
Thanks to their short little legs, Poms don't require a ton of exercise and are happy to go on a short walk or two each day, although they have the stamina to go on longer walks if you'd like. People love to watch them trot along, holding their head high with pride.
Depending on their mood, they love to both snuggle up on your lap and play around the house. Making Poms the center of attention by teaching them new tricks is a great way to help them exercise and bond with the family. They don't have long attention spans, so keep your training sessions short and fun, with lots of treats. Top priorities should be training them to walk on a leash and come when called. They can be a bit tough to housebreak, as they aren't fans of going outside when it's cold or rainy. As with all breeds, use positive reinforcement and be patient when it comes to training.
Don't let them jump on and off furniture, as they can injure their joints or break bones. You might want to invest in doggy stairs or a ramp to help them climb up onto your couch for snuggles. Early socialization is essential, too. Poms can be yappy dogs, so introduce them to lots of different people, places, and experiences when they are young so they know how to interact with the world as they get older.
"The most important thing you can teach them is self-control," Nichols says. "They can be very yappy, and if you get one that yaps and you don't stop it when they're a baby, you'll have a yapper for life. I tell Pomeranian owners: You get what you tolerate, and you need to decide if those behaviors that are cute now will still be cute when this puppy is a grown-up. People think, 'Oh, that's so cute! He barks when I see him!' That's not cute, so stop it. But they're trainable—very, very trainable."
These small-but-mighty pups are a rather healthy breed. However, as with all dog breeds, there are a few health conditions Pomeranians are susceptible to. Nichols says some Poms suffer from thyroid disease and allergies. According to The American Pomeranian Club, they may also develop epilepsy and have seizures. A variety of eye problems, including cataracts, dry eye, and tear duct problems can impact Pomeranians and lead to blindness if untreated.
You'll also want to watch for hip dysplasia and luxating patellas, which can impede their ability to move around. As with many toy breeds, Legg-Perthes Disease may be an issue that affects their hip joints. Nichols says Poms, like all toy dog breeds, are prone to teeth and gum problems and early tooth loss, so make sure you visit your veterinarian regularly for check-ups.
Believe it or not, Pomeranians trace their heritage back to large Arctic sled dogs. They are named for Pomerania, an area in northeastern Europe that is now part of Poland and western Germany, where they were bred as a miniature version of the larger, brawny dogs, such as Norwegian elkhound, the schipperke, the German spitz, the American Eskimo, and the Samoyed.
In the late 1800s, Queen Victoria of England became smitten with the breed on a trip to Florence, Italy, and returned to Britain with several Poms. Thanks to her adoration for the breed, Pomeranians quickly gained popularity. According to the American Pomeranian Club, Queen Victoria was a serious breeder, credited today with reducing them from about 20 to 30 pounds to their current miniature size.
The early 1900s saw a surge in the popularity of Pomeranians. They were brought to the U.S. about that time as well. The first Pomeranian specialty show was held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in 1911. By the middle of the century, Poms became one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S.
- Besides Queen Victoria, Pomeranians were adored by other notable figures including theologian Martin Luther, Michelangelo, Isaac Newton, Queen Marie Antoinette, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
- When the Titanic sank in 1912, there were at least 12 dogs on board, all in first class. Only three dogs survived, including one Pekingese and two Pomeranians.
- A Pom duo is called a “puff,” while a group of three or more is called a “tuft.”
- In 2014, a Pomeranian named Jiff set the Guinness World Record for "Fastest Dog on Two Paws,” running 5 meters on his front legs in 7.76 seconds.