Breed breakdown: An in-depth look at the Pomeranian
The vet’s office
By Dr. Beth Engelbert, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
Words that describe the Pomeranian: outgoing, smart, vivacious, little, fluffy. The Pomeranian can be very active and enjoy a variety of activities. With training and socialization, this little dog can make a great companion for just about anyone.
Ancestors of the Pomeranian include large, working “Spitz” dogs. Spitz is German for “sharp point,” referencing the pointed ears and nose. Spitzes are arctic dogs. The Pomeranian name comes from the areas in Germany and Poland where the breed developed.
The original Pomeranian was larger and could weigh over 30 pounds. Some Pomeranians still think they are big dogs.
The Pomeranian was favored by royalty, being owned by Queen Charlotte, Queen Victoria, the wife of Napolean I of France, and King George IV of England. Queen Victoria is credited for downsizing the Pomeranian as she obtained a small female and liked her size. The queen searched for other small Pomeranians for breeding. Many of her admirers did the same, adding to the breed’s popularity.
While there is size variation, the breed standard states 4 to 6 pounds is the preferred weight. They are compact with a square appearance. Their tails lie forward, flat on their back, adding to the squareness. The leg structure and movement should be reminiscent of their working ancestors’. Pomeranians hold their heads proudly, showing off a fox-like expression.
A distinguishing feature of the Pomeranian is its dense double coat. The fur is longer on the neck and shoulders, forming a “ruff,” and on the back legs, forming a “skirt.” The tail also sports long plumage. The fur is coarse but not cottony. Much work can go into maintaining a Pomeranian’s coat.
While Pomeranians are sturdy dogs, they are not without health concerns. The hind legs can develop luxating patellas, hip dysplasia, or Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, which affects the head of the femur. Surgical and medical managements are available to help these painful conditions.
A genetic disorder known as black skin disease causes severe hair loss and a darkening of the skin. While not life-threatening, special skin care may be needed. Hypothyroidism can also cause hair loss and skin changes, but it may affect other areas of the body also.
Collapsing trachea is found in Pomeranians, causing a progressive cough and respiratory distress. Heart disease is also an issue, so any cough should be evaluated. Like many little dogs, dental disease with tooth infection and loss is not uncommon. Regular dental care and cleanings are necessary.
Merle-colored dogs are more likely to have deafness and congenital eye conditions. More problems can arise if two merle dogs are bred together. Any color Pomeranian can have retained testicles.
Researching breeders is important when looking for any new dog. Meeting the parents is always recommended but should be essential with Pomeranians to look for hair coat, joint, and ego problems.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.