The Breed History
Pomeranians are a Spitz-type breed that originated from sled dogs in Iceland and Lapland. They were bred down from much larger dogs in Pomerania and Germany. They are similar in type to the modern Klein German Spitz. Queen Victoria brought them into the limelight in Britain.
Breeding for Function
Bred for companionship after downsizing, though early in breed development they were used for sheep herding.
Height at Withers: 8-11" (20-28 cm)
Weight: 3-7 lb (1.5-3 kg).
Coat: Double coated, with a profuse fluffy glossy outer coat consisting of long harsh hairs, and a soft dense undercoat. Feathering includes a frill over neck and chest, and limb and tail feathering. All colors and patterns are allowed, though the red-orange coat is most popular. It takes a few years for the coat to reach full density and length.
Longevity: 15 years.
Points of Conformation: Sturdy, compact conformation, high head carriage, profusely plumed tail sits flat over the short back, expression is described as fox-like, wide set eyes are large and dark, almond shaped and set low on the skull. The top of the skull is mildly domed, and the muzzle short and fine. Ears are high and pricked, the stop well defined, nose and eyelid margins are black (or self in some colors such as blue and brown). The short neck is well muscled and the back is short. The topline is level, thorax fairly deep with well sprung ribs, limbs are straight and short, feet are compact and straight. Dewclaws are often removed. The gait is smooth, quick and active.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
Traits ascribed to the breed include: Gentle temperament, very active and outgoing, alert, curious, and intelligent. Good alarm barker/watchdog. Moderate exercise requirements, good with children, some are finicky eaters, and regular grooming is needed, particularly during the shedding season. They enjoy learning games, tricks and obedience training.
Normal Physiologic Variations
Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. Dorn reports a 10.15x odds ratio in Pomeranians versus other breeds. Another study reports an 18.6x odds ratio versus other breeds. OFA reports 42.6% affected.
Hip Dysplasia and Legg-Calve Perthes Disease: Polygenically inherited traits causing degenerative hip joint disease and arthritis. Too few Pomeranians have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate incidence.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. Reported 3.7x odds ratio for ununited anconeal process form of elbow dysplasia versus other breeds. Too few Pomeranians have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate incidence.
Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA): Polygenically inherited congenital heart disorder, where a fetal vessel remains open after birth, causing a mixing of oxygenated and unoxygenated blood. Affected dogs are usually stunted, and have a loud heart murmur. Diagnosis with Doppler ultrasound. Treat with surgery. Dorn reports a 10.15x odds ratio in Pomeranians versus other breeds.
Hyperuricosuria (HUU)/Urate Bladder Stones: An autosomal recessive mutation in the SLC2A9 gene causes urate urolithiasis and can predispose male dogs to urinary obstruction. Estimated at a carrier frequency of 1.12% in the breed. A genetic test is available.
Tracheal Collapse: Caused by diminished integrity of the cartilage rings in the trachea. Can produce increased coughing, stridor, and respiratory distress, especially when excited. Usually occurs in middle-aged to older dogs. Usually poorly responsive to surgery. Many cases can be controlled medically. Dorn reports a 11.61x odds ratio for tracheal collapse versus other breeds.
Distichiasis: Abnormally placed eyelashes that irritate the cornea and conjunctiva. Can cause secondary corneal ulceration. Identified in 5.52% of Pomeranians CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Persistent Pupillary Membranes: Strands of fetal remnant connecting; iris to iris, cornea, lens, or involving sheets of tissue. The later three forms can impair vision, and dogs affected with these forms should not be bred. Identified in 3.31% of Pomeranians CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.6 Cataracts: Anterior and posterior cortex punctate and intermediate cataracts predominate in the breed. Identified in 2.76% of Pomeranians CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. CERF does not recommend breeding any Pomeranian with a cataract.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. 2.5% positive for thyroid autoantibodies based on testing at Michigan State University. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%).
Alopecia-X (Black Skin Disease, BSD, Coat Funk, Severe Hair Loss, SHL): Progressive, symmetrical, non-pruritic, truncal hair loss usually beginning in early adulthood. ACTH stimulation test, low-dose dexamethazone suppression test, and thyroid panel results are normal. Urinary corticoid:creatinine ratio may be normal to elevated. Elevated blood concentrations of 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP) have been seen post ACTH stimulation. Oral trilostane reverses the condition in some cases. The disorder appears familial, with a male predilection.
Chronic Valvular Heart Disease: Heart failure due to valvular insufficiency, usually involving the mitral valve. Treat with heart medications. Pomeranians have a high odds ratio for chronic valvular disease versus other breeds.
Vitreous Degeneration: A liquefaction of the vitreous gel which may predispose to retinal detachment resulting in blindness. Identified in 1.66% of Pomeranians CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): Inherited degeneration of the retina resulting in blindness. Unknown mode of inheritance in this breed. Generalized or suspicious PRA was identified in 1.66% of Pomeranians CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Hydrocephalus: Congenital increased volume of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), with a concurrent dilation of the ventricular system and reduction of brain tissue. Can have an associated open fontanel. Can cause behavior changes, visual defects, impaired motor function, or seizures.
Necrotizing Meningoencephalitis: Affected dogs have clinical signs of recurrent seizures and progressive abnormal gait and behavior, which do not respond to treatment. At necropsy, histopathological features of the inflammatory lesions are consistent with necrotizing meningoencephalitis and resembled those described as Pug dog encephalitis.
Atlantoaxial Subluxation: Subluxation of the atlantoaxial joint is seen at an increased frequency in the breed. It can occur subsequent to a variety of lesions of the dens or atlantoaxial ligaments. In each case, dorsal displacement of the axis results in compression of the cervical spinal cord, resulting in ataxia or paresis.
Cryptorchidism, Cyclic Hematopoeisis, Deafness, Entropion, Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy, Intervertebral Disk Disease, Oligodontia, Prognathism, and Sebaceous Adenitis are reported.
Isolated Case Studies
Vitamin D-Resistant Rickets: A female Pomeranian was followed from 2 to 8.5 months of age with low Vitamin D levels, progressive hypocalcemia, secondary hyperparathyroidism, hypomineralization and fracture of bones, rickets, and alopecia that was not responsive to Vitamin D supplementation. An autosomal recessive mutation was identified in the vitamin D receptor gene.
Congenital Methemoglobinemia: A six-month-old Pomeranian was referred for evaluation of cyanosis, occurring since it was acquired at six weeks of age. Blood assays diagnosed methemoglobinemia due to deficiency of methemoglobin reductase enzyme.
Occipital Dysplasia: Congenital malformation of the foramen magnum was diagnosed in a 4-year-old Pomeranian dog, causing caudal displacement of the cerebellum and hydrocephalus.
Hydrocephalus and Secondary Syringomyelia: A 7-year-old spayed female Pomeranian with a 6-month history of progressive paraparesis was determined to have syringomyelia secondary to hydrocephalus. Magnetic resonance imaging clearly revealed severe syringomyelia in the cervical portion of the spinal cord, which was directly connected to the marked dilated fourth ventricle. Laminectomy provided partial amelioration of clinical signs, without further deterioration.
Tests of Genotype: Direct tests for black, brown and red (cream and orange) coat colors, and black and brown nose are available from HealthGene and VetGen.
Direct test for HUU is available from the UC-Davis VGL and the Animal Health Trust
Tests of Phenotype: CHIC Certification: Required testing includes CERF eye examination, congenital cardiac examination (with re-evaluation between 3 and 5 years of age), and patella evaluation. Optional recommended testing includes hip radiographs and thyroid profile including autoantibodies. (See CHIC website; caninehealthinfo.org).
Recommend elbow radiographs.
- Breed name synonyms: Pom, LouLou, Zwergspitz, Dwarf Spitz
- Registries: AKC, UKC, CKC, KCGB (Kennel Club of Great Britain), ANKC (Australian National Kennel Club), NKC (National Kennel Club)
- AKC rank (year 2008): 13 (13,215 dogs registered)
- Internet resources: American Pomeranian Club Inc.: americanpomeranianclub.org
The Pomeranian Club of Canada: pcoc.net
The Pomeranian Club (UK): thepomeranianclub.co.uk
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