The Pomeranian (often known as a Pom or Pom Pom) is a breed of dog of the Spitz type, named for the Pomerania region in Central Europe (today part of eastern Germany and northern Poland). Classed as toy dog breed because of its small size, the Pomeranian is descended from the larger Spitz-type dogs, specifically the German Spitz. The breed has been made popular by a number of royal owners since the 17th century. Queen Victoria owned a particularly small Pomeranian and consequently the smaller variety became universally popular. During Queen Victoria's lifetime alone, the size of the breed decreased by 50%.
The breed is currently among the top 15 most popular in the USA, and the current fashion for small dogs has increased their popularity worldwide.
Overall, the Pomeranian is a sturdy, healthy dog. The most common health issue is luxating patella. Tracheal collapse can also be an issue. More rarely, the breed can suffer from a skin condition colloquially known as "black skin disease", or alopecia ex. This is a genetic disease which causes the dog's skin to turn black and lose all or most of its hair. (See “Overall Health” below for more information.)
Pomeranians are typically a very friendly and lively breed of dog. They love to be around their owners and are known to be protective of them. They bond quickly with their owners, and can suffer from separation anxiety if not trained to spend time alone.
The use of toys can be an effective tool in encouraging Poms to spend time alone. While purebred Poms come in all sizes, the small Pom (8 lbs. and under) is not recommended for small children (6 and under). This is not only for the safety of the Pom—which can be seriously injured by improper handling—but also for the sake of the children who may be the recipients of a nip because they got in the Pom’s face and frightened them. Poms also want to be the “baby” of the home and can become jealous when competing with a small child for the attention of the parents.
Pomeranians are alert and aware of changes in their environment, and barking at new stimuli can develop into a habit of barking excessively in any situation. They are somewhat defensive of their territory and will thus bark when they encounter any outside noises. Pomeranians are intelligent dogs, respond well to training, and can be very successful in getting what they want from their owners by exhibiting “cute” behaviors such as “Pom dances” on their hind legs, circling, etc.)
Always keep Poms on a leash—a harness is recommended for better control and, especially, to avoid pulling—which can cause permanent damage to their small tracheas and result in breathing difficulties. Like other proud and small breeds, they are blissfully unaware of their size. They have the tendency to “take on” larger dogs, so always keep them close and protect them from conflict.
A well-bred dog on a good diet with appropriate exercise will have few health problems, and if kept trim and fit a Pomeranian is a sturdy dog. Some health issues can develop as a result of lack of attention to grooming, including teeth, ear and eye cleaning. With routine care these problems can be avoided. Poms, like other small dogs, are strictly indoor dogs. Their diminutive size can make them easy prey for predators such as coyotes, hawks, and owls.
Luxating patella, mentioned as a primary health issue, occurs when, through either malformation or trauma, the ridges forming the patellar groove in the knee are not prominent and are too shallow to allow the patella to sit properly and securely. This can cause the patella to "luxate" (jump out of the groove) sideways, causing the leg to lock up with the foot off the ground. While the muscles are contracted, the patella cannot return to the correct position. The initial pain is caused by the kneecap sliding across the ridges of the femur. Once out of position, the dog does not feel any pain caused by the slipped disc.
Tracheal collapse is caused by a weakening of the tracheal rings in the windpipe. It occurs when the rings that normally hold the shape of the windpipe collapse, closing the airway. The symptoms of a collapse include a honking cough that can sound similar to a goose honk, an intolerance to exercise, fainting spells, and a cough that is worsened by hot weather, exercise and excitement.
In Pomeranians, a condition often called "black skin disease" occurs which is a combination of alopecia (hair loss) and hyperpigmentation (a darkening of the skin). It can occur at any age.