Pomeranians, affectionately known as Poms, rank as the 20th most popular dog breed in the U.S., according to the American Kennel Club. There is only one official breed standard for the Pomeranian, which is used as a blueprint worldwide. Poms are toy dogs, though at one time this was a much bigger dog.
Pomeranian Breed Standard
The Pomeranian is a compact dog who falls under the toy category. Of Nordic descent, it has a double coat, which features a soft, dense, short undercoat and a straight, harsh-feeling, much longer outercoat. The tail is heavily plumed and curls around to lie flat on the back. Pomeranians come in all colors and patterns, but the most popular is red.
The Pomeranian's neck is short, his muzzle is short and straight, and his head is in balanced proportion with his body. His face is foxlike and his small ears are mounted high on his head and carried erect, making his head appear to be wedge-shaped. His eyes are medium-sized, bright and dark.
Small in Stature
The average Pomeranian ranges from 3 to 7 pounds, with the ideal show dog weight being 4 to 6 pounds. Dogs who are over or under this size limit are frowned upon in the ring, although quality is always favored over size.
Pomeranians are extroverted, alert and inquisitive with an intelligent expression. This dog is also "cocky, commanding and animated as he gaits," according to the official standard used by both the American Kennel Club and the American Pomeranian Club. He's favored both as a companion dog and a competitive show dog.
Pomeranian Breed History
The Pomeranian is descended from the Spitz dog family, which includes sled dogs. It's named for the old region of Pomerania on the Baltic Sea coast, which is now Germany and Poland. This is where the breed likely was bred down to its current size from its larger ancestors, who weighed up to 30 pounds.
Queen Victoria helped popularize the Pomeranian as a pet in the late 1800s, and once owned 35 of them. However, it was her first red Pom, Windsor Marco, who is widely considered instrumental in cultivating the desire for a smaller Pom. The Queen got him on a visit to Italy in 1888 and brought him back to England, where he won a gold medal at the Kennel Club Show in 1891. The little guy was only 12 pounds, which at the time was small for the breed. This inspired breeders to selectively and gradually make Poms a toy breed of less than 8 pounds.
A throwback Pomeranian is larger than today's standard size, having the appearance of its bigger Spitz ancestors and weighing close to 20 pounds. A purebred Pom with a three-generation pedigree would need to be more than 14 pounds, without being overweight, to be considered a throwback. Those who are 10 to 14 pounds are partial throwbacks.
Teddy Bear Pomeranians
The standard Pomeranian has a fox-shaped face. Only this face shape is acceptable for showing, according to the breed standard. However, breeders often advertise Pomeranians with three different face shapes:
- Teddy bear.
- Baby doll.
Those with teddy bear faces are sometimes called teddy bear Pomeranians. They have a much shorter snout, commonly dubbed a "smooshed face." The baby doll Pomeranian has a short snout as well, but wider than the teddy bear.
All Pomeranians are toy dogs and there is no special breed category known as teacup. However, you will find breeders selling what they call teacup Pomeranians, which are just Poms who happen to be at the lower end of the size scale. It's difficult to tell an adult dog's size based solely on his size as a puppy, who might be premature. You may be getting the runt of the litter -- or one bred from a long line of runts -- which is the smallest and weakest animal. That can bring future health problems. Any teacup puppy is also going to be frail and prone to breaking bones much more easily than its larger and stronger cousins.
There are more than 30 Pomeranian hybrids or crossbreed dogs recognized by the American Canine Hybrid Club. These include the Pom-A-Poo (Pomeranian/poodle), Yoranian (Yorkshire terrier/Pomeranian), Paperanian (papillon/Pomeranian), Pomimo (Pomeranian/American Eskimo), Pomeagle (Pomeranian/beagle), Pomston (Pomeranian/Boston terrier), Shiranian (Shih Tzu/Pomeranian) and the Chiranian, also commonly called the Pomchi (Pomeranian/Chihuahua).
Besides the official hybrids between two purebred dogs, there are pets available at animal shelters and rescue organizations around the country who are available for a reasonable adoption price. These dogs are almost always listed as "Pomeranian mixes" since purebred status can't be verified when a dog is brought into a shelter as a stray or surrendered pet. However, they often look and act like purebred Pomeranians and have just as much love to give a new family.
Heather Vale is a writer, interviewer and seasoned journalist. She has authored news, entertainment and informational programming in TV, radio, print and online media. She is also a certified childhood fitness and nutrition specialist with a background in mind-body-spirit health, self-help, business, technology and pet breeding. Vale holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in visual arts from York University.