Frequently Asked Questions
What is the temperament of the Pomeranian?
Most pomeranians are very gregarious, they love being around their people and will be your constant companion. They are very loyal to their owners and tend to pick their favorite people, but they can and do make good family pets as well. They have a medium energy level, but being small dogs it is pretty easy to give them adequate exercise even in an apartment with a few brief leash walks daily or playtime in fenced-in back yard.
Are Poms bad barkers or nippy?
Poms vary individually on how much barking they do. Some are fairly quiet and only bark when someone knocks on the door, the phone rings, they see a squirrel outside the window, etc, but there are some who bark only to hear themselves bark. I would say they're in the minority though, and most Poms are more like alarm-dogs in terms of when they bark - they bark when something exciting is going on. My experience is they make fine apartment dogs as they usually go to sleep when the house is quiet, and as long as they can't see/hear distractions to bark at, they won't bark in your absence enough to bother the neighbors.
Poms have a reputation with many as being nippy dogs. Usually this is a training issue; if a dog (any dog) is spoiled, it might become snappy when someone gets between it and its person. This behavior shouldn't be tolerated. If you are having a problem with your pom snapping or growling at strangers I recommend consulting a qualified dog trainer ASAP. A well socialized Pom will usually be happy to meet strangers as long as they do not feel cornered or threatened. Every now and then a Pom comes along who is naturally a bit submissive and sometimes these dogs will nip out of fear, but again this is usually something that can be address with training and socialization.
Are Pomeranians good with small children?
Are Pomeranians difficult to housebreak?
We generally discourage people who currently have small children from considering a pom, unless they are familiar with poms or have a pom already and know how to properly manage them around young children. Young children should absolutely NOT be allowed to interact with a Pom without immediate adult supervision, and should not be allowed to pick up or otherwise harrass the Pom. Poms who feel abused by young children may strike out and bite them which is not a good situation for anyone. Also small children may not know how to be careful with a small dog like a Pom and could wind up accidentally hurting the pom, dropping it, breaking its leg etc. If you have children after acquiring your pom or if you do not want to wait until the children are older to bring one into your home, I recommend you make sure the Pom is segregated from the children at all times unless you are supervising their interaction carefully.
We think Poms can be great pets though for responsible, careful children of 8 years or older. Please use discretion for the safety of all involved :)
Poms are usually rated as one of the more stubborn breeds to house train but I do not get many complaints from my puppy people who are raising just one or two Poms. I strongly recommend crate training and crating your Pom especially when they are younger or new to your home, whenever you can't directly supervise their activities, ie whenever you're unable to be alert to accidents. If they can't run free in the house and potty somewhere without being scolded, it makes their training go that much faster. MOST poms are naturally fairly clean and won't mess their crates once they are old enough to hold their bladder for 5-6 hours (about 6mos old) as long as they are let out to potty at reasonable intervals. I recommend a schedule similar to this:
- Sleeping in a crate at night
- First thing in the AM, IMMEDIATELY take them outside on their walk (or to the yard, expen, puppy training papers or wherever you WANT them to do their business). Praise them when they potty.
- Put them out to potty IMMEDIATELY after returning home when they've been crated (I find if they get excited at your homecoming and you don't let them out immediately, they will potty)
- Put them out immediately after they wake up from a nap
- Put them out after dinner
These are the most frequent times they will need to use the bathroom - right after waking up, right after eating and right after being crated for a period of time. If you rush them out to potty after these events you will catch most of their accidents before they happen.
Clean up any accidents immediately with a cleaner for pet messes. If they smell a previous accident that wasn't cleaned properly, they will return to that spot to do it again. Neutering and spaying will also cut down on accidents because they will not have an urge to mark.
I also recommend feeding regular meals - 2 meals per day for adults, 3 for young (under 6mos) puppies. I would not free-feed or leave food/water available to an adult dog unless you are going to be gone for a long period (8 hrs +) because the more they eat, the more they go.
How involved is the coat care for a Pomeranian?
Unlike many long coated toy breeds, Poms are fairly easy to maintain in full coat as long as you brush them regularly. I recommend a thorough brushing once per week with a pin brush (metal pins, without balls on the end). Brush down to the skin paying particular attention to the areas behind the ears, armpits, and rear end, as these can mat easily. I suggest a bath once per month and "as needed". Poms who play outdoors in a yard may need more frequent bathing if they get dirty, smelly or muddy from rolling on the ground. Poms don't shed much on a regular basis, but they will have a BIG coat blow about twice per year, when all the soft undercoat loosens up. When you see your pom shedding little tufts of hair, it is time for brushing, ASAP! This loose hair will mat readily if it's not removed in a timely fashion.
Nails should be trimmed about once per month (bi-weekly if you plan to show) and should not be allowed to grow long enough that they "clack" on a tile floor.
If keeping up with the coat or doing nails or a bath is too much for you, then I recommend scheduling a regular monthly grooming at a reputable grooming salon. Make sure they do not plan to shave your pom down unless that's what you want. (Note: We don't recommend shaving a pom too close as sometimes the coat does not grow back in). A groomer may have no choice but to shave a pom who has become too matted, so be sure to take your dog into the groomer before that sort of situation happens. I suggest you still try to brush the Pom weekly in between grooming visits just to make sure the coat is kept in good condition.
Will I have to brush my Pomeranian's teeth?
Poms being a toy breed are more susceptible to tooth loss than many of the larger breeds. Your vet should monitor the health of your Pom's teeth at your regular vet check ups but you can also check yourself to make sure they are not too caked with tartar. Tartar build-up can result in early tooth loss. Many poms are already losing teeth at 3 years old. To prevent this, you can brush their teeth regularly, and/or take them in for regular dental cleanings. Dental cleanings require anesthesia and are performed at your vet's office and can be expensive and carry the risk of anesthesia. So regular brushing may be a good alternative.
What are some of the health problems Poms can experience?
Poms, like any breed of dog (or any dog in general) can be susceptible to various problems, both genetic and non-genetic.
Puppies especially can be at risk for hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. This results from the dog using up more sugar than its body is taking in. This can happen when a puppy plays too hard without access to food (or without stopping to eat) or if a puppy is experiencing diarrhea or an upset stomach and won't eat. It's essential that young puppies (6mos or less) and tiny adults (3lb or less) eat regularly and any sign of diarrhea should be taken seriously. Make sure your puppy is eating if it appears to be having diarrhea and take it to the vet ASAP especially if it WON'T eat. The signs of hypoglycemia include: drooling, lack of coordination, sometimes unconsciousness, seizing. Usually you will notice the puppy stumbling, or looking dazed, before they collapse. Keep Nutrical or Karo syrup on hand, and rub this on the puppy's tongue. It should come out of the hypoglycemia attack within a few minutes, after which the puppy should be encouraged to eat something of more substance (cheese or canned dog food is good). If the puppy doesn't come around, take it to your vet ASAP. Even if it does, you will want to consult a veterinarian to find the cause of the episode unless it is obvious (ie you forgot to feed the dog....) I have found I do not usually experience hypoglycemia in even small puppies unless there is something causing them not to eat, most often an internal parasite of some sort.
Another non-genetic problem poms can be predisposed towards is HGE or Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis. This is basically bloody diarrhea due to an imbalance of bacteria in the gut. If you notice your pom having bloody diarrhea consult a vet ASAP as this could be a sign of parasites or could be HGE. HGE can kill a pom in a matter of hours due to blood loss. It is however very easily treated once caught.
In terms of congenital (present at birth, but not necessarily hereditary) and genetic defects, possible issues in the Pomeranian include patellar luxation, heart problems, epilepsy, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (a disease of the femoral head of the hip), hypothyroidism, and alopecia X or "Black Skin Disease".
Of these the most common is Patella Luxation, which is basically a bad knee. This issue can present itself in varying degrees, the least of which scarcely effects the dog and are considered acceptable for breeding, and the worst of which may result in the dog needing surgery. If you notice your pom skipping or carrying a leg up, consult your veterinarian.
Another common problem is Alopecia X or Black Skin Disease. This is a problem seen in several Nordic, double coated breeds including the Pom and it basically is unexplained hair loss that can't be attributed to another cause. There are studies being done currently into how this problem is inherited and what causes it but at this time its mode of inheritence is unknown. Next to patella luxation, this is probably the second most common problem experienced by poms.
Heart defects vary; some are present as birth and present as heart murmurs, or, in the most serious cases, the puppy may actually have difficulty breathing. A vet exam at 8 to 12 wks should pick up these congenital (present at birth) heart murmurs and a veterinarian can advise you on how to proceed. I would recommend a consultation with a cardiologist and an echocardiogram for any murmur above level II or any murmur of II or lower that persists past 6mos of age. A Level II or below murmur in a young puppy is frequently an "innocent" heart murmur that will resolve within a few months and is merely the result of the heart being slow to develop, but will cause the dog no future problems. Other heart problems can develop as the dog ages. Always consult your veterinarian if you have concerns about your dog's health.
Epilepsy is basically seizures with no known cause. They can emerge at almost any age and vary from mild, tic-like behaviors (fly-catching) to complete grand mal seizures. If you notice any strange behavior or what you suspect might be a seizure, consult your veterinarian immediately as it could either be epilepsy or due to some other health issue.
Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (LCP) is a disorder in which the femoral head of the hip degenerates. This can be either hereditary or due to injury. In hereditary instances it most often will become obvious by 12mos of age as the dog will have a limp. It can be diagnosed by x-ray and can be treated with a surgery that luckily, poms generally recover from very well. If you notice your pom limping, have your veterinarian check its patellas and also take x-rays to examine the hips in case LCP or hip dysplasia (HD) might be the cause. I have not personally encountered any cases of HD but have met at least one pom that had LCP. I think LCP is more common in poms but HD is not unknown, although seldom to a degree that it causes lameness (to the best of my knowledge).
Hypothyroidism can cause hair loss and is sometimes confused with Alopecia X. If hypothyroidism is suspected your veterinarian should check your dog's thyroid levels. If a drug is prescribed to treat the thyroid, then the coat (and whatever other symptoms related to thyroid the dog has) should resolve once the thyroid levels are moderated. If they aren't, then the thyroid may not be the only cause of hair loss.
Eye problems are not terribly common in my experience, but problems with vision can and do occur especially in old age. I have not personally experienced any eye defects that would result in a dog failing to pass CERF (canine eye certification) but they do exist at times in the breed.
These bits of information are just the tip of the iceberg and are not definitive resources on these health issues. If you suspect your pom has a problem please seek your veterinarian's advice immediately. This is only to give a general overview to those who are considering buying a pom.