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Puppy Uglies

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Pomeranian Puppy Uglies

5 month old Pomeranian with Puppy Uglies
A 5 month old Pomeranian with a severe case of the Puppy Uglies
Photo courtesy of Keen Pomeranians

Overview

This is such odd terminology, isn't it? Does this mean that your puppy will actually be ugly? The answer is a huge no. A bit scraggly looking in a cute way, during a temporary phase, but certainly not ugly.

The Pomeranian breed is one of the most beautiful dogs in the world and this what is known as a "necessary evil". It is a transitional phase that results in your wonderful Pomeranian having his full adult coat, and looking like the ball of fluff that he was meant to be. 

Some Pomeranian owners hope that they can escape the fate of the Puppy Uglies with a dose of good luck. Others have heard of this phrase and do not understand the sometimes shocking results of what actually happens.

Still other owners have puppies that are currently in this stage and mistake the symptoms for more serious health issues.

What are the Puppy Uglies, can you avoid them, what happens during this time, and how long does this last?

Let's put to rest some of the myths regarding this issue and discuss all of the aspects of what exactly this term means and how it will and will not affect your Pom. 

What the Puppy Uglies Are

Adult Pomeranians have a double coat of fur; both a dense inner layer and an outer layer of guard hairs
The undercoat will be short and thick, the overcoat will be longer, full, and gorgeous with guard hairs that stand out, giving the Pom his rounded appearance.

Pomeranian puppies are born with just one layer of fur. It is very soft and silky. while it may appear to be slightly fluffed, it is in no way comparable to what his adult coat will look like. 

The Puppy Ugly phase is a Pomeranian's transition from his soft one-layer puppy coat to his full, two-layered adult coat. 

During this time, there is a heavy, and sometimes drastic shed. All of the soft puppy hair falls out. And since it can take some time for the adult fur to grow in, this can leave a Pomeranian looking quite odd. Hence the name. 

This affects both male and female Pomeranians the same; neither gender sheds more than the other during this time. 
During the puppy ugly transitional phase, fur may thin out just in certain areas (the legs one month, the flanks the next) causing the dog to look like a Poodle shaving gone awry. 

At some point, a Pom may lose fur just around the eyes, causing the dog to look like it got a bit too close to a flame that sizzled off his "eyebrows".

It may fall off in clumps or it may be a full body thinning.

Either way, it often leaves a Pomeranian with much less fur than he previously had. And sometimes in a strange pattern. 

It never thins quite so bad that there are any bald areas. 
minor case of puppy uglies, Pomeranian
A minor case of the Puppy Uglies. Pom: Romeo, 4 months old. Photo courtesy of Kate Lépine
Also, since a Pomeranian puppy is so small, and usually his fur gave him a fluffed appearance, during the puppy uglies, he can also look thinner. This would be similar to how a dog looks much smaller when his fur is wet down during a bath.

It is suggested to take this phase for what it is and have a bit of humor. Your Pom is not really ugly, he or she is an adorable little creature that is going through a very large change. 

When This Happens

It happens during the puppy stage, hence the name. It will begin some time around 4 to 6 months. You will notice your Pom coming out of this around the 10 month mark. After that, the coat will continue to fill in up until 12 to 15 months old.

Color Changes to Expect During the Puppy Uglies

More often than not, this transitional coat change will also bring about color changes. Some owners are disappointed to hear this if they are in love with the color of their Pom's coat. However, a lot of things can happen: 

Colors can darken - Tans may turn brown, oranges may deepen to red, etc.
Colors can lighten - The opposite can occur with browns lightening to tans, reds fading to orange, or oranges fading to cream.
Markings can change - Patches can decrease or increase in size. Brindling can lighten or darken. 

This said, there cannot be a change such as white turning to orange or black changing over to cream. 

At the end of the puppy uglies, your Pomeranian will be the color that he genetically is meant to be. 

Can This Be Avoided?

This happens to all Pomeranians. 

For about 20% of Pomeranian puppies, the transition from puppy to adult coat will not bring about drastic or sudden changes, due to it occurring over a much longer period of time than usual. 

When it the change is slower, happening over the course of a full year or so, this allows the adult coat to grow in relatively at the same time that the puppy fur is falling out; and the Pom will not go through this stage of looking quite odd. 

The other 80% of Pomeranian dogs will have noticeable shedding and an odd thinned out appearance for those 6 to 12 months. 

Caring for a Pom with the Puppy Uglies

There will be a few care and grooming elements to keep in mind during this time:

1) Since the coat will thinning so much, it will be more important now than ever to use quality shampoo and conditioner products to keep both skin and coat moisturized and healthy.

2) Do not stop giving your dog baths during this time, thinking that this will help slow down the fur loss. It won't stop it and you want this phase to happen and then finish so that your Pom will have his luxurious new coat. So, continue to give your Pomeranian a bath once every 3 weeks. 

3) Brush more now than ever. Do not worry about pulling out too much dead hair, you want that fur to come out and it will regardless. Removing some yourself helps prevent it from getting matted and tangled. 

Using an appropriately sized slicker brush, carefully brush all areas of the body, reaching down into the coat. The goal is to pull out all shedded fur to make room for the nice, new coat. Brushing also helps to distribute body oils, remove debris and prevent tangles. You'll want to go gently, since the coat may be thin. 

4) If your Pom develops any exceeding thinned areas, use a quality canine coat rescue lotion or cream for hot spots. Also, with any very thinned areas of fur, use some sunscreen if you will be taking your Pomeranian outside in the summer since those spots can burn easily.

5) Don't allow a puppy with the 'uglies' to lie down on the bare floor or carpeting since this can be abrasive to the skin due having much less fur.  Encourage your Pom to lie on his doggie bed or place soft baby blankets on the floor in his favorite spots.

6) Poms with such thin coats will get chilled much more easily. If your Pom seems more sensitive to the temperature, slip a warm shirt or a cozy sweater or hoodie on him to help keep him warm. 

*** For recommended grooming products to use during this time, look to the Pomeranian Specialty Shoppe.
Pomeranian puppy uglies before pic
6 month old Pom with a minor/moderate case of the Puppy Uglies. Take note of this pup's coloring. He is black with a small hint of chocolate (seen on upper front leg)
Pomeranian after puppy uglies
The same Pom at 11 month old Pom after the Puppy Uglies. The coat is growing back in nicely; though it still has several months to finish filling in. Notice the color change; as with many Pomeranians, the coat color changed when the adult fur grew in. The chocolate brown that was barely noticeable on the puppy's leg is now his coat color! 

Other Issues That Can Mimic the Puppy Uglies

This is an important element because there are many conditions, some serious, that cause a dog to lose fur. If your Pomeranian is losing his coat and he is not at the correct age of going through the Puppy Uglies, this would be a red flag to bring your dog to the vet ASAP.

Most Poms enter this stage beginning at the age of 4 to 6 months old. It can take a couple of months for there to be a noticeable difference.  The phase will end when the Pom is 10 to 15 months old. 

If there is a substantial amount of coat loss, enough to show patches of skin and the dog is not the correct age for this, it may be a separate Pomeranian hair loss issue. 

BSD (Black Skin Disease) is one condition that you'll want to have ruled out. The signs of BSD are a wooly texture, huge clumps falling out, and discolored skin.

Beside the Puppy Uglies, fur loss can also occur from food or environmental allergies, thyroid problems, and a host of other health issues. 

Most can be resolved with treatment; which is why it is so important to have your Pom examined. 
More Information

For information on the symptoms of fur health conditions...fur color changes...detailed grooming and so much more, learn about the PetPom Book. Now in both PRINT & eBook.
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