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Throwback Poms

Throwback Pomeranian Dogs

What is a Throwback Pomeranian?

If you have a very big Pomeranian, this may be due to having a Throwback. Aside from being overweight (which is really not that common with this breed), a Pomeranian may be larger than the breed standard due to their genes being "throwback" genes.

What is a throwback Pomeranian? A throwback Pomeranian is a Pom that is larger than the standard size Pom of today's time. The dog's natural body structure will be up to 4 times larger than what is expected. 

Let's discuss why a Pomeranian may be a throwback, how this happens and any behavioral or health issues that may be relevant.

We must start by remembering that the ancestors of the Pomeranian were large Spitz dogs of up to 30 pounds ( 13.60 kg). They were used as sled dogs in Iceland and as hunting and herding dogs in the surrounding areas of the far north. 
white Spitz dog
The ancestors of the Pomeranian, the ancient Spitz dogs, looked quite similar to this large German Spitz dog, but were solid white.  When a throwback occurs, the Pomeranian will have genes that causes his size to be closer to his ancestors...and will therefore be much larger than the standard.
In time, these dogs were brought down into Europe. It was Queen Victoria who fell in love with the breed. She took it upon herself to create a breeding program to reduce the size of the dogs. It was popular at the time for those in royalty to have very small lap dogs. Those of royalty wanted tiny pets that would live inside and be light enough to carry with ease. Creating her own personal dog kennels and developing a breeding program... with time, these Spitz dogs became the small Pomeranian that we now have. In 1892, the Pomeranian was introduced to America.

So, if the dogs were bred down to be small, how can there be larger-than-average Poms? 

A throwback Pomeranian is the term applied to a dog that has the appearance (and sometimes the behavior as well) of its larger ancestors. Normally a dog's appearance is based most on his parents (sire and dam), but when breeding, you know to expect traits from up to 5 generations back. While not common, throwbacks happen randomly and is all due to the dog's genes mutating or altering back to those of its ancestors. Therefore, it is possible for a purebred Pomeranian to weigh up to 18 pounds (8.16 kg). 
Throwback Pomeranian
How do I Know if I Have a Throwback Pomeranian?

The AKC standard size weight for a purebred Pom is a maximum of 7 pounds (3.17 kg). As with any dog breed, there will be smaller than average and larger than average dogs. A Pom of 8 pounds (3.62 kg), for example, can not be clearly classified as a throwback dog. An 8 pound dog would simply be a dog that is a bit larger than the standard.
A Pomeranian having partial throwback genes is a full grown adult Pom that is not overweight and is larger than 10 pounds (4.53 kg) but smaller than 14 pounds (6.35 kg).

A Pomeranian considered to be clearly classified as a throwback would be a full grown adult that is not overweight, larger than 14 pounds (6.35 kg) and is a purebred, without any other breed types in the bloodline that caused the dog to be over-sized. Therefore, if you have a big Pomeranian, this does not mean that you do not have a purebred (although that is always a possibility if you did not obtain him or her from a reputable breeder), but more likely it is due to genetics that are out of the breeder's control. 
How to Know if a Throwback is a Purebred Pomeranian

Let's first talk about this regarding the AKC since in the US, it is the canine kennel club that is the most trusted in regard to purebred dogs. 

For all dogs, a purebred is one that has documented pedigree in a stud book.

The AKC requires a 3 generation pedigree. This means there will be proof that the Pomeranian's parents, grandparents and great-grandparents are all purebred Poms (and they themselves, since they needed to be registered also have their own 3 generation pedigree).
Therefore, when a Pom is AKC, you can feel very confident that he or she is indeed a purebred even if the Pom is a large throwback Pomeranian. Note: Being purebred and having pedigree is NOT dependent on being registered with a breed club (the Pomeranian Club of American), this may or may not be done and has no bearing on purebred status.

Now, with other kennel clubs, such as the Continental Kennel Club, there may be more doubt when it come to a throwback Pomeranian and the issue of being purebred. Their standards are lower in regard to proving lineage... The signatures of 2 people who state that a dog is purebred along with 3 photos of the dog gives a breeder/owner a CKC registration. So the question remains: Is an over-sized CKC Pom a throwback Pomeranian or a Pom with another breed mixed in? Unless a breeder has pedigrees going back many generations and without DNA testing, the answer will never be known. 
Pomeranian throwback puppy vs adult
There are several dogs that look very similar to Pomeranians, that if bred with them, could easily produce a dog that looked just like a Pom, but was actually a mixed breed. 
Photo above right (above on mobile). This is Tank, shown here as a puppy and then at 6 years old. He is a Pom that was supposed to grow to only about 6 pounds, but is now a sturdy 15 pounds. He has had some coat issues; however, these have been resolved, essentially, with Melatonin, one of our recommended methods to use for fur loss and BSD (along with other treatments). Photos courtesy of Maggie Swiger & Jeff Velodota
two throwback Pomeranians
Can This Affect Behavior?

The modern Pomeranian as it stands, already does possess certain behavior thought to be throwback behavior, such as being very alert and independent. Many Pomeranian dogs love to travel and are usually very adaptable to new situations... this characteristic is also theorized to be of throwback behavior of the Spitz dog.
Studies have shown that in some cases, a throwback Pomeranian or any other throwback dog, may also have throwback behavior of a deeper nature. In some instances, a Poms of this size may show signs of not conforming to domestic life...the dog may have instinctual urges to "be out in the wild". They may actually have instincts to "hunt" while outdoors and so forth.

Do keep in mind that in a loving home, with proper care and socialization, a big Pomeranian who is a Throwback can be just as adoring, lovable, cuddly and well mannered as any other standard sized Pom.

Can This Affect Health?

Studies show that when this does occur, it does not have any effect on health issues above what a standard sized Pom would have. Being a sturdier, larger size can actually be an asset in regard to very small Pomeranian dogs having the possibility of being injured by jumping from heights, etc and a sturdier throwback Pomeranian dog being able to handle more activity such as jumping. 
throwback pomeranian doing agility
This is Presley, a 14.5 pound Pomeranian. His owners decided to enroll him into agility classes instead of continuing with obedience. He's doing fantastic; this is him after only 4 classes, he can do 8 obstacles and really enjoys this type of activity. Photo courtesy of Barb
Can a Throwback Pomeranian come from the same litter as standard Poms?

Yes, in fact this happens more often than not. Since this is rare, most likely a Throwback will have siblings of either standard or slightly above average size.

Where can I find a Throwback Pom puppy?

This is easier said than done. Just about all ethical breeders strive to produce puppies that meet the breed standard. So, to begin you'll want to avoid those that tend to have puppies toward the low end of the weight and size scale. Choose a breeder that aims for the higher end (which produces healthier pups at any rate) and ask to be placed on a waiting list for a puppy that shows signs of being larger than expected. 
Throwback Pomeranian vs standard Pomeranian
Miah, seen here being held by her owner Tara, was a throwback Pomeranian, weighing 15 and 1/2 lbs. (7.03 kg). The photo to the right shows her with her sister, a Pom from the same litter who was much smaller (but a tad larger than standard) at 8 lbs. (3.62 kg). 

Miah passed away at the age of 8.5 (not related to her size). We send love and hugs to her family. 
To Summarize

To be safe, if you have a Pom that is larger than normal, do be sure to check with the veterinarian to rule out any weight issues. Though rare with this breed, carrying excess weight will put stress on the knees, hips and back. 

For those few people who do have a throwback Pom, they have a very special dog...a dog that allows us a glimpse in to the past...and one that shows characteristics of the noble ancestor of the Pomeranian. 
More Information

Newborns, puppies, adolescents, adults & seniors.  All of these stages require different types of care. If you've been wondering where in the world you can find one resource book that has it all, you'll want to have a look at the most comprehensive Pomeranian book that exists: the PetPom Book (available in both a soft-cover print and an eBook)
Slideshow of More Throwback Pomeranians
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    Sahsha; 19 pounds
    Photo courtesy of Mercedez Batarse

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    Kona, at 5 yrs old; 19 pounds
    Photo courtesy of Tony Stedman

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    Benji; 11 lbs. at 5 months old
    Photo courtesy of Britanee Gugel

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    Teddy, 15 weeks, a bit over 8 lbs.(we estimate an adult weight of 13.5 lbs.) Photo courtesy of Trevor

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    Romeo, 10 yrs and 17 lbs. Photo courtesy of Carol and Walter Riley

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    Chowder; 16 lbs, 7 years old
    Photo courtesy of Sarah

15 pound throwback pomeranian
Meet Louie Vuitton Feather, a gorgeous throwback Pomeranian. Louie's owner, Terry, contacted us when her Pom was 7 lbs. 4 oz . at the 16 week old mark. We estimated the Pom's adult weight to be 11.2 pounds, minimum. Now, this Pom is 9 months old (which means there is still a bit of growing to do) and our estimation was under!  Louie weighs 15 pounds, which officially makes him a throwback. 
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