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Why Poms Look Different

Why Pomeranians Can Look So Different


We looked into our Member suggestions once again, and came across many emails from Pom owners wanting to know why it is that Pomeranians look so very different, despite all being the same breed. And this is an excellent question that brings up all sorts of interesting facts.

This section is going to discuss the various factors that come into play that affect the appearance of the Pomeranian puppy or dog that all come together to create unique and individual dogs.
We are going to look at the following elements:

• What happened during the development of the Pom that allowed for such diverse traits within one breed

• The way in which color creates such different looking Pomeranians

• How body structure plays a role

• How the Pom changes as he matures and how the age of the dog can make a huge difference in his overall appearance

• The way in which grooming can make two Pomeranians look so very different
And of course, you'll see some adorable photos that will help explain all of the above. So if you are wondering why Pomeranians can look so different, let's take a closer look.

The Development of the Breed to Create Diverse Physical Traits

While some types of dog breeds were developed to hold one particular color or 1 certain pattern of coloring, the Pomeranian has quite a different story. 

Its ancestors were medium to large sized Spitz dogs that mainly lived in the Arctic. They were only found with white coats.  
During 1700's breeders worked on creating a smaller dog and during this time the size of the German Spitz was reduced by approximately 50%, which allowed for dogs that were 30–50 lbs. (14–23 kg).

During the late 1800's when Queen Victoria became smitten with the breed and established a kennel to bring down the size even further, what was considered to be a small Pomeranian at that time was in the 12 pound range (5.4 kg).

Color started to be introduced. Now, if breeders of that time had only wanted to bring reds into the Pomeranian line, today we would most likely only have white, orange and red solid Poms and partis that held combinations of those three. However, a huge variety of coloring was introduced. And each color brings about even more…

For example, bringing in black (which is dominant over white) produced the following different Pomeranians: pure black, black and white parti, blue (over time blue was created as it is a diluted black) & white and blue.

Bringing brown into the Pom line gave us the following different Pomeranians: solid brown, chocolate, light tan, and partis (which a mixture of all shades of brown ranging from dark to light). 

As breeding was further developed, breeders began to find that recessive genes produced even more variety. For example, with Wolf Sable, neither dam nor sire needs to be a wolf sable color; as long as both carry the recessive gene for this coloring, puppies may be born wolf sable.

It must be noted that unlike many other breeds, colors were not bred OUT. During the development and refining of many other dogs breeds, if a certain 'non-desired' color were produced, those dogs would not be bred in an effort to produce only desired colors.

However, with the Pom, it become quite popular to have rare and exotic coloring and for this reason no color was even considered to be undesirable and therefore over many generations, just about every color imaginable was brought into the bloodline. 

By the early 1900's the collective goal to produce a very small lap dog was reached as the majority of Pomeranians fit into the 3 - 7 lbs. (1.36 - 3.175 kg) range. Though there are many Pomeranian dogs that are larger and we will discuss this ahead.
Coat Color can Make Pomeranians Look a Lot Different
merle colored Pomeranian
Merle Parti, Panda
photo courtesy of owner: Lori Vadason, Pomarazzi Pomeranian
black tan and white colored Pomeranian
Black & tan parti, Likinia, photo courtesy of owner: Kyrsten
wolf sable colored Pomeranian
Wolf sabe, Gizmo, photo courtesy of owners: Jason & Candice
white and tan colored Pomeranian
White and tan parti, Abby, photo courtesy of owners: Belina & Allen Hood
Color & Pattern Differences

Not only different colors, but patterns in the coat create such a diverse look with the Pomeranian. With parti's color may fall anywhere. Merle creates its own unique look with a splattering effect. Brindling causes a striping effect. In addition, eye color can be different as well, ranging from chocolate brown to light blue.

It should be noted that there is no color, coat thickness or other physical trait that applies to one gender but not the other. Both male and female Pomeranians will have the same physical appearance.
How Body Structure Creates Such Different Looking Pomeranians

There are 2 parts to this: facial structure and body size:

Facial Structure - The official face structure of the Pomeranian breed is a fox like face. Until very recently (relatively speaking in the breeding world), this held unwavering with reputable breeders - the goal was to produce dogs that fit the strict standards (fox face) - or to come as close as possible, since there is no such thing as a 'perfect dog'. Striving to meet guidelines is done for the betterment of the breed and to maintain integrity. With this said, there are always some pups that have faults. One type of fault is a stop that slants down. Keep this in mind as we read ahead...

Within the past 20 years or so toy dogs gained enormous popularity. And with this surge in demand, the idea that the media fostered for people obtaining 'teacups', 'toys' and 'teddy bears' created an almost manic rush for some breeders to try and produce tiny dogs that took on a similar appearance to a stuffed animal. They would pair dogs that had faults - such as the slanted stop that we just spoke about - to purposefully create a new look.
Pomeranian with slanted snout
For this reason, a flatter face with a shorter snout were traits that some breeders worked on producing - even though this did not and does not fit the standards of well-known kennel clubs. 

With just a few generations, fox face Poms were bred with teddy bear Poms and before too long there became a new way in which this breed could look so dissimilar. There are now a vast majority of Poms with varying size snouts (and sometimes flatter foreheads).

Again, it should be mentioned that Poms that do not have a fox like face (longer snout) do not meet the breed standard and ethical breeders will sell these dogs as 'pet' as opposed to show without breeding rights so that the fault is not passed down.
For some Poms, this can be an issue since dogs with flat facial features can actually suffer from structural related health issues, similar to what Brachycephalic dogs (Pugs, Boxers, Bull dog, Shih Tzu) suffer from (stenotic nares ,elongated soft palate, etc.) that can cause trouble breathing and heat stress among other issues). This is most often the case with the very compact babydoll face - in which the snout is exceedingly short, cramming together nasal passages. 
Size - The US, The UK and Canada are generally in agreement regarding size. The AKC stipulates 3 - 7 lbs. (1.36 - 3.175 kg), the CKC (Canada) calls out for 4-6 lbs. (1.8-3 kg) and the KC (Kennel Club - UK) specifies 4-5.5 lbs. (1.8 to 2.5 kg). The FCI classifies the Pom as the smallest of the Spitz (Toy Spitz) with a height of 20 cm +/-2 cm) which is very close to the AKC's 13 to 18 cm)

So, in general, we are looking at a dog that varies between 3 and 7 pounds. However, there are many Pomeranians that are larger than this.
big VS small Pomeranian
A Pom - even if not overweight in any way - may reach 8, 9 or even 10 pounds. An interesting facet of this, is that Throwbacks can be produced.  These are Poms that hold genes from their ancestors, and therefore may be 14 or more pounds.

Keeping all of this in mind, a fully grown 3 lb. Pom is going to look a lot different than a fully grown 9 pound dog. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that a 3 lb. adult Pom is going to look a lot different than a 3 lb. Pom puppy (that will be a 9 lb. adult when mature).
Why Pomeranians Look Different as They Mature

We mentioned above that a Pom with small bone structure may be 3 lbs. fully grown, but there may be another Pomeranian that is 3 lbs. when still considered to be a puppy. And these 2 Pomeranians are going to look very dissimilar.

There are 2 main reasons for this: The coat & the 'Puppy VS Adult' body structure. Let's take a closer look.
The Coat - While just about every dog breed has a changeover from puppy to adult fur as they grow, this change is very pronounced with the Pomeranian breed. Most of you know this as the 'Puppy Ugly' stage. Poms are born with soft, short coats and this is often just 1 coat of fur.

Sometime around 4 to 9 months of age, the coat rapidly falls out. During this time, Poms can look very funny and odd, hence the term 'Puppy Uglies'. The adult, double coat grows in by the age of 10 to 14 months and the Pomeranian looks completely different.

As an adult, the inner layer is now very dense. The outer layer is comprised of longer guard hairs.
Another vital element to note is that during this time of change, the coloring often changes as well and this can make a huge difference for each individual Pomeranian. 
Body Structure - Pom puppies are rather round. Legs are short, the snout is small. 
coat differences with Pomeranians
They are rather stout and plump. However, there are many changes that occur as the Pom grows. The legs, snout and back will lengthen. This creates a much leaner body. While a very fluffy coat may conceal this a bit, an adult Pom looks very different than a younger puppy with a much more lean, longer body. This in and of itself makes Poms look very different than each other. 
How Grooming Techniques Can Create a Huge Difference with Pomeranians

Poms have always been famous for their full, fluffy coats, often referred to as 'balls of fluff'. However, there are some elements that can make for a coat that lies down against the body. If you take a Pom that has a flat coat and Pom that has a full, thick coat, those dogs are going to look amazingly different. 

For any owner who may wonder why their Pomeranian is not fluffy, the answer usually will be found in these elements that can drastically change the appearance of the coat:

Products - If conditioner is not rinsed out well, it will weigh the coat down. Conditioner IS extremely important, since it will help with split ends and keep fur healthy. However, when residue remains, it weighs down those top guard hairs and the coat can go flat as a pancake.

In addition, a good, quality leave-in conditioner is always recommended. This protects the hairs from splitting, reduces sun exposure damage, helps stop damage from contact friction and of course, it should be used when brushing (never brush a dry coat). 

However, the overuse of a leave-in can also weigh the hairs down, which will prevent that nice 'stand up' fluff look that is desired.

Trims/ Shaves - While dogs like Boo the Pomeranian may be famous, we can't condone shaving the coat to achieve that sort of look. Shaving a Pom does create a dog that looks entirely different than a 'normal' Pom, however when you shave that closely, you are cutting into the inner layer and doing so may damage the coat in such a way that it may never grow back normally again.
-Shaving is done for aesthetic reasons only; there is rarely a health reason to do this and a Pom does not need to be shaved down in the summer time. If an owner chooses this look for their dog, they should keep in mind that since the inner layer will be shaved into and the coat may never grow as it was meant to, shaving may need to be done essentially forever - which can be quite costly. For those who may considering doing this at home without the assistance of a groomer, thought should be put into that as well, because to achieve that sort of look means getting very close to the skin which can be risky.

-Trims on the other hand, can make a Pomeranian look very different, but in a good way that is healthy for both coat and skin. With many Poms, those guard hairs grow out too long, unevenly or both. Going around the body to even things out - usually trimming off 1/8 to 1/4 inch (.45 to .63 cm) can really allow the coat to stand up and give that 'ball of fluff' look.
two Pomeranians from same litter
It is also recommended to trim any hairs that may have grown out past the paw pads.
You may also like:

How to Care for a Pomeranian in the Summer - Great tips to prepare for hot, humid months.
How to Care for a Pomeranian in the Winter - Helpful care tips for cold, dry winter months.
If you are not happy with the products you are currently using on your Pom, you may wish to look to "Grooming" in the Pomeranian Specialty Shoppe for recommendations.
A Final Word

While Pomeranians do look very different than one another, color and size is a matter of personal preference and we are sure that you'll agree that all Poms are beautiful. Expect changes along the way, as your Pom matures and appreciate each stage.

You can keep your Pom looking great by feeding a high quality food, grooming on a regular schedule (baths, trims, taking care of the teeth) and keeping your dog at a healthy weight with good lean muscle by exercising your dog at least 1 time per day.
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