Those active, alert, adorable Pomeranians weren't always pocket pups. They descended from much larger dogs of spitz lineage. Over the years, Poms were bred down to the tiny dog we know today. Every so often, a throwback Pom appears in a litter. There's nothing physically wrong with the dog, but he's significantly larger than the breed standard, a genetic throwback to his ancestors.
If you've notice the similarity between Poms and breeds like the Keeshond, American Eskimo and Samoyed, that's not a coincidence. They're cousins, all of spitz-type heritage. Poms didn't originate in Pomerania, an area currently part of Poland and Germany, but that's where the breeding down to diminutive size began. According to the American Kennel Club, it was no less a personage than Queen Victoria who set the style for smaller Poms.
Unlike some dog breeds, the Pomeranian breed standard is based on weight, not height. Poms should weigh between 3 and 7 pounds, with the ideal weight for showing ranging between 4 and 6 pounds, according to the AKC.
Overweight or Throwback?
If your Pom weighs in at 8 or 9 pounds, he's not a throwback -- he's a tad overweight. If he's significantly larger and his weight is proportional to his size, then he's a throwback. Poms weighing 10 pounds or more are generally considered throwbacks, as their size results primarily because of genetic reasons, not from eating too much. While throwback generally refers to size, it can also mean a larger Pom lacking other breed qualities, such as the double coat.
You can't show your big Pom in AKC-sanctioned conformation breed shows. That doesn't mean you can't compete your "big" Pom in other canine sports, such as agility. You also shouldn't breed your Pom, because he doesn't meet the AKC standard.
A Pom twice the size of the weight limit for the breed is still only 14 pounds. That's a little dog, but not a tiny one. Poms aren't recommended for families with kids because of their small size and fragility. If you have older kids who know how to treat dogs and you love the breed, a throwback Pom might be a far better choice than one meeting the breed standard. It's possible that a reputable breeder with an oversized puppy might charge less for the dog, provided you abide by the contract for spaying and neutering.
By Jane Meggitt
About the Author
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.