What is all the confusion over face shapes in Poms?
Or what happened to the Pomeranian face and body?
By: Carol Keen
This is the information put in place by a registry(s) that has dogs shows. It sets the "standard" or specifications for what each breed is suppose to look like for SHOW. This is where most common weight, size, height, coats, eye color and shape, colors allowed to show or not allowed to show comes from. It is often called "The Breed Standard." The Pomeranian standard changes every 5 years because a Parent Club for the breed votes changes in or out of the standard! Sometimes they leave it like it was, but more often than not it is altered. Other breed have not changed their standard in 20 years, but this is not the case with Pomeranians.
Pomeranians are a toy breed. Poms have been breed down over many 100's of years from 35 pound dogs to what we have today. As a breed, according to the current standard, Poms are now 3 to 7 pounds. Poms that are showing and winning are normally 4 to 6 pounds. They are suppose to have fox like faces, and almond shaped eyes. What? Wait - yes! You did read that right!
Here it is from the AKC's standard for showing a Pomeranian:
"Head: Head - in balance with the body, when viewed from above, broad at the back tapering to the nose to form a wedge.
Eyes - dark, bright, medium sized, and almond shaped; set well into the skull with the width between the eyes balancing the other facial features."
But wait, most poms don't look like that do they?
Answer - No. We are loosing the majority of the classic fox faced poms.
Why? Preference of what people like and what is winning in the show rings. This doesn't mean a foxy type face will be gone forever, yet, but it does mean most breeders are not preserving that look anymore.
Again, I'm quoting from the AKC show standard for Pomeranians: "Proportion - The Pomeranian is a square breed with a short back. The ratio of body length to height at the withers being 1 to 1. These proportions are measured from the prosternum to the point of buttocks, and from the highest point of the withers to the ground."
Show Poms have been shrunk into the square body shape, instead of a rectangle. That body shape change alone did many things to our breed and most of them were not good over all. Lovely to look at yes, but over all the girls can no longer give birth freely with this shape. If they are show standard - short and square bodies, they often require c-sections because the babies are not able to be born any other way. They can't balance on their back legs, as they no longer have the ability to do so with such a short body. It isn't as harsh on the males from what I have hear from others. That 1:1 means if you have a 6" tall pom, then it is 6" long if it is show worthy.
We have other names such as Doll Faced / Baby Faced, and Teddy Bear Faced.
This needs to be explained more deeply because of what I have dealt with in the last few years.
A Doll faced or Baby Faced Pom has a shorter muzzle, but not too short. They don't look quite as foxy anymore, but they tend to still have room to breath and not have health issues. You see it isn't too hard to change a look (phenotype) in a few generations of selective breeding. You can change bone structure, but where do all the organs and tissue go? They are still *ALL* there. That means they are crammed up, and if they are too cramped you wind up with a dog with health issues waiting to express themselves. This is horrific for you and the dog.
Enter the "Teddy Bear" Faced Pom term. This face type or name is very sought after right now.
Now things get tricky, because this can be more than one thing. One way it is just fine, and the other is a disaster waiting to happen.
ALL Poms look like little baby bears, teddy bears to be specific! Cuddly and snuggly, and way past cute! This look is normal as a pup, and many people want that look to last a life time. Thus, a now very famous Pomeranian was cut into a hair cut that makes him look that way - like a living Teddy Bear. This is a hair cut, and when you see that dog's before and after photos you can see it is just a hair style. In this regard most poms can have a Teddy Bear Face look. If you want a photo of the famous pom's before and after photos, I can e-mail that to you upon request. This hair cut emphasizes the bear look and makes the eyes look rounder. Please note, some poms have been bred to have rounder eyes, and some are mixed breeds to have super round buggy looking eyes!
Most Poms have a muzzle length of 2" down to 1 1/2" as an average Pomeranian face. These Poms have sweet faces and in my dogs, no health issues caused by their faces. These are the kinds of Poms I have most often, though smaller Poms have smaller faces as they are in proportion to their bodies and can be all the way down to 1" or so in muzzle length.
Recently, I've been seeing more and more of the "Teddy Bear Face" taken to a horrible extreme. In an effort to have new, and supposedly better bloodlines, I wound up with some Poms with the wrong kinds of faces. 1/4" muzzles and 1/2" muzzles might make some folks weak in the knees because they are so cute, but they are disastrous for the Poms. They can't breath. They develop trachea issues, heart issues, elongated soft pallets, and these issues all cause shortened life spans. Syringomyelia has started in our beloved breed. The best several of us can tell it is from compacting bodies and faces (bones) and leaving organs no where to go except jammed up in the wrong places.
Personally, I find it tragic and wrong to cause a lifetime of suffering and premature death just to get a super short face or a look. To me there is no delight in having a Pom mistaken for a Pekinese because of altering their face and body to conform to that appearance.
Animals with such huge health issues are not viable genetic donors in my book, nor my Veterinarian's. They were quickly removed from any farther ability to pass down these disastrous issues. However, it was not before I watched them suffer from what had done to them. It ripped my heart up, and it still does. This is something I will not propagate and if it means my Pom have longer faces, and longer bodies, so be it. The hair cut works quite well and still achieves the look with out the health risks of putting this in genetically. These health issues are not going to be a part of these little ones lives, health and temperament are extremely important to me!
One more thing, I have found this year that many people do not know that the look of a show Pom is again, a hair cut or a hair style! The Pomeranian's hair doesn't not ever grown naturally into that cut or look. It is shaped and sculpted into that appearance for the show ring. Personally, I love the all natural look of a Pomeranian's coat with out the show hair cut. So when you see my Poms you are seeing them as they are with only minor trimming, not styled into any particular hair cut or style.
While I'm here, that brings me to the what do you use to groom a Pom?
I use a large slicker brush, a single row non-moving tooth coat rake, and a pair of scissors.
That is all that is needed for beautiful coats as Pomeranian coat up-keep isn't that difficult with the proper tools.
Here are some photos of these tools, available at many stores.
I use Earthbath shampoo. This coconut oil based shampoo can't harm us, our pets, or even the grass! It cleans like no other shampoo I have ever tried, and leaves no allergies or aggravations behind for me or my furry ones.
I use the Rapid Bath by Hydrosurge. It is now made by Oyster, for washing my babies. This unit has a shower adapter so you have full control of the water temperature, not just using this with the garden hose! The newest model lets you load the shampoo into it with out cartridges, and my new one is now on order. With my older model I still apply shampoo directly to the coat as we did before having a Rapid Bath, but the mix of the water with the oxygen lifts coats and give you clean, happy dogs who do not get upset or fight the water when bathed.
As always, if you have questions, just ask me.