Tiny and bright-eyed, the Pomeranian greets the world with bottomless curiosity and a sure sense that he's the cutest thing in it. A perennially popular breed, the Pom weighs less than 7 pounds, but isn't often to be found in a puppy purse. That's because Pomeranians have no idea just how small they really are, but do know they have four feet and prefer to use them, just as a big dog would.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

Everything about the Pomeranian is bright: His eyes, his temperament and his intelligence. While he's very fond of his family and more than happy to get some lap-time, he's also a busy little guy. You're more likely to find him trotting around your house on an important mission than snoozing on the sofa.

The Pom's activity level makes him an ideal pet for someone who wants a small dog with the personality traits of the full-sized sled and herding dogs from which this breed was bred down in size (but not attitude). Because he's tiny, he can probably get enough exercise indoors, but he's happiest when he also has the opportunity to go on long walks, chase leaves and play with other small dogs.

Pomeranians shed and need regular brushing to strip out their dead undercoat, but are otherwise easy to care for. And make no mistake, Poms bark. It may not be deafening, but it can be annoying and difficult to stop, even with training.

However alert and active they are, Pomeranians are still extremely small, and need to be protected from rambunctious children. Since he has no idea he's as small as he is, he's likely to challenge much bigger dogs as well as leap tall buildings in a single bound -- often with broken bones as a result.

As is the case with many small dogs, Pomeranians may be harder to house-train, especially if you purchase from a pet-store or from a shoddy breeder. And while the Pom descend from hardy Northern herding and sled dogs,he's far too tiny to live outdoors. He needs to live inside as a memberof the family.

Health Issues Common to Pomeranians

The Pomeranian can be affected by any of the health problems common to toy dogs, such as a collapsing windpipe, which causes respiratory problems and makes wearing a collar difficult. They can have dental problems caused by the size of their mouths, and their kneecaps sometimes slip out of place, a condition known as "luxating patellas."

As with many breeds and mixes, the Pomeranian can suffer from the deformity known as hip dysplasia, but another hip problem is much more common in the breed. Known as Legg-Perthes disease, it causes a reduced blood supply to the head of the rear leg bone, which causes it to shrink. The first sign of Legg-Perthes, limping, usually appears when the puppy is 4 to 6 months old. Legg-Perthes can be treated with surgery to remove the head of the leg bone, after which the puppy will have a relatively normal life other than an increased likelihood of arthritis.

Eyes can be another trouble spot for Poms. Dry eye, tear duct problems, and cataracts are all common in the breed and may require surgical treatment. They also suffer from a number of conditions that can cause them to lose their coats, including thyroid disease and allergies.

To protect yourself from the expensive vet bills associated with these conditions, you'll want to purchase pet insurance for your Pomeranian before they show symptoms or are diagnosed.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Patellar Luxation High $1,500-$3,000
Patent Ductus Arteriosus High $2,500-$5,000
Legg-Perthes Disease High $1,500-$3,000
Entropion High $300-$1,500
Cryptorchidism High $200-$500

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Pomeranian Puppy

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You're more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to housetrain puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills. Puppy mills also advertise through Internet sites, so never deal with a breeder who'll ship anywhere to anyone with a credit card.

Stack the odds in your favor by finding a breeder who is in good standing with the American Pomeranian Club and has agreed to abide by its Code of Ethics, which specifically prohibits selling puppies through retail outlets such as pet stores.

Ask your breeder about any health or behavior problems in dogs related to your prospective puppy. If she says there aren't any, run. She should provide you with written documentation from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) that the parents of the puppy had normal hips, elbows, and knees, as well as from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF), certifying that they were free of vision problems.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health and behavior problems in Pomeranian aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. In addition, a Pomeranian can live 15 years or longer, so an adult dog will still be a part of your family for a long time to come.

Puppy or adult, take your Pomeranian to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues. Ask specifically about dental care, as most toy breeds suffer from dental problems.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Pomeranians

Pet insurance for Pomeranians costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Pomeranians are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Pomeranians are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Pomeranian is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.