Overall the Pomeranian is a healthy, robust little dog. However, like any dog, problems can occur.
Below are some of the problems that can occasionally affect Pomeranians (some of which affect toy dogs in general).
This is basically a 'soft spot' on the dogs head. In many young dogs the skull bones are not fused at birth, but instead will close slowly over a three - to twelve month period. Occasionally these bones fail to close, but the dog is still healthy. In cases where the open fontanel is not closed and quite large the dog's owners need to be very careful, since any injury or bumps to the animal's head could cause damage, as well as conditions like epilepsy.
This is basically a slipped knee, where the knee joint (patella) 'pops' in and out of place. Usual sign is the dog walking on three legs for a couple of steps until the joint 'pops' back into place. It can be a hereditary defect or caused from jumping too much (on and off high sofas), or from an injury early on in life. Once a dog has been diagnosed with patella luxation, they can make a full recovery with veterinary treatment, but it may still recur.
Pomeranians are small and can be quite fragile, especially puppies. Many puppies don't have any fear and will jump from heights leading to broken legs. So never leave a Pom on a sofa and keep a firm hold of them when you lift them. They also like to follow their owners everywhere, so often get under your feet, thus, this can lead to you accidentally standing on your pom.
Loss of Hair (Alopecia X - Black Skin Disease):
Affected dogs suffer from hair loss, which usually starts at the neck and body of
the animal, whereas the head and front legs are typically spared. Additionally, darkening of the affected skin areas may also be observed. Symptoms typically show up between 1-5 years of age. Some reasons as to hair loss seem to stem from stress, trauma and hormone issues. Genetic research looking for DNA markers is an ongoing project.
Quite rare. Dogs can lead perfectly normal lives with medication to control it.
Syringomyelia (SM) and Chiari-like Malformation CM:
Breeders and owners need to be aware that a small number of Poms have been identified as having Chiari-like Malformation and Syringomyelia and have been scored as such under the KC/BVA scheme.
The following guidance is given with the aim of trying to prevent this debilitating and heartbreaking condition being spread any further through the UK Pomeranian gene pool.
Close relatives (Sires, Dams, and siblings) of affected Poms who have any grading other than 0 should be screened prior to being bred from. The breeding guidelines of the BVA/KC CM-SM scheme should be followed. The Club may issue its own guidelines in the future as it sees fit.
The South of England Pomeranian Club held a Seminar on CM/SM & Canine Epilepsy in November 2013. Our speaker was leading specialist Dr Clare Rusbridge BVMS DipECVN PhD MRCVS.
What is Syringomyelia?
Syringomyelia (SM) is an extremely serious condition in which fluid-filled cavities develop within the spinal cord near the brain. It is also known as "neck scratcher's disease", because one of its common signs is scratching in the air near the neck.
The back half of the dog’s skull typically may be too small to accommodate all the brain’s cerebellum, which may also be too large, so it squeezes through the foramen magnum – the hole at the back ofthe skull – partially blocking the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) down the spinal cord. The variable pressure created by the abnormal flow of CSF is believed to create the SM cavities – called syrinx – in the spinal cord.
SM is rare in most breeds but has become very widespread in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and has been found in other breeds, particularly Toy Breeds, including a small number of Pomeranians. However, as has been found in Cavaliers, the spread of CM/SM through a gene pool can happen very quickly. Research has shown that there is a strong link between Chiari-like malformation (CM or CLM) – also known as caudal occipital malformation syndrome (COMS) or occipital hypoplasia (OH) and Syringomyelia. The severity and extent of Syringomyelia also appears to get worse in each succeeding generation. CM/SM is worldwide in scope and not limited to any country, breeding line,
or kennel, and experts report that it is believed to be an inherited trait.
SM is seldom detected in young puppies, as symptoms of it usually are not evident before the age of six months and may not occur until years later.
Pain is the most important clinical sign of the disorder. Symptoms may vary widely among different dogs, but the earliest sign is often that the dog feels hypersensitivity in its neck area, causing in some, an uncontrollable urge to scratch at the neck and shoulders. This is usually followed by severe pain developing around the dog’s head, neck, and shoulders, causing it yelp or scream. As the disease progresses, it destroys portions of the dog's spinal cord, and is so painful that the affected dog may contort its neck and even sleep and eat only with its head held high. The dog's legs may become progressively weaker, so that walking becomes increasingly difficult. Some dogs deteriorate to the point of paralysis
CM causes pain in around the ears and neck, because of increase pressure at the base of the scull causing the animal to rub its face against furniture or constant scratching in this area.
Both CM and SM, cause unbearable pain to the animal, so needs diagnosing and treating as soon as it shows signs of distress
Chiari-like malformation (CM) is caused between the brain (too large) and the skull (too small). This blocks the opening from the skull to the spine, which constricts the flow of cerebrospinal fluid around the spinal cord. As a result, fluid-filled cavities called syrinxes can develop within the spinal cord, with the condition being called syringomyelia (SM).
Further information on the BVA/KC scheme can be found on the following links
Basic Information -
Protocol for MRI screening -
CM/SM Grading Scheme -
CM/SM breeding guidelines summary (all relevant toy breeds) -
Conversion of 2006 Breeding Guidelines to BVA/KC Scheme -
Chiari Malformation/Syringomyelia Scheme -