Pomeranians — or Poms — are popular for their big personality, small size, and beautiful appearance. But is there a small ball of fury hiding under that fluffy coat? Are Pomeranians aggressive?
Before you decide on any breed of dog, you should thoroughly research their health issues, personality, and tendency toward aggressive behavior. But, be forewarned: Any dog, regardless of breed, can become aggressive if they’re not properly socialized — and even little dogs can cause big problems.
To help you decide if the Pomeranian is the right dog breed for your household, we’ll look at their tendency toward aggression and the steps you can take to prevent aggressive behavior in your Pom.
Are Pomeranians Aggressive?
We'll look at three things to determine whether one breed of dog is more likely to have aggressive tendencies than another: breed personality, health issues, and dog bite data. So, are Pomeranians aggressive?
A dog’s breed is a much better predictor of its looks than its personality. Think of siblings in a human family — they often look alike, but their personalities can be very different. Puppies in a litter are similar. A good breeder can look at their litter and tell you which puppy is the boldest, the shiest, or the most curious.
Although breed is no guarantee of a dog’s personality, you can get an idea of the Pomeranian’s most hardwired personality traits by looking at what it was bred to do. Today, the Pomeranian is primarily used as a lap dog and cuddle companion. But like the many types of poodles, the Pom was originally bred down from a larger, active working dog — the German spitz.
Spitzes have been used as sled dogs and guard dogs for hundreds of years. While Pomeranians are too small to do much guarding, they maintain strong instincts and make good watchdogs.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), these little watchdogs are quick to bark — a trait that is sometimes perceived as aggression and may frighten some of your visitors. This can make it seem like Pomeranians are aggressive to the untrained eye.
But are Pomeranians aggressive or protective? Because of their guarding instincts, Pomeranians can be protective of their family members and their territory. If you do not socialize them from an early age, they may become aggressive towards strangers they perceive as a threat to their family.
Fortunately, the Pomeranian is a relatively healthy breed. These conditions aren’t common in Poms, though the breed can suffer from hypothyroidism in rare cases. Dogs with this condition have an underperforming thyroid that doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. This hormone imbalance can lead to aggression if left untreated.
Other common Pomeranian health problems, including patellar luxations and tracheal collapse, aren’t linked with aggression. However, any dog may act aggressively if they’re frightened or in pain. If your typically well-mannered dog suddenly starts showing signs of aggression, talk to your vet.
Breed Bite Statistics
The statistics on how often a specific breed of dog bites can be a sure sign of aggression. There is plenty of research into dog bite data, including local reports and a comprehensive literature review from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). But, none of the data mentions Poms.
This doesn’t mean that Pomeranians are never aggressive, but it indicates that the frequency of Pomeranian bites is too low to be worth analyzing. It’s also possible that because Pomeranians are small dogs, their bites are less likely to be reported by bite victims.
An aggressive Pomeranian will do less damage than an aggressive German Shepherd or an aggressive English bulldog, so these incidents are less likely to find their way into police, hospital, and veterinary records.
However, the AVMA’s literature review did find that medium and small dogs showed more aggressive tendencies than large dogs, according to surveys of veterinarians and dog owners. This is likely less to do with the dogs’ breeds than their training. Because they’re easier to manage, small dogs are less likely to receive consistent training than large dogs, regardless of their obedience.
How Can Dog Owners Prevent Aggression?
Proper training is the key to raising a well-adjusted Pom. But, there are many additional steps dog owners can take to prevent aggression.
Choose a Responsible Breeder
A responsible breeder will screen their dogs for potential health problems and provide some socialization before your Pomeranian puppy even reaches eight weeks. (Believe it or not, your puppy learns a lot in those early weeks before you take them home.)
The AKC and the American Pomeranian Club both provide breeder referrals. However, it’s still best to ask your breeder plenty of questions to determine whether they raise puppies that meet your needs. And if you’re particularly concerned, it’s completely within your right to directly ask your breeder, “are your Pomeranians aggressive, or have they ever been?”
Socialize Your Puppy From a Young Age
Lack of socialization is the most common reason for dog aggression. Most aggressive dogs are actually fearful or poorly socialized dogs. Teach your dog to be calm and confident in a variety of scenarios by signing them up for a puppy socialization class.
In your free time, try to expose your dog to as many different types of people and locations as possible. Ask strangers you meet if they’re willing to give your Pomeranian puppy a dog treat — this will help your dog make positive associations with new people.
Teach Bite Inhibition
Puppy biting is common and is not a sign of aggression — this is your puppy’s way of playing and exploring. But you still need to teach your puppy not to bite before they learn that this behavior is acceptable, which means you need to teach bite inhibition.
Train your puppy not to nip at people by saying ouch and withdrawing your attention for 10-20 seconds anytime they bite you too hard. Once they understand not to bite you hard, repeat the process with medium-strength puppy bites. Then, do it again with softer bites until your puppy learns not to put their teeth on people at all.
Supervise Them Around Young Children
According to the National Canine Research Council, most dog bites happen when the victim doesn’t know how to interact with the dog (as is the case with small children) and when there isn’t a capable person (like the dog’s owner) around to intervene. Prevent this scenario by making sure you’re always present when your Pomeranian interacts with young children.
This will not only protect the child, but it will also protect your Pom. Because this breed is so tiny, they’re more likely to be injured by overly exuberant children.
Use Positivity Training
Your dog needs to be trained using the right training method. Dominance-based dog training, which uses punishments like yelling and spanking, can lead to more aggressive behavior in dogs. Instead, use a positive-reinforcement training method to encourage good behavior and prevent behavior problems.
You’ll reward wanted behaviors with treats, praise, and playtime with this method. And you’ll discourage unwanted behavior with a time-out — where you’ll remove your attention along with any toys and treats for a period of time (like we did above when teaching bite inhibition).
If you’re struggling to train your dog, work with a qualified positivity-based dog trainer.
Recognize the Early Warning Signs of Aggression
A frightened or angry Pomeranian will show signs like tucking their tail, lowering their head, pinning their ears back, snarling, and lunging. If you notice any of these signs, remove your dog from the situation and bring them to a quiet place where they can calm down.
Raise a Precious Pom
So, are Pomeranians aggressive? Pomeranians are known for their fiery personalities, but when they’re socialized from an early age, they’re no more prone to aggression than any other dog breed.
As a Pomeranian owner, you’ll play a significant role in raising a well-adjusted puppy. Make sure to adopt your dog from a responsible breeder, provide plenty of early socialization, supervise your pet around young children, and use positivity-based dog training to reinforce good behavior. With the right approach to training and socialization, a Pomeranian can become a well-mannered member of your household.
For more information on your favorite dog breeds, visit the Native Pet blog.