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Pomeranian

Cocky, commanding, and animated, the pint-size Pomeranian is always an entertaining companion.

Pomeranian Breed Photo

Vital Stats

Dog Breed Group
Companion Dogs
Height
Weight
Life Span
12 to 16 years

Breed Characteristics

  • Details

    Adaptability

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    Trainability

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    Health & Grooming

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    All-around friendliness

    based on 4 ratings
  • Details

    Exercise needs

    based on 4 ratings
  • See All Characteristic Ratings


Summary

Descended from large sled dog breeds, the now-tiny Pomeranian has a long and interesting history. The foxy-faced dog, nicknamed "the little dog who thinks he can," is compact, active, and capable of competing in agility and obedience or simply being a family friend.

Additional articles you will be interested in:

Adoption
Pomeranian Dog Names
More Dog Names
Bringing Home Your Dog
Help with Training Puppies
Housetraining Puppies
Feeding a Puppy
Dog games
Teaching your dog tricks
How to take pictures of your dog

  • Overview

    Although the Pomeranian (also called Zwergspitz, Dwarf Spitz, Loulou, or, affectionately Pom) only weighs from three to seven pounds, this lively little dog has a personality the size of Texas!

    The Pomeranian is the smallest member of the Spitz family of dogs, which includes the Samoyed, Alaskan Malamute, and Norwegian Elkhound, among others.

    Poms take their name from the province of Pomerania, in Germany. They became especially popular when Queen Victoria allowed some of her Pomeranians to be shown in a conformation show, the first Pomeranians ever to be shown.

    Cute, feisty and furry, Poms are intelligent and loyal to their families. Don't let their cuteness fool you, however. These independent, bold dogs have minds of their own. They are alert and curious about the world around them. Unfortunately, in their minds, they are much larger than they really are, which can sometimes lead them to harass and even attack much larger dogs.

    Luckily, if they are properly socialized with other dogs and animals, they generally get along quite well with them.
    Pomeranians have a wedge-shaped head with erect ears. Some people describe their faces as fox-like, while others think that "baby-doll" or "pansy" is a better description.

    Their dark, almond-shaped eyes sparkle with intelligence and curiosity. Their noses can be dark or the same color as their coats. Their distinctive plumed tail fans out over their back.

    Pomeranians come in a wide variety of solid colors, with red, orange, white or cream, blue, brown, or black being the most common. Rarely, you might see a white Pom with colored markings (called parti-colored), or a black and tan one, or even an orange and sable one. The Pom's profuse double coat stands out from his body, and he has a luxurious ruff around his neck and chest. The coats looks as though it would be difficult to care for, but in reality, regular brushing is typically all it needs.

    Despite their small size, Pomeranians have a loud bark and make excellent watchdogs. They sometimes don't know when to stop barking, however, so it's a good idea to train them to stop barking on command.

    Pomeranians make excellent pets for older people and those who are busy, because they aren't an overly dependent breed. They are also good for apartment dwellers or homes that don't have a backyard. Because of their small size, they aren't recommended for families with small children who might injure them accidentally.

    Poms generally are good at learning tricks, but you must be consistent and firm when training them. If you don't establish yourself as top dog in your household, your Pom will be more than glad to take over and may even become snappish.

    Poms have a lot of energy and enjoy going for walks. They trot along, proudly holding their head up, meeting new people and exploring new sights and smells.

    More and more Poms are being trained in obedience, agility, tracking and flyball. Some also have been trained as hearing assistance dogs. They make excellent therapy dogs and bring delight and comfort to the sick and elderly in hospitals and nursing homes. If you'd like a pint-size companion with personality plus, the Pomeranian may be the choice for you.

  • Highlights

    • Pomeranians often are suspicious of strangers and can bark a lot.
    • Pomeranians can be difficult to housetrain. Crate training is recommended.
    • High heat and humidity can cause your Pom to become overheated and possibly have heat stroke. When your Pom is outdoors, watch him carefully for signs of overheating and take him inside immediately. They definitely are housedogs and should not be kept outdoors.
    • While Poms are good with children, they are not a good choice for very young or highly active children because of their small size. Never let your small children and your Pom play without supervision.
    • Because they are so small, Poms can be perceived as prey by owls, eagles, hawks, coyotes, and other wild animals. Never leave them outside unattended, and be watchful if there are predatory birds in your location. If this is the case, stay close to your Pom to discourage birds from trying to carry them off!
    • Because they are small and attractive, Poms are targets for dognappers, another reason why you shouldn't leave them outside unattended, even in a fenced yard.
    • Although they are small, Poms don't seem to realize it and can have a "big dog" attitude. This can spell disaster if they decide to chase a bigger dog that they think is encroaching upon their territory, or if they jump from a high place. It's up to you to make sure that your little one doesn't harm himself due to not realizing his limitations.
    • When your Pom gets old, he may develop bald spots in his beautiful coat.
    • To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
  • History

    Pomeranians were developed in the province of Pomerania from the ancient Spitz breeds of the far northern countries. The closest relatives of the Pomeranian are the Norwegian Elkhound, the Schipperke, the German Spitz, the American Eskimo Dog, the Samoyed, and other members of the Spitz, or Northern, group of dogs, all of which are characterized by their wedge-shaped heads, prick ears, and thick furry coats. Early Pomeranians weighed as much as 30 pounds.

    Even in the early days of the breed, Poms were popular. Notable people who were said to have Pomeranian-type dogs include theologian Martin Luther, who had a Pom named Belferlein that he mentioned often in his writings; artist Michelangelo, whose Pom sat on a satin pillow and watched him paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel; physicist Isaac Newton, whose Pom named Diamond reportedly chewed many of his manuscripts, and composer Mozart, whose Pom was named Pimperl and to whom he dedicated an aria.

    In 1761, the appeal of Pomeranians moved to England when Sophie Charlotte, a 17-year-old Princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (a neighboring province of Pomerania) married the English prince who was to become King George III. She brought with her a pair of mostly white dogs named Phebe and Mercury that weighed more than 20 pounds, which was standard at that time. Although they were popular in royal circles, the new breed didn't catch on with the public.

    All of that changed during the reign of Queen Charlotte's granddaughter, Queen Victoria. During her 64 years as the Queen of England, Queen Victoria bred more than 15 different breeds of dogs. In her later years, she was especially fond of Pomeranians, which she first saw in 1888 during a trip to Italy. She fell in love with a sable and red Pom named Marco who weighed only 12 pounds. Today, many believe that he was the inspiration to breed smaller Pomeranians.

    Marco went on to compete under the Queen's name in many dog shows and won many honors. Victoria also bought three other Poms on the same trip to Florence in 1888. After Marco, Victoria's next most famous Pom was a female named Gina who also became a champion at London dog shows. Victoria loved her Poms so much that as she lay dying, she asked that her favorite Pom (named Turi) be brought to her bedside.

    Victoria's love of the Pomeranians, especially the smaller ones, inspired English dog fanciers to begin breeding even smaller Poms. From 1900 until the 1930s, Pomeranians often had the largest number of entries at Crufts dog show, Britain's national championship. It was during this time that the breed standard was stabilized, with the size coming down to its present weight and the coat developing its characteristic deep frilling. Also during this time, a wider range of colors became available. Early Poms were primarily white, black, chocolate or blue, but after an orange dog began winning at dog shows in the 1920s, the range of colors expanded.

    The popularity of the Pom spread across the Atlantic. In 1888, a Pomeranian named Dick was the first Pom entered into the American Kennel Club (AKC) stud book. In 1892, the first Pom was entered in a dog show in New York. After the AKC recognized the breed in 1900, Pomeranians quickly grew in popularity in the United States. In 1909, the American Pomeranian Club was accepted as a member club of the AKC and designated as the Parent Club for the breed. By mid-century, Poms were one of the most popular dog breeds in America. Today they rank 14th among the 155 breeds and varieties registered by the AKC.

  • Size

    Pomeranians are 7 to 12 inches tall and weigh 3 to 7 pounds. Some litters have puppies that are throwbacks to the days when they were larger and grow to be 12 to 14 pounds or more. These puppies can be an excellent choice for families with children.
  • Personality

    The extroverted Pomeranian is smart and vivacious. He loves meeting new people and gets along well with other animals, although he sometimes thinks he's a lot bigger than he is. Don't let him challenge bigger dogs in his mistaken belief that he's their size or larger.

    Alert and inquisitive, Pomeranians make excellent watchdogs and will bark at anything out of the ordinary. Teach them to stop barking on command, though, or they might go on all day long.

    Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy who's willing to sit nicely on your lap, not the one who's beating up his littermates or the one who's hiding in the corner. Aggression and shyness aren't characteristics that your Pom puppy will outgrow.

    Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who's available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you're comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up. They should be friendly, calm, quiet, and easy to live with.

    Like every dog, Pomeranians need early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they're young. Socialization helps ensure that your Pom puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.

    Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.

  • Health

    Pomeranians are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Poms will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.

    If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition. In Poms, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).

    • Allergies: Some Pomeranians can suffer from a variety of allergies, ranging from contact allergies to food allergies. If your Pomeranian is licking his paws or rubbing his face a great deal, suspect that he has an allergy and have him checked by your vet.
    • Epilepsy: Some Pomeranians develop epilepsy and have seizures. If your Pom has seizures, take him to the vet to determine what treatment is appropriate.
    • Eye Problems: Pomeranians are prone to a variety of eye problems, including cataracts, dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca) (dryness of the cornea and the conjunctiva), and tear duct problems. These problems can appear in young adult dogs and may lead to blindness if untreated. Contact your vet if you notice any redness, scarring, or excessive tearing.
    • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia occurs occasionally in Pomeranians. Many factors, including genetics, environment and diet, are thought to contribute to this deformity of the hip joint. Affected Pomeranians usually are able to lead normal, healthy lives, unlike some of the large and giant breeds, who require surgery to get around easily.
    • Legg-Perthes Disease: This is another disease involving the hip joint. Many toy breeds are prone to this condition. When your Pomeranian has Legg-Perthes, the blood supply to the head of the femur (the large rear leg bone) is decreased and the head of the femur that connects to the pelvis begins to disintegrate. Usually, the first signs of Legg-Perthes occur when puppies are 4 to 6 months old. The first signs are limping and atrophy of the leg muscle. Qualified vets can perform a surgery to cut off the diseased femur so that it isn't attached to the pelvis any longer. The scar tissue that results from the surgery creates a "false joint" and the puppy is usually pain free.
    • Patellar Luxation: This is a very common problem for Poms. The patella is the kneecap. Luxation means dislocation of an anatomical part (as a bone at a joint). Patellar luxation is when the knee joint (often of a hind leg) slides in and out of place, causing pain. This can be crippling, but many dogs lead relatively normal lives with this condition.
    • Collapsed Trachea: This is a condition in which the trachea, which carries air to the lungs, tends to collapse easily. The most common sign of a collapsed trachea is a chronic, dry, harsh cough that many describe as being similar to a "goose honk." Since it can be caused by pulling too hard against a collar while walking, you should train your Pom to walk nicely beside you instead of pulling at the leash, or use a harness instead of a collar. Collapsed trachea can be treated medically or surgically.
    • Dental Problems: Poms are prone to teeth and gum problems and early tooth loss. Watch for dental problems and take your Pom to the vet for regular dental exams.
  • Care

    Pomeranians are very active indoors and are good choices for apartment dwellers and people without a fenced yard. They have a moderate activity level and will enjoy several short daily walks or play times.

    They are remarkably hearty and enjoy longer walks, but always keep in mind that they are small and sensitive to heat. They love to play and can get bored easily, so be sure to give them lots of toys and rotate them frequently so there's always something new. They especially enjoy toys that challenge them.

    One activity that both you and your Pom will enjoy is trick training. Poms love to learn new things and enjoy being the center of attention, so teaching them tricks is a perfect way to bond with them while providing them with exercise and mental stimulation.

    They have a short attention span, so keep training sessions brief and fun. Reward your Pom with praise, treats, or play whenever he correctly performs a command or does something else you like.

  • Feeding

    Recommended daily amount: 1/4 to 1/2 cup of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.

    Note: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.

    For more on feeding your Pom, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.

  • Coat, Color and Grooming

    The Pomeranian's glory is his thick, stand-out, double coat with an undercoat of soft, thick, fluffy hair and a top coat of long, straight, shiny hair that's harsh to the touch. The longer hair around the neck and chest forms a frill, enhancing the Pom's proud appearance.

    The Pom's tail is another outstanding characteristic of the breed. The plumed tail with its profusion of hair lies flat, fanning out upon the dog's back. Interestingly, when Poms are born, their tails don't look like this. It may take months for the tail to develop this way.

    One of the great things about Pomeranians is that they come in any color or pattern you can imagine in dogs, including black, black and tan, blue, blue and tan, chocolate, chocolate and tan, cream, cream sable, orange, orange sable, red, red sable, sable (black-tipped hairs on a background of silver, gold, gray, fawn, or brown), brindle (a base color of gold, red, or orange with strong black cross stripes), and white. Poms that are white with patches of any other color are called "parti-colored."

    Poms are considered to shed moderately. Males typically shed their undercoats once a year. Unspayed females often shed their undercoats when they are in season, after they deliver a litter, and whenever they're stressed.

    To keep hair off your clothes and furniture, brush and comb your Pom at least twice weekly with a wire slicker brush and metal comb. This distributes the skin's natural oils, keeps the coat and skin healthy, and prevent mats or tangles. Be sure you brush and comb all the way down to the skin to remove all the shedding undercoat.

    Start brushing your Pom at his head, and then part the coat and brush it forward so it falls back in place when you are finished. If you want, you can trim your Pom occasionally for neatness, especially on the feet, around the face and ears, and around the rear end.

    You can bathe him as often as you like, whether that's daily or monthly, as long as you use a mild dog shampoo and conditioner. If he starts to smell a little doggy between baths, sprinkle some baby powder on his coat, let it sit a few minutes, and then brush it out.

    Other grooming needs include dental hygiene and nail care. Poms are prone to dental problems, so this is something that you must be especially watchful for. It's a good idea to brush their teeth at least once a week, and even better, daily.

    Trim nails regularly if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Short, neatly trimmed nails keep your legs from getting scratched when your Pom enthusiastically jumps up to greet you.

    Begin accustoming your Pomeranian to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth and ears. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.

    As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the ears, nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Ears should smell good, without too much wax or gunk inside, and eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.

  • Children and other pets

    The bold and active Pomeranian loves to play, but he's best suited to a home with older children who can be trusted to handle him carefully. Many breeders refuse to sell puppies to homes with very young children, for good reason. Sturdy though he is, the diminutive Pom is all too easily injured if he's accidentally dropped or stepped on by a clumsy child.

    Always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he's eating or to try to take the dog's food away. No dog should ever be left unsupervised with a child.

    Pomeranians can get along great with cats and other animals, especially if they're raised with them. Protect them from bigger dogs. Poms don't realize just how small they are, and they have no fear of challenging bigger dogs.

  • Rescue Groups

    Pomeranians are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Poms in need of adoption and or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. If you don't see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a Pom rescue.

  • All Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability

    Measures how well this breed potentially adapts to different environments

  • Trainability

    Measures the amount and difficulty of training potentially required for this breed

  • Health & Grooming

    Measures how much effort this breed potentially needs to keep a tidy hound and home

  • All-around friendliness

    Measures this breed's potential to get along with other dogs and humans

  • Exercise needs

    Measures this breed's potential to require lots of physical activity

  • Almost always

    Adapt well to apartment living

    Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make -- plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.

  • Extremely

    Affectionate with family

    Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.

  • A lot!

    Amount of shedding

    If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.

  • Not usually

    Dog friendly

    Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.

  • Very low

    Drooling potential

    Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog that rates low in the drool department.

  • Not particularly

    Easy to groom

    Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.

  • Somewhat

    Easy to train

    Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.

  • Moderate

    Energy level

    High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.

  • Low

    Exercise needs

    Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.

  • Sometimes

    Friendly toward strangers

    Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.

  • Fair

    General health

    Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.

  • Usually

    Good for novice owners

    Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.

  • Medium

    Intelligence

    Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.

  • Low

    Intensity

    A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.

  • Not usually

    Kid friendly

    Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.

    **All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.

  • Low

    Potential for mouthiness

    Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.

  • Moderate

    Potential for playfulness

    Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.

  • High

    Potential for weight gain

    Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.

  • Low

    Prey drive

    Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by -- cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars -- can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.

  • High

    Sensitivity level

    Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.

  • Miniature

    Size

    Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space.

  • High

    Tendency to bark or howl

    Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?

  • Very poorly

    Tolerates being alone

    Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.

  • Quite well

    Tolerates cold weather

    Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.

  • Poorly

    Tolerates hot weather

    Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.

  • Very low

    Wanderlust potential

    Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.

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