Over the last decade, so-called ‘designer’, or ‘hybrid’, dogs have grown in popularity. One such example is the Pomeranian Chihuahua Mix (often also referred to as a Pomchi). The Pomchi is one of many designer dog mixed breeds, and can make wonderful family pets, but you should be aware that each dog could vary greatly in appearance and personality traits.
Because of the popularity of some of these ‘designer’ crosses, it does mean that there are unscrupulous breeders who are looking to make a fast buck without keeping the welfare of the dogs in mind. Understanding a bit more about the two breeds being crossed, and making sure you do your research if you are planning to adopt or buy a Pomchi is an integral part of the process.
One thing is for sure; with a Pomchi, you can expect a small dog with a big personality! These breeds are both very different when doing a side by side comparison, so let’s take a look at what you can expect when you combine the two.
Parent Breed Histories
The Pomeranian is the smallest member of the Spitz family of dogs. This group, which includes the Malamute as well as the Siberian Husky, Shiba Inu and Samoyed, originates, in their earliest form, from the Siberian Arctic region, and they are easily recognizable because of their dense coats and tails that curl over their back.
The Pomeranian, who was originally bigger than its modern counterpart, was named after the region it came from. The province of Pomerania was part of old Prussia, a region which now spans part of Poland and Germany. The breed was popular in its early days with some influential figures, and it is said that Michelangelo, Isaac Newton and Mozart all owned and loved a Pom.
It was not until the breed caught the attention of Queen Victoria in the 19th century that they really came to prominence. It was around this time that there was a focus on breeding smaller Poms too. The American Kennel Club recognized them in 1888, and by the early 20th century the breed started gaining real popularity in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Their size and spunky personalities mean they remain popular to this day and in 2018, the AKC ranked them as the 22nd most popular breed.
The Chihuahua originated in a completely different area; the State in Mexico from which it is named after. Its lineage dates back to ancient times though, and they are believed to be closely related to a dog that was present in the mesoamerican Toltec civilization, called the Techichi. These dogs continued to be used for food and rituals when the Aztecs conquered the region.
Regardless of their earlier history, we know that the Chihuahua, as we currently recognize it, was brought over from Mexico to the United States in the late 19th century, they were registered with the AKC in 1904, and this tiniest of breeds grew in popularity over the coming decades. In 2018 the AKC ranked them as the 32nd most popular breed.
With a Pomchi, you know that you are going to have a small dog. The Chihuahua is one of the smallest breeds in the world and generally does not weigh more than around 6 pounds. The Pomeranian may look bigger because of its fluffy coat, but actually, they usually do not weigh more than 7 pounds. This mix is in stark contrast in size to another popular Pom mix; the Siberian Husky Pom Mix, often referred to as the Pomsky.
Pomeranians have a very dense double coat, whereas Chihuahuas tend to have a single coat, but it can either be short or long haired. This means the coat type could vary considerably with each dog. Coat color can vary too as both breeds come in a wide range of shades. Some of the more common colors include red, orange, black, brown and cream in the Pom; and fawn, cream, black, tan and blue in the Chi.
Both dogs have pricked, pointed ears, but the Pom snout tends to be longer than the Chi. A Chi snout tends to be a little flatter.
Your Pomchi could also end up with a spitz-like, curled tail if they pick this up from the Pom side.
It is highly likely that you will end up with a small dog with a mighty personality. Both breeds are known for being feisty little characters. They are also both known for their intelligence, strong and often willful characters, confidence, and propensity towards being vocal.
The Pomeranian is known for being a bit of a guard dog, and they can be fiercely protective of their family, home and territory.
Chihuahuas often bond strongly with one member of the household and they can become very attached. While this can be nice for their owner, it can sometimes mean they can be prone to separation anxiety, and they can also resource guard their humans if this is not carefully managed.
Both breeds are often dogs that do well as the only pet in the home and thrive on getting all the family attention. They can live well in multi-dog households, but their sassy personalities can lead to clashes, so careful management may be required to integrate them smoothly.
While both dogs enjoy being showered with attention from their people, they are not always the best dogs to have in a household with young children. Neither are known for being the most patient and tolerant and, if the children are too excitable or rough, this may not be fair on the dog and could also result in a nip if interactions are not extremely carefully managed.
With proper introductions and socialization they can get on well with other dogs, but care should be taken not to encourage any bossy or guarding behavior. Both breeds, and especially the Chihuahua, can become reactive if they feel threatened by other dogs. Owners often make the mistake of thinking it is initially cute or not a big deal, given their size. Not only can it quickly become out of control, but it is not fair on the other dog and, if another dog decides to retaliate, the smaller Pomchi is likely to come off much worse. If they have a bad incident with another dog, it can cause them to become fearful, and the behavior can increase. Always reward positive interactions and calm behavior.
Their size also means that they are more fragile and prone to injury. Care should be taken to ensure bigger dogs are not too boisterous, even in play, and care should be taken, even around the house, to ensure they are not trodden upon or handled too roughly.
Their size means that they can be good dogs for apartment living and they are often popular dogs with the elderly, where they can get lots of attention from an adoring owner.
People often assume that, because of their size, they will be an easy dog to own, but they are not always suited to novice dog owners as they can be bossy, demanding, stubborn and sometimes overprotective. They need appropriate socialization and training to prevent bad habits from developing.
As mentioned above, they can sometimes be reactive with other dogs and patience, gradual introductions and positive training techniques will be required to encourage your Pomchi to be relaxed and offer polite greetings around other dogs.
Care should be taken to ensure that you don’t let them become too bossy or demanding. They are both smart little dogs and respond extremely well to positive training methods. Make sure that you always reward them from getting down off the sofa when asked, for allowing you to swap out a beloved toy for a treat, and encourage lots of positive interactions with other people and dogs to avoid guarding or reactive behavior developing.
Because of their tendency to be vocal, it will also be important not to encourage too much barking. Instead, make sure that you always reward quiet behavior. Barking can be one of the biggest problem behaviors that owners of a Pomchi may face.
People often make the mistake of assuming that a mix like a Pomchi will be one that won’t need much exercise because of their size. Both breeds are pretty high energy and benefit from good daily walks and other exercise and enrichment. They are intelligent and active dogs and if they do not get enough physical and mental stimulation then problem behaviors can escalate quickly.
Too many toy breed owners make the mistake of carrying their dogs around in bags rather than getting them down on the ground for a proper walk. Not only is it better for them physically, but it also provides much more mental stimulation. They get the opportunity to sniff, make more of their own choices, and to interact more appropriately with other dogs.
Both breeds often enjoy accompanying their owners on longer hikes and, if their little legs do get tired, if you make sure they are relaxed in it, this is when it may be more appropriate for them to ‘get a lift’ in an appropriate carrier.
A Pomchi, given their intelligence and spunky personalities, would likely make a good dog sports competitor. They are known to be enthusiastic and proficient agility competitors, although care must be taken to ensure the obstacles are not too big for them.
Depending on the type of coat that they inherit, the grooming requirements of your Pomchi could vary considerably. If they have the smooth, short coat of the Chi, then they will just need a brush out once a week to remove any dead hair. This could be more during molting season.
If they inherit the Pom coat, then a more rigorous grooming regime will be required to minimize the chance of tangles and mats developing, and they will need a full brush out at least two or three times a week. Some owners will give a light trim to the coat to help keep it manageable.
Clipping and closer cutting of the coat has become more fashionable with Pomeranians in recent years. Many enthusiasts recommend that you avoid doing this. Not only can it change the coat texture and condition; it may not grow back as fully or as well, but it can also leave your dog exposed to more risk of sunburn or heat stroke as they cannot regulate their temperature as effectively. This is particularly true of the Lion cut, when the entire body is shaved close down to the skin, leaving only the neck and face covered.
The Teddy Bear cut is probably the most popular, and this one is where the coat is shaved or trimmed down to around 1 or 2 inches long, and it gives the dog a fluffy appearance. If you cannot keep up with the coat maintenance, then having a trim like this may be beneficial for your dog as it will avoid them having any uncomfortable mats, which may end up having to be clipped out anyway.
A Pomchi could inherit medical conditions from both breeds, so it is useful to understand what conditions each are prone to. It is also important, if you are buying a Pomchi puppy, that you find a responsible breeder that has done appropriate health checks on the parents as this can minimize the risk of the puppies inheriting some of these conditions.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy: This is a condition which is not treatable and will lead to eventual complete blindness. It does not have to be a life-limiting condition though and, with the right support, a dog can continue to have an excellent quality of life living without their sight.
Luxating Patella: This is common in small breeds, including Pomeranians. This condition is when the knee slips out of place. The problem can be graded in terms of severity. Sometimes no action is required, sometimes some pain meds and alternative therapies can be useful, and in chronic cases, surgery may be required.
Hypothyroidism: An underactive thyroid is a relatively common condition in Poms. You may notice your dog is gaining weight despite not having a change in diet or exercise levels, and they may lose their coat condition and become more lethargic. Once the condition has been diagnosed, it is usually manageable with the use of medication.
Collapsing Trachea: This is another condition that is common amongst small breeds. It can be serious as it can restrict the airways and cause breathing problems. If your dog is experiencing this problem, you may notice that they start to cough and it will sound like a goose honking. It is always recommended to use a harness on a small breed like a Pom to reduce the pressure on their delicate neck area, and it can help to minimize the chances of this condition occurring.
Epilepsy: Poms are known to suffer from Epilepsy occasionally. It is usually not known what is causing this, so it is referred to as being Idiopathic. While it can be extremely distressing for dog and owner when a seizure occurs, it can often be successfully managed with medication and sometimes even simple lifestyle changes. Make sure that you seek veterinary advice.
Chihuahuas are also known to be more prone to developing Idiopathic Epilepsy, Luxating Patella and a Collapsing Trachea. The conditions below are also common in the breed.
Hydrocephalus: This is a life-threatening condition seen in puppies when fluid builds up in the skull and puts pressure on the brain. It is relatively common in Chihuahua puppies. While there is no cure, there are treatments that can help manage the condition but, in severe cases, the prognosis is not good.
Heart Problems: Chihuahuas can be prone to congenital heart problems, including murmurs and Mitral Valve Disease. Some of these conditions can be life-limiting, and some can be managed. A responsible breeder will always do appropriate health checks to help minimize the chances of heart problems being inherited.
Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar levels (referred to as Hypoglycemia) can affect some Chihuahua puppies. Usually, a puppy will start to become confused, listless and uncoordinated if they are suffering from low blood sugar levels and immediate veterinary treatment should be sought. If caught quickly, it can be easily treated, and it is something that they will usually grow out of.
As with any dog, it is important to feed your Pomchi a high quality, portion controlled diet. Chihuahuas can be prone to obesity, especially if they have an owner that spoils them too much. Treats and tidbits should be healthy and fed in moderation, ideally not making up more than 10% of their daily diet.
Small breed dogs like this can also be prone to more dental problems, so making sure that you have a strict dental hygiene regime will be beneficial.
Breeders & Puppy Costs
There are lots of breed specific rescues across the country, and you may be able to find a Pomchi to adopt through one of them. Adoption, regardless of the breed or mix, can be hugely rewarding. You can find Pomchis at rescues, ad you can many other Pom mixes.
If you plan to buy a puppy, make sure you do your research. Mixed breeds like this do not have accredited breeders, so doing your homework is all the more critical. You don’t want to inadvertently be supporting cruel and unscrupulous backyard breeders or puppy mills. They often separate mum from her pups far too early, they breed indiscriminately regardless of health or temperament, and pups don’t receive the appropriate early socialization they need to help them be well rounded.
If you live in an apartment and are looking for a small, sassy and active little dog with plenty of personalities, then a Pomchi could be a good match for you. You’ll need to make sure you are comfortable with regular grooming, but outside of that, there’s not much downside to own one of these little pups!
They are not likely to be the easiest dog though and will suit a home that is ready to put in the work and training required. The Pomchi is a great breed for first-time owners, and a fun breed for the entire family!