What is the Breed Standard?
The breed standard is a written document that describes the ideal Pomeranian. It is the "standard of perfection"
for which all breeders of Pomeranians should be striving. The standard has been gradually revised and
refined over the last century by Pomeranian fanciers up until the present day. Contrary to popular belief,
the standard is not created or set by AKC, it is controlled by the American Pomeranian Club
and its members, which consist of hundreds of Pomeranian breeders, exhibitors, judges, handlers, and owners. It is the Pomeranian fancy,
as a whole, that decides as a general concensus what the standard should be.
The Pomeranian Breed Standard
Why Have a Standard?
The Pomeranian is a purebred dog. Pure breeds were all created for a purpose and with specific characteristics in mind.
If we did not breed for these specific characteristics, they would gradually be lost over time. If you don't
select for specific traits unique to a breed, then you lose them. So, whenever a Pomeranian is bred, it SHOULD
be with these unique characteristics in mind, and with the aim being to continue these traits on (and improve on the dog
where it is faulty) in the next generation. If breeders didn't do this, we would no longer see
Pomeranians as we think of them: double-coated, spitz-type dogs with short backs, short muzzles, small, high-set ears,
a tail that lies flat on the back that weigh 3 to 7 pounds.
In fact, you already see this phenomenon in action when
you look at the dogs bred by people who do not show their dogs or keep the breed standard in mind when
breeding; they tend to have larger (7lb+) poms, with long backs relative to their length of leg,
long pointy muzzles, large ears, and incorrect flat coats. This is why so many pet buyers are disappointed when
they go to buy a puppy and it grows up looking nothing like the small, heavily coated, short-muzzled
pom they saw on the TV at Westminster.
Testing Your Dog Against the Standard
Anyone who is a breeder or who would like to be, needs to compare each of their dogs to the written breed
standard to find out where they do and do not "conform" to the standard. But first you have to understand the
standard. Reading it is only the begginning. Some of the language is vague or hard to understand if you are
a new person. To a certain degree you have to refine your "eye" before you can really see the distinction
between a dog who does largely conform to the standard and one who does not.
While a lot of study (of real dogs, of the standard, and of articles on the standard, structure, and movement)
can help, breeders also need to "put their dogs to the test". This is done by entering your dogs in shows.
At a show, a judge, who is knowledgable about the breed standard, will evaluate your dog and rank them relative to
the competition. The idea here is to get an OBJECTIVE opinion on the extent to which your dog exemplifies the breed.
Anyone can SAY their dog is a great example of the breed--but does anyone else agree?
Reputable breeders will enter most of their breeding stock in shows at some point in their lives,
and will show quite a few of them to enough wins to attain their Championship. This
says that enough judges felt their dog was a superb example of the breed that they are worthy of that title.
It is vital that breeders get outside opinions on their breeding stock so they can guard against "Kennel blindness"--
which basically means believing your dogs are better (or perhaps perfect!) than they really are because
you are blinded by your love for your own dogs or perhaps your own ego.