So, you think you'd like a Pomsky...

google plus image of a Pomsky.

Cute, isn't it? 

This picture has been doing the rounds on Instagram and Facebook recently, advertising the idea of a Pomeranian Husky X, a tiny (and therefore theoretically more manageable) version of a Siberian husky. To most people, it sounds like a good idea, but, talking to breeders, there are a number of serious issues that are raised by this idea. 

Let me say up front, I personally I have no issue with cross breeds, when they are bred carefully, raised and socialised well, well kept and well loved. Through the sled racing community I know, admire and respect people who breed, keep and race Alaskan huskies and  Eurohounds. So why do I think there are issues with another husky cross breed?

My first reason is my concerns about a Pomsky's health and wellbeing. Alaskan huskies and Eurohounds don't have the cuteness factor that a Pomsky does. Alaskans and Eurohounds are not appropriate or highly desired for the pet market, which means that they are carefully bred in limited numbers for owners who understand their needs and can cater for them. The Pomsky, however, is highly likely to be bred for profit, popular with puppy farmers and the kind of pet store that likes to put cute puppies in glass boxes for impulse purchases. Puppy farmers are notorious for putting limited resources into their breeding stock - minimal housing, minimal food, minimal healthcare - to maximise the profit per puppy. It doesn't matter what someone thinks about the hybrid vigour argument, if the puppy comes from parents who aren't registered and haven't been tested for genetic diseases or conditions, with minimal nutrition, the chance of that puppy being free of hip or eye or other issues is going to drop.

My second reason is that I see there being a real risk of Pomskies being dumped in large numbers, leading to horrible periods in pounds, hoping to be adopted before the clock runs out and they are put to sleep. Any small, cute, fluffy puppy that is purchased on impulse runs this risk - just look at breeds like West Highland Terriers - small, cute, fluffy, "easy" dogs to own, but they are dumped in shocking numbers. A destructive or naughty puppy of any breed, bought on impulse by someone who hasn't really considered how much time they can devote to a dog, may quickly find itself looking for a new home.  A puppy that contains even SOME of the energy of a husky is definitely going to put its owners through some trials and tribulations. SHCV puts a huge amount of time and energy supporting new husky owners, and many of these are pedigreed, well bred dogs whose owners sat on a waiting list for months to acquire. If a Pomsky puppy turns out to have health issues, such as chronic pain from badly formed hips, or need surgery (I recently heard of a puppy who had to have his penis corrected due to a genetic defect!) than their chance of being dumped, abandoned or surrendered is even higher. No dog deserves that!

My third reason is that I think people are going to have all kinds of misunderstandings about what a Pomsky will be like. Temperament is based on a weird combination of genetics and early training/socialisation. Even if a Pomsky is bred by an ethical breeder who does a full health screen of both parents, who works hard to make sure puppies are well socialised and well equipped to go out into the world, that puppy is still going to be a cocktail of Pomeranian and husky. One of the many reasons why people may prefer a pedigreed purebred, is that a pedigreed puppy's genetic cocktail is well understood and predictable. Any cross breed is much harder to pinpoint on a range of traits. A Pomeranian is a toy dog who generally bonds with their owner. A husky is an independent dog who needs firm leadership from its owner. A Pomsky could be either, or a unique combination of the two. In fact, we're not really sure what a Pomsky looks like, because that picture above isn't actually a Pomsky - its a Finnish Lapphund.

My fourth and last reason is that there are many, better alternatives to Pomskies. If you like the look of that puppy above, try a Finnish Lapphund. Alternatively, Pomeranians, Keeshond, German Spitz and Alaskan Klee Kais are just some of the small breeds with similar gorgeous coats, some with husky markings, that are available from ethical breeders here in Australia. Because these are all registered breeds, (the Pomsky is not yet recognised by any Kennel Club) their pedigrees are known and understood, their genetic risks are known and can be tested for, and their temperaments, full body size and life span are known and predictable. Puppies from ethical breeders who have properly tested their dogs and chosen the healthiest and soundest parents, are less likely to have painful or limiting health issues. (Potential buyers should research carefully to find what sort of risks are attached to their potential breeds and talk to Kennels like Malpitzky about their testing to understand how comprehensive it can be!) Potential owners and their lifestyles can be matched more accurately with an appropriate dog.

At the moment, there are no breeders that I know of here in Australia, trying to develop the Pomsky. There IS a Pomsky Club of America, which has an impressive code of ethics. If they carefully develop a healthy founding population, perhaps in fifty or a hundred years, the Pomsky may be able to petition for recognition as a separate breed. But for now, any person advertising Pomsky puppies for sale in Australia should be treated with greatest suspicion.

Thankyou to the large number of people who answered questions and gave me valuable ideas on this topic - the views represented here are my own, but they are the result of considerable reading and research - including conversations with many breeders with much experience in developing the best possible dogs they can. Any errors are my own.

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