Pomskies - a genetic lottery.

Recently I had a great chat to a bloke from the UK called Dave about his pomskies. He sent me some photos and told me the story of his dogs. Its a fascinating insight into the process of creating a cross breed, with all the challenges of the genetic lottery.

Dave found a breeder who sounds like a great choice - very keen to ensure the health of their puppies through thorough testing of all parents, very keen to remain in touch with owners and happy to take back puppies to ensure rehoming to an appropriate party when people have been unable to keep their puppy. That's two of the things that I consider to be the mark of a responsible, ethical breeder. This is especially important with a cross-breed that doesn't come under the guidance of a breed or kennel club, leaving the breeders unregulated and able to make up their own rules.

Dave's three pomskies, Saskia, Neoh and Anuk, show a huge amount of variation, despite their breeder using the same father for all of their litters in this first phase of the cross breeding. Anuk, the eldest, is white and Neoh, the youngest, is agouti coloured, both with one blue and one brown eye. They weigh in at around 16-17 kg. Little Saskia is only 8kg. The range in colour and pattern is quite typical for husky puppies, but the weight range is not. My understanding is that within litters from pure bred huskies, the adult weight range would be much narrower, especially with one parent in common. However, in each cross bred puppy, the number of husky traits and the number of pomeranian traits combines in an unpredictable way.

Dave says the breeder is working on a careful breeding program, with a goal of stabilising the weight range to around 10kg. This will them much closer to beagles, which are classified as a small breed, than either the huskies (20-25kg, medium) or the pomeranians (4-5kg, toy).

Another very important aspect that is affected by cross breeding is temperament. Temperament is also one of the hardest things to control when breeding, because it is highly dependent on training, environment and owner personality. However, the general personalities of the husky and the pomeranian are quite different - the husky is known to be independent and sometimes aloof, while pomeranians, like many toy breeds, are bred to be companions, and can suffer badly from separation anxiety. So when you take two highly intelligent breeds, one that can't be trusted off lead and needs Houdini-proof enclosures, and one that can't be separated from its people, there is no guarantee that you will get a nice middle ground as a result.

Dave tells me that his dogs show a range of temperaments - some food possessiveness, some good recall, some clinginess. Interestingly, he describes Saskia - the smallest - as being the most husky-like - very clever, but she decides to do what she wants when she wants. 

I still think that creating a new Spitz cross breed is a bit redundant when there are so many Spitz breeds already around, but I am fascinated by the process and the outcomes that pomsky breeders are producing. It will take several years and several generations to establish some kind of consistency within the mix, and one of the challenges that came up in my discussions with Dave, is the global nature of this endeavour. Historically, new breeds have been developed within one geographic location, which often forms part of their name - Siberian huskies from Siberia, Pomeranians from the Poland/German border region. The pomsky is a cross breed that is being simultaneously worked on in Australia, the UK, the USA and probably other parts of the world too. Without being a registered breed, they have no guiding breed standard to keep the mix within certain limits. It will be interesting to see whether the breeders eventually make the effort to share their stock in the hope of uniting the different lines, or if we end up with a situation like Corgis, where the Pembroke and Cardigan strains, both originally from Wales, are recognised as separate breeds.

Thanks to Dave for his insights into pomskies in the UK, and permission to use his pictures and story. Unless otherwise stated, all opinions are my own, as are any errors or mistakes. Remember that if you are shopping for a puppy, please do your research carefully and support ethical, responsible breeders and shelters, not pet shops and puppy farms.