“Ever heard of a Pomsky?”
If you asked that question back in 2012, you probably would have been met with a puzzled look followed by: “a whatsky?”
Now, less than five years later the Pomsky has become one of the most popular, and visible, dog breeds in the world.
The meteoric rise of the Pomsky dog breed is as baffling as it is fascinating.
How, in such a short amount of time did a dog breed go from complete obscurity to being embedded in the popular consciousness almost as firmly as Dalmatian, Cocker Spaniel, and Schnauzer?
While attempting to answer that question, I quickly realized that the story of the Pomsky dog breed was unlike any other in history. The more I learned, and the deeper I dug, the more amazing the story became. A combination of accident and deceit, ignited by the power of the internet, combined to essentially create this dog breed completely out of thin air.
The essential players in this story are as unusual as the story itself; a bearded Swedish Photographer, BuzzFeed, Reddit, an escape artist Husky, and a pair of friends in Tennessee all played essential and distinct roles in the creation and rise of the Pomsky. Without each of their unknowing collaboration, the Pomsky Dog may not exist today.
Origin Story – The Pomsky Myth (2009-11)
The earliest evidence of a Pomeranian/Husky mix wasn’t seen until late 2009:
On December 17th, 2009, a justanswer.com user named Tammy posted a question to the sites “Dog Health” section inquiring about the mental stability of a Pomeranian/Siberian Husky mixed dog that her family was considering adopting from the local Humane Society. The veterinarian, Dr. Scott, replied that the mix was very unlikely and speculated that the Human Society might be guessing about the breeds of the parents. After reviewing the picture (now unavailable) on the Human Society’s website, he confirmed that while he saw the Husky genetics in the young dog’s appearance, he still doubted the Pomeranian.
Even though the entire exchange was possibly, or likely, based on an error in judgement by a Human Society worker, the idea of the Pomeranian Husky mix, aka the Pomsky, was born.
The name “Pomsky” in and of itself, is quite catchy and memorable. It’s cutesy sound sticks in your mind and certainly contributed to the initial attraction to the idea of the cross-breed. Pomsky, a combination of Pom-eranian and Hu-sky, certainly embodies the idea of a fluffy, cute puppy better than Huskeranian would.
Soon, the attraction to the name led to a few pictures popping up around the internet. Although no one had any “real” pomsky pictures, it didn’t stop people from posting pictures of other cute, fuzzy puppies and labeling them “Pomsky”. Even though the pictures were all frauds, it didn’t matter, the idea quickly spread. One of the most famous “fake Pomskies” was a picture of a Finnish Lapphund named Tequila by the Swedish Photographer Tommie Ohlson.
By early February, 2011 Tequila’s picture had caught the attention of BuszzFeed editor Peggy Wang. She quickly saw the viral opportunity behind these cute puppies (as BuzzFeed Editors tend to), and posted an article titled: “Pomskies – The Pomeranian + Siberian Husky Mix: the cutest designer dog breed ever?” containing five pictures, none of which were actual Pomskies.
As of the writing of Mrs. Wang’s article, the Pomsky was little more than an urban legend, or internet myth, with no actual documented litters anywhere in the world.
Despite this fact, the public’s desire to believe the myth beat out reality and the BuzzFeed article went viral receiving over 15,000 views in the first 3 days.
Shortly after the article posted, two reports of unverified accidental Pomeranian/Husky breeding’s surfaced:
- A woman named Fiona Young-Brown read the BuzzFeed article and commented that she had a pair of 8 year-old Pomsky dogs she had rescued back in 2003.
- A breeder near Sydney, Australia began to pop up on various forums claiming to have had an accidental litter when her male Husky escaped from its locked cage and mated with their female Pomeranian who had been tied up on the other side of the house. The sudden boom in Pomsky notoriety had caused their advertisement on the website Gumtree (like Craigslist for Australia) to receive over 500 e-mail inquiries in one week.
It was clear that their was an extremely high public demand for the breed. With these reports the idea of the Pomeranian Husky mix went from theoretical, to possible.
The buzz from Peggy Wang’s article spread onto other social media platforms. Soon Pomsky references were popping up everywhere. Reddit user u/notamopiu stole Peggy Wang’s (stolen from Tommie Ohlson) photo of Tequila: the Finnish Lapphund, and posted it to the r/aww subreddit. The picture quickly gained traction and soon reached Reddit’s front page, further increasing the (still mostly fictional) breeds notoriety.
By this point in time, two things were completely clear:
- The public was infatuated with the idea of the Pomsky
- Virtually no one had ever actually seen a real Pomsky
Eventually though, in June 2011, an actual Pomsky photo surfaced, and the internet got to see the first real video of a Pomsky ever recorded. Andre Ling, an Australian who got his Pomsky from the same accidental litter advertised on Gumtree, uploaded a video of his adolescent Pomsky. Named “Cody”, the minute long video showed the Pomsky playing with a large “Kong” treat toy.
Like all other Pomsky content, the video and quickly went viral, and Cody built a significant social media following.
As one of the first documented Pomsky owners, Mr. Ling faced some unique challenges while raising Cody:
“There was no accessible precedence’s for me to know what Cody will turn out to be in terms of temperament, size, and color. Didn’t know if he will have any medical issues when he grows older. He was always changing! One day he is darker brown and the next day he is a few shades lighter.” – Andre Ling, early Pomsky owner
Still, like many others, Mr. Ling was attracted to the uniqueness of the breed:
“To be honest, I don’t think there is another mix like Cody and his 6 siblings – having a Husky father and a Pomeranian mother. Can I be bold enough to claim Cody as the first ‘Husky x Pomeranian’?” – Andre Ling
Even though Cody was one of the earliest mixes of the two breeds, the moniker “Pomsky” was coined sometime before:
“The word Pomsky was around before Cody was born. Somehow it was floating about, but no one seemed to know what it is or have seen any. In Cody’s case, I would prefer to call him a ‘Huskeranian’ but no one uses it as ‘Pomsky’ is cuter.” – Andre Ling
As 2011 moved along, Pomsky “pictures” continued popping up all over the internet. Pinterest, Facebook, Reddit, and Viral news sites were regularly featuring posts and articles about the designer breed. Hundreds of comments began appearing below these articles and posts. They were mostly written by people all asking the same question: “Where can I get a Pomsky of my own?”.
The idea of the Pomsky had grown so popular that it had become its own self-filling prophecy. It was only a matter of time before a breeder would step up to attempt to breed the first “intentional” Pomsky litter.
The public simply “wished” the breed into existence, and one day, *POOF*, there it was.
The First Pomsky Breeders (2012)
In 2011 Tressa Peterson, an established dog breeder, saw the mislabeled photo of Tequila, the Finnish Lapphund, and became intrigued by the idea of a Pomeranian/Husky mix. Her intrigue turned into curiosity and she began to do some serious research about the possibilities of the mixed breed.
“I had always loved the idea of a miniature husky but was not interested in the Alaskan Klee Kai because I wanted something that looked more like a Siberian Husky (heavier boned with a fuller coat). I also wanted a dog that would be more friendly and outgoing than the akk.” (sic) – Tressa Peterson
Her curiosity eventually turned into an obsession as she began deeply researching the genetic possibilities of the hybrid for the next 12 months. Eventually her good friend Joline Phillips joined Tressa and introduced her to an Arizona woman named Tabetha Ruhstorfer who had a young female Husky and was interested in breeding her.
“She was nervous because she had never raised a litter of puppies before but we assured her we would be there every step of the way and she agreed to let us impregnate her Husky with our Pomeranian.” – Tressa Peterson
The fertilization was done through artificial insemination, and the pregnancy stuck. Just a few months later, on March 5th 2012, the first recorded American litter of Pomsky puppies was born.
After their initial breeding success, both Teressa Peterson (Apex Pomskies) and Joline Phillips (Arctic Design Pomskies) began to expand their breeding programs and focus solely on developing Pomskies.
Soon several other individuals began breeding as well, following the lead of Peterson and Phillips.
Pomskies Rise in Popularity (2013-16)
Only a short while after that first Pomsky litter, the cross-breed again reached new heights in popularity.
The tipping point which pushed Pomskies firmly into the public consciousness can be traced back to a video uploaded onto YouTube on October 3rd, 2013.
Apex Pomskies, Tressa Peterson’s Pomsky breeding business in Murfreesboro Tennessee, uploaded a video titled “Blue eyed pomskies”. This short 3 minute video showed her newest Pomsky litter playing together in their backyard. The adorable video went viral and further fueled the nationwide obsession with the breed.
Racking up hundreds of thousands of views in a short amount of time, this video can be pointed to as the seminal moment in the growth of the breeds popularity. Along with this publicity came a growing tidal-wave of demand. People all over the country saw that video and started dreaming of owning their own Pomsky.
The Rapid Growth of the Breed:
This influx of new potential owners overwhelmed the small number of breeders at the time. With fewer than 10 breeders in the whole country, there were simply too many people who wanted a Pomsky and too few Pomskies to supply the demand. Breeders had waiting lists longer than they could fill in years, and their inboxes and voicemails became so overfilled they couldn’t possibly respond to all the requests.
Seeing this increasing publicity and demand, the number of Pomsky breeders began to increase in 2013. Dozens of other breeders began to pop up all over the country, following the path blazed by Peterson and Phillips.
In New York, Ridge Rock Kennels began breeding Pomskies in early 2013 advertising the breed by stating on their website:
“We are proud to present The Pomsky, a Husky and Pomeranian hybrid. We believe this is the perfect Husky cross. Creating an incredible Apartment sized Husky for you and your family to enjoy for years to come!”
Delightful Pomskies, located in Tuscon Arizona, launched their business in March of 2013.
And with that the boom was on.
At least 27 new Pomsky breeders popped up across the country over the next 12 months, and several others started breeding in other countries around the world.
This new wave was a combination of two types of breeders:
- Established dog breeders who expanded into breeding Pomskies
- First time breeders who saw the opportunity as a chance to try their hand at dog-breeding.
Unfortunately, the boom in popularity of the Pomsky also attracted the attention of some unsavory individuals. Little Arctic Angels, formerly Snow Angels Huskies, started advertising Pomsky puppies for sale in late 2013. Located in Port Charlotte, Florida, the operation was quickly shut down due to health violations and labeled a “puppy mill” by Florida authorities
By late 2014, new breeders were seemingly popping up every week. While only six legitimate breeders were in operation on New Year’s eve 2013, by the same day the next year there would be 30 Pomsky breeders across the nation.
From Washington to Florida, and everywhere in-between, the public demand for Pomsky dogs was being met by these new breeders.
While some breeders seemed upset by the rapid growth of the breed, others welcomed it as a great sign towards the future legitimacy of the breed.
“My philosophy is that the more folks who create F1 litters, the better, as we want the foundation gene pool of this breed to be as large as possible for the future genetic diversity of the breed. The wider the gene pool, the fewer health problems down the road.” – Heather Demille, AKC Certified Breeder with Pomsky Northerns
While the rapid rise in the number of breeders temporarily quenched the public demand of potential owners, it was a double-edged sword. The increasing number of Pomsky owners actually led to even more exposure for the breed, adding fuel to the already burning fire.
Pomsky Breed Organizations
With so many new breeders, and so many inexperienced breeders, it gave name to another problem: How would so many different breeders come together to create a breed standard?
This problem is usually faced by every new dog breed in the beginning stages of the breeds formation. However, the rapid explosion in popularity of the Pomsky, combined with the influx of so many new breeders, so quickly, exasperated this issue beyond what nearly any other breed (with the possible exception of the Labradoodle) has ever experienced.
The Pomsky Club of America
In anticipation of the need for a central organization and defined set of breed standards, Tressa Peterson, owner of Apex Pomskies, formed the “Pomsky Club of America” in early 2013.
“We created the PCA to hold breeders to a higher standard so that buyers could safely buy a pomsky knowing that it was DNA verified and that their breeder was maintaining the highest standards for their dogs and puppies.” – Pomsky Club of America homepage
The PCA started with just a couple of breeders, but early on they indicated their desire to form a breed standard, and even introduce additional breeds into their lineage.
“We also needed to keep records of breedings, pedigrees and dna results because in the future we do plan to develop pomskies into an actual breed by incorporating other breeds once we have perfected the hybrid and learned more about what breeds could benefit our lines.” – Pomsky Club of America homepage
Despite their best intentions however, the PCA failed to gain traction, and remains a small organization with only 11 breeders. Still. they remain the organization with the most rigid standards required of their members. They state in their Code of Ethics:
- “Breeders will register all pomsky puppies with the PCA and require anyone purchasing pomskies with breeding rights to sign a contract stating that they will register their puppies through the PCA.”
- “Puppies will be sold on a strict spay/neuter agreement unless the new owner has been carefully reviewed and is willing to uphold PCA breeding standards.” (sic)
- “Females will have a maximum of 4 litters and then they will be spayed.”
- “Breeders will DNA test at least one puppy from all new pairings and submit a copy of the results to the PCA for our archives.” (sic)
Although not uncommon, there is a surprising lack of transparency about who is behind the PCA and who is running the organization. They list no president, founder, board members, or any individual on their webpage. It was only due to the internet sleuthing of the writers over at Pomsky Wiki that they uncovered an archived version of the website indicated Tressa Peterson of Apex Pomskies as the founder.
Unfortunately, there was some negative attention and publicity that surrounded the PCA in its early days. The organization received several negative reviews on complaintboard.com and the comments indicated that a member of the PCA may have been involved in scamming customers. This information was confirmed by the club on January 24th, 2013 in a Facebook post.
The organization removed the offending member and did distance itself from them, but the infighting and negative publicity could have been a contributing factor to the organizations lack of growth.
As of the writing of this article, the PCA had not returned multiple requests for comment.
The International Pomsky Association
Formed in July of 2014, the International Pomsky Association has quickly grown to become the biggest Pomsky association on the planet with 40 breeders world-wide.
The IPA states its purpose as follows:
“We are a group of Pomsky owners, breeders, and fanciers working to develop this exciting crossbreed into a true breed. We offer registration (individual and litter), pedigree tracking, titling opportunities, and breeder education and mentoring.” – IPA Homepage
Like the PCA, members of the IPA also must follow a strict code of ethics. A few examples of their codes are:
- I agree to be honest in my dealings, disclosing all information that I have about a dog or pedigree, including concerns about health, temperament, or husbandry.
- I agree to follow my veterinarian’s recommendations for health testing and vaccination share those recommendations and results with anyone who asks.
- I agree to do everything in my power to produce happy, healthy dogs with sound bodies and temperaments.
- I will not engage in breeding for wholesale. Under no circumstances will I sell a puppy through a retail pet sales outlet (i.e. pet store) or third party of any sort.
Additionally, the IPA set up the first ever Pomsky event, a virtual show in 2016. They stated that while they would ideally rather have a live show: “a virtual dog show stands in for that in our small, widespread community. In the future, we hope to offer in person shows as well.”
Like the PCA, the IPA is not transparent about who oversees the organization, if there are any board members, or who runs the website.
The IPA declined to comment for this article.
Other Pomsky Organizations
In addition to the two major associations, one other group has sprung up in an effort to establish a core organization for the breed.
The Pomsky Owners Association is a loosely organized group of breeders who work alongside the PCA and IPA to promote the breed. Formed only in February 2016, the group boasts nine breeders in its membership.
When reached for comment on this article, Jake Lang, spokesperson for the POA, stated that their mission is: “to generate as much reputable information as possible about the Pomsky breed and to create a place where owners and breeders can come together to share real information about the Pomsky breed.”
Continued Evolution and Growth
Much in the same way that the idea for the first litter of Pomskies was sparked by Tressa Peterson seeing an online photo. The continued evolution in popularity from 2014-2016 was again fueled by a wave people seeing pictures of cute Pomskies online.
Undoubtedly at least partly inspired by Boo the pomsky dog, starting in late 2013 pomsky puppies began popping up everywhere on-line, and specifically on social media.
On Facebook, the fan page ran by pomsky.org titled Pomsky Puppies launched to very little fanfare in 2012. However, as the breed gained popularity in 2013 and beyond, the site continued to post pictures of cute Pomsky puppies and the “likes” began to increase exponentially. As of now the page has garnered over 125,000 likes.
Twitter has also helped create several internet-famous Pomskies. In 2013, famous Polish reality TV star Zony Hollywood rescued a Pomsky named Toby. Her twitter account quickly became flooded with cute pictures of Toby and he built a large following of admirers.
In early 2014, Dave Lascio, a Philadelphia resident, created an Instagram account for Mya, his new female Pomsky puppy. What started out as a small account designed to show off her fox-like features to friends and family, blew up when Buzzfeed featured her in an article and she gained 11,000 new Instagram followers overnight.
These new waves of visibility had two distinct differences than the first one back in 2011:
- These new photos were of REAL pomsky dogs
- There were now actual breeders who could be contacted by a potential owner when they wanted to get one.
During the internet’s first exposure to the idea of Pomskies back on February 2nd, 2011, one of the biggest reactions to seeing the photos was “Where can I get one?”. While the answer back then was “No where”, the answer soon became “Almost anywhere”.
Looking ahead – The Future of Pomskies
Traditionally, every new dog breed has one goal in mind: gain acceptance into the Kennel clubs as an officially recognized breed. This acceptance will hopefully lead to increased exposure, a wider acceptance, and a surge in popularity.
Pomskies, however, bypassed the traditional system of acceptance and have quickly become widely accepted and unbelievably popular.
Never before in history has a dog breed risen from obscurity to fame so quickly.
However, despite the wide social acceptance. Many breeders and owners still face negative comments from detractors inside the dog world. Opponents to the breed claim it’s irresponsible to mix the two breeds and that breeders are forgoing general safety health concerns in order to profit from their popularity.
Despite these detractors, the breed continues to grow and expand.
However, the breeds unusually fast rise in popularity hasn’t come without it’s challenges.
Such a fast growth has led to a de-centralized and fractured breeder network. The PCA and IPA are both working to build the connections between breeders, but have a long way to go. In order to gain kennel club acceptance, many years and close DNA documentation will be needed to solidify out the desired traits and attributes of the breed.
Currently there is not a visible group of breeders actively working towards creating unified breed standards.
With such a large network of breeders already in place, it will be difficult to navigate the difficult work that is necessary to receive kennel club membership. By any measure, acceptance within the dog community as a recognized breed is still decades away.
However, that is not to say there is no hope. Looking to the lead of such breeds as the Alaskan Klee Kai, it is evident that a mixed breed can gain AKC membership with enough time, passion, and documentation.
Regardless of where the Pomsky breed heads into the future, it’s first 5 years have been exciting. The breed has already achieved a great level of acceptance and popularity than most breeds do in ten times as long.
Love it or hate it, it’s impossible to ignore it.
And if only one thing is certain, it’s that the Pomsky is here to stay.