Breed Group: Hound Group
Height: 15.5 to 19.5 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 23 to 28 pounds
Life Span: 12 to 15 years
The Finnish Spitz, nicknamed the Finkie for his native name of Finsk Spetz, is a medium-size dog. Like other spitz, or Nordic breeds, he has a thick, protective coat that stands out for its golden-red color, prick ears, a fox-like expression, and a tail that curls jauntily over his back.
The Finnish Spitz barks. That’s the first thing you should know about him. He was developed to bark and that’s what he does. He uses many different sounds to communicate, and “talking” to you will be an important part of his life. Get this dog only if you are willing to teach him when it’s okay to bark and when it’s not. On the plus side, he’s an excellent watchdog and will always let you know if someone is approaching the house or something out of the ordinary is going on.
This is an active dog that needs daily exercise that will challenge him physically and mentally and prevent him from becoming destructive or noisy in an attempt to entertain himself. Plan to exercise him for 20 to 30 minutes at least once a day. He performs well in dog sports such as agility, flyball, obedience and rally, and is a sturdy and tireless playmate for kids.
This intelligent and highly trainable dog responds well to positive reinforcement techniques such as play, praise and food rewards, but he is an independent thinker. Don’t expect unquestioning obedience from him and you won’t be disappointed. Keep training sessions short and fun so he doesn’t get bored.
If the presence of Finnish Spitz dust puppies would make you crazy, reconsider your decision to get this breed. He’s not difficult to groom, but he does shed a fair amount of hair. Brush his double coat weekly to keep it clean and remove dead hair. During spring and fall shedding seasons, daily brushing will help to keep excess hair under control. In addition, trim his nails as needed, brush his teeth, and keep the ears clean to prevent infections.
Last but not least, it should go without saying that a people-loving dog like the Finnish Spitz needs to live in the house. It’s an unhappy Finnish Spitz who is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship.
- In Finland this breed is called the Finsk Spetz. Other names include Finnish Hunting Dog and Barking Bird Dog.
- When you look at a Finnish Spitz, you see a medium-size dog with a wedge-shaped head, small prick ears, a foxlike expression, a square body covered in beautiful red-gold coat and a tail that curls over the back. Males are larger with more coat.
- The Finnish Spitz was bred to track everything from squirrels and rodents to big game like bears.
- The Finnish Spitz's ancestors were bred from Spitz-type dogs in central Russia over 2000 years ago.
Did You Know?
This is one dog who can truly lay claim to the title King of the Barkers. The Finnish Spitz, the national dog of Finland, was developed to be a barking hunting dog. That is, he trails game, and when he finds it, he barks until the hunter arrives to bag it. One Finnish Spitz each year is chosen for his hunting prowess to be King of the Barkers.
The History of the Finnish Spitz
Spitz-type dogs have existed for several thousand years and developed in different ways depending on their environment and the needs of the people who kept them. The Finnish Spitz is the national dog of Finland where he was developed to hunt game birds, squirrel and even large game such as elk and bear.
In the 19th century, as mass transportation became more available and convenient, the Finns began crossing the Finkie with other breeds, so much so that by 1880 few examples remained of the original, unadulterated dog. Two hunters from Helsinki realized what was about to be lost and launched a successful effort to revive the breed, culminating in the breed’s recognition by the Finnish Kennel Club in 1892.
The Finnish Spitz was first imported to Canada in 1974. The Canadian Finnish Spitz Club was founded in 1976, and the Canadian Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1975, adding it to the Hound Group.
Finnish Spitz Temperament and Personality
The Finnish Spitz is a wonderful family dog. He is lively and good-natured, and fond of children. If they play too rough or pull his fur, he’s likely to just walk away. While he is affectionate with his family, he can be aloof with people he doesn’t know. He is a good watchdog and will alert you to anything amiss but is usually never shy or aggressive.
Don’t argue in front of the Finkie. He doesn’t like dissension within the family and will be unhappy in an environment with lots of shouting or unkind words.
The Finnish Spitz was bred to bark — and that’s just what he will do. While a lot of barking may be appropriate while hunting in the countryside, it may not endear you to your suburban neighbors. A “quiet” command should be part of his training to minimize barking.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Talk with a reputable, experienced Finnish Spitz breeder. Describe exactly what you’re looking for in a canine companion, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Choose a puppy whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized by the breeder from birth.
What You Need To Know About Finnish Spitz Health
All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
That said, the Finnish Spitz is a pretty healthy breed. Health problems that may be seen include luxated patellae, epilepsy (often just seizures caused by food sensitivities); rarely seen are diabetes, and an autoimmune skin condition called pemphigus foliaceous.
Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the most common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Finnish Spitz at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of your preventive abilities to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
The Basics of Finnish Spitz Grooming
This handsome redhead has a double coat of a soft, dense undercoat covered by long, straight, harshly textured guard hairs. The Finnish Spitz is a naturally clean dog, but he does need some grooming. He should be brushed with a slicker brush at least once a week to minimize shed hair around your house, and bathed every three to four months.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually once a month. Brush the teeth frequently for good overall health and fresh breath. Check the ears weekly for dirt, redness or a bad odor that can indicate an infection. If the ears look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with a gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner. Begin grooming the Finnish Spitz when he is very young so he learns to accept the handling and fuss of grooming patiently.