The Finnish Spitz is classified as a hunting dog and the first thing anyone notices about it is that it is a constant barker. This is because the Finnish Spitz was used to hunt both small and large game and when it found the game it would then bark to inform the hunter. Today, because they are now used more as house companions, they are considered "talkative" because they will keep you appraised of what is going on around you constantly.
The Finnish Spitz has the distinction of being the national dog of Finland. The original Spitz breed is a known hunting/sporting breed that was used to hunt many different types of game both large and small.
The Finnish name for this breed of dog is Suomenpystykorva which means "Finnish Pricked Ear Dog. Also, in Finland in order for this breed to be able to compete for a show title the dog must prove itself first in hunting trials. If he fails the hunting trials he is not considered to be of show quality since he is lacking in the main skill of the breed.
It wasn't until sometime in 1891 when the name of this breed was officially changed to Finnish Spitz. After being renamed this breed soon developed the nickname Finkie when it was introduced in England in the 1920s.
Because of their square build these dogs have a fox-like appearance. As a sporting breed they are considered "bark pointers" because of the fact that when they find game they will start barking to attract the hunter's attention. Although they are usually used to hunt small game they have been used successfully in hunting big game such as elk, moose, and even bear.
These are not big dogs, averaging about 17.5 to 20 inches tall at the shoulders. Their necks are shorter than most other Spitz breeds which causes them to look up when they point out their game. What gives them their fox-like appearance is the fact that their head is wedge-shaped. Much like a fox's head.
When watching the Finnish Spitz you will notice that their gate is very light and lively and that they are intelligent and very animated in their behavior. This makes them very good companions for families which are very active. Being very friendly dogs they tend to get along well with children. This type of behavior makes them very good watchdogs as they will protect the family on an aggressive level not seen in many dogs. However, they are not aggressive dogs. They will only show aggression when it is absolutely warranted.
The Finnish Spitz is commonly used as a companion dog and not as a hunting or sporting dog. This is not the case in Finland as they are the preferred hunting dogs for capercaille, a large-game bird, and black grouse.
If you have ever watched the Finnish Spitz hunt you would have noticed that it has a very unique way of hunting. He will run ahead of the hunter in search of a bird. When he finds one he will follow the bird until it settles in a tree at which point the dog will get the bird's attention by running around playfully under the tree. When the bird has a sense of security from the dog's movements the Finnish Spitz will then start to bark. He will start by barking softly and then gradually increase his bark volume to attract the hunter's attention until the hunter bags the bird.
Because of the dog's behavior around the bird it will not notice the approaching hunter. If the bird decides to fly off before the hunter arrives the dog will immediately stop barking and again follow the bird until it settles in another tree. And then the dog will begin running around the tree again and voicing its place to the hunter by barking. This will continue until either the hunter gets the bird or the bird flies off out of range.
One dog that hunts in a similar fashion to the Finnish Spit the Elkhound which is also a good barker. However, In Scandinavian barking competitions the Finnish Spitz has been recorded as barking at 160 times per minute.
Because the Finnish Spitz loves to bark they do not do well in communities where people live together. It is possible to teach these dogs to stop barking on command but it can be a long process. Therefore, these dogs will do well in rural or farm communities.
These dogs are very independent and strong-willed and this makes training a challenge even to professional trainers. When training it is best to use a soft voice and gentle handling. Aggressive and high-handed training will only result in the dog doing his own thing. Because of their intelligence they will become bored with their training so you will need to keep the training sessions short. These dogs do try to manipulate their trainers. So persistence is a necessary part of training. The best type of training for these dogs are agility, rally, and obedience training.
Another important factor with the Finnish Spitz is that they take about four years to mature mentally. It is during this time period the dog will decide if you’re the leader of the pack or it is. Most of the time, however, it is they who are the leader of the pack.
The Finnish Spitz is a very social dog and it wants to be part of the family. The home atmosphere must be a relaxed one as they do not do well in a tense environment. If you give them a loving atmosphere and include them in all of your activities you will be rewarded with a high level of loyalty and you will gain a lively and very loving dog.
An important note to keep in mind is that these dogs do not put up with being bullied. They have been known to attack their owners when they are man-handled. You need to be gentle but firm with these dogs.
The following is a list of some of the general highlights of the Finnish Spitz:
- The Finnish Spitz is a hunting dog which make him an independent thinker. Unfortunately, this also means that he can be very stubborn at times. However, with the proper training and motivation, this dog will please you with his intelligence and his willingness to learn new things.
- The Finnish Spitz is great with other dogs that he knows. However, they are very aggressive towards dogs that they don't know. Very slow introductions are necessary when introducing a new dog to your Finnish Spitz.
- These are very high-energy and lively dogs. They need at least two hours of vigorous exercise per day. Jogging makes a good activity for these dogs.
- They are constant barkers. To train them to stop barking on command you must begin the training at a very early age.
- They mature very slowly mentally. This makes them behave like silly dogs until they are about four years old. Patience is a virtue here.
- These dogs are very suspicious of strangers and will alert you when someone approaches your home. They make better protectors of property and family than guard dogs as they can be extremely aggressive.
- Because of their hunting nature they should never be let outside alone in an unfenced yard. If letting out in a fenced yard, make sure that the fence is high enough so that the dog won't jump over it. Five to six feet is a good recommendation.
- They need supervision when out in the yard. If you don't supervise them they will bark at everything they see. Train them early to stop barking on command.
- The Finnish Spitz loves to eat. If you give treats to this dog be wary because they will manipulate your into giving more treats than they should have. Do not let them be self-feeders also because they will overeat and become overweight.
History of the Finnish Spitz
The real origin of this dog is unknown and undocumented. It is known that these dogs have been used as hunting dogs in Finland for hundreds of years.
Currently, it is believed that these types of dogs came from central Russia. Possibly brought into Finland by ethnic groups of Finno-Ugric people who migrated into Finland about two thousand years ago. At that time the dogs were all-purpose hunting dogs. Because of their isolation at that time, the Finnish Spitz was left to develop with very little influence from other breeds of dogs.
When the roadways improved in Finland and transportation became easier things started to change. That is when people started migrating into the lands bringing their own dogs. Soon, these dogs were mating with the Finnish Spitz. By 1880 the Finnish Spitz was almost extinct because of the amount of cross-breeding that was occurring at the time.
One day two men from Helsinki were on a hunting trip in Finland when they say a Finnish Spits hunting. They were so amazed at the dog that they pledged to make it their mission to save the breed. These men were Hugo Roos and Hugo Sandberg.
In 1890, Sandberg wrote an article in the magazine Sporten about these dogs. His article was so complete with a very carefully worded description of the dog that in 1892 the Finnish Kennel Club officially recognized the Finnish Spits as a distinct breed of dog. At the same time the first breed standard for this dog was based on the article that Sandberg wrote. And in 1897 the dog breed was officially known as the Finnish Spitz.
Roos, however, was responsible for preserving the breed as he was very active in selectively breeding the dogs to help purify the line. He did this for thirty years but showed and judged the dogs for over forty years. It is because of his work that he is credited with pioneering the breed by gathering the foundation dogs and breeding them until the 1920s.
It wasn't until 1920 when the dogs were introduced to England. The person responsible for this was Sir Edward Chichester who saw the dogs while on a hunting trip in Finland. So enchanted by the dogs was he that he brought back with him a handful of breeding dogs. Later on he also imported a stud dog which was unrelated to the dogs he originally brought back to England.
A few years later there was another love affair with the dogs. Lady Kitty Ritson, of the Tulchan Kennels, saw the dogs in Finland and fell in love with them. This caused her to organize the Finnish Spitz Club in England with a few other dog fanciers. The club itself was later registered with England's Kennel Club in 1934. Because of her affection towards these dogs she nicknamed them Finkie. A nickname which stuck with the breed.
During the years of World War II the measure and characteristics of the breed diminished drastically. To counteract this two dogs were imported from Finland to England (Mountjay Peter and Kiho Seivi) and one from Sweden (Friedstahills Saila) to help improve the breed.
In 1959 Tophunter Tommi and Tophunter Turre were born while in quarantine in England. These two dogs were used in the production of almost every pedigree top winning Finnish Spits in England. A run that lasted until the early 1970s.
Recently the greatest influence on the breed in England comes from a bitch named Irheilu Penan Pipsa of the town Toveri. Her pups are among nearly every top-winning Finnish Spitz in England. She also has the distinction of being the top brood bitch for the breed in England.
For the U.S. the first imported Finnish Spitz came from England in 1959. It was imported by Cullabine Rudolph. But a clear and constant breeding of imported dogs did not occur until the 1960s by Henry Davidson of Minnesota and Alex Hassel of Connecticut. It was these two who started a sound footing for the breed in the United States.
In 1975 the Finnish Spitz Club of America was established. The American Breed Standard for this dog was established in 1976 and was based on the Finnish Standard. The dog at this time was allowed to be shown in the Miscellaneous Class in 1984 by the American Kennel Club. It wasn't until 1988 that the breed was approved for showing in the Non-Sporting Group of dogs at the AKC shows. Then in 1993 The American Kennel Club approved the membership of the Finnish Spitz Club of America as an associated club with the AKC.
Currently the Finnish Spitz is a well-established dog breed in Finland and Sweden. In the U.S., however, it is still relatively uncommon. In the list of dog breeds registered by the AKC it remains in 147th place among 155 accepted breeds. However, nearly 2,000 of these dogs are registered annually with the AKC as compared with only 637 that were registered between 1890 and 1930.
This dog breed was declared by Finland to be its national dog. Today you can find reference to the Finnish Spitz in many of the patriotic songs of Finland.
The Finnish Spitz is not a large dog but a small medium-sized dog. The males of this breed stand 17.5 to 20 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 27 to 35 pounds. Females, however, stand 15.5 to 18 inches at the shoulder and weigh only 22 to 30 pounds. This puts them in the moderate-sized lap dog category.
The Finnish Spitz is a very active and friendly dog. He has an alert nature making him an excellent watchdog. He will also protect his family with fierce aggressiveness. He is cautious of strangers so you should train him not to be shy or aggressive.
He is a family loving dog and really loves children. If he is raised with other pets he will get along nicely with them. He is very independent in his thinking and can be a big challenge to train. His emotional and mental maturity does not occur until the age of four so he can be a rather silly dog until that age.
Because of his nature towards strangers this dog needs early socialization. While they are young they should be introduced to as many sights, sounds, people, and experiences as possible. This will help to make sure that the dog grows up to be a well-rounded member of the family.
Generally the Finnish Spitz is a healthy breed. However, like every other breed of dog it is subject to certain health conditions. This doesn't mean that this type of dog will acquire any of the conditions listed below. It does mean, however, that you should be aware of these possible conditions if you are considering this type of breed as a family pet.
- Epilepsy. This is a seizure disorder which can be managed with proper medication. Although this disease is not curable, a dog with epilepsy can often lead a normal and healthy life with proper management of the disease. This disease is often hereditary so if you’re buying a dog it is important to buy from a breeder who will produce the health clearances of both the father and mother of the pup.
- Canine Hip Dysplasia. This problem is a hereditary condition and is caused because the thighbone doesn't fit as snugly as it should into the socket. The dog will often show signs of pain or lameness in one or both hind legs. Also, some dogs will show no sign of this condition until examined by a veterinarian. The Finnish Spitz should always be tested with X-ray screening for this condition. If the condition is present the animal should be sterilized as breeding will pass on the gene to the pups.
- Patellar Luxation. The patella is the kneecap and this condition is a dislocation of a part of the kneecap or joint. This condition is often caused when the kneecap keeps sliding in and out of place. It can be very painful to the animal and in some dogs become very crippling. Dogs with this condition do live normal lives with proper treatment. Severe cases may need surgery to help ease the pain and keep the kneecap in place.
As a precaution the animal should undergo annual blood and urine tests for kidney function. At the same time these tests will also help to discover any abnormalities that are associated with any protein-losing nephropathy and enteropathy as well as renal dysplasia and Addison's disease.
Many problems do not occur in this breed until the dog is about two years old. If you are buying from a breeder it is important that you seek out a breed who does not breed dogs younger than three years of age.
Care of the Finnish Spitz
The Finnish Spitz is a dog with a lot of energy and requires a lot of exercise. They are not recommended for people who live in apartments or for families who are not active enough to give them the exercise they need.
If you leave this dog alone in the backyard he will constantly bark. He will also actively hunt for any kind of prey and you will probably see him digging for mice and other burrowing rodents. He may even chase squirrels out of the yard.
This breed requires a very knowledgeable owner who is very active himself. The Finnish Spitz is not a couch potato and he will let his needs be known.
This type of dog prefers a cooler climate and does not like to stay inside the house all day. When walking the dog you must keep him on a leash or he will definitely go on the hunt. You should give him two forty-five minute walks per day to help expend his energy.
As mentioned earlier, training can be a huge challenge. They need to be trained with a soft voice and gentle but firm handling. Because of their intelligence they will get bored with their training within ten minutes. For this reason keep the training session short and give positive reinforcement for good behavior. These dogs have been known to manipulate professional trainers during training sessions. Therefore, you need to be persistent and firm in the training.
Feeding the Finnish Spitz
The Finnish Spitz requires between 1.75 and 2.5 cups of food per day. This should be divided into two equal feeds per day and the food needs to be of the highest quality possible. Do not leave the food out all day because they will eat it all within one eating and this will cause the dog to become overweight.
As with any dog you should only feed the highest quality dog food you can get. For the Finnish Spitz this is even more important as high quality dog food will help the dog to maintain its level of activity so that it can burn off its excess energy.
If you see your dog becoming overweight you should decrease the amount of food given and increase the amount of exercise.
Coat and Grooming
The undercoat of the Finnish Spitz is composed of short, soft, dense fur that is topped by harsher guard hairs about one or two inches in length. Short hair is found on the head and legs while the longest and densest hair is found on the tail and the back of the hind legs. In this particular breed the males will have a denser coat than the females. This is most notable around the shoulders of the males.
The Finnish Spitz comes in a range of colors, however, the most common color are shades of golden-red. Therefore, these dogs are most commonly seen in colors ranging from a pale honey color to a deep auburn. Well-kept coats are bright and clear with no muddiness to its appearance. Also, these dogs seem to glow when they are in the sunlight because the undercoat is much paler in color that the topcoat.
The coat of these dogs is usually a solid color. White markings will appear on the tips of the toes. You will also find a white spot on the chest or it may be a half-inch narrow strip of white down the middle of the chest. The lip line will usually have black hairs on the tail and back will be sparse separated black hairs. The puppies will have a considerable amount of black hairs but this will decrease as the pups mature. The lips, rims of the eyes, and nose are always black.
Brushing should occur weekly at a minimum. Brushing should occur more often during the spring and fall as that is when they tend to shed heavily. As for bathing they will need very infrequent baths. And because their coats are not oily they typically don't have an odor to them like other dogs with oily coats.
Trimming of the fur is not necessary except for under the pads of the paws. Nails should be trimmed at most twice a month or when you can hear them click on the floor when they walk.
Dental hygiene should be done at least twice a week with a soft brush and toothpaste made for dogs. If the dog like his teeth brushed then it is best to do this task daily.
The Finnish Spitz is a finicky dog when it comes to being touched. That is why they should be introduced to grooming at a very young age. Also, since dogs do not like to have their paws touched it is important to engage in activities where there is constant touching of the paws, such as training the dog to give the paw. These types of activities will help to make future grooming times more manageable. And don't forget to get the dog used to having you look inside its mouth and ears.
Other Pets and Children
The Finnish Spitz loves children and will tolerate a lot when it comes to being around young kids. Once the dog has had enough it will walk away finding a safe place to retreat to and relax. They are also quite sturdy so you don't need to worry about them being injured by toddlers with underdeveloped motor skills.
Just remember that it is always up to the adults to teach their children the proper way to approach and act around dogs. Children and other pets should always be supervised when with a the Finnish Spitz to prevent biting, ear pulling, tail pulling, or any other form of rough activity. And it is also important to keep children and other pets away from dog's food and water area. The Finnish Spitz is territorial and will defend its feeding and watering area.
If you have raised your Finnish Spitz with other pets they will get along with them unconditionally. Again, close supervision should be the rule. Especially if the other pet is a bird as he might decide one day to revert to his hunting instinct.
Where to Go
If you are interested in acquiring a Finnish Spitz a good place to start looking is at your local animal rescue groups. It is unfortunate that many people take in a Finnish Spitz without realizing what goes into caring for these dogs. Because of this lack of information many of these dogs end up in a rescue center or at the local animal shelter. Below are a couple of places that you can contact which may be able to put you into contact with a rescue center near you:
- Finnish Spitz Rescue Organization
- Finnish Spitz Rescue Club Organization
Also, if you are looking to get more information on the Finnish Spitz you can contact the Finnish Spitz Club of America. They may also be able to put you in contact with breeders in your area if you are looking to buy one.
Finnish Spitz Puppy Pic
Finnish Spitz Puppy Pic