History of the Finnish Spitz Breed
The history of the Finnish spitz breed is quite disputed. Some believe that the Finnish spitz came from older spitz breeds, and that it journeyed from Eurasia to Finland with early Finno-Ugrian tribes as a watchdog or a camp follower. It wasn't developed to be a hunting dog until later. Other stories claim that it was over 2000 years ago that the Finnish spitz developed in Central Russia, specifically the region of the Volga River (which is now Finland), from the dogs brought there by hunting tribes. Still others claim that this breed is related to the Russian Laika. The Finnish spitz breed remained pure due to its isolation until the early 1800s when other groups brought dogs to the area and interbreeding became common. This interbreeding nearly destroyed the pure Finnish spitz, but in the late 1800s, two sportsmen from Finland found a few dogs that had not been interbred. The sportsmen were impressed with the pure Finnish spitz, and they are credited with saving the breed. The breed has gone by several different names in years past, including: suomenpystykorva, which means "Finnish cock-eared dog." It was also known as the Finnish barking bird dog. In England, the dog was first known by a derivation of its Swedish name, the Finsk spets. It was in1891 that the name was officially changed to Finnish spitz, and the nickname "Finkie" became popular after the dog's arrival in England in the 1920s. This dog wasn't bred in the United States until the 1960s. In 1988, it was officially admitted into the AKC's non-sporting group. In America, the Finnish spitz is mostly found as a family pet, but it is still used for hunting purposes in its homeland of Finland. Specifically, this breed is used to hunt a turkey-like bird, called a capercaille, and the black grouse. The dog barks loudly when locating a bird to alert the hunter. It follows the bird if it moves, waits for it to land, and resumes barking. It is said that the bird is mesmerized by the barking of the dog. In Finland, barking talents are valued so much that each year, a "king barker" of this breed is selected. The Finnish spitz has been the national dog of Finland since 1979, and it can be found in patriotic songs of the homeland.
Size and Appearance of the Finnish Spitz Breed
With an almost fox-like appearance, the Finnish spitz is square in proportion. It has straight front legs with strong, but not heavy, bones. The hindquarters are in balance with the front and feature muscular thighs and straight back legs. The rounded feet are compact with well-arched toes, and the two toes in the center are slightly longer than the outside toes. The deeply cushioned pads are covered with thick skin.
The clean cut head features dark, almond-shaped eyes that give an alert, keen expression. The ears are high set and stand upright when the dog is alert. The narrow, tapered muzzle has a black nose and a scissors bite. The curved tail is plumed. The gait of this breed is described as quick and light, trotting when active, and galloping when on the hunt. The Finnish spitz has a double coat consisting of a short, soft but dense undercoat and longer, straight hair as an outer coat. The hair is longest and most dense on the tail and the back of the thighs, while the head and legs have shorter hair. This breed can come in a variety of shades ranging from pale honey to golden red to auburn. Normally, the undercoat of this breed is a lighter shade, which gives the coat an almost glowing effect.
Finnish Spitz Temperament
Considered to be quite independent and rather stubborn, the Finnish spitz is also playful, alert, and curious. In addition to being a hunter at heart, it is a wonderful family companion and is good with adults and children. In general, it is good with other pets, but at times it can be aggressive with strange dogs. It also tends to be aloof or suspicious of strangers. While it is not a defender of the home, it will alert the family by barking loudly, living up to its Finnish name of "barking bird dog." In fact, in contests this dog has been known to bark as much as 160 times a minute. If you're looking for a quiet dog, the Finnish spitz is probably not a good choice. Obedience training takes a patient and firm owner. This breed is known to be slow in maturing, taking three to four years to reach adulthood.
Finnish Spitz Recommended Maintenance
The Finnish spitz is a rather clean breed. The coat is not oily, so it doesn't have an odor. The double coat should be brushed one or two times a week and more often during heavy shedding seasons. This breed should only be bathed when necessary. The Finnish spitz requires daily exercise, as it is an active and lively breed. A fenced-in area is recommended since this dog is a hunter by nature and may take off on its own. It is relatively active when indoors and would do okay in an apartment dwelling is sufficient exercise is provided. Daily walks and the opportunity to run free are good ways to exercise this breed. It prefers cooler climates and will do fine outdoors, but it prefers to live inside. If left outside alone for too long, the dog will bark at everything unless trained at an early age not to do so.
Finnish Spitz Health
Life span: 12 - 14 years
Major concerns: none
Minor concerns: none
Occasionally seen: CHD, patellar luxation, epilepsy
Suggested tests: none