Type: Northern Breed
Height: 14.5 - 20 inches. Females: 14.5 - 17 inches; Males: 16 - 19 inches.
Weight: 20 - 34 lbs. Females: 20 - 27 lbs.; Males: 27 - 34 lbs.
Life Span: 12 - 14 years.
Litter Size: 3 - 6 puppies.
Country of Origin: Finland
Watch-dog: High. Spitz are alert and bark at anything unusual.
Description: The Finnish Spitz, or Finsk Spets, is the national dog of Finland. They are an independent, reserved, cautious and sometimes aloof breed. This does not, however, overshadow their friendly and loyal nature towards their family. As they were bred to be hunters, they need to be kept in a secure fenced yard or else they may go off on a hunting expedition. Finnish Spitzes are sensitive and strong minded, but also loyal to their human family. They especially love being with children. They are intelligent, sturdy, and easy to care for. They have often been described as "catlike" in cleanliness. They have a happy temperament, and are still used today for hunting in Finland. Finnish Spitz have been described as showing "devotion and self-sacrificing faithfulness." They are said to be courageous and selfless, but at the same time demand reward at a job well done. They do very well under poor circumstances with their owner, but alone in a kennel they become depressed and unhealthy. Finnish Spitz are largely used for hunting birds, especially the capercaillie, a large bird of Finland. They are a small to medium sized dog, making up for size with their loud bark. They are reddish brown and gold in color, and have prick ears that are a trademark of the Spitz. Their tails curl over their backs, touching the outer thigh of one side. A favorite hunting dog of the Finns, the Finnish Spitz is very popular as a companion in other countries.
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Other Names: Suomenpystykorva (Finnish cock-eared dog), Finsk Spets, Loulou Finnois,
Colors: Reddish-brown, red gold on back, preferably bright; lighter shades permissible on the underside. Puppies are born brown in color.
Coat: Short and close on head and front of legs, longer on body and back of legs, semi-erect and stiff on neck and back. They have a double coat. It is dense, moderately short, and fluffy to the touch.
Temperament: Finnish Spitz are lively, vocal, and energetic. They are active dogs, loving to run free from a leash. They have a recognizable personality, satisfied with their owners and dissatisfied when left alone. They can become depressed and unusable when left to a kennel. Finnish Spitz are intelligent, obedient, but stubborn at times. They love to play with children, and sometimes outsmart their masters. They are affectionate and self-willed. They are loyal and friendly to their family, but cautious of new situations. They have been described as catlike in their cleanliness.
With Children: Yes, delightful with children.
With Pets: Yes, they do well with other pets.
Special Skills: Hunting bird dog and family pet.
Care and Training: The Finnish Spitz double coat should be brushed once or twice a week, more when shedding. Shedding occurs twice a year. They do not have a doggy odor and should only be bathed when necessary. Enjoys short daily walks, but loves the outdoors and the ability to run free. Requires patience and understanding when training as they have a tendency to be stubborn. Need to be trained not to bark incessantly, and not to bark unnecessarily. They need more positive reinforcement than punishment, and can easily become bored with repetitive tasks. Training should be short sessions that go straight to the point.
Learning Rate: High. Obedience - High. Problem Solving - High. Finnish Spitz are sometimes said to be manipulative towards their masters.
Special Needs: Fenced yard, leash, socialization, and training.
Living Environment: The Finnish Spitz does the best in the country but will adapt to city or apartment living if sufficient exercise is given, which they do need. Owners should desire an independent dog if considering this breed. The best owner for this breed would be an active person living in a rural or suburban environment.
Health Issues: Typically a very healthy breed, they are sometimes prone to hip & elbow dysplasia, luxating patellas, obesity, epilepsy and heart problems.
History: Once used to hunt bear and elk by the Finns, they were called the Finnish Hunting Dog as well as the Barking Bird Dog. Now the Finnish Spitz is used to hunt grouse and other game birds, such as the large bird, the capercaillie. Related to the Russian Laika, the breed originated in the eastern area of Finland and the Karelian region of Russia. This breed has had a written standard since 1812 in Finland. In the 1890s, Hugo R. Sandberg pushed to have the breed recognized by the Finnish Kennel Club. That year Sandberg wrote about the breed in Sporten, "Under normal conditions it is a modest animal, but if fettered or shut into a kennel it easily becomes depressed and its fitness for use goes down. It seems to be like a pine: satisfied in poor soil with only a little food, but like a pine it demands air and freedom." When the dog went bird hunting, its barking skills were highly valued, as in shows it was expected to bark 160 times per minute. Their tactic to catch birds was to listen for their wings, chase them to a tree and bark at them while wagging their tails and bodies to keep the bird's attention until the hunter followed the dog's bark to the tree. The dog was said to be disappointed if the hunter missed. Other legends tell that if the hunter did catch the bird, he was to give the feet to the dog as a prize. And if the hunter did not give the feet to the dog, then the dog would no longer hunt for such an "inconsiderate" master. They were named the National Dog of Finland in 1979. In 1988 the breed was accepted into the AKC under the Non-Sporting Group, and has since gone on to register with Canada, England, Chile and Australia.
First Registered by the AKC: 1988
AKC Group: Non-Sporting Group
Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 5), KC (GB), UKC