The Finnish Spitz dog breed is a small hunting dog of the spitz type. Its Finnish name SUOMENPYSTYKORVA literally means “Finnish prick-eared dog,” because the dog’s ears always stand erect, giving it an expression of constant alertness. The Finnish Spitz is the National Dog of their home country.
The Finnish Spitz dog breed traces its history and lineage to the spitz-type dogs of Russia. They were further developed in isolation by some Finno-Ugrian tribes who made the icy terrains of Finland their home. They depended on the hunting prowess of these dogs for sustenance. These dogs would not only assist the Finnish hunters by pointing the prey with barks, but actually did hands on hunting of mainly birds and rodents, but at times elks and bear too. They were excellent guard dogs for the tribes as these dogs have the habit of barking at anything out of the ordinary.
The breed remained pure until people from other countries came to the area in the latter part of the 19th century. Interbreeding with the different types of dogs they brought along, the original breed characteristics were gradually lost. However, when Hugo Roos, a Finnish sportsman, encountered a group of pure Finnish Spitz during a hunting trip, he was quick to see the advantages of the pure breed and started back-breeding these dogs for their original breed characteristics. The breed of today descended from a group of dogs that he had taken 30 years to develop.
The dogs were known by many names such as ‘Finnish Barking Bird Dog,’ Finsk Spet and Finkie, but the breed was officially registered as Finnish Spitz in 1891. Even though it appeared in the United States by mid-20th century, it was only in 1988 that they were registered by AKC in the non-sporting group. These dogs are still being used for hunting in its native land, but they are mainly favored as house pets in the U.S.
The resemblance between Finnish Spitz dog breed and foxes cannot be missed. In fact, their pups look almost exactly like fox cubs. The adult dogs measure 20 inches at the withers, and weigh up to 30 pounds. The females are shorter and lighter, but they have a slightly longer body compared to the males.
They have a double coat, the outer one having 2-inch long, stiff hair standing away from the body, making the dog look bigger than it really is. The color of the coat is mainly golden red with darker areas at the back and lighter underside, but never one solid color. The ears are small, erect, and triangular in shape. The feathery tail carried in a coil at the back is a typical feature of this breed.
Finnish Spitz dogs are affectionate and playful towards their family members, including children and pets. But they are suspicions and aloof with strangers. They express their apprehensions with incessant barking, making them excellent guard dogs.
The breed has an independent nature bordering on stubbornness; hence early training is essential to avoid undesirable behavior. However, these dogs do not respond to harsh training. Gentle, yet firm and consistent, handling is required.
When trained well in obedience from an early age, these dogs make excellent house dogs. They have the bearing and temperament of a large dog in a small body, making them especially suitable for people who love large, tough-looking dogs, but have to settle for a small one because of space constraints.
Grooming and exercise
The dogs need thorough brushing 2-3 times a week to keep its double coat in good condition. They shed their undercoat twice a year, and the loose fur left in the coat can lead to skin problems.
Being a hunting breed, they require a good amount of exercise consisting of long walks and some opportunities for fast running. However, they should not be left free in areas where they can be distracted by scents of prey, as they can take off tracking them. A large, fenced-in is ideal.
They can tolerate extreme cold, and are capable of living outdoors, but when kept as house dogs, they would love the comfort and company of their human family at night.
Common health issues of Finnish Spitz dog breed
The Finnish Spitz dog breed is one of the healthiest breeds around, probably owing to its long history as a pure breed. They are not known to have any major or minor breed related health issues. However, very occasionally some of the common canine problems such as hip dysplasia or patellar luxation may occur. These dogs are quite long-lived too, with an average life expectancy of 13 years, but many of them live 15 years.