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Dog Breed Spotlight: The Finnish Spitz

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finnish-spitz

Finnish Spitz

The Finnish Spitz is a wonderful but often overlooked breed. They are easily recognizable by their gorgeous red-gold coats and fox faces. Intelligent, lively, playful and adventurous the Finnish Spitz is a wonderful addition to any family and is notably fond of children.

As the name suggests, the Finnish Spitz hails from Finland. Originally bred by Finno-Ugrian tribes, in 1880 the breed was all but extinct when Hugo Roos realized their worth and created a breeding program. The modern Finnish Spitz breed is a result of his efforts.

Thinking about adopting or just interested in learning more about the Finnish Spitz? I have collected knowledge on the breed, links for more information and some tidbits from my Finnish Spitz adoption story. Let's dig in... No, not in the flower beds!

Image credit: Backlit Ginger by Noël Zia Lee - Used under: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Ch Toveri Arvokas owned by Mrs Joan Bateman - sannse

Ch Toveri Arvokas owned by Mrs Joan Bateman - sannse

Finnish Spitz Breed Traits

The Basics

Classification - AKC: Non-sporting,

CKC: Group 2 - Hounds

Height - Male: 17.5-20 inches (44-50 cm),

Female: 15.5-18 inches (39-45 cm)

Weight - Male: 26.5-28.7 lbs (12-13 kg),

Female: 15.4-22 lbs (7-10 kg)

Colors - Red-gold to auburn

Coat - Double layered weather-resistant coat, requires some grooming.

Temperament - Loyal, intelligent, strong-willed, playful, alert, active, independent and vocal.

Health - Typically healthy, some risk of hip and elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, luxating patellas and cleft palate. Consult a breeder or vet for warning signs and information.

Image credit: "Ch Toveri Arvokas owned by Mrs Joan Bateman" By sannse (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Breed Standards

  • AKC: Finnish Spitz
    "The Finnish Spitz presents a fox-like picture. The breed has long been used to hunt small game and birds. The pointed muzzle, erect ears, dense coat and curled tail denotes its northern heritage. The Finnish Spitz whole being shows liveliness, which
  • CKC Breed Standards: Finnish Spitz
    "The Finnish Spitz is the national dog of Finland, and is the object of intense national pride. It is said that the breed reflects the verve and vitality necessary for survival in the Scandinavian north. Since earliest times it has been used as a nat
  • NZKC - Breed Standard - Finnish Spitz - Hound
    "The Finnish Spitz, also known as the Finsk Spets and the Suomenpystykorva, came from Finland centuries ago, where it was originally used to track large game such as bears and elk. In more recent times it has been used as a "bark pointer" for birds a
Finnish Spitz at the World Dog Show in Poznan (title translated) by Pleple2000

Finnish Spitz at the World Dog Show in Poznan (title translated) by Pleple2000

Is the Finnish Spitz the Right Breed for You?

Research Before You Adopt

When making the decision to adopt a new pet into the family, it is a good idea to do your own research. Breed characteristics are a good starting point in determining if a new dog will be a good fit for your family. With that in mind lets take a closer look at the Finnish Spitz.

Friendly, active and playful the Finnish Spitz is a good choice for families. They are generally good with people and have a special fondness for children. The breed is known to love spending hours playing with and even racing children. Young children playing too rough are usually ignored, even to the point of the dog simply leaving to find entertainment elsewhere. However, they are sensitive in nature. The breed can react negatively to stressful environments and excessive tension.

Originally trained as hunting dogs, the Finnish Spitz has a lot of energy. Outdoor exercise is a must, two solid walks per day will suffice. A good romp in the backyard with a family member is probably their favorite activity. While indoors the breed is fairly inactive, apartments and small homes are not a concern.

Training the Finnish Spitz is fairly easy but patience is key. Their intelligence can work against you, keep it short and interesting or your Spitz will get bored. Additionally, positive reinforcement is the best method in training a Finnish Spitz. They simply do not respond well to abrasive or heavy-handed methods.

This is a very clean breed to the point of meticulous self-grooming. However, some fairly simple grooming is necessary. The Finnish Spitz has a double coat, a soft under-layer with a coarser over-layer. Because of the nature of double coats the breed requires a weekly or bi-weekly brushing to remove loose fur. Excessive build up of loose fur can lead to skin conditions. Bathe when needed but not too often. They need no trimming or clipping, except for the nails and possibly the fur between the pads on the dog's feet.

Image credit: Szpic_finski na Swiatowej Wystawie Psów Rasowych w Poznaniu (Finnish Spitz at the World Dog Show in Poznan) by Pleple2000 (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Finnish Spitz Information - Determine if the Finnish Spitz is the Right Breed for You

Training Your Finnish Spitz - A Lesson in Being Outwitted

FINNISH SPITZ by Karelgerda

FINNISH SPITZ by Karelgerda

Image credit: Finnish Spitz By Karelgerda (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Training the Finnish Spitz is a trail for many. It is not that the breed is hard to train or stupid, quite the opposite. The Finnish Spitz is a hunting breed, despite the AKC's classification in the non-sporting group. Incredibly intelligent and master puzzle solvers, they quickly grow bored with the repetitive commands we humans like to call training. It is best to keep training sessions short, interesting and varied. Your actual training method is up to you but here are a few helpful tips on dealing with this particular breed.

Train indoors, because as stimulating as your well-planned training program is we know - Look a squirrel! Let's say that one more time, "small game hunters." Every bird, squirrel, falling leaf, toad and passing cat is a distraction. A quiet, distraction-free environment is far more conductive to training. Once your pet is more familiar with commands, then move outdoors to test obedience in a suboptimal setting.

Establish a sound that works as an attention grabber. This is often overlooked in training, but important with this particular breed. You want a sound that always says, "stop what you are doing, and focus on me, only me." Personally I use a snap or a sharp whistle. You can begin establishing this habit the moment you bring your dog home. When she is doing something you do not want her to, make the sound and reinforce it with a touch. A firm touch is enough to get the dog's attention, do not hit her. Later the sound will be enough, with properly established respect. I have used this to control my pets, both dogs and cats, for the last two decades. It helps to have a consistent signal to stop and pay attention with a breed as curious as the Finnish Spitz.

Even under the best of circumstances, the key to training a Finnish Spitz is patience. Your Lab may have learned to sit after five tries and managed to get it right half of the time for that first week. Your Finnish Spitz is more likely to show a marked lack of progress until suddenly doing something perfectly every time. When I mentioned that they were strong-willed, I meant it. Granted, stubborn is often a better term. They have a mind of their own, and it shows. After a year of occasional reminders my Spitz still gives me a sarcastic look, before obeying, when I tell her to lay down. On the other hand, she learned "bring your cookie downstairs" on the first try.

So, do your best not to get discouraged. Never let your sessions continue if you feel like you are getting angry or frustrated, there is nothing wrong with calling it a day. Taking out your frustration on your dog will, most likely, reverse any progress you did make. Most importantly, enjoy training as a bonding experience. If you are having fun, so is your fury companion.

Dog Training Resources

Finnish Spitz Videos on Youtube - Video intros to the Breed, Show Clips and Puppies.

Also watch Finnish Spitz - An Owner's Manual Part 1 - Understanding Your Dog.

The Finnish Spitz - Common Concerns - The Traits to Consider Before Getting a Finnish Spitz

While I love the Finnish Spitz and have never regretted my decision to adopt mine, I feel it is necessary to address some common issues and concerns with the breed. Many of these issues are universal to all dog breeds, to some extent. I also included quick tips on how to solve these issues to ensure you and your Finnish Spitz lead a happy existence.

  • Energetic - People leading very inactive lives or otherwise unable to meet the breed's exercise requirements may face behavioral issues as a result. Two long walks per day, or a solid mad hour running pell-mell around the yard.
  • Intelligent - The Finnish Spitz needs good mental stimulation, boredom is another common cause of behavioral issues. Puzzle toys are a good way to combat this tendency.
  • Creative - A blessing and a curse, you will constantly be surprised by the entertaining things your Spitz comes up with. Less so by the wide range of trouble he is likely to get into. The easiest way to control this is to encourage it. Give your Spitz plenty of things to do, figure out or play with.
  • Separation Anxiety - Companionship is essential to the happiness of a Finnish Spitz, being left alone excessively can cause destructive behavior as a result of real stress. A few hours is okay, if you see real issues keep your Spitz in a crate while you're gone and try leaving on a TV or radio.
  • Escape Artists - Fences are jumping games, crate latches are puzzles and collars...well that ruff around he neck makes slipping out of those puppy play. Have fences 6 ft tall, put a clip on the crate and invest in a harness.
  • Chasing/Animal Aggression - If you do not establish dominance over your new Finnish Spitz he will attempt to do so over you, and every other animal in your house. Additionally, any small animals, including cats, may become sport to a dog bred to hunt. Supervise any encounters between your new Spitz and other animals, until you are comfortable with their relationships.
  • Barking - Possibly the most vocal of all dog breeds, the Finnish Spitz can make a wide range of sounds, it is not uncommon to hear them bark, yip, yodel, howl, scream, whine, whimper, and squeak. A quick correction when your dog is barking will curb this instinct, however it is a breed characteristic and consistency is important. Make use of the "quiet" or "hush" command.
  • Strong-willed - You might have noticed that I mentioned this before. The Finnish Spitz has a mind of its own, and a stubborn one at that. Make your authority clear from the outset and be consistent in training and everyday practice. Once she learns you are the boss, she will follow you without question.
  • Sensitive - I cannot stress this enough, loud arguments and heavy tension negatively affect this dog. In stressful environments, neurotic behavior and physical illness are possibilities. A quiet, safe and balanced home are a requirement for this breed. Sorry, there is no easy way out here.
  • Shedding - Fur, fur everywhere! Twice each year the Finnish Spitz sheds its coat, during this time bi-weekly or even daily brushing is recommended. For the rest of the year a quick weekly brushing is enough.
  • Shyness - A cautious breed by nature, the Finnish Spitz can become shy or overly nervous in new environments or around new people. Early and frequent socialization are the best way to prevent this. For a properly socialized Spitz this is never an issue.
  • A Warning Dog - The Finnish Spitz has keen eyesight and excellent hearing, they will be the first to alert you of incoming danger, or anything else that crosses the front walk. However, this is not a guard dog. Do not expect an attack dog.
Foxii Portrait

Foxii Portrait

Our Adoption Story

Life With A Finnish Spitz

About a year and a half ago, I was staying with my mother. At that time, she was heavily involved in a rescue organization called Love-A-Pet. I also volunteered while I was in the area. During the course of that time, our dog, Foxii returned to the organization from a family who adopted earlier. Love-A-Pet revolves around fostering, naturally, we brought her home.

I could not understand why they returned her, she was a sweet, gentle and very quiet dog. After some questions I discovered that she was originally abandoned in an empty house by her owners, a couple of small children found her and took her home. Their family kept her for about five years until a change in living situations left them unable to keep her. They surrendered her to Love-A-Pet, who adopted her out sometime later.

Unfortunately, the family that adopted her from the organization decided to ignore warnings that she wasn't trained off-leash. After having her a brief week or so, they let her run loose in a yard with no fence. Naturally, she caught sight of a squirrel and didn't return for hours. Luckily she came to no harm, but the family decided she was not the dog for them.

As it turns out I am beyond grateful that they decided to return her. After a couple of days fostering her, it became clear that she had already chosen us. I arranged for adoption within a month of her arrival. These days, she spends her time napping in the sun, perched on the back of the couch enjoying the view from her picture window or just playing with the family. So, sometimes the story has a happy ending.

However, for the sake of the other Finnish Spitz dogs in need of homes I wanted to share our story and some information on the breed. Perhaps this page will prevent another Spitz from needlessly being abandoned or returned to a shelter. Maybe it will even spark the interest of a fellow dog-lover looking to adopt.

Image credit: This image and all other uncredited images are my own.

Share your own adoption stories, ask about the breed, dog adoption or anything else!

© 2012 Noctai LM

Comments, Questions and Adoption Stories - Owned a Finnish Spitz or looking to adopt one?

anonymous on January 10, 2013:

I love reading about different dog breeds, thanks for sharing!

goldenrulecomics from New Jersey on December 15, 2012:

beautiful dog.

randomthings lm on October 25, 2012:

CUTE dog!!! I've always wondered what they were called. Very sweet.

Mech from Bosnia and Herzegvina on October 05, 2012:

What a beautiful breed! Great lens, very informative! Keep up this wonderful work.

WriterJanis2 on October 05, 2012:

Loved reading about your adoption story. I'n a huge animal fan.

flycatcherrr on October 04, 2012:

I had no idea the Finnish Spitz was classed as a hound! That pointy little face reminds me of the Shiba Inu who once called me his domestic staff, and the personality sounds rather similar, too. So glad Foxii was lucky enough to end up with you. Not all breeds belong in all homes.

Noctai LM (author) on October 02, 2012:

@MJsConsignments: You're quite welcome, I love to talk about my dogs. Thanks for the blessing and comment.

Michelle from Central Ohio, USA on October 02, 2012:

I've seen these dogs but I was unfamiliar with the breed. Thank you for some great information! Blessed!

Noctai LM (author) on October 01, 2012:

@designsbyharriet: Thank you for the blessing and comment.

Harriet from Indiana on October 01, 2012:

Great lens with lots of information and great use of modules. Blessed

Noctai LM (author) on October 01, 2012:

@artbyrodriguez: Thanks the Finnish Spitz is one of those niche breeds that a lot of people haven't heard of. A sad fact because they are great pets. Thanks for the comment and the blessing.

Beverly Rodriguez from Albany New York on October 01, 2012:

Very well done and informative article. It's nice to hear your personal story of your dog.

Noctai LM (author) on September 28, 2012:

@anonymous: To be quite honest, I did not find out about the breed until I met mine. I did some furious research because I fell head of heels for her.

Yeah, puppies do love to eat anything that will fit in their mouths. My mom had one that liked to chew the window frames, of all things. Green Apple spray for dogs works wonders.

anonymous on September 28, 2012:

I had never heard of the Finnish Spitz before, but it looks a lovely and lively breed. Our naughty boy is a Cocker Spaniel - still quite young - still eats the post.