Finnish Spitz

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finnish spitz portrait
Meet the Finnish Spitz, a dog breed that'll steal your heart with their foxy looks and enchanting spirit! These lovable red-coated pups hail from the land of a thousand lakes, where they've honed their unique hunting skills to become Finland's national treasure.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Finnish Spitz is best suited for individuals and families who appreciate an energetic, intelligent, and devoted companion. These dogs thrive in environments where they have space to explore and exercise, so they’re well-suited for suburban or rural homes with fenced yards.

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEFinnish Spitz
OTHER NAMESFinnish Hunting Dog, Finnish Spets, Finsk Spets, Loulou Finois
Suomalainen Pystykorva, Suomenpystykorva
ORIGINFinland
BREED GROUPNon-Sporting Group
BREED SIZEMedium
HEIGHT15-20 inches
WEIGHT20-33 lbs
LIFESPAN13-15 years
LIVING SPACESmall
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERLow
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSModerate
EXERCISE NEEDSModerate
TRAINABILITYModerate
BARKING TENDENCYHigh
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELModerate
POPULARITY RANK188th
finnish spitz standing on grass and barking
Photo: slowmotiongli/Getty Images

Appearance

The Finnish Spitz is a medium-sized dog breed known for its striking fox-like appearance. With a well-balanced body and square proportions, these dogs exude agility and grace. Males typically stand between 17 to 20 inches at the shoulder, while females are slightly smaller, measuring between 15 to 18 inches. Their weight ranges from 20 to 33 pounds, with males being heavier than females.

One of the most distinctive features of the Finnish Spitz is their head, which is shaped like a blunt wedge with a slightly rounded skull. Their medium-sized, almond-shaped eyes are dark and lively, contributing to their alert and intelligent expression. The ears of a Finnish Spitz are set high, erect, and open forward, enhancing their keen and responsive demeanor.

Another characteristic feature of the Finnish Spitz is their plumed tail, which curls tightly over their back and forms a full circle. The tail is long and covered with thick, lush fur, adding to their overall foxy appearance. Their legs are straight and strong, with well-defined muscles and a moderate angulation in their hindquarters, allowing for effortless movement and agility.

The Finnish Spitz’s coat is one of its most notable attributes. It consists of a dense, soft undercoat and a long, harsh, straight outer coat. This double coat provides insulation against harsh weather conditions, making them well-adapted to the cold Finnish climate. The coat color ranges from golden-red to chestnut, with no distinct markings. However, they may display some white hairs on their toes or chest, which is considered acceptable. The coat is more profuse around the neck, giving the appearance of a ruff or mane, particularly in males.

The Finnish Spitz’s overall appearance is one of elegance and poise, with every physical feature harmoniously blending together to create a breed that is both distinctive and captivating. Their alert expression, combined with their spirited nature and beautiful coat, makes them truly unique and memorable among dog breeds.

finnish spitz's face up close
Photo: Mats Lindberg/Getty Images

Temperament

Meet the Finnish Spitz, a captivating breed with a personality as fiery as their vibrant red coat. If this dog were a person, they would be the life of the party, with an infectious enthusiasm that draws people in like a magnet. Imagine a furry entertainer, always ready to dazzle and amuse with their antics and charming charisma.

The Finnish Spitz is like a little fox, both in appearance and behavior. With their pointed ears and expressive eyes, they have an air of intelligence and mischief that can make you wonder if they’re secretly plotting something mischievous. But don’t be fooled; behind that mischievous glint lies a heart of gold, full of love and devotion for their human family.

These dogs are known for their vocal talents, possessing a distinctive and melodic bark that’s unlike any other. Their barking repertoire is as varied as a skilled singer’s vocal range, from soft and melodious to loud and enthusiastic. They use their voice to communicate a range of emotions, making it feel like you’re having a conversation with a furry friend.

Imagine a dog that’s both independent and affectionate, striking the perfect balance between wanting attention and enjoying their alone time. The Finnish Spitz loves their human family but also values their independence. They’re like little adventurers, always curious to explore the world around them, yet always returning to the warmth of their family’s embrace.

This breed is highly intelligent and has a clever and cunning nature. Like master strategists, they can be quick-witted and resourceful, which sometimes means they know how to get their way. But don’t mistake their intelligence for being manipulative; the Finnish Spitz is simply smart and knows how to use their charm to win hearts.

The Finnish Spitz has a spirited and lively personality, always ready for fun and excitement. Picture a dog that enjoys playing games, whether it’s fetching a ball or chasing after butterflies in the yard. Their boundless energy and enthusiasm make them the perfect playmate for children and a delightful companion for an active family.

One of the most endearing traits of the Finnish Spitz is their loyalty and devotion to their human pack. Like true friends, they will stand by your side through thick and thin, offering comfort and companionship in times of need. They’re like furry confidants, always ready to lend a listening ear and a sympathetic paw.

Overall, the Finnish Spitz is a breed that exudes charm, intelligence, and a zest for life. With their vocal talents, cleverness, and affectionate nature, they’re dogs that can make you smile, laugh, and feel loved all at once. The Finnish Spitz are like little performers, captivating everyone they meet with their delightful personality and bright spirit.

finnish spitz standing on snow
Photo: PavelRodimov/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

The ideal environment for a Finnish Spitz is one that caters to their physical and emotional needs while providing them with ample opportunities for mental and physical stimulation. These dogs thrive in households where they can be an integral part of family life and receive plenty of love, attention, and interaction from their human companions.

Physical Environment

In terms of physical environment, the Finnish Spitz is well-suited for suburban or rural homes with a securely fenced yard where they can safely explore and play. They are not ideally suited for apartment living, as their vocal nature and exercise needs may prove challenging in confined spaces. However, if provided with sufficient daily exercise and mental stimulation, they can adapt to smaller living spaces.

Climate Adaptability

The Finnish Spitz is a highly adaptable breed when it comes to climate conditions. Their dense double coat provides excellent insulation against cold weather, making them well-adapted to cooler climates. In fact, they are known to enjoy playing in the snow and can tolerate low temperatures quite well.

However, it’s essential to provide them with a warm and dry shelter during extremely cold weather to ensure their comfort and well-being.

When it comes to hotter climates, the Finnish Spitz can also adapt, but owners should take precautions to prevent overheating. It’s crucial to provide them with access to shade and fresh water during hot weather and avoid exercising them during the hottest parts of the day. Be mindful of signs of heat stress, such as excessive panting or lethargy, and take appropriate action to cool them down if needed.

Ideal Owner

The ideal pet parent for a Finnish Spitz is someone who appreciates their unique temperament and is willing to dedicate time and effort towards training, socialization, and exercise. These dogs do best with consistent and patient guidance, using positive reinforcement techniques to bring out their full potential.

Other Pets

The Finnish Spitz is generally good with other pets, especially when properly socialized from a young age. They can coexist harmoniously with other dogs, although their hunting instincts may make them more likely to chase smaller animals. As such, careful introductions and supervision are necessary when interacting with smaller pets like cats or rabbits.

finnish spitz outdoor
Photo: PavelRodimov/Getty Images

Grooming

The Finnish Spitz, with its striking double coat and elegant appearance, requires consistent grooming to maintain its overall health and well-being. While their grooming needs are not overly demanding, it’s essential to establish a regular routine to keep them looking and feeling their best.

Coat Care

One of the primary aspects of grooming for the Finnish Spitz is coat care. Their dense double coat consists of a soft, insulating undercoat and a longer, harsher outer coat. Regular brushing is vital to remove loose hair, prevent matting, and distribute natural oils throughout the coat, keeping it healthy and shiny.

It’s recommended to brush your Finnish Spitz at least once or twice a week using a slicker brush and an undercoat rake or de-shedding tool. These tools will help remove dead hair from both layers of the coat and minimize shedding. During periods of seasonal shedding, which usually occurs twice a year, you may need to increase the frequency of brushing to manage the increased hair loss.

Bathing your Finnish Spitz should be done on an as-needed basis, usually every couple of months or when they become dirty or emit an unpleasant odor. Overbathing can strip the natural oils from their coat, leading to dry skin and other issues. When bathing, use a mild dog shampoo that won’t irritate their skin, and ensure that you rinse thoroughly to remove any soap residue.

Dental Care

Dental care is another essential aspect of grooming for the Finnish Spitz. Regular teeth cleaning helps prevent dental issues such as plaque buildup, tartar, gum disease, and bad breath. Ideally, you should brush your dog’s teeth daily using a canine toothbrush and dog-specific toothpaste.

Alternatively, you may use dental chews or toys designed to promote dental hygiene if daily brushing isn’t feasible. Regular veterinary checkups, including dental examinations, are also crucial to maintain your dog’s oral health.

Nail Trimming

Trimming your Finnish Spitz’s nails is necessary to prevent discomfort, cracking, or injuries. Overgrown nails can be painful and lead to an altered gait or posture, which may cause long-term issues. It’s recommended to trim your dog’s nails every three to four weeks using a pair of dog nail clippers or a grinder.

If you’re unsure about how to trim your dog’s nails or feel uncomfortable doing so, seek assistance from a professional groomer or your veterinarian.

Ear Care

Additionally, routine ear cleaning is essential for maintaining the health of your Finnish Spitz’s ears. Check their ears weekly for signs of dirt, debris, or infection, such as redness, swelling, or an unpleasant odor.

To clean their ears, use a gentle ear-cleaning solution specifically designed for dogs and a soft cotton ball or cloth. Avoid using cotton swabs, as they can damage the delicate structures within the ear canal.

finnish spitz standing in the garden
Photo: slowmotiongli/Getty Images

Exercise

The Finnish Spitz is an energetic and lively breed that requires regular exercise to maintain optimal physical and mental health. Meeting their exercise needs not only helps keep them fit and agile but also prevents boredom and the development of undesirable behaviors.

Exercise Amount & Types

On average, a Finnish Spitz requires at least 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise, which can be divided into multiple sessions throughout the day. The type of exercise can vary, catering to your dog’s preferences and energy levels.

Daily walks are essential for providing mental stimulation and maintaining socialization skills. Incorporating brisk walks or hikes in natural settings allows them to explore and satisfy their curiosity, while also offering opportunities for bonding with their human companions.

In addition to walks, Finnish Spitz dogs enjoy engaging in various forms of play, such as fetch, tug-of-war, or frisbee. These activities provide both physical and mental stimulation, helping to channel their energy in constructive ways. Playing in a securely fenced yard or off-leash dog park allows them to expend energy and socialize with other dogs under proper supervision.

Dog Sports

The Finnish Spitz is also well-suited for participating in canine sports, such as agility, obedience, or rally competitions. These activities offer an excellent outlet for their intelligence and athleticism while strengthening the bond between dog and owner.

Training for these sports should be approached with patience and positive reinforcement techniques, as the Finnish Spitz is eager to please and responds well to rewards-based training methods.

Exercise Precautions

When exercising your Finnish Spitz, it’s important to consider weather conditions, particularly in hot climates. Avoid exercising them during the hottest parts of the day, provide access to shade and fresh water, and watch for signs of heat stress, such as excessive panting or lethargy.

finnish spitz walking outside in the winter
Photo: Mats Lindberg/Getty Images

Training

Training a Finnish Spitz can be a rewarding experience, as they are intelligent, eager to please, and quick learners. However, these dogs also possess an independent streak, which may present some challenges during training sessions. Understanding their temperament and adopting appropriate training methods will help ensure success in working with this spirited breed.

Positive Reinforcement

The Finnish Spitz is highly trainable when approached with patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement techniques. They respond best to rewards-based training methods, such as using treats, praise, or toys as incentives for desired behaviors. Harsh corrections or punishment-based training methods are counterproductive, as they can lead to fear or mistrust and hinder the learning process.

Basic Obedience & Socialization

When training a Finnish Spitz, it’s essential to begin early, ideally during puppyhood. Early socialization and exposure to various people, animals, and environments help lay the foundation for a well-adjusted and confident adult dog. Puppy training classes can be a valuable resource for teaching basic obedience skills and proper socialization.

Consistency

Consistency is crucial when training a Finnish Spitz, as they will quickly pick up on any inconsistencies in commands or expectations. Ensure that all family members are on the same page regarding training methods and desired behaviors to prevent confusion and promote progress.

Preventing Boredom

Due to their intelligence, the Finnish Spitz may become bored with repetitive training exercises. To keep them engaged and motivated, incorporate variety and challenges into training sessions. Short, frequent sessions are more effective than longer, infrequent ones, as they help maintain focus and enthusiasm.

Additional Training Tips

The Finnish Spitz’s natural vocal tendencies can be both a challenge and an asset during training. While their alertness and communication skills make them excellent watchdogs, excessive barking may become an issue if not addressed appropriately. Teaching a “quiet” command can help manage their vocalizations and ensure that their barking remains under control.

finnish spitz walking in the snow
Photo: PavelRodimov/Getty Images

Diet & Nutrition 

What to Feed & How Much

The Finnish Spitz, like all dogs, requires a balanced and nutritious diet to maintain optimal health and well-being. When selecting the appropriate food for your Finnish Spitz, it’s essential to choose a high-quality product that meets the nutritional guidelines established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

There are various types of dog food available, including dry kibble, wet food, and raw diets. Each type has its benefits, and the choice ultimately depends on your dog’s specific needs and preferences.

Dry kibble is convenient and helps promote dental health, while wet food provides additional hydration and can be more palatable for some dogs. Raw diets can be nutritionally balanced but require careful planning and preparation to ensure they meet all nutritional requirements.

The amount of food your Finnish Spitz requires will depend on factors such as their age, weight, activity level, and metabolism. Generally, adult Finnish Spitz dogs should be fed twice daily, with the total daily portion divided into two equal meals. Puppies may require more frequent feedings, typically three to four times a day, to support their growth and development.

To determine the appropriate portion size for your Finnish Spitz, consult the feeding guidelines provided by the dog food manufacturer and adjust as needed based on your dog’s individual needs.

Regularly monitoring your dog’s weight and body condition will help you determine whether adjustments in portion sizes are necessary. If you’re unsure about the appropriate amount to feed your dog, consult your veterinarian for guidance.

Treats

Treats can be a valuable tool for training and rewarding your Finnish Spitz but should be given in moderation to avoid excess weight gain. Opt for healthy, low-calorie treats and account for them in your dog’s overall daily caloric intake.

Water

Fresh water should always be readily available for your Finnish Spitz, ensuring they stay properly hydrated throughout the day. Make sure to clean their water bowl regularly to prevent bacterial growth and maintain water quality.

finnish spitz resting on an armchair
Photo: slowmotiongli/Getty Images

Health

The Finnish Spitz is generally a healthy and robust breed, with a life expectancy of 13 to 15 years. However, like all breeds, they may be prone to certain health issues. Regular veterinary care, appropriate nutrition, and a consistent exercise routine can help ensure that your Finnish Spitz lives a long and healthy life.

Here are common health issues associated with the Finnish Spitz:

Hip Dysplasia: This is a genetic condition in which the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to arthritis and pain over time. While it’s not as prevalent in Finnish Spitz dogs as in some other breeds, responsible breeders should screen their breeding stock for hip dysplasia to reduce the risk of passing on the condition.

Patellar Luxation: Also known as “slipped stifles,” this condition occurs when the kneecap (patella) becomes dislocated from its normal position. Patellar luxation can cause lameness, discomfort, and may require surgical intervention in severe cases. Regular checkups with your veterinarian can help detect and address this issue early on.

Elbow Dysplasia: Similar to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is a developmental abnormality affecting the elbow joints. This condition can lead to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. Early detection and appropriate management, which may include weight control, medication, or surgery, can help minimize discomfort and maintain mobility in affected dogs.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is an inherited eye disorder that causes gradual deterioration of the retina, eventually leading to blindness. There is no cure for PRA, but responsible breeders should screen their breeding stock to reduce the risk of passing on the condition. Regular eye exams can help detect PRA early and allow for appropriate adjustments to your dog’s environment as their vision declines.

Obesity: Finnish Spitz dogs, like all breeds, can be prone to obesity if they consume too many calories and do not receive adequate exercise. Obesity can contribute to a variety of health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, and joint problems. Monitoring your dog’s weight and providing a balanced diet and regular exercise can help prevent obesity and its associated health risks.

While these health issues may be more common in the Finnish Spitz breed, it’s important to remember that each dog is an individual and may not necessarily develop any of these conditions. Regular veterinary checkups, proper nutrition, and consistent exercise are key factors in maintaining your Finnish Spitz’s overall health and well-being.

finnish spitz standing on grass
Photo: slowmotiongli/Getty Images

History

The Finnish Spitz, known as the national dog of Finland, has a rich history that can be traced back thousands of years. This breed is believed to have originated from ancient Spitz-type dogs brought to Finland by early migrants from central Russia. Over time, these dogs adapted to the harsh Finnish climate and terrain, evolving into the distinct breed we know today as the Finnish Spitz.

The primary purpose of the Finnish Spitz was to serve as a hunting companion, particularly for bird hunting. They were highly prized for their ability to locate and “bark-point” game, alerting hunters to the presence of birds such as grouse and capercaillie. Their keen senses, agility, and endurance made them well-suited for their role in the dense forests of Finland.

As time went on and the need for hunting dogs diminished, the Finnish Spitz faced the risk of extinction. However, in the late 19th century, efforts were made to revive the breed and preserve its unique characteristics.

Two Finnish sportsmen, Hugo Roos and Hugo Sandberg, played a significant role in this endeavor. They sought to reestablish the breed by locating purebred Finnish Spitz dogs in remote regions of Finland and establishing breeding programs.

In 1892, the first official breed standard for the Finnish Spitz was established, and the breed began to gain recognition both within Finland and abroad. In 1929, the Finnish Kennel Club recognized the breed, and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) followed suit in 1935.

The Finnish Spitz made its way to the United States in the 1950s and 1960s, initially brought over by Scandinavian immigrants. The breed’s popularity grew slowly but steadily, attracting attention for its unique appearance, intelligence, and versatility. In 1979, the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and became a member of the Non-Sporting Group.

The Finnish Spitz has also gained recognition for its role as a loyal and loving companion, winning the hearts of dog lovers worldwide. Their unique vocalizations, known as the “Finnish Spitz ring,” have even become a celebrated aspect of Finnish culture, with competitions held in Finland to determine which dog has the most pleasing bark.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Finnish Spitz in the United States is the Finnish Spitz Club of America (FSCA). Founded in 1975, the FSCA is dedicated to promoting and preserving the Finnish Spitz breed through education, responsible breeding practices, and various club events.

The FSCA serves as a valuable resource for Finnish Spitz owners and enthusiasts, offering information and support for all aspects of breed ownership. Visit their website to learn more about the club.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. 

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check out the Finnish Spitz’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

finnish spitz sitting outdoor
Photo: Bjurra/Getty Images

Acquiring

Ready to welcome the lively and lovable Finnish Spitz into your life? Start by preparing a cozy bed, nutritious food, engaging toys, grooming essentials for their plush coat, and a reliable vet.

If you’re thinking of buying, ensure you choose a reputable breeder to guarantee a healthy and happy pup. But have you considered rescue? Many Finnish Spitz dogs are in shelters, waiting to fill a home with their cheerful energy. The American Kennel Club and the Finnish Spitz Club of America can guide you through this rewarding journey.

Whether you adopt or buy, you’re gaining more than a pet. You’re welcoming a playful, affectionate companion who will fill your days with joy and laughter. With a Finnish Spitz, life is an exciting adventure full of love and spirited fun!

FAQs

Why are Finnish Spitz dogs considered rare?

Finnish Spitz dogs are considered rare primarily due to their limited geographic origin and the relatively small number of breeders outside Finland. The breed’s popularity has grown slowly but steadily, and they are becoming more recognized as people discover their unique qualities and endearing personalities.

Do Finnish Spitz dogs make good pets?

Yes, Finnish Spitz dogs can make excellent pets for the right family. They are intelligent, loyal, and affectionate, making them wonderful companions. However, prospective owners should be prepared for their high energy levels, vocal nature, and independent streak, which may require patience and consistent training.

Can Finnish Spitz dogs be left alone for long periods?

While Finnish Spitz dogs can tolerate being left alone for short periods, they thrive on human interaction and may develop separation anxiety or boredom-related behaviors if left alone for extended periods. It’s essential to provide adequate mental and physical stimulation and consider using a dog walker or daycare service if you’re away from home regularly.

Are Finnish Spitz dogs good with children?

Finnish Spitz dogs can be good with children when properly socialized and supervised. They are generally friendly and tolerant, but it’s important to teach children how to interact respectfully with dogs and always supervise interactions between dogs and young children.

How much grooming does a Finnish Spitz require?

The Finnish Spitz has a double coat that requires moderate grooming. Weekly brushing is recommended to remove loose hair and prevent matting. During shedding season, more frequent brushing may be necessary. Additionally, regular nail trimming, ear cleaning, and dental care should be part of their grooming routine.

Are Finnish Spitz dogs hypoallergenic?

No, Finnish Spitz dogs are not considered hypoallergenic. They have a double coat that sheds seasonally, which can trigger allergies in sensitive individuals. However, regular grooming and cleaning can help minimize allergens in the home.

How well do Finnish Spitz dogs get along with other pets?

Finnish Spitz dogs can generally get along well with other pets, particularly when properly socialized from a young age. However, due to their hunting instincts, they may have a strong prey drive toward smaller animals, such as rodents or birds. Careful introductions, supervision, and training can help ensure harmonious relationships between a Finnish Spitz and other household pets.

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