Black and tan finnish spitz running in the snow

Finnish Spitz: Everything You Would Want To Know

The fearless Barking Bird Dog or else, the fox dog or the fireball. Only one breed carry those names. The unique Finnish Spitz! This underrated breed is going to prove to you how unique a medium-sized dog can be. While he isn’t a sportive dog or a hunter, he sure had an essential role in the past and the future. On our journey, we would discuss everything about this beautiful breed.

“Finnish Spitz is indeed an underrated breed. This hunting dog whose distinctive barking traits can amaze you. While he has some health issues, his temperament will be great if you have kids or other animals at home. He is an energetic dog that needs some training but not a hyper dog as other mid-sized dogs”

History Of Finnish Spitz

General Info:

Finnish Spitz is from “The Land of thousand Lakes,” Finland. While unfortunately, we don’t know much about his history. We succeeded to grab some information about this unique breed, 

Finnish Spitz History
Finnish Spitz

The Finnish Spitz developed from selectively bred Spitz-type dogs that inhabited central Russia several thousand years ago. Isolated Finno-Ugrian tribes in the far northern regions bred dogs according to their specific needs. These small clans of woodsmen relied on their dogs to help them obtain food, and the excellent hunting ability of the Finnish Spitz made it a favorite choice.

Wikipedia

He appeared before 1880. However, he started to be officially available from the beginning of 1880. Before that year, Finnish Spitz was marked as an “Extinct Breed” because it was scarce. However, thanks to Hugo Roos, who observed Finnish Spitz in the woods and decided to start to breed this dog, because he gave us one of the most intelligent dog breeds.

Genetic History:

Tracking dogs’ history is a real challenge for any scientist. However, it was apparent that Finnish Spitz is derived from Spitz dogs by selective breeding. This breeding resulted in a medium-sized dog (despite that most of the Spitz dogs are relatively large.)

As I don’t want to write unnecessary scientific explanations, if you’re interested in the dogs’ breeding, you can look at this scientific paper here

Origination Of His Name:

The Finnish Spitz is from the descendants of the Spitz family. Such a family includes Samoyed, Japanese Spitz (Pomeranian), and many more dogs. Due to the amazing character of the Finnish Spitz, Finland decided to mark him as their national dog and gave him his awesome name, “Finnish Spitz.”

He’s also called, “The dog from the 1000 lakes country” and that’s because it’s known that Finland is the country of 1000 lakes.

He has other names as well, like “The Barking Bird Dog” Or “The Hunter Bird Dog,” and that’s because he is not actually a hunter.

While many people assume that Finnish Spitz was a hunter like Border Collie, he was used only in alerting. He would bark for the prey. Then his handler will hunt them. That’s why he isn’t a very athletic dog the same as Border Collies despite being a medium-sized breed.

Working History Of Finnish Spitz:

A general rule for any dog is that its working history explains his physical traits. That’s why, for example, that you will find German Shepherd dogs abundant in muscles (because ancestors used them in guarding.)

Finnish Spitz Hunting

Finnish Spitz isn’t a hunting dog. Its primary role was to help hunters hunt.

He would stand and bark towards the prey, which would scare them to go in the direction of the hunter. Then it would be an easy job for the hunter after that. 

Another distinctive task for the Spitz is to alert against thieves.

However, he doesn’t have strong muscles or sharp teeth that could attack them. So, his only role was to bark and scare only without any attacking.

Unfortunately, the Finnish Spitz didn’t have a use in herding or chasing prey -like Border Collies. Therefore, they don’t run fast or have an athletic body to jump over obstacles.

Today’s Finnish Spitz has less weight than before and less bone mass, which enabled him to have a light body that could run relatively fast.

Physical Traits Of Finnish Spitz

The Finnish Spitz dog is unique in everything from his color to his square-like shape and even the fox face he has. This makes him an awesome dog that many people admire and love to see around (This also made him win lots of dog shows.)

The working history and the physical traits go hand-in-hand, and I’ll prove that in a moment.

Finnish spitz showing tongue while staying on flower field

The distinctive look of this breed is due to the following traits:

Height:Males: range from 17.5 to 20 inches tall. 
Females: range from 15.5 to 18 inches tall.
Weight:Males: weigh 27 to 35 pounds. 
Females: weigh 22 to 30 pounds. 
Life Span:12-14 years
Appearance:He has a square body, which is unique. His dimensions look the same as a square (will demonstrate more int the next section)
Color:His color ranges in the shades of red. He has a unique flamy color, which is very adorable and eye-catching. His body usually has more than one color.
Coat:Medium Length.
Coat Density:Moderate.
Ears:The general breed has an erect ear, but some of today’s have half-erect ears.
Eye Color:Black

Breed Specifications According To AKC

Now to join a competition with your dog, you have to follow the AKC standards. Generally, AKC has put some measures for each dog that helps push the breeders to keep the high quality of the dogs.

If your dog for any reason doesn’t meet those measures, he won’t enter the competition.

I have copied the following standards from AKC PDF here. But I have made it in a way that is easy to understand.

Keep in mind that you can’t join any sporting event because AKC has made it clear and classified Finnish Spitz as non-sporting dogs. So he will never join any sporting event.

Finnish Spitz dog show
Finnish Spitz in dog shows
  • General Appearance: The Finnish Spitz presents a fox-like picture.
  • Size: As mentioned above, in height and width.
  • Proportion: square: length from fore chest to buttocks equal to the height from withers to ground.
  • Head: Clean cut and fox-like.
  • Expression: Fox-like and lively.
  • Eyes: Almond shape and have only one black color.
  • Ears: Erect all the time. Half-erect ears won’t be able to join.
  • Muzzle: Narrow as seen from the front.
  • Bite: Scissors bite.
  • Topline: level and strong from withers to croup. 
  • Body: Muscular, square.
  • Tail: Set on just below the level of the topline.

As I mentioned, I have copied them from AKC because they are standards. Still, you can always check the original PDF here, which will give you a better in-depth explanation of all the criteria.

Grooming Needs:

The Finnish Spitz is the same as Husky. He has a medium-dense coat and medium-length hair, which is goofy but yet not too long like Golden Retrievers.

This combination made him have a unique elastic hair that doesn’t require lots of grooming. You don’t need to go to any groomer, for example, brushing his hair every day will be more than enough.

Another unique trait of Finnish Spitz is being a clean dog. Because of that, you never need to worry about him jumping into a pud of water (like GOLDEN RETRIEVERS) or going through Mud.

So grooming needs are sustainable when they come to Finnish Spitz.

Where Does The Finnish Spitz Live?

I ignore this typically—however, this time, I have to mention it. 

Finnish Spitz comes from a freezing country, which is Finland. They have the same issues as Huskies in hot weather conditions. However, you can see many Huskies in many warm countries, and you will never see a Finnish Spitz in a hot country.

That’s due to breeding habits.

Over the past couple of years, breeders have imported lots of Huskies. While many of them died because of unsuitable weather, many of them started adapting to the new weather conditions and started reacting positively.

But for Finnish Spitz, they didn’t try to bring him to a hot country, and so you will never be able to import him because he could die once he reaches your country.

Thus, Finnish Spitz lives only in cold countries, and he wouldn’t be pleased with summer as well because he is a dog who adores icy weather.

Physical Exercising Needs:

Unlike Medium-sized dogs, Finnish Spitz is a non-sporting dog. How can this affect his physical needs?

Having a medium-sized dog who is energetic but doesn’t need lots of exercises is a complicated mix that you will see rarely. That’s because the lightweight of medium dogs always make them move freely and more dynamically.

So most of the medium dogs are energetic dogs that need lots of exercise. Otherwise, they will start destroying their home.

But this is not the case because Finnish Spitz isn’t the most energetic dog at all. In fact, Finnish Spitz has moderate energy. That requires a smaller volume of exercise compared to Border Collie or even Golden Retriever.

Be careful. I am not saying that the Finnish Spitz are lazy dogs, and they will go smoothly without training.

I am saying that they need exercises but less than the regular activities that you will give to Border Collies and other similar medium dogs.

Kinds Of Exercise:

You have a wide range of exercises that you can give to your dog. But bear in mind that many of them won’t apply to Finnish Spitz.

They aren’t the sporting dogs that are ready to go biking or ready to run for hours. So, I will mention the exercises that might be best for Finnish Spitz:

Dog swimming
  • Walking: This is the mandatory physical exercise that any dog should have. Finnish Spitz walks daily around 40 mins per day (which is really amazing)
  • Physical Interacting games: Fetch, and tug-of-war will be your best friends here! Especially that the bodies of Finnish Spitz are muscular and ready to tug hard.
  • Weightlifting: Finnish Spitz is a muscular boy, and he is ready to have some weight on his back. However, take care that this doesn’t mean helping you to lift your objects. It involves lifting some weight (calculated) to have pressure on his body. The weight won’t cause tearing in his muscles and help him develop a better muscular body. 

    In our article, German Shepherds and Weight lifting, we have mentioned that any dog can’t lift a weight that is more than 10% of his original body weight. Your dog might be able to carry more. However, 10% is the safe percentage that will guarantee that your dog will be free from any damages.
  • Swimming: If we are in summer, then this is the best for Finnish Spitz to jump into the pool. Finnish Spitz always likes to have a cold temperature around them, and they don’t tolerate heat. 
  • Dog Parks: It’s best to let your dog go to parks and play with a few other dogs. But be careful that your dog is a vocalization machine…(more into that in a moment)
  • Using Dog Activity Monitor: In our article, Border Collies, we mentioned that a Dog Activity Monitor is a great device that can help you. It gives you the whole picture of what your dog has and hasn’t done and how much he played. This is helpful for any owner to know when it’s time to exercise his dog or stop exercising him.

We covered some exercises here. Take care that some activities won’t be suitable for Finnish Spitz, for example, the Treadmill exercises aren’t stimulating for Finnish Spitz at all.

Also, herding balls will be dull to them because they aren’t used to herding.

Setting up an agility course in your backyard might be OK for your dogs, but it’s not mandatory at all.

We will get later into the mental exercises that Finnish Spitz will adore!

Temperament Of The Finnish Spitz: 

If you are after Finnish Spitz, then you must be looking at his incredible mental side (But his physical side isn’t bad at all, he is lightweight after all.) That’s because Finnish Spitz might be one of the best dogs from the mental perspective. 

This brave dog shows an incredible attitude towards thieves and burglars, never disappointed neither our ancestors nor us. If you are speaking about the perfect dog, then you sure must be referring to Finnish Spitz.

Let’s have a look at some of the amazing characteristics that make him the ideal dog:

Upsides

  1. Alerting: It would be unfair if I didn’t start the list by this trait. That’s because he gained his popularity through this trait. Finnish Spitz is from the vocalizing dogs that have a great ability to change his voice into several other tones. That makes it very easy to train him as a guard dog. However, don’t misunderstand this trait and believe that the Finnish Spitz can get into action and bite thieves. While Finnish Spitz isn’t a coward, he wouldn’t do any harm to thieves because his teeth aren’t the strongest (but he will try). So, if you are willing to have a dog that is ready to jump onto thieves and start tearing them apart, then you can choose a fighting dog. But, if you just need a dog that is barking at any stranger and protecting you with all his heart, then Finnish Spitz might be perfect for you. 
  2. Lively dog: This dog enjoys every moment of his life. That’s why you would enjoy your time with him because he never stops thinking about new things to do!
  3. Unknown Energy Levels: I can’t say that Finnish Spitz is a lazy dog because our ancestors bred him to hunt. And I can’t say that Finnish Spitz is a very active hyper dog because scientists didn’t confirm that yet. Depending on the bloodline, you will know the activity level of your Finnish Spitz (which will most likely be very high). Even though AKC classifies him as “Mid-level Energetic Dog.”
  4. Intelligent: As a hunter, Finnish Spitz is one of the rare breeds that are ready to be taught some problem-solving skills. Finnish Spitz will never fail to surprise you of how intelligent he is.
  5. Easily Trained.
  6. Very suitable for beginners.
  7. Independent Character: Generally speaking, dogs have various characters just like humans. There are Alphas, leaders, independent dogs, etc. While this might not appear very important to us in today’s life, dogs’ characters appear when they are in packs. You will always see the defender, the hunter, the alpha, etc. The independent character is the character that is ready to work on its own without any further instructions. Just put some guidelines, and Finnish Spitz won’t fail you. That’s why some trainers recommend to teach him any job to do because he will never fail to do any job.

Downsides:

  1. Easily bored: If you are working 12 hours a day, then consider buying a lazy dog, because Finnish Spitz won’t be very tolerant of tight schedules.
  2. Most prone to Separation Anxiety: Yes, Finnish Spitz doesn’t handle the situation alone in the house. 
  3. Loud barking for no reason
  4. Destructive behavior if left alone for long hours.
  5. LOTS OF HEALTH-RELATED ISSUES.
  6. Slow to mature.
  7. Easy to have zoomie at young ages.
  8. Loves to dig.

While intelligence in dogs is critical, it comes with its downsides as well. The downside is if you don’t train your dog well from the first moment he enters the house, he might use his intelligence against you to do whatever he wants.

So lining the borders and indicating from the first moment what’s right and what’s wrong is very critical with Finnish Spitz.

Another downside for intelligence is mental exercises. You have to give your dog some mental activities to tire him and to increase his intelligence and to feed the hunger inside him to use his mind!

That’s why I have compiled a list with some mental exercises that are suitable for Finnish Spitz.
(They are taken from our Border Collies Post)

Mental Exercises

Social Exercising:

Social exercising is one of the first things that you need to do at an early stage. Finnish Spitz dogs are amazing and lovely dogs only if they get introduced to animals and people from an early stage.

Try to let your dog see different things as much as possible and as soon as possible. Teach him how to play with dogs from early-stage so that they won’t have any aggressive behavior when they grow-up.

They are dogs who are ready to protect you. Do make sure that they are trained correctly on whom to bark at. They have to see as many people as possible and determine who is the evil out there.

Here is a great video from Zak George describing the social exercises in-depth:

Social Exercising for Finnish Spitz

Cognitive Training:

Have you ever imagined to have a dog that can solve puzzles and problems?

Finnish Spitz can really get tired by solving puzzles, and by learning problem-solving, you don’t need to buy anything fancy. Use your creativity to achieve this type of training.

There are some Dog Puzzles you can purchase, and you can make your own too!

Solving puzzles will increase it’s intelligent, surprisingly. As they can be trained to do amazing things like discovering bombs or, many other activities

You can learn more about Cognitive Training from this video:

Cognitive Training

Challenging Food:

You can use the Finnish Spitz’s amazing senses and upgrade them to the next level by adding some challenges while he eats. How?

First, you can buy the dog food puzzle mat. This will make him sniff his way to his food.

You can also try to distribute the food all over the backyard (if it is fresh food) and let him find it. However, don’t exaggerate like making it impossible to find as this can lead to some food aggression problems that we want to avoid.

Try to make it challenging but funny.

Training

Training Spitz, as we said, should start earlier at a very early stage (8 weeks), and you will find them very easy to be trained (they don’t need specialized trainers).

After basic obedience classes, it is best to start teaching the dog Guarding and using his voice. You can also teach him to sing or other tricks that are based on voice. They are very popular to love those tricks.

Finnish Spitz And Kids:

“A few years ago, we had our Finnish Spitz, who was four years old and our little boy who was only around five years old. At this time, we were living in the village with the boy’s uncle.

Our house was very near to the uncle’s farm, which allowed our baby to go there alone. Don’t misunderstand us and think that we are careless parents, but the baby never missed the road once.

And at this time, there was never something like kidnapping children, and there weren’t any roads that allow fast cars. That made us sure that our kid is safe. Our Leo (the Finnish Spitz) always followed him as well off-leashed. Wherever the baby goes, the dog is behind him.

One day, our baby took off into the forest and started running around, and Leo was following him. Just then, we realized that both had disappeared.

We called the police and firefighters; they swept the place until we heard the barking of the dog. We ran to the middle of the forest, discovering that Leo was protecting our baby with all his body and making sure that nobody can harm him.

Once he saw us, he realized that we are here to help and ran to us to get some playing for being a good boy. Take into your account that we never trained Leo to protect the child or gave him any special training.

He was our fur baby who had wings.

A true story that took place a couple of years ago that touched my heart back then, and I decided that this must be in our article today.

Any other words said after this amazing story would be unfair to this breed. If you have any worries that you have children and you want a dog, then consider having Finnish Spitz. They are always protective, and they still think that human children are more alike their babies, which can be the sweetest thing ever.

Finnish Spitz And Other Animals

You have probably heard the myth that says, “Hunting dogs don’t go best with other animals.”

This quote is 100% incorrect. In fact, scientists found out that all hunting dogs are very kind to all sorts of other animals. So how is that possible?

While we don’t have scientific evidence until now, we still see that Border Collies & other hunting dogs are kinder to pets than Golden Retrievers. Yes, you read that correctly. 

Finnish Spitz is no different than his colleagues. Finnish Spitz is one of the best breeds that you can buy if you have cats or other animals.

Let me surprise you even further by telling you that the number of accidents done by Finnish Spitz in Finland towards other pets over the last year. Only 2 ACCIDENTS. Sounds unbelievable, right?

This breed is underrated because he is a non-sporting breed, and he might not be the best breed to learn agility tricks (while he can but not like Border Collies), but he is one of the best to obtain. 

But let me illustrate another critical aspect of Finnish Spitz’s character that you might not be aware of yet. IS FINNISH SPITZ SUITABLE FOR EVERYONE?

Is The Finnish Spitz Suitable For Everybody?

Unfortunately, no.

Woman hugging Finnish spitz while sitting

Finnish Spitz is a beautiful breed, but he isn’t suitable for everyone, indeed. For example, if you live in a hot country, then please stay away from the Finnish Spitz.

Even if your breeder told you that he has been breeding Finnish Spitz for hundreds of years and that his bloodline is OK with hot weather, don’t believe him. 

If you live beside neighbors who don’t tolerate the barking of dogs, perhaps you have to stay away from Finnish Spitz as well.

While you can train Finnish Spitz to bark on command only and everything, but don’t forget that our ancestors bred him to bark. So whatever the training that you will give him, he will still bark because of his nature, just like the escaping nature of Huskies.

You leave your house for work at 8 AM and return at 8 PM?

Then please consider having another breed that is lazier than Finnish Spitz. You are putting all your furniture in danger if you left Finnish Spitz alone for long hours because he will find his ways to amuse himself…

However, if you do have kids and you wonder what’s the best breed for them. Then for sure, Finnish Spitz is your way to go. Not only will he be very playful with them, but he will also take care of them and go through their difficulties.

HEALTH ISSUES

Unfortunately, due to the wrong selective breeding, Finnish Spitz has lots of health-related issues that we will go through right now.

We can divide them into Physical and Mental health issues as follows:

All of the dogs might be prone to these physical diseases. When we mention that it is one of the most common diseases in a specific breed. It means this Spitz is most likely to have these health issues if not taken care of regularly.

DiseaseDescription
Dental Diseases:Every dog who is older than two years is prone to some dental diseases. However, Finnish Spitz is more prone to some infections in the gum when he grows up. Unfortunately, dental conditions and infections in dogs are not like dental issues in humans at all. Dental diseases in dogs, if not treated, can cause “DANGEROUS ILLNESSES.” Yes, it can cause some liver diseases. It is so weird that a small issue like Dental issues can lead to an unsafe situation like decreasing the dog’s lifespan. You can read more about Dental diseases here.
Hip dysplasia:As always, whenever we mention medium-sized breeds, we have to mention Hip dysplasia. It is contradictory that a lightweight Dog can have Hip dysplasia.
However, when scientists researched this issue, they found it is because of the wrong selective breeding. That makes most of the current Finnish Spitz dogs have this disease in their genes, and they are ready to transmit it to their young puppies. That’s why you have to check your Finnish Spitz using X-rays before buying him to make sure that you won’t face a lot of health issues when he grows up. You can also read more about Hip dysplasia here.
Thyroid Problems:While this isn’t common, but we have to mention it since Finnish Spitz has the highest rates of having thyroid problems.
Thyroid hormones are important hormones in the bodies of canines and humans. They affect nearly everything from metabolism to growth rate.
Briefly, some dogs may have disorders in this hormone, which can cause some growth disorders. However, this hormone can affect other aspects as well, like skin coating, bone strength, etc. The only way to find about this problem is through blood tests whenever you feel suspicious of anything.
Epilepsy:Epilepsy is like a brain disorder. Simply, it is a disorder in the nervous system.
Epilepsy causes some seizures and disorders in the dog’s activity, which doesn’t have any cure, unfortunately. However, treatments can decrease the number of seizures that a dog can have but will never cure him.

Other sources say that Finnish Spitz might be prone to problems in the knee called Patellar luxation, which I couldn’t confirm. However, you can read about it if you are interested.

Mental Diseases:

DiseaseDescription
Separation Anxiety:As I mentioned before, they are most prone to this disease because they always like to bond with their owners as much as possible. That’s why they might not be the best choice if you have to work 12 hours a day.
Anxious:Due to their working history, they are always anxious around strangers and can cause some aggression towards them. So they have to be treated early to avoid any possible accidents.

Popular Breeders:

This list is compiled from the AKC website to gain the “CERTIFIED Breeders.” 

Breeder NameLocationContact Info
Valkyrie FarmsErie, PAJulie Parker
(814) 449-2740
Iceforest Finnish SpitzYarnell,AZChrista Romppanen
(928) 427-3532
Maru Finnish SpitzChino Valley, AZAnita Thomas 
(928) 636-6548
Skandia Finnish SpitzGlendale, AZPeggy Urton  
(623) 572-6916
Suomi’s KennelsKnightsen, CACarol, Dan & Brian Stone
(925) 679-1080
Velvet Hills Finnish SpitzLos Osos, CAMary J. Ellis
(805) 788-8279
DV9K9 KennelsColorado Springs, COMichelle Leathers 
(509) 991-7783
Maxasta KennelsMacon, GARichard (Rowdy) & Sheri Yates  
(478) 471-7857
Young’s Finnish SpitzDouglasville, GARobert and Theresa Young 
(770) 941-4883 home
(404) 557-1590 cell.
Jayenn Finnish SpitzStanley, NMLeslie D. Carlson
(505) 720-1142
Riverview AcresRexford, NYSandra Krupski
East Winds Finnish SpitzNYLori Davis
Bo-Co-Pa Finnish SpitzKlamath Falls, ORErika David 
(541) 331-1606
Icecaps Finnish SpitzLaPine, ORNancy Lloyd
(541) 913-6056
Royal Touch KennelsGresham, ORBethene Occhiuto
(971) 230-8948
BadgerDen Finnish SpitzWolfforth, TXMichelle Badger 
(806) 866-4512
Crowns Finnish SpitzFort Worth, TXDiane & Sheldon Helland 
(817) 263-1761
Ajuaq KennelsSalt Lake City, UTHolly Horton  
(801) 414-1707

Conclusion

Finnish Spitz is a really underrated bread. You can never think how amazing the breed is until you deal with him.

While we covered a lot in this article, let me be honest with you. I found that a lot of information was actually lost on the internet and as if they were removed. It’s so weird that we know a little about this breed!

As always, we do our best to drive every information to you. We push ourselves to the maximum so that you can see the whole picture depending on reliable sources.

That’s why you should enable notifications and wait for our future weekly posts. (Who knows, if lots of people started subscribing to our notification’s list, we can make it biweekly?)

Author: Soheir Maher

Hi, I am Soheir. I have always been passionate about dogs. My first dog was Leo who was a wonderful Golden Retriever after that I got Kira another Golden Retriever who is wonderful too.My passion for dogs made me read a lot about them. Training them personally made me become an expert in everything related to them, that's why my writing is always a mix of experience and science. My writing about dogs isn't for the sake of earning a living but instead, for the sake of benefiting people around the world.

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