Finnish Spitz

A Child-Friendly, Highly Intelligent Hunting Dog, the Finnish Spitz is Still Rare in the United States

Also known as the "Finkie," dogs like the Finnish Spitz have been around for several thousand years. It's not known quite when the origins of the breed were established, but separate lines of the breed ultimately developed based upon specific dogs' geography and the way they were used. Ultimately, the pure Finnish Spitz breed was developed. The Finnish Spitz is the national dog of Finland and was used to hunt squirrel, game birds, and even larger game such as elk and bear.

The breed is not known as the Finnish Spitz in Finland, but instead as the Suomenpystykorva, which translates to "Finnish Pricked Ear Dog." In Finland, the Finnish Spitz is not eligible for show until a particular dog has proven excellence in hunting trials. The Finnish Spitz is also, not surprisingly, known as the “Finnish Barking Bird-Dog," because of its inclination to bark. In England, the breed is known as the Finsk Spets.

Highly personable and trainable, the Finnish Spitz is nonetheless an independent thinker and will need to be handled gently and positively to be truly affectionate, happy, and well-behaved.


As the national dog of Finland, the Finnish Spitz is an ancient hunting breed that is still used there to hunt game. Although its exact origins are unknown, experts believe that Spitz-type dogs were brought from central Russia by Finno-Ugrian tribes who migrated to Finland several thousand years ago. At that time, these dogs were used as all-purpose hunting dogs. Because there was little interaction between isolated tribes until the 19th century, this breed developed relatively purely, undisturbed by crosses from other breeds.

With mass transportation increasingly available in the 19th century, people from Finland began to cross the Finnish Spitz with other breeds. It had become nearly extinct by 1880, and was only saved from extinction when Helsinki hunters Hugo Sandberg and Hugo Roos, hunting in the northern forests of Finland, saw some true Finnish Spitz. They embarked on a mission to save the Finnish Spitz from extinction and restore it to its "pure" status.

In 1890, Sandberg wrote exquisitely about the breed in Sporten magazine. In 1882, the Finish Kennel Club recognized the breed, and based its first breed standard on Sandberg's article. The first Helsinki dog show was held in 1891, judged by Sandberg, with the breed given the name Finnish Spitz in 1897.

Hugo Roos did his part to preserve the breed by participating in Spitz dog shows for over 30 years, regularly serving as a show judge. He gathered the foundation stock and pioneered the breed through the 1920s.

On a hunting trip to Finland about that same time, England's Sir Edward Chichester admired the breed’s skills so much that he took some dogs back to England and then imported a stud dog (of no relation to the first dogs) later. Lady Kitty Ritson of England's Tulchan Kennels was also impressed by the dog in Finland a few years later and organized the Finnish Spitz Club in England. This was then registered with England's Kennel Club in 1934. Ritson was the one who gave the breed the affectionate nickname "Finkie."

As with so many other breeds, World War II saw significant degradation of the breed which impacted the level of breed quality in formal shows. Subsequent importation of two dogs from Finland England improved the breed significantly.

In 1959, Finnish Spitz dogs were first imported to the US from England, at the same time two pups were born in quarantine in England. These dogs subsequently became the source of almost every Finnish Spitz show champion until the 1970s.

The Finnish Spitz Club of America was established in 1975 after which the breed was finally allowed to be shown by the American Kennel Club in 1984. In 1993, the Finnish Spitz Club of America became a member of the American Kennel Club’s Non-Sporting Group. Finnish Spitz are still relatively uncommon in the US, ranking 147 among 155 breeds in the AKC, but is still well established in Sweden and Finland.


The Finnish Spitz looks enticingly like a fox, with a muscular, square body, deep chest, level topline, almond-shaped eyes, black lips and nose, and a plumed tail that curls up over the dog’s back. The fur is varying shades of red brown, gold and red, and/or yellowish red or even the color of honey. These dogs can sometimes have white markings. Puppies are born a darker shade which develops into a lighter, reddish color as they get older.

In adulthood, Finnish Spitz stand between 15 and 20 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 31 and 35 pounds.


This lively, energetic family dog is good-natured and gets along very well with children. Patient and relaxed, the Finnish Spitz will simply walk away if children get too rough. Very affectionate with its immediate family, the Finnish Spitz is aloof with strangers. A very good watchdog, it will alert owners to anything suspicious. Although the Finnish Spitz was bred to bark a lot, this is not an aggressive dog and is quick to learn to not bark with a simple "Quiet!"

This dog is very intelligent but has a mind of its own. Although Finnish Spitz are obedient with strong, gentle owners, you may find yourself with difficulties if you are either too wishy-washy or harsh.

Make sure your pet gets enough exercise, with one or two walks a day and plenty of active playtime. Apartment living can be acceptable as long as the dog’s significant energy is relieved with at least a couple of walks a day.


The Finnish Spitz is healthy and hardy, with an average life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. However, the breed is prone to several common health problems, including epilepsy, patellar luxation, and canine hip dysplasia. Epilepsy can often be controlled with medication (although it cannot be cured), and patellar luxation can often be corrected with surgery.

You should receive a certificate from the Canine Registry Foundation that your puppy's eyes are normal. If dogs have canine hip dysplasia, they should not be bred. Your breeder should freely give you health clearances for your puppy's parents.


With its double coat – soft and dense underneath, and long, straight, and harshly textured above – the Finnish Spitz needs little grooming. Simply brush with a simple brush at least twice a week and bathe every few months. Otherwise, perform nail trims, teeth brushing, and ear checks for dirt, redness or infection.


Finnish Spitz.

Retrieved May 2, 2015. Finnish Spitz (Suomenpystykorva) (Finsk Spets) (Loulou Finnoi).

Retrieved May 2, 2015. Finnish Spitz.

Retrieved May 2, 2015. Meet the Finnish Spitz.

Retrieved May 2, 2015. Finnish Spitz.

Retrieved May 2, 2015.

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