You’d be forgiven for thinking the Finnish Spitz was a fox at first glance: after all, these redheaded (and bodied) pups do have a very vulpine look about them! But these amazing dogs actually belong to an ancient breed that is thought to date back thousands of years.
Read on to learn more about the history, care, health, and temperament of these fluffy, fun-loving pooches.
A Brief History of the Finnish Spitz Dog Breed
The Finish Spitz, or as it is known in Finnish, the Suomenpystykorva, is a very ancient breed that’s thought to date back some 8,000 years. While most modern dog breeds share ancestry with the grey wolf, a number of Arctic breeds, Spitz breeds included, share ancestry with the extinct North Asian Taymyr wolf instead.
These Spitz-type breeds originate in central Russia and date back thousands of years, prized for their hunting prowess and their ability to withstand extremely cold temperatures.
When Finno-Ugrian tribes migrated to what is now Finland, they brought their loyal canine companions with them, using them to hunt birds like capercaillies and grouse, and sometimes even larger prey like elk.
Although the breed nearly disappeared in the 19th century due to interbreeding, luckily a Finnish sportsman named Hugo Roos managed to revive it.
In 1979, the Finnish Spitz was recognized as the national dog of Finland. The breed came to America in 1960, and the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed standard in 1988. A popular nickname for Finnish Spitzes, “Finkie”, originated around the same time.
The Appearance of These Fluffy Doggos
Overall, these dogs have a very fox-like appearance, with a pointed muzzle and ears, an alert expression, a fluffy reddish coat, and a curled tail. The breed should have a square build: the length of the body is around the same height as the shoulder.
The back legs are typically slightly longer than the front.
5 Features Spitz Breeds Have in Common
Spitz breeds are a family of dogs that are thought to have originated in the Arctic regions of Northern Europe thousands of years ago. Spitzes also traveled to Asia, where they would go on to become the ancestors of breeds like the Shiba Inu, the Chow Chow, and the Akita.
Although nowadays Spitz breeds have diversified to be working dogs (including herding and guarding), hunting dogs, and even toy dogs, there are still certain characteristics that almost all Spitz breeds share.
- A warm double coat to guard against cold temperatures
- A thick, fluffy tail that curls up over the back
- Almond-shaped eyes that are set obliquely
- A pointed muzzled and small, erect, triangular ears
- A wedge-shaped head
Average Size and Weight!
Male Finnish Spitzes are generally larger than females, with the average height for the former being 17½ to 20 in, and for the latter 15½ to 18 in. The average weight for male Finkies is 26 to 30 lb, and for females 16 to 22 lb.
The Coats and Colors of These Fox-Like Dogs!
Due to their origins in the intemperate climates of Finland and Northern Asia, Spitzes have a thick double coat to help keep them warm. This consists of a dense and soft undercoat with longer, rougher guard hairs. Males often have a slightly rougher coat than females.
Coat colors in Finnish Spitz dogs are always mottled and reddish, ranging from dark chestnut to pale honey.
Finnish Spitz puppies are born with a much darker coat that is tawny with large patches of black. This dark coloring doesn’t fade until the dogs are around two years old.
What About Their Grooming Requirements?
Although Finnish Spitzes have a thick coat, they are actually very clean naturally. With that being said, they will still need some brushing to avoid shedding in the home. Most Finkie owners opt to brush once or twice a week with a slicker brush.
In fact, failing to clear excess undercoat can lead to show dogs of this breed being disqualified by the AKC.
As with all dogs, they should be bathed every few months (or when they roll in something nasty), their nails should be trimmed as needed, and their ears should be checked regularly. Beginning a grooming routine at a young age will help dogs to learn to be handled.
Temperament and Personality: What to Expect!
In general, Finnish Spitzes are good-natured, friendly, affectionate, and all-round good family dogs. They are very gentle with children, but can be aloof or reserved with strangers.
These dogs love to bark, so much so that another nickname for the breed is the “Barking Bird Dog” They hunt by barking at prey to flush it out and alert hunters to its location, and they will bark at intruders too.
In Finland, they even have an annual barking competition for their national dogs! If you live near other people, like in an apartment complex, you will need to teach your pup the “quiet” command from a young age.
Finkies are sensitive souls and respond best to positive reinforcement during training. They also don’t like environments with lots of shouting or arguments: don’t fight in front of the dog!
Finnish Spitz dogs are very intelligent, and with persistent and gentle training, they can be trained from as young as eight weeks. Socialization is also important with these dogs to ensure that they are not nervous around other dogs or strangers.
Exercise is Key for These Active Pups!
To keep these dogs in peak condition, they will need a moderate to high amount of exercise—ideally, at least an hour a day. After all, these dogs were bred to hunt, meaning they have to stamina to keep going all day.
For the same reason, if you’re letting your pup out in the yard, make sure it is securely fenced, as these fluffballs love to roam. Mental stimulation, such as play or training exercises, will also help to tire your Spitz out.
What is the Finnish Spitz Lifespan?
The average lifespan for this breed is a little over 11 years, though they have been known to live much longer, even up to 15 years. Keeping your dog healthy, giving it plenty of exercise, and making sure you only get puppies from a reputable breeder can all help to give your pup a long and happy life.
5 Potential Health Issues to Be Aware Of!
Overall, this ancient breed is pretty rugged and healthy. With that being said, all purebred dogs have propensities to develop certain diseases, especially inherited conditions.
When buying a puppy of any breed, you should always ask for a health guarantee for the pup, where the parents are tested for genetic conditions. A vet check is not the same thing! We have more information on finding a reputable Finnish Spritz breeder below.
As with any breed, when it comes to keeping Finkies healthy, preventions is better than retroactive, treatment, so keeping your pup healthy, feeding it a high-quality food, giving it plenty of suitable exercise, and helping it maintain a healthy weight are all key.
The breed is prone to a number of conditions, including:
- Pemphigus foliaceous, an autoimmune skin condition
Finnish Spitz Puppies for Sale!
Puppies of this breed, like most breeds, will typically be ready to go home at eight to ten weeks of age. However, once they’re home, you’ll still need to be careful who they come into contact with until they’ve had all their vaccinations.
Be Sure to Get Your Puppy from a Reputable Breeder!
It’s impossible to stress enough how important it is to only ever buy puppies through registered, reputable breeders, and Finnish Spitz puppies are no different. Signs that a breeder is not to be trusted include:
- Lacking information on one or both parents
- Not having done genetic testing to ensure that neither parent carries a genetic condition
- The breeder not letting you see where the puppies were born and raised
When looking for a registered breeder, the Finnish Spitz Club of America and the AKC both keep up-to-date registries of trusted breeders. Though you may pay a little more for a puppy through one of these breeders, ultimately you’ll know that you’re getting a healthy, happy dog.
Adopt! Don’t Shop! Ask a Local Animal Shelter About Spitz Rescues!
If you’re looking to get a Finnish Spritz as a pet, you don’t have to buy a puppy—you could adopt one instead! Although this type of dog is not as popular as say, the Labrador Retriever or the German Shepherd, but it is still possible to find Spritzes in shelters, or through a breed-specific rescue organization, like the Finnish Spitz National Rescue.
The benefits of rescuing an older dog (other than a feel-good glow) include being able to ask about the dog’s temperament, past training, how it is with other dogs, and so on.
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