Animated, intelligent, and friendly, the Finnish Spitz is a historic hunting dog breed in the non-sporting group and makes an excellent addition to an active family. Affectionately nicknamed Finkie, this fun breed is exceptionally kid-friendly and protective of his pack.
Their pricked-up pointy ears and alert disposition gives them a definite fox-like image. You may have to look twice when you spot one to be sure you’re not in the presence of a wild animal. And similar to foxes, Finkies are stealthy hunters known to catch small game like birds and squirrels with ease.
Finkies were bred to bark. Hunters bred them to do it when they spotted prey on a hunt in the countryside. While barking may be desired in that setting, it’s not always a beloved behavior at home. It will take training to teach your pup when and when not to bark. If you do decide to add a Finnish Spitz to the family, be prepared for vocalization.
This breed also loves to run. Potential owners should be active—not couch potatoes—and eager to take at least one long walk, run, or hike a day. Extra play sessions are always welcome, too. Finkies are sharp as a tack and, though they can be independent thinkers, are responsive to positive reward-based training. Training them to run agility courses would be an excellent way to tire out your Finnish Spitz.
History of the Finnish Spitz
Historians believe that dogs similar to the modern Finnish Spitz were brought to Finland by migrating tribes from central Russia several thousand years ago. The migrants relied on them for food as the dogs made excellent hunters and for centuries these Spitz-like pups were used as all-purpose hunters, eventually specializing in hunting birds.
With the advancement of transportation infrastructure in the 18th century, the dogs were introduced to new areas, and they began mating with other dog breeds. As a result, the distinct breed edged toward extinction.
Thankfully, the unique breed had two dedicated admirers, Hugo Roos, and Hugo Sandberg, who brought the Finnish Spitz breed back from near oblivion in the late 1800s. They spent decades selectively breeding dogs to achieve individuals reflective of today’s Finnish Spitz dogs. The Finnish Kennel Club recognized the breed by the end of the century.
In the 1920s, Finland began exporting Finnish Spitz dogs to England, where they first got their easy-to-say nickname “Finkie.”They arrived in America around 1960 and were recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1988.
Finnish Spitz Care
In their native Finland, Finnish Spitz dogs are still used primarily for hunting, while their role in America is more of a companion dog. Because the breed is built for long hunts, Finkies need plenty of exercise to stay happy and healthy. Generally, they do best in a large home with a fenced yard, allowing them to run free and play for parts of the day.
In addition to regular romps in the yard, Finkies need at least one 30-minute walk a day. They also make great running or hiking partners and will happily jog alongside a bicycle or skateboard. No matter your favorite form of exercise, your Finkie will love joining you.
They do require special attention and consistent training before they will be the perfect companion, though. This breed is highly intelligent, which can present a challenge as they tend to be independent thinkers. Finkies respond well to positive, reward-based training as long as sessions are short and sweet with lots of praise.
With most dogs, early socialization is key. The Finnish Spitz was bred to bark, an activity they tend to carry with them even when not hunting. Owners say they’re a talkative breed. Early socialization training will help cut down on barking, especially at other dogs or people.
Shedding is another issue that comes with owning a Finnish Spitz. Their double coat means regular sheds twice a year. Rather than biding time during shedding season and vacuuming up clumps of hair for months, the process can be sped up through thorough daily brushing. You can also ask your groomer about de-shedding packages. Some shampoos do well at removing loose hairs, so de-shedding baths may be the way to go for you and your furry friend.
Finkies should only be bathed on an as-needed basis and typically don’t require hair cuts. Many owners think of them as significantly low-maintenance pups.
However, the breed standard for the Finnish Spitz is very specific. If you plan on showing your Finkie, be prepared for scrutiny. The American Kennel Club’s breed standard says their coat should never be trimmed (except for the feet) and should never be a solid color, but shaded without any color changes.
Common Health Problems
While the Finnish Spitz is a generally healthy dog breed, a few general health issues may be a concern. Always consult with breeders to understand the prevalence of any specific illnesses or disorders in your pup’s bloodline. Some issues to ask your breeder about include:
Diet and Nutrition
With a Finnish Spitz, it’s important to stick to a strict diet using high-quality dog food packed with lean protein, fruits, and vegetables. Experts say this breed has an exceptionally high metabolism, which could mean they are prone to obesity when fed too much. On that note, avoid excessive treats (a few are fine) and table scraps or foods with a high-fat content. Adhere to a daily regimen of low-fat, high-protein kibble appropriate for your dog’s age and size.
Where to Adopt or Buy a Finnish Spitz
When deciding on a breeder or rescue to buy or adopt your new lifelong pal, it’s your responsibility to do the research to make sure you’re getting a dog that will lead a healthy and happy life. Check on the breeder or rescue group’s reputation. Is it recommended by the national breed association? Does it have shining testimonials from past customers?
In addition, always ask the breeder or rescue for a certificate of health. While Finnish Spitzes are generally healthy dogs, there’s always a chance for inherited illness. Reputable breeders and rescues can provide information on health screenings for both the dog you’re interested in and its parents.
The Finnish Spitz is fairly rare in North America and can be difficult to find, but they’re there. Some breeders in good standing with the Finnish Spitz Club of America (FSCA) include:
There are a number of reputable breeders and rescues throughout the United States. Browse the sites of the FSCA and the American Kennel Club to find more information on breeders and rescues near you.
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