Finnish Spitz – Everything you need to know

Finnish Spitz Basic Information

  • Name: Finnish Spitz 
  • Size: Small
  • Height: Males 17.5 to 20 inches & Females 15.5 to 18 inches
  • Weight: Males 25 to 33 pounds & Females 20 to 28 pounds
  • Coat: Short
  • Lifespan: 13 to 15 years
  • Color: Golden-red, ranging from pale honey to deep auburn
  • Energy: Medium
  • Origin: Finland
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Activities: Tracking, Conformation, Herding, Guarding
  • Barking Level: High
  • Shedding Level: Heavily twice a year
  • Litter Size: 3 to 6 puppies
  • Group:  Non-Sporting group
  • Other Names:  Finnish Hunting Dog, Finnish Spets, Finsk Spets, Loulou Finois, Suomalainen Pystykorva , Suomenpystykorva
  • Breed’s original pastime: Hunting

Finnish Spitz History

The Finnish Spitz’s origin is unknown, but the same type of dogs has been used for hunting all kinds in Finland for centuries. 

It is believed that Spitz-type dogs were brought from central Russia by the tribes of Finno-Ugrians who migrated into Finland more than two thousand years ago. They used the dogs essentially as all-purpose hunting dogs. Because they were so remote, the Finnish Spitz breed developed with slight influence from the other breeds. 

That eventually changed when transportation and roadways began to improve. People started coming to the areas where the Finnish Spitz lived, bringing their dogs and mating them with the Finnish Spitz breed. Extreme cross-breeding occurred so that by 1880, the Finnish Spitz was close to going extinct. 

Then something extraordinary happened. Hugo Sandberg and Hugo Roos, two men from Helsinki, were on a hunting trip in the northern forests and noticed some Finnish Spitz hunting. They understood the importance of these dogs and made it their mission to save the breed from extinction. 

Hugo Sandberg penned an article for an 1890 edition of the Sporten magazine about the dogs he had seen. His information was so complete and carefully written that in 1892 when the Finnish Kennel Club recognized the breed, the first dog Breed Standard was based on his article.  Sandberg judged the first Helsinki dog show in 1891. The breed was named Finnish Spitz in 1897. 

Hugo Roos played his part in protecting the Finnish Spitz breed by actively breeding for 30 years. He showed and judged longer than that and got credited for gathering the foundation dogs and developing the breed until the 1920s. 

In 1920, England’s Sir Edward Chichester was so fascinated by the breed that he brought a pack of them back to England with him on a hunting trip from Finland. Later, he introduced an unrelated stud dog. 

Several years later, Lady Kitty Ritson of the Tulchan Kennels also noticed the breed in Finland and fell in love with it. Along with several other breed admirers, she organized the Finnish Spitz Club in England, first registered with England’s Kennel Club in 1934. She also introduced many dogs and was the first to give Finnish Spitz the affectionate nickname Finkie. 

World War II held a hard time for the breed, as it was for many other living beings. After the war, the dog’s quality being shown was inferior. Two dogs each imported to England from Finland, Mountjay, Peter, and Kiho Seivi, and one imported from Sweden, Friedstahills Saila, expanded the breed dramatically in England. 

Finnish Spitz was imported to the U.S. from England in 1959 by a person named Cullabine Rudolph. Henry Davidson of Minnesota and Alex Hassel of Connecticut started breeding the imported Finnish Spitz in the 1960s. 

The Finnish Spitz Club of America was established in 1975, and the American Breed Standard, basing the Finnish Standard, was developed in 1976. AKC allowed the breed to be shown in the Miscellaneous Class in April 1984. In 1988, the Finnish Spitz was approved in the Non-Sporting Group. In 1993, the Finnish Spitz Club of America grew as a member of the American Kennel Club. 

Today, the breed is well-settled in Finland and Sweden. Still, it settles relatively uncommon in the U.S., ranking 147th out of the 155 breeds and variants registered by the American Kennel Club. Almost 2,000 Finnish Spitz have registered annually with the Finnish Kennel Club compared with a total of 637 between the years 1890 and 1930. Since 1979, the Finnish Spitz has been the national dog of Finland and is even mentioned in Finnish patriotic songs.

Finnish Spitz Breed Overview

The Finnish Spitz, a medium-sized dog, is nicknamed the Finkie for his primary name of Finsk Spetz. Like other spitz or Nordic breeds, this breed has a thick, protective coat that displays outstanding golden-red color, a foxlike expression, prick ears, and a tail that curls briskly over his back. The first thing you should know about Finnish Spitz is they bark a lot as he was developed solely for this purpose. He makes many different sounds to communicate, and “talking” to you will be an essential part of his lifestyle. Choose this dog only if you are willing to train him when it is okay to bark and not. On the positive side, he’s an excellent watchdog who is always ready for something out of the ordinary and if someone is approaching the house.

Finnish Spitz is an active dog that needs daily exercise to keep him physically and mentally fit and prevent him from becoming noisy or destructive in an attempt to entertain himself. Plan an exercise session for about 20 to 30 minutes at least once a day. Finnish Spitz performs great in dog sports such as agility, obedience, flyball, and rally and is a solid and tireless playmate, especially for kids.

Finnish Spitz is an intelligent and highly trainable dog that responds well to positive support techniques such as play, praise, and food rewards, but he is also an independent thinker.

Finnish Spitz is not challenging to groom but does shed a fair amount of hair. Brush his double coat once a week to keep him clean and remove the dead hair. During the shedding seasons, i.e., spring and fall, daily brushing will keep excess hair under control. Also, trim his nails as needed, brush his teeth, and keep the ears clean to prevent infections.

Finally, Finnish Spitz is a loving dog that needs to live in the house with its family. It’s unpleasant if a Finnish Spitz is limited to the backyard with little or no human companionship.

Finnish Spitz Pros and Cons

Active & LoyalFood-obsessed and can easily gain weight
Tireless Companions of ChildrenExcessive Barking
Intelligent & TrainableHigh Prey Drive

Finnish Spitz Highlights

  • Finnish Spitz are called Bark Pointers, and they bark a lot. Train them early to stop barking on your command as a part of obedience training.
  •  Finnish Spitz belongs to hunting groups of dogs and has a high prey drive. So, they should not be allowed in public without a leash. The yard they are left should be adequately fenced.
  • Finnish Spitz is prone to the habit of barking a lot when left outdoors for a long time.
  • Finnish Spitz mature mentally slow and retain their puppy behavior even when they are three to four years old.
  • Finnish Spitz gets along with other pets in the household, but they can be aggressive with strange dogs. 
  • To get a healthy puppy, always buy from good breeders, not from a pet store or puppy mill.
  • Finnish Spitz is treat-obsessed, and they can manipulate you for more treats and can quickly gain too much weight.

Finnish Spitz Personality

The Finnish Spitz dog is medium-sized with short, erect ears, a pointed muzzle, and a honey-colored or golden-red coat that makes the dog look like a fox. Like other spitz breed dogs, the Finnish Spitz has an erect tail curling over its back, thick fur around its neck, and a firm, square stance. The Finnish Spitz stands 15 to 20 inches tall and weighs 20 to 35 pounds (10 to 16 kilograms). The breed’s life span is estimated at 13 to 15 years. The dog is loyal to his family, spirited and yet patient with children, and does well with other pets.  

Friendliness Overview

Affection Level                           High

Adaptability Overview

Good for New Pet OwnersMedium
Good for Apartment LivingMedium
Sensitivity LevelMedium
Tolerates Being AloneLow
Heat ToleranceMedium 
Cold ToleranceHigh

Trainability Overview

Easy to TrainMedium
IntelligenceMedium to High
Prey DriveMedium
Tendency to Chew, Nip & Play-biteHigh
Tendency to Bark or HowlMedium
Wanderlust AbilityMedium to High
Tendency to DigLow
Tendency to SnoreLow
Attention/Social NeedsMedium

Finnish Spitz Physical Features

The Head is clean-cut and foxlike. Longer from occiput to nose tip than broad at the broadest part of the skull in a ratio of 7:4, highly refined with more petite coat or ruff in bitches than in males, but still in the identical proportion. A muscular or coarse head or a narrow or long head with a snippy muzzle is penalized. The Finnish Spitz expression is Fox-like and lively. Eyes are Almond-shaped with black rims. It was diagonally set with even spacing between, neither far apart nor close. Outer corners slanted upward. Dark in color with a sharp and alert expression. Any deviated, runny, weepy, round, or light eyes should be considered faulted. Ears are set high. When cautious, upward position, open to the front with tips directly above the eyes’ outer corner that are small, erect, sharply pointed, and very free.

Ears set too low, too high, or too close together, extended or excessive hair inside the ears are faults. The skull is flat between ears with some minimum rounding ahead of the ear set. The forehead is a little arched. The skull to muzzle ratio is 4:3. Stop looks moderate. The muzzle is arrow while seen from the front, above, and from the side; uniform width and depth where it insets to the skull, narrowing somewhat, equally from all angles. The nose is black-colored. Any deviation is to be penalized. The nose’s circumference is 80 percent of the muzzle’s circumference at its origin. Lips are black, thin, and tight. The bite is a scissor bite, and a wry mouth is seriously faulted.

The neck is well set and muscular. Clean, with no extra skin below the muzzle that looks shorter in males due to their heavier ruff.

The topline is level and firm from withers to croup.

The body is square and muscular. The chest is deep, the brisket leads to the elbow. The ratio of chest depth to the distance from withers to the ground is 4:9. Ribs are well sprung. The tuck-up is slightly drawn up, and the loin is short.

The tail is set just below the topline level, forming a single curl falling over the loin with the tip pointing towards the thigh. Plumed from its base in an arch forward, downward, and backward, holding flat against either thigh with the tip extending to the middle part of the thigh. When straightened, the tip of the tailbone stretches to the hock joint. Any low or high tail set, too curly, or a short tail is to be faulted.


The shoulders layback is 30 degrees to the vertical. When viewed from the front, legs look moderately spaced, parallel and straight with elbows close to its body and turned neither out nor in. Bone is strong without being heavy, always in proportion to the dog. Finnish Spitz has a fine bone that limits endurance, or heavy bone makes working movement awkward, which is a fault. Pasterns when viewed from the side, slope slightly. Weak pasterns are penalized. Dewclaws are removed. 


Finnish Spitz has a rounded and compact foot with well-arched toes, tightly bunched, the two center toes are slightly longer than those on the outside. The toe pads should be deeply covered with thick skin. The foot impression is rounded in contrast to oval.


Angulation in balance with the forequarters. Thighs are muscular. Hocks are moderately let down, straight and parallel. Dewclaws are removed.

The coat is double with a short, smooth, dense undercoat and long, harsh straight guard hairs covering approximately 1-2 inches on the body. Hair on its head and legs is short and close; it is most extended and most dense on the plume of tail and back of thighs. The outer coat is harder and longer on the back and neck, and in males, considerably more profuse at the shoulder, providing them a more ruff appearance. Males carry more coats than females. Trimming of the feet is allowed. Any trimming of the coat shall be seriously faulted. Whiskers shall not be shortened. Any silky, wavy, long, or short coat is penalized.
Different shades of golden-red ranging from pale honey to deep auburn are allowed, with no shade preference given at either extreme so long as the color is bright and clear. As the undercoat is pale in color, this shading effect is a coat that seems to glow. White markings on the toes’ tips and a narrow white strip or quarter-sized spot, ideally no wider than ½ inch, on the fore chest is permitted. Black hairs along the lip line and rare, separate black hairs on tail and back permitted. Puppies may have many good black hairs that decrease with age, black on the tail, and persist longer. Any white on the body other than specified, muddy, or unclear color is penalized. 

The Finnish Spitz is light and quick on his feet. He steps out quickly, trots with lively grace, and directs to single-track as the speed increases. When hunting, he leads at a gallop. The angulation permits him to break into a working gait instantly. Sound movement is necessary for stamina and agility. 

Any deviations from the features mentioned above are considered as severe faults.

Finnish Spitz Temperament

Finnish Spitz is an active and loyal breed with a lively and eager nature; brave and cautious. Shyness, and any inclination towards unintended aggression is to be penalized. Finnish Spitz is highly energetic and has high exercise needs. They aren’t made for apartment living.  If you plan on getting a Finnish Spitz puppy, make sure you have enough time and energy to train them. Finnish Spitz prefers indoors and chill climates.

Finnish Spitz is a confident dog with a mind of its own and best trained with positive reinforcement. They can be easily bored with repeated training.

Finnish Spitz Exercise Needs

Finnish Spitz were primarily bred to hunt all day in dense forests, providing them the stamina to range far. Building a solidly fenced yard is a must. Never keep a Finnish Spitz away from his people, as he gets deeply bonded with his family. They require a moderately high level of exercise. A daily walk or jog, long or short, on a leash is always a reward for this breed.

Exercise Needs Overview

Energy Level                                High
Exercise Needs                           High
Playfulness                                  High
IntensityMedium to High

Finnish Spitz Grooming

Finnish Spitz has a double coat with a soft undercoat and is densely covered by long, straight, firmly textured guard hairs. This breed is a naturally clean dog but still needs some grooming. Brush them with a smoother brush at least once a week to reduce shed hair around your house and give a bath every three to four months.

Trim the nails as required, usually once a month. Brush its teeth regularly for good overall health and fresh breath. Check its ears weekly for dirt, redness, or a foul odor indicating an infection. If the ears look messy, wipe them out with a cotton ball moistened with a gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner. Start grooming the Finnish Spitz when he is very young, so he learns to accept grooming patiently without any complaint.

Grooming Overview

Amount of Shedding                  Medium to High
Tendency to DroolLow
Easy to GroomLow to Medium

Finnish Spitz Health

In the U.S. and Canada regions, Finnish Spitz are a healthy breed and don’t present many health issues., but they can be subject to specific health conditions like all breeds. Not all Finnish Spitz will get all or any of these diseases, but it’s essential to be aware of them if you plan for this breed. 

Health Overview

Basic HealthMedium
Weight Gain PossibilitiesMedium
  • Canine Hip Dysplasia: It is a heritable condition in which the thigh bone doesn’t fit comfortably into the hip joint. Some dogs feel pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but a pet owner may not identify any signs of discomfort in any dog with hip dysplasia. As the dog lives for years, arthritis can develop. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals does x-ray screening for hip dysplasia or the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHIP). Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be allowed to breed. Hip dysplasia is hereditary, but environmental factors can be worsened, such as rapid growth from a high-calorie diet or injuries provoked from jumping or slipping on slick floors. 
  • Elbow Dysplasia: Elbow Dysplasia is caused due to different growth rates of the three bones that form the dog’s elbow, causing laxity in joints leading to painful lameness. Your vet might recommend a surgery to fix the problem or medication to restrict pain.
  • Patellar luxation: A patella is a kneecap. Luxation means dislocation of an anatomical part (a bone at a joint). Patellar luxation happens when the knee joint (often of a hind leg) slides in and out of place, causing pain. This can be hurting, but many dogs lead moderately normal lives with this condition. However, in severe cases, surgical repair may be necessary. 
  • Epilepsy: Medication can manage this seizure disorder but cannot cure it. A dog can live a whole and healthy life with proper control of this disease, which can be hereditary or of unidentified cause. 
  • Cancer: They are prone to cancer as they grow older. Cancer can be cured by surgical removal of tumors and chemotherapy. It is important not to ignore the symptoms and diagnose them earlier.
  • Cataracts: It is a common cause of blindness in older Finnish Spitz. The lens of the eyes become cloudy and opaque. Treatment might require surgery for good results.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): A group of eye diseases involving the retina’s slow deterioration. In the initial stages of this disease, dogs become night-blind. As it advances, they lose their vision during the daytime as well. Most dogs adapt to their limited or complete vision loss gradually, as long as their home surroundings remain the same.  
  • Osteosarcoma: Osteosarcoma is a deadly bone cancer that’s common in large and giant dog breeds.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes mellitus is a common disease among dogs. In diabetes, the dogs cannot metabolize the blood sugar, causing increased drinking, eating, and urination along with weight loss. Treatment includes medication and insulin injection.
  • Heart Disease: It causes abnormal heart murmurs and heart rhythm. The best way to diagnose is through an X-ray, an ECG, or an echocardiogram. Treatment includes medication, dental care, and weight control.
  • Portosystemic shunt: It is a condition in which the liver is deprived of blood flow, due to which it does not grow and function properly. The toxin gets accumulated and cannot be removed from the bloodstream effectively. Symptoms include stunted growth or seizures.
  • Dental Disease: It affects 80% of pets by the age of two. It causes tartar build-up on the teeth, infection of the gums and roots, and in extreme cases, loss of teeth and damage to the kidneys.
  • Infections: Finnish Spitz are prone to certain bacterial and viral infections such as rabies, parvo, and distemper. The viral infection can be prevented by giving a vaccination based on the dog’s age.
  • Parasites: Finnish Spitz can be infested with worms, bugs, fleas, and ticks that can get into their systems through unclean water, contaminated soil, or bitten by an infected mosquito. It can also be transmitted to you and your family. Symptoms include discomfort, pain, and even death.
  • Obesity: It is a significant health condition in Finnish Spitz. Excess weight can cause joint problems, back pain, digestive disorders, and heart disease. The best way to prevent this lifestyle disease is a healthy diet and regular exercise.
  • Spay or Neuter: In spay, the ovaries or uterus in females is removed, and in the neuter, the testicles of the male dogs are removed. It is done to eliminate the possibility of pregnancy or fathering unwanted puppies and also decreases the likelihood of certain types of cancer.

If you’re buying a Finnish Spitz puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for your puppy’s parents. Health clearances confirm that a dog’s been tested for and cleared of specific health conditions. 

In Finnish Spitz, check the results of annual blood and urine tests for kidney function and abnormalities related to protein-losing nephropathy, renal dysplasia, protein-losing enteropathy, Addison’s disease, and a certification of the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) that the dog’s eyes are normal. 

Because some health complications don’t appear until a dog matures, the health clearances aren’t issued to dogs less than two years old. Look for a breeder who doesn’t breed his dogs until they’re 2 or 3 years old.

Finnish Spitz Diet & Nutrition

The Finnish Spitz’s metabolism is exceptionally efficient for a primitive breed. It means that overfeeding the breed will lead to obesity quickly. The quality of dog food you feed also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will nourish your dog, and the less of it you’ll need to force your dog towards its bowl. High-quality dry dog food works well to keep good condition and weight. Treats can be helpful during the training but should be given reasonably. Give table scraps sparingly as well, if at all, especially avoiding cooked bones and foods with high-fat content.  Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs and not.

Finnish Spitz Required Living Conditions

The Finnish Spitz will do a decent job in an apartment and without a yard, make sure it gets enough exercise. It is moderately inactive indoors and prefers cool climates.

Did You Know?

  • English Spitz was first exported to England in 1927.
  • Earlier Finnish Spitz was called as Finnish Barking Bird Dog.
  • In 1975, Finnish Spitz Club of America was formed.

Finnish Spitz Club Recognition

  • CKC = Continental Kennel Club
  • FCI = Fédération Cynologique Internationale
  • AKC = American Kennel Club
  • KCGB = Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • ANKC = Australian National Kennel Club
  • NKC = National Kennel Club
  • NZKC = New Zealand Kennel Club
  • APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
  • ACR = American Canine Registry
  • DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
  • NAPR = North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • ACA = American Canine Association Inc.

Adding a Finnish Spitz to Your Family

Finnish Spitz Rescue Groups

There are countless Finnish Spitz in need of adoption and/or nursing, and there are several breed-specific rescue associations across the country that are listed below: 

Finnish Spitz Rescue Club
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Spitz Rescue
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 To Buy a Finnish Spitz Now 

Finnish Spitz
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Finnish Spitz Photos

Finnish Spitz Videos

Finnish Spitz Info – Dog Breed

Finnish Spitz Dog Breed – Fenrir Canine Show

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