The Finnish spitz is the national dog of Finland since 1979. Its origins date back thousands of years ago when the Finno-Ugrian people inhabited Central Russia. Fiercely loyal and protective, this charming foxlike dog breed loves children and is an excellent guard dog. Originally bred as a hound dog, it barks to point hunters to the location of bird preys. It is an active breed that needs to be kept busy.
Here is a brief background of the Finnish spitz. Find out if this is the perfect breed for you.
The Finnish spitz originated in Finland and has been around for thousands of years. Although much of its history is undocumented, it is believed that the breed was brought from Central Russia to Finland by the Finno-Ugrian tribes when they migrated. Primarily used as an all-purpose hunting dog, the Finnish spitz is widely known as the ‘bark pointer,’ indicating the location of live game by barking.
By 1880, the advanced transportation brought people to where the Finnish spitz lived, bringing with them their dogs. Most of the Finnish spitz were bred with other dog breeds and almost drove the original breed to extinction. In 1890, Hugo Sandberg and Hugo Roos from Helsinki witnessed the efficient skills of the Finnish spitz during one of their hunting trips. From then on, they were determined to save the breed.
The Finnish Kennel Club first recognised the breed in 1892, utilising Hugo Sandberg's apt description of the Finnish spitz as the breed standard. The Finnish spitz has become widely popular in Finland and Sweden and has established itself as the national dog of Finland since 1979.
Appearance and Grooming
Based on accepted breed standards, the Finnish spitz must have a square build, meaning it is slightly shorter in length than it is in height. It stands 38–51 centimetres at the withers and weighs 20–35 pounds. With its foxlike appearance, the breed has a pointed muzzle, red coat, and pricked ears. Nose, lips, and rims of the eyes are coloured black.
Sporting a double coat, the Finnish spitz has a soft, dense undercoat, and a long, harsh guard hair as a topcoat. Its head wears short tight hair, whereas the hair in the body and back of its legs is slightly longer. Stiff, harsh coat can be found on its neck up to its back. There are only two accepted breed colours that contribute to its foxy appearance, and those are red and gold. Grooming a Finnish spitz can be a bit challenging especially in keeping its coat clean and pristine-looking. It does not help that it sheds quite heavily throughout the year, which requires daily brushing to remove any loose and dead hair.
Aside from making sure that the coat is tidy and skin looking good, it is also necessary to pay attention to other parts of its physical well-being. When there’s too much wax build-up in the ears, it makes the dog breed susceptible to infections. Cleaning the ears on a regular basis using a vet-approved ear solution will prevent bacteria from growing in its ear canals. Brushing of teeth at least twice a week is also essential to keep gum disease and bad breath at bay. We must not forget to trim the nails. Untrimmed nails can lead to overgrowth, cracking, and splitting, which will be painful for any dog breed.
Temperament and Intelligence
The Finnish spitz is a happy and easy-going breed. Behind its charming temperament is an extremely protective and fiercely loyal nature, which makes it an excellent guard dog. It is wary of strangers, but it will not exhibit any aggressive behaviour unless it senses danger or it is provoked. No doubt this dog breed adores its family and will love nothing than to be with its owners. Unlike most breeds, the Finnish spitz is less likely to suffer from separation anxiety. Nevertheless, lack of physical and mental stimulation will cause it to get bored and destructive.
Since the Finnish spitz is a hunting dog, it has an inherent need to be outdoors to do rigorous activities such as running and hiking. With this said, active families who engage in outdoor activities are perfect for this breed. Barking is one of the Finnish spitz’s specialities since it was originally bred to be a ‘bark pointer.’ So if you have pesky neighbours who do not like dogs that bark a lot, then either you move or skip getting a Finnish spitz altogether. However, another alternative is to train this breed to control its excessive barking tendencies.
The Finnish spitz is intelligent and often has a stubborn and independent streak, making training difficult. It is crucial that this dog breed understands who the leader is. Once leadership is established, you will have already won half the fight for making this breed obey. Needless to say, every dog breed is unique and may exhibit a different temperament. Socialisation and training, as well as the environment will largely contribute to shaping its personality and behaviour.
Nutrition and Feeding
A typical serving for an adult Finnish spitz is 1.75–2.5 cups of high-quality dog food daily, split into two meals. Many dog food companies offer breed-specific formulas. However, it is highly recommended to consult with a veterinarian to determine the frequency of meals and nutrition it will need to be healthy.
Typical calorie needs of an adult Finnish spitz per day:
- Senior and less active: up to 690 calories daily
- Typical adult: up to 780 calories daily
- Physically active/working dog: up to 865 calories daily
The Finnish spitz will require enough protein found in real meat for muscle growth. Plenty of fruits and vegetables will also assist in making sure that your dog receives a well-balanced and healthy diet. Since the Finnish spitz is prone to canine hip dysplasia, it is best to feed it with food that is rich in glucosamine.
Health and Exercise
The average life expectancy of a happy and healthy Finnish spitz is twelve to fifteen years. However, some health problems of most dog breeds are inherited. In the case of a Finnish spitz, a serious cause for concern for this breed is epilepsy and diabetes. Thus, it is best to consult with a veterinarian at least every six months for preventive measures. Other health issues include cataracts, elbow and hip dysplasia, and luxating patella.
The Finnish spitz is a high-energy character that requires at least forty to sixty minutes of daily exercise. Being a hound dog means it needs to be able to run, hike, or jog to let off steam. However, owners must ensure that any off-lead outdoor activity must be done within a securely fenced area.
Cost of Ownership
Since only a few puppies are registered with the Kennel Club every year, buying a Finnish Spitz can mean going on a waiting list. You will have enough time to prepare £400-£500 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. Apart from this initial cost, you also need to consider purchasing a pet insurance in case your dog suddenly falls ill or gets into an accident. The monthly premium for a basic cover is about £20 and £45 for a lifetime cover. These prices can change depending on your dog’s age and health, and where you live in the UK, among others.
To make your dog comfortable, you would need to buy it some toys and dog accessories such as bowls, leads, collars, and beds, which will likely be about £200 depending on the brand. Food is another expense to consider. When it comes to feeding, you will need to spend £30 to £40 a month on high-quality dog food.
Other outgoings to consider are veterinary expenses that may not be included in a pet insurance coverage such as vaccinations, routine checks, neutering or spaying, and annual boosters, which can have a combined cost of £800-£1000 annually. In a rough estimation, you will be budgeting around £60–£80 a month for recurring expenses, depending on the type of insurance cover you choose for your dog.
Finnish Spitz Breed Highlights
- The Finnish spitz is a happy and easy-going dog breed.
- It is extremely protective and fiercely loyal—a great guard dog.
- The breed is a hound dog that requires at least forty to sixty minutes of exercise daily.
- It has a dense coat that needs daily brushing.
- Only a few puppies are registered yearly, so one has to go on a wait list to purchase it.
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