The National Dog of Finland since its first breed standard was written in 1812, the Finnish Spitz falls within the 'hound' branch of canines, sharing its classification with the Bloodhound, Beagle, Whippet and Greyhound. Primarily bred to track large game such as elk and bear, the Finnish Spitz descends from the selectively bred Spitz that inhabited central Russia thousands of years ago. The breed was also commonly utilised as a bird dog, retrieving from water and flushing from the bush for the hunter to shoot. Remaining popular in its native Scandinavia, the Finnish Spitz is rare within the United States, being officially recognised by the AKC in 1987.
Often likened to a fox in appearance, the Finnish Spitz is distinctive and well defined, possessing a square build, a narrow and pronounced muzzle, dark eyes and a level topline. Additionally, the breed has a deep chest for enhanced lung capacity, thus aiding stamina when on the hunt, as well as muscular legs and a dense double-coat, commonly coloured golden-red, red-brown, honey or yellow, usually with white markings. Often nicknamed the 'barking bird dog,' the Finnish Spitz is bred to bark, rendering this an unsuitable breed choice for those adverse or intolerant to loud or incessant barking. As with most Arctic breeds, the Spitz has a self-cleaning coat that sheds seasonally.
A friendly and eager breed, the Finnish Spitz is a great playmate for children. Its gentle and sociable temperament makes this the perfect companion, either as part of an active family or for a dedicated sole owner. Territorial and protective, the breed requires firm leadership and obedience training from puppyhood in order to achieve its potential within the home setting. On average, a healthy Finnish Spitz at full maturity will weigh 14-16 kg, with a life expectancy of 12-15 years. It is not uncommon for the breed to outlive this expectancy.
Generally speaking, the Finnish Spitz is a healthy and resilient breed. Similar to most breeds, the Spitz is susceptible to hip dysplasia and associated orthopedic complaints, as well as epilepsy, which can be effectively managed with medication.