What is a Finnish Spitz?
A Finnish Spitz (commonly referred to as a “Finkie” in the Finnish Spitz world) is a smaller breed of dog, typically weighing around 20-30 pounds and at most about 20 inches tall (at the shoulder) as an adult. They are quite commonly mistaken for a domesticated fox – especially with their red / orange pigment.
They were initially bred to be a hunting dog and are still commonly used as “varmint hunting” dogs (hunting out rats, mice, squirrels etc.) in many farms but they have recently become more popular as a pet due to their size and temperament.
Finnish Spitz are very pleasing to look at and often have a very soft and plush coat – especially ones that were spayed and neutered. They are soft and can make a great cuddle dog, quite often liking to sit on the owner’s lap for petting and attention – similar to how cats can act. They are also typically indifferent to friendly to strangers but most of the time they will bark as an alert as something unexpected happens (knock on the door, etc..) or they get excited. they are typically very sweet and friendly with their “pack” and are general very good with children.
Their small size make them great for apartments and smaller homes and they are intelligent compares to other non-sporting / northern breed dogs which means the average Finkie can be easily trained for basic obedience (sit, stay, here, walk on a leash, etc..).
Despite being a “coated” breed (longer fur) their coats do not require a lot of maintenance. While weekly brushing are recommended, you can go as long as a month without the need for a god brush since their hair does not “mat” too much. They also do not develop the “oils” that other breeds develop in their coat so you do not ned to bathe the dog often either.
Finkies can be rather independent – to some this is good and to others this is not good. I’m listing it as a bad since a dog like this is usually adopted to be a companion dog. They prefer attention on their own terms and tend to not like being grabbed when they do not want affection (but sometimes they do LOVE to be picked up and carried around – the one we had actually learned to jump into my arms). They will not be all over you like some breeds but they will also want some ‘alone” time to do their own thing.
Finkies are vocal. While their size makes them perfect for apartment living, they can bark often and get very chatty (or bossy). This can be a nuisance for neighbors and thin walls. It is not easy to train them not to bark and quite often a bark collar is very useful. Despite the negative aspect of having a vocal dog, it is a very efficient burglar deterrent thus making the Finnish Spitz a great alarm dog.
Finkies are one of the most intelligent breeds outside of the herding breeds. While this allows them to be easily trained this also allows them to know how to get into trouble – and cause trouble. They’ll learn where the treats are and things they aren’t supposed to get into but want to. When unsupervised, either a crate or an isolated room where they can get into as little trouble as possible is a must.
The Finnish Spitz is a hunting dog, more specifically, a varmint hunting dog. This means they may not do well with smaller animals (hamsters, ferrets, Guinea pigs, etc..). If the smaller animal is in a cage there generally isn’t an issue but if they are loose the dog may go into a hunting mode. You will see this if you walk your dog and a squirrel runs by. They are normally a “bark and point” hunting dog but it’s better to prepare for a pounce – even if it doesn’t happen (some Finkies can be very good with smaller pets).
The breed is a very primitive breed. While it is believed that the Finnish Spitz is a very old breed, full domestication and adopting them to be pets is relatively new (most were working dogs until the 1970s or even the 1980s – the UKC recognized them as a breed in 1992 and the AKC recognized them as a breed in 1999). The fact that they’re very primitive means they have many wolf-like instincts. Finkie puppies have been known to act like a pack of wolves (in play) – the group of them hunting and taking down an adult Finkie, a smaller dog, or even a cat (all in play) but this can easily go beyond play when they grow older if they are not directed in the “pet” direction. Constant supervision is needed when they are learning “out” the wolf and “in” the pet.