Finnish Spitz Dog Breed Guide: Barking Bird Dog of Finland

The Finnish Spitz, often hailed as the “barking bird dog”, is a breed that embodies the spirit of its homeland, Finland. With a coat as fiery as the midnight sun and a voice that echoes through the northern forests. This captivating canine is not just a dog, it’s an experience.

A photo of a Finnish Spitz in a natural setting, perhaps surrounded by snow
Illustration images: A photo of a Finnish Spitz in a natural setting, perhaps surrounded by snow

Whether you’re a seasoned dog enthusiast or a curious newcomer, the Finnish Spitz is sure to capture your heart. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the rich history, unique personality traits, and specific care requirements of this extraordinary breed. We’ll also explore their role in Finnish culture, share insights on keeping them happy and healthy. And discuss why they might just be the perfect companion for your active lifestyle.

A Barking Hunter from the North

An old photo or illustration of a Finnish Spitz hunting with its owner in a forest
Illustration images: An old photo or illustration of a Finnish Spitz hunting with its owner in a forest

The Finnish Spitz, known as the Suomenpystykorva in its native land, is a breed deeply intertwined with Finnish history and culture. Its origins trace back over 3,000 years to the Spitz-type dogs brought by migrants from central Russia. These versatile dogs quickly proved their worth in the harsh Finnish landscape, becoming indispensable hunting companions for the early Finns.

The Barking Bird Dog

The Finnish Spitz was specifically bred to hunt birds, utilizing a unique hunting style that earned it the nickname “barking bird dog”. This vocal hunter locates game birds, such as grouse and capercaillie, and alerts the hunter with a distinctive, high-pitched bark. The Spitz bark not only signals the bird’s location but also mesmerizes the bird, making it easier for the hunter to approach.

A National Treasure

A Finnish Spitz standing proudly next to a Finnish flag
Illustration images: A Finnish Spitz standing proudly next to a Finnish flag

By the late 19th century, the Finnish Spitz faced near extinction due to crossbreeding with other dogs. However, thanks to the efforts of dedicated breeders like Hugo Roos, the breed was revived and eventually recognized as Finland’s national dog in 1979. Today, the Finnish Spitz remains a symbol of national pride and a beloved companion in Finland and beyond.

The Finnish Spitz Legacy

The Finnish Spitz historical role as a skilled hunting dog has shaped its temperament and characteristics. It is a breed that is alert, energetic, and independent, yet deeply loyal to its family. Its distinctive bark, once crucial for hunting, is now a charming quirk that delights and sometimes challenges its owners.

Physical Characteristics

The Finnish Spitz is often described as having a “fox-like” appearance, and for good reason. This medium-sized breed boasts a compact, square body, a pointed muzzle, and erect, triangular ears that are always alert. Their bright, almond-shaped eyes sparkle with intelligence and curiosity, while their plumed tail curls gracefully over their back.

A Fiery Coat

The Finnish Spitz’s most striking feature is undoubtedly its luxurious double coat. The outer coat is composed of long, harsh, and straight hairs, while the undercoat is soft and dense. This combination provides excellent insulation, allowing the breed to thrive in cold climates. The coat color is typically a rich golden-red, ranging from a pale honey hue to a deep auburn.

Coat Color Variations

Color Variation Description
The most common and sought-after color, ranging from pale honey to deep auburn.
A lighter variation of golden-red, often seen in puppies and fading as they mature.
A vibrant shade of red with golden highlights.

Temperament and Personality

A Finnish Spitz running
Illustration images: A Finnish Spitz running

The Finnish Spitz is a lively and spirited dog with a zest for life that is simply infectious. Bred for endurance and agility, they possess boundless energy and an eagerness to please that makes them delightful companions for active individuals and families. Their intelligence and alertness shine through in their expressive eyes and perky ears, which seem to be constantly tuned in to their surroundings.

  • Loyal and Affectionate Companions: Despite their independent nature, Finnish Spitzes form strong bonds with their families and thrive on human interaction. They are loyal, affectionate, and devoted companions who are always eager to join in on the fun.
  • The Barking Bird Dog’s Vocalizations: True to their nickname, Finnish Spitzes are known for their distinctive bark. This unique vocalization was once essential for their hunting role, alerting hunters to the presence of game birds.
  • Socialization and Training: Early socialization and consistent training are crucial for Finnish Spitzes. Exposing them to various people, places, and experiences at a young age helps them develop into well-adjusted and confident adults.
  • The Finnish Spitz and Children: Finnish Spitzes can be wonderful companions for children, but supervision is essential due to their high energy levels. They are playful and patient, but may become overwhelmed by overly enthusiastic youngsters.

Care Requirements

A Finnish Spitz running alongside a person jogging
Illustration images: A Finnish Spitz running alongside a person jogging

Finnish Spitzes are energetic dogs that require regular exercise to stay physically and mentally stimulated. A daily walk or jog is a must, but they will also thrive with more vigorous activities like hiking, running, agility training, or even skijoring. Engaging their minds with puzzle toys and obedience training is also crucial to prevent boredom-related behaviors.

Maintaining That Luscious Coat

The Finnish Spitz thick double coat requires regular grooming to prevent matting and tangles. Brushing their coat two to three times a week will help remove loose hair and distribute natural oils. During shedding season, which occurs twice a year, daily brushing is recommended. Bathing should be done only when necessary, using a gentle dog shampoo to avoid stripping the coat’s natural oils.

Fueling the Fire Within

A high-quality, balanced diet is essential for maintaining a Finnish Spitz’s health and energy levels. Choose a dog food that is formulated for medium-sized, active breeds and that lists meat as the primary ingredient. Avoid foods with artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Consult your veterinarian to determine the appropriate portion size and feeding frequency based on your dog’s age, weight, and activity level.

Positive Reinforcement for Success

Finnish Spitzes are intelligent and eager to please, but they can also be independent and stubborn. Positive reinforcement training methods, such as rewarding desired behaviors with treats and praise, work best with this breed. Consistency and patience are key, as training may take time and effort.

Health Considerations: A Proactive Approach

A Finnish Spitz at the vet's office
Illustration images: A Finnish Spitz at the vet’s office

While generally healthy, Finnish Spitzes are prone to certain health conditions, including:

  • Hip dysplasia: A genetic condition that affects the hip joint and can lead to pain and lameness.
  • Patellar luxation: A condition in which the kneecap dislocates, causing discomfort and difficulty walking.
  • Eye problems: Such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy.
  • Epilepsy: A neurological disorder that causes seizures.
  • Allergies: Both food and environmental allergies can affect Finnish Spitzes.

Regular veterinary checkups, a healthy diet, and adequate exercise can help prevent or manage these conditions.


The Finnish Spitz is truly a one-of-a-kind breed that embodies the spirit of its Finnish heritage. With its fox-like appearance, fiery coat, and distinctive bark, it’s a dog that commands attention and admiration wherever it goes. But beyond its striking looks, the Finnish Spitz is a loyal, intelligent, and energetic companion that brings joy and laughter to its family.


What is the difference between a Finnish Spitz and a Shiba Inu?

While both breeds share a similar appearance, the Finnish Spitz is known for its energetic and vocal nature, while the Shiba Inu is often more reserved and independent. The Finnish Spitz originates from Finland and was bred for hunting birds, while the Shiba Inu hails from Japan and was used for hunting small game.

Can Finnish Spitzes thrive in apartments, despite their energetic nature?

Yes, Finnish Spitzes can adapt to apartment living with sufficient exercise and mental stimulation. Daily walks, playtime, and engaging activities like puzzle toys are crucial to keep them happy and prevent boredom-related behaviors.

How can I manage my Finnish Spitz barking without suppressing their natural instincts?

While the Finnish Spitz bark is part of their charm, excessive barking can be managed through positive reinforcement training. Teach them the “quiet” command, reward them for silence, and provide ample physical and mental exercise to reduce boredom-induced barking.

Are Finnish Spitzes a good fit for first-time dog owners?

Finnish Spitzes can be a good choice for first-time owners who are active and dedicated to training. However, their independent streak and vocal nature may require extra patience and consistent training methods.

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