Is the Finnish Spitz the Right Dog for You?
This is one dog who can truly lay claim to the title King of the Barkers. The Finnish Spitz, the national dog of Finland, was developed to be a barking hunting dog. That is, he trails game, and when he finds it, he barks until the hunter arrives to bag it. One Finnish Spitz each year is chosen for his hunting prowess to be King of the Barkers. Like other spitz, or Nordic, breeds, he has a thick, protective coat that stands out for its golden-red color, prick ears, a fox-like expression, and a tail that curls jauntily over his back. The Finnish Spitz, nicknamed the Finkie for his native name of Finsk Spetz, is a medium-size dog, weighing 23 to 28 pounds. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering bringing a Finnish Spitz into your home.
The Finnish Spitz barks. That’s the first thing you should know about him. He was developed to bark and that’s what he does. He uses many different sounds to communicate, and “talking” to you will be an important part of his life. Get this dog only if you are willing to teach him when it’s okay to bark and when it’s not. On the plus side, he’s an excellent watchdog and will always let you know if someone is approaching the house or something out of the ordinary is going on.
This is an active dog that needs daily exercise that will challenge him physically and mentally and prevent him from becoming destructive or noisy in an attempt to entertain himself. Plan to exercise him for 20 to 30 minutes at least once a day. He performs well in dog sports such as agility, flyball, obedience and rally, and is a sturdy and tireless playmate for kids.
This intelligent and highly trainable dog responds well to positive reinforcement techniques such as play, praise and food rewards, but he is an independent thinker. Don’t expect unquestioning obedience from him and you won’t be disappointed. Keep training sessions short and fun so he doesn’t get bored.
If the presence of Finnish Spitz dust puppies would make you crazy, reconsider your decision to get this breed. He’s not difficult to groom, but he does shed a lot of hair. Brush his double coat weekly to keep it clean and remove dead hair. During spring and fall shedding seasons, daily brushing will help to keep excess hair under control. In addition, trim his nails as needed, brush his teeth, and keep the ears clean to prevent infections.
Last but not least, it should go without saying that a people-loving dog like the Finnish Spitz needs to live in the house. It’s an unhappy Finnish Spitz who is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship.
5 Tips to Bringing Home a Healthy Finnish Spitz Puppy
- Finding a good breeder is more important than finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. To find a list of breeders, visit the website of the Finnish Spitz Club of America.
- Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health problems in Finnish Spitzs aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. In addition, an Finnish Spitz can live 12 or more years, so an adult dog will still be a part of your family for a long time to come.
- Puppy or adult, take your Finnish Spitz to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
- Don’t ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You’re more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to housetrain puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.
- Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Health Issues Common to Finnish Spitz
All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
That said, the Finnish Spitz is a pretty healthy breed. Health problems that may be seen include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation and epilepsy. Ask the breeder to show evidence that both of a puppy’s parents have hip scores of Excellent, Good or Fair from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or a PennHIP score, as well as an OFA patella clearance.
Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.
Pet Insurance for Finnish Spitz
Pet insurance for the Finnish Spitz costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Finnish Spitz are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.
Embrace pet insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are preexisting) to which Finnish Spitz are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Finnish Spitz is when he’s a healthy puppy. You can’t predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can’t get when you need it the most.