FINNISH SPITZ 101! Everything You Need To Know About the Finnish Spitz
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Where does the Finnish Spitz come from? Finland's national dog breed - the Finnish Spitz – has an ancient history that reaches back several thousand years, when Northern tribes of woodsmen selectively bred the Spitz-type dogs of the time to suit their needs for outstanding hunting companions. Towards the end of the 19th century, these avid hunters nearly became extinct as a breed – had it not been for the noble efforts of a certain Hugo Roos, a hunting enthusiast from Helsinki: Intrigued by the breed’s excellent performance in hunting all kinds of game, including elk and bear, he restored the original Finnish Spitz. This dogs’ specialty is to “tell” the hunters the exact position of their quarry – by means of barking. At the same time, the noise made by the so-called "bark pointer" would engage the unfortunate animal’s attention and facilitate the hunters’ approach. Today, the breed is still mainly utilized in hunting roles up in the forests of Finland. In its outer appearance, the modern Finnish Spitz has not changed much over the course of the last 100 years: This medium sized dog has a strong, sturdy and well-proportioned body. Its triangular ears are erect and its characteristic bushy, curled brush tail is carried above the dog’s back line. The Spitz’s plush, thick coat can be red or gold. In size, males measure up to 50 cm and females up to 45 cm (which is 20 inches for males and 18 inches for females). In weight, males reach up to 13 kilos and females: up to 10 kilos (that equals 29 pounds for males and 22 for females). What is their temperament like? In temperament, this red-golden beauty from Finland is playful, lively and very alert True to its original role, the Spitz is equipped with a keen prey drive and the tendency to be quite vocal. Which is why these independent and sometimes quite stubborn dogs absolutely need to be educated as to when barking is in order and when not. Just like their tendency to use their voice a lot, their prey drive is another feature that has two sides to it: Whilst this inborn hunting instinct makes them prone to chasing after rabbits, cats, and even smaller pets, it also makes them playful companions who easily can be taught to retrieve toys for their owners. Finnish Spitzes are quite sociable and get along well with other dogs and humans alike. They are especially patient and friendly towards children: Ever ready to play, these dogs make amazing companions for active families with slightly older children. Whilst loyal and protective to every member of their household, Finnish Spitzes are reserved towards strangers. How intelligent and trainable are Finnish Spitzes? Whilst many hunting breeds are quite easy to train and always keen to please their owners, the Finnish Spitz is not: These striking dogs are remarkably independent and do not need – or seek – the approval of humans. Therefore, it can be tricky to motivate them. However, their strong prey drive makes them respond well to positive reinforcement by means of play. Make no mistake about it – these ancient hunters are quite intelligent; they just not display their smartness in the same way as for example a Border Collie or a German Shepherd! But do not despair: Even the most strong-willed Finnish Spitz will respond to calm, consistent canine leadership. Coupled with positive reinforcement and lots of patience, such a consistent approach will work wonders, and your efforts will be rewarded by an obedient and well-mannered Spitz. Are Finnish Spitzes healthy dogs? The Finnish Spitz is an exceptionally sturdy, robust and healthy breed whose life-expectancy ranges from 12 to 14 years. However, they still can suffer from a few potential health problems such as hip- and elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation and epilepsy. Which is why I highly recommend you choose a reputable breeder who at least tests his breeding stock for dysplasia. This precaution, together with a healthy diet, will ensure that your Finnish Spitz puppy will enjoy a long, happy and healthy life. How much exercise does the Finnish Spitz need? As these avid hunters are working dogs by nature, they are quite active and come with a strong desire for physical and mental stimulation – and for companionship, for that matter: The Finnish Spitz will not take well to being cooped up in a kennel all day long. Ideally, you would allow them to participate in your life by sharing your home with them – whilst providing a secured yard where they can run around and play. This very active breed loves to explore the great outdoors and makes excellent walking, hiking and running companions. Two long walks a day, coupled with playtimes, should suffice to keep your Finnish Spitz happy and well-balanced. What are their grooming requirements? The characteristic beautiful golden-red coat of the Finnish Spitz is a joy to look at. However, grooming can be daunting – unless you come at it prepared with the perfect tools. For your Spitzes thick and fluffy double-coat, you want to have a stainless steel comb with wide set teeth, an undercoat rake as well as a pin brush to keep the topcoat nice and shiny. For shedding season in spring and autumn I highly recommend you use a Furminator. In my opinion and experience, nothing beats the Furminator when it comes to efficiently extracting dead hairs from your Spitz’s undercoat – before these hairs get the chance to distribute themselves all across your floors. As Spitzes blow their coats (rather than losing it gradually like most other breeds), you will thank yourself for investing in the right tools before the advent of shedding season.