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Finnish spitz in snow

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Non-sporting group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height — 15.5-18 inches (females), 17.5-20 inches (males)
  • Weight — 20-38 pounds (female), 25-33 pounds (male)
  • Coat length & texture — Double coat with short and soft but dense undercoat plus long, harsh guard hairs
  • Coat color — Typically golden-red with white markings, but coats can range from deeper auburn top coats to more pale honey-yellow undercoats. White markings usually appear on the tips of toes or narrow strips along the chest. Sparse black hairs near the lip line and tail are also common, but black hair is more common among puppies.
  • Exercise needs — High
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Very vocal
  • Life span — 13-15 years
  • Temperament — Friendly, affectionate
  • Hypoallergenic — No
  • Origin — Russia/Finland

Finnish spitz fun facts 

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male Finnish Spitzes Koda and Rocky. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Finnish Spitzes love Luna, then Daisy.

  • The Finnish spitz is Finland’s national dog. When Russian migrants traveled through or settled in Finland thousands of years ago, they brought the spitz breed along with them. Today, they’re lovingly nicknamed “Finkies” or “Finns.”
  • The breed almost went extinct. By the 1880s, the purebred Finnish spitz almost went extinct as a result of mating with other dog breeds. Finnish sportsman named Hugo Roos saved the breed through careful breeding.
  • A Finnish spitz usually wins this national barking competition. Every year, Scandinavia hosts a barking competition called King of the Barkers—and it’s usually a Finnish spitz that ends up crowned “King Barker.”
Finnish spitz barking and standing on a grassy lawn

Finnish spitz temperament and characteristics

The foxy-faced Finnish spitz with its plumed tail is a small, friendly, and lively hunting dog best known for its unique bird-dogging tracking abilities in which they use their nose to find birds in trees before mesmerizing the creatures with their distinctive barking. All the while, Finkies will swish their tails to help hunters see them through the forest, giving the human a chance to finish the job without scaring the game away.

Though they make great hunting companions, the Finnish spitz is also a loving family dog. They are known to be patient with children and good with other pets. However, as with all breeds, early socialization and training is key to a happy home with your Finkie. When it comes to strangers and visitors, your Finnish spitz may become leery and start barking.

These dogs thrive in cool climates and in homes with a fenced-in backyard to keep up with their relatively high exercise needs.

Common Finnish spitz health problems 

Finnish spitz dogs are generally healthy and resilient, but they are still prone to certain genetic conditions. Knowing what you might expect with your pup can help you address and treat any medical conditions early on.

  • Hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a chronic condition that occurs when joints develop improperly in growing dogs. Dogs with hip dysplasia are also more prone to developing arthritis in the area.
  • Patellar luxation . This hereditary condition, common among small dogs and toy breeds, refers to loose kneecaps. When a dislocation occurs, the condition may potentially cause lameness.
  • Epilepsy. Epilepsy—the most common neurological disorder in dogs—is characterized by recurrent seizures that typically last between a few seconds to a few minutes. Though epilepsy itself is considered untreatable, the brain disorder can be managed with medication.
  • Diabetes. This common endocrine disease, which occurs when the dog’s body is unable to make or use enough insulin to break down glucose for energy, affects 1 in every 300 dogs. It’s more common in older dogs, but can occur at any age.
Finnish spitz close up looking down

Source: Flickr, Miika Mehtälä

History of the Finnish spitz

Though the Finnish spitz is considered Finland’s national dog, it actually has origins in Russia. Thousands of years ago, migrants from Russia traveled to what would become modern Finland and brought their dogs along. The breed quickly gained popularity as a hunting dog and is still used to find birds and hunt game today. In Finland, the Finnish spitz breed name is Suomenpystykorva (suo‧men‧pys‧ty‧kor‧va).

The Finnish spitz was officially recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1991.

Caring for your Finnish spitz

Caring for a new puppy of any breed can be overwhelming. You’ll need to make your first trip to the vet and schedule your dog’s vaccinations. We can even help you puppy-proof your home and prepare for teething. And while no one likes to think about losing their new dog, FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag, so you’re prepared just in case.

Diagnosis and treatment for common health conditions specific to the Finnish spitz vary between $3,500 per hip to $7,000 for hip dysplasia, $1,500-$3,000 for patellar luxation, $200-$5,000 per year for epilepsy management and $40-$250 annually for diabetes.

Besides the basics of feeding and medical care, there are a few other things to keep in mind to be the best and most responsible dog owner you can be with your Finnish spitz.

Don’t skimp on brushing, especially in the spring and fall. Plan to brush your Finnish spitz dog’s coat weekly, especially during their heavy-shedding seasons of spring and fall. You’ll also want to get your pup comfortable being touched early on to avoid behavioral problems during routine grooming sessions, whether that’s with a professional groomer or at home.

Exercise, exercise, exercise. The highly intelligent Finnish spitz may need more exercise than your average dog. To avoid boredom-related destructive behavior, ensure your pup is well-exercised and mentally stimulated. A fenced-in backyard to romp around in will make your Finkie very happy.

Focus on early socialization. Finkies are loyal and friendly dogs, but as with any breed, they will greatly benefit from early training and socialization. Early exposure is key to avoiding overexcitement or aloofness with strangers, visitors, young children, and other pets. Remember to prioritize positive, reward-based reinforcement when training.


Your Finnish spitz will need a relatively high degree of exercise compared to some other breeds, so a home with a fenced-in backyard for regular romping and horsing around will do wonders to keep boredom-related destructive behaviors at bay. The Finnish spitz also prefers cooler weather, so if you live in warmer climates, opt for early-morning or late-night walks, consider setting up a sprinkler or paddling pool and remember to always keep your pup well-hydrated.

Finnish spitz standing on a boulder wearing a collar and leash


Though Finnish spitz dogs don’t shed much, and regular trimming isn’t really necessary, the breed does need some extra attention in the spring and fall. Aim to brush your Finnish spitz dog’s coat weekly, especially during those heavy-shedding seasons. Keeping up a regular grooming routine can help keep your pup looking good and avoid issues like matting down the line.

  • Brush often, especially in spring and fall. Brushing avoids matting as well as overgrowth and keeps your pup and home as flyaway-free as possible. Look for a high-quality comb and slicker brush to eliminate extra undercoat fur.
  • Blow-dry cool. Using heat will actually dry out your Finnish spitz dog’s outer coat, so opt for cool blow-drying following a bath routine.
  • Get your puppy used to being touched. Because the Finnish spitz requires regular grooming and maintenance,  it’s essential that you get your pup accustomed to being touched and brushed. Positive reinforcement is a great tool to incorporate in training.

Don’t neglect other essential grooming regimens, such as ear cleaning and teeth brushing. A complete and comprehensive grooming routine is the best way to keep your dog looking fit and fresh.

Diet and nutrition

Finnish spitz dogs, like many other breeds, may experience obesity and potentially increase their risk of diabetes if overfed. Opt for a high-quality, vet-approved diet to maintain a healthy weight and avoid overfeeding treats, as well as foods and scraps.

🚨Feeding your dog cooked bones or even leftover scraps can lead to serious damage. It doesn’t matter if the bones are boiled, baked, fried, smoked, or steamed — consumption can result in choking and irreversible internal damage.

In general, your Finnish spitz should eat about 1 cup of high-quality dry dog food each day, depending on the caloric density of their daily diet. If your pup gets picky or isn’t getting enough water, you can mix in some canned food or a tasty topper. As always, refer to your pet’s vet for questions related to diet and nutrition, including food portioning.

Training your Finnish spitz

The highly intelligent and vocal Finnish spitz (some Finkies have been recorded barking at a speed of 160 times per minute!) can be a challenge to train, so the breed may not be an ideal pick for new pet parents. However, you can use their smarts and their need to people-please to your advantage with early, short bursts of training, positive reward-based reinforcement, and lots of praise.

Finnish spitz outside in the grass

Breeds similar to the Finnish spitz

Not quite sure that a Finnish spitz is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Samoyed. The smiley Samoyed and its luxurious fair coat is beloved for being incredibly social, vocal, and playful.
  • Chow chow. The brainy Chow chow can be highly independent and aloof, but if you’re looking for a fluffy pup that needs only moderate exercise, you may want to consider this breed.
  • Akita. These friendly, fox-faced dogs don’t bark often and are known to be loyal, protective, and highly intelligent.

Frequently asked questions

Can you train a Finnish spitz not to bark?

The highly intelligent breed can be difficult to train, but it’s possible to train your pup to avoid excessive barking. Patience, lots of exercise, and positive, reward-based reinforcement are key.

Are Finnish spitz dogs good with kids?

Yes, but early socialization is key. Remember, never leave your child unattended with a new pet.

What are some common health conditions among the Finnish spitz?

Some common health conditions specific to the breed include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, epilepsy, and diabetes.

How often do you need to bathe a Finnish spitz?

Beyond weekly brushing and at-home grooming care, a bath about three times a year should suffice. Remember to pre-brush before adding water and to cool blow-dry to avoid drying out the coat.