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THE WALKERS
AND
FINKKILA'S FINNISH SPITZ
Since 1979

Tom T. and Marg G. Walker
278 Porter Road
Bastrop, TX 78602
Phone: (512) 303-4138
Cell: (512) 925-7941
Email: tomnmarg@gmail.com

 

    THE FINNISH SPITZ:  AN OVERVIEW

    The strikingly beautiful medium-size Finnish Spitz with the erect pointed ears, loosely curled tail, and glorious red-gold coat is a native of Finland and is that country's national dog.  Its Finnish name, Suomenpystykorva, translated into English is "Finnish Erect Ear" (Suomen = Finnish, pysty = erect, and korva = ear).  Since having erect pointed ears and a curled tail is characteristic of the Spitz breeds of dogs and since the red dog with these characteristics was developed by the Finns, the English name given to it is Finnish Spitz.  The Finns affectionately call it "The Red Spitz" to distinguish it from other Spitz type dogs native to that country.  The Finnish Spitz is one of the very few breeds of all-red dogs in the world.


    When the Finnish Spitz was referred to above as being medium in size, both its height and its weight were intended.  Height is measured in a straight line from the floor to the top of the shoulders.  According to the breed standard approved by the American Kennel Club (AKC), the Finnish Spitz female can be anywhere from 15 1/2 to 18 inches and the male anywhere from 17 1/2 to 20 inches.  In Finland, the mid-height and mid-weight Finnish Spitz are given preference.  Although the breed standard does not state an allowable weight, it does use terms that indicate that the Finnish Spitz is a medium weight dog.  Some of the terms used in the standard that indicate weight are the following: 1. fox like; 2.  lively; 3.  brisk movement; 4.  quick and light on its feet; 5.  trots with lively grace; 6.  trots on toes at a gallop.  7. symmetrical; and 8.  heavy bone penalized.  The weight of the average size females should be about 23 pounds and of the average size male about 28 pounds.


In his book, SUOMENPYSTYKORVA, Mr. Heikki Sarparenta, one of Finland's foremost authorities on the country's national dog, noted that the dog's original name was Finnish Barking Birddog; but, that, in 1897, the name was officially changed to Suomenpystykorva.  To the Finns, it is simply the Pystykorva--Erect Ear.


    Although fairly new to the United States, the Finnish Spitz is an old breed of dogs.  According to Mr. Sarparanta, the Spitz-type ancestors of the Finnish Spitz were brought from Central Russia into the area of Europe now known as Finland when hunting tribesman migrated into that area at the beginning of the Christian Era--some 2000 years ago.  Since these hunter nomads were completely dependant upon their dogs for their livelihood and the livelihood of their families, they brought their dogs with them into the new land.  In this land of dense forest, the dogs that fulfilled the hunting expectations of their master were perpetuated through breeding.  Since each tribesman was completely dependant upon the hunting expertise of his dog and since the conditions under which he lived would not allow him to keep many dogs, the dogs that evolved were all-purpose all-game hunters.  These versatile dogs became the ancestor of what we now know as the Finnish Spitz.


Since the Finnish hunter was so completely dependant for his livelihood upon the expertise of his dog in locating game in the dense forest, he and his dog were constant companions day after day when the weather would permit them to hunt.  Then, during the long and harshly frigid winter when both man and dog had to stay inside, the dog was completely dependant upon its master.  This mutual dependance formed the character (or temperament, if you prefer) of the Finnish dog and is dominant in the Finnish Spitz breed even today.  It is its master's dog!  It graciously tolerates other people!  Because of this century-old inbred desire for closeness with its master, any type of punishment or harsh scolding completely undermines the  self-confidence of the Finnish Spitz and makes it cower.  Always, its failures MUST be ignored and its successes rewarded!  It thrives on praise!


It must be remembered that the Finnish Spitz was and is first and foremost a hunting dog.  In its native land, it can not get a show championship until it proves its hunting qualities in field trials; and, on the other hand, can not get a hunting championship until it proves itself in the show ring.  Although, today, in Finland, the Finnish Spitz is used mainly for treeing capercaillie and other woods grouse, it is widely used for baying elk/moose and in hunting small fur-bearing animals, is sometimes used for tolling and retrieving waterfowl, and is occasionally used in hunting bear.  For many years, the Finnish Spitz was used for treeing both woods grouse and squirrel; however, around 1950, squirrel hunting came to an abrupt end in Finland.  Until that time, squirrel pelts were used for making squirrel caps; so, squirrel were hunted for their pelts.  When, around 1950, these caps ceased to be stylish and the hunters could not make money selling the pelts, they stopped hunting squirrel.  Since there are very few nut-bearing trees in Finland, the diet of the squirrel, especially in winter, is primarily fir and pine buds.  Because of this diet, the squirrel's flesh taste like turpentine--they say; therefore squirrel are not hunted as food.  When the Finns stopped hunting squirrel, they began trying, without much success, to train their Finnish Spitz to ignore squirrel and to tree birds only; thus, making it a single purpose dog.  Seemingly, the Finns are now renewing their appreciation of the Finnish Spitz as an all-round all-game hunter!  This was especially evidenced in the development of field trials for elk/moose hunting Finnish Spitz.


    Finnish Hunters enter their Finnish Spitz in local, regional, and national bird treeing field trials and in elk/moose baying field trials.  Annually, in each type of trial, one Finnish Spitz moves through the local, regional, and national competition and earns the title, King of the Barkers.  This simply means that that dog is recognized as being the best hunting dog in Finland in the treeing of birds or in the baying of elk/moose.  The bird treeing field trials are very similar to the squirrel treeing field trials held widely in the United States for various breeds of treeing dogs.  Although the bird treeing field trials in Finland and the squirrel treeing field trials in the U. S. are similar in many respects, there is at least one critical difference in the two kind of trials.  That difference is that, in squirrel treeing trials in the U. S., several dogs are hunted together in a cast; but, in bird treeing trials in Finland, there is only one dog in a cast.  Because of the extremely possessive nature of the Finnish Spitz, whether hunting grouse in Finland or squirrel in the United States, each cast of Finnish Spitz must be of a single dog.  A Finnish Spitz would not willingly tolerate another dog at "its" tree! The possibility of developing squirrel treeing field trials in the United States for the Finnish Spitz is being studied by the breed's parent club, the Finnish Spitz Club of America, Inc. (FSCA).


    Although, in Finland, the Finnish Spitz is an old breed of dogs whose purpose for existence is well known and universally accepted, it is a fairly new breed in the United States and its purpose is much less well defined and/or understood.  The first Finnish Spitz is believed to have arrived in the United States as early as 1959; however, the first imported for breeding purposes arrived as late as 1966.  In 1975, the FSCA was formed.  This club shepherded the breed to its recognition by the AKC and is, today, the breed's parent club.  In THE COMPLETE DOG BOOK, the AKC stated that in 1983 it recognized the Finnish Spitz for showing in the Miscellaneous Class.  This recognition was, of course, for showing beginning 1 April 1984.  Also, it noted that in 1987 it approved the breed for point competition in the Non-Sporting Group.  That approval was for exhibition in the show ring beginning 1 January 1988.


    Some Finnish Spitz thoroughly enjoy the hustle and bustle of dog shows and are great ring performers; however, many prefer the much quieter life-style of being the master's hunting dog and/or of being the pet of a family.  If trained with praise and rewards only, the Finnish Spitz does great in both Conformation and Obedience showing; however, it responds quite negatively to training methods that use force of any type.  It is excellent as a hunting dog and/or as a family pet for regular families; however, the Finnish Spitz does not enjoy situations where there is yelling, screaming, and high tension.  When the breed first made its entry into the United States, it was thought of as a show dog and family pet only; however, its inherent hunting abilities has prompted its growing popularity among U.S. hunters.  It is used primarily as a squirrel treeing dog but in some areas is used for treeing wild turkey and woods grouse.


    The Finnish Spitz is spotlessly clean with no doggy odor.  It is friendly though quite cautious towards strangers and strange situations.  As a general rule, it is courageous to the extent of being very macho with other dogs, especially those of its own sex.  Although the Finnish Spitz is not a biting dog, it is very possessive and jealous of its master and of anything that belongs to its master.  It attempts to keep its master completely informed when anything approaches its master's domain.  This attentiveness makes it an excellent watch dog to warn that someone or something is approaching.


The Finnish Spitz is a people's dog.  It is especially good with children.  Also, it is great for visiting nursing homes and other places where there are shut-ins.  It is exceptionally intelligent and extremely sensitive.  It must be its master's companion and must be trained with praise and rewards only!  Anyone, whether pet owner, hunter, or show enthusiast, who will not or can not train a dog with praise and rewards only and who can not or will not make of the dog a companion, should not get a Finnish Spitz.  To do so would be a disappointment and a waste of money.  The Finnish Spitz wants and expects to have a close relationship with its master.  It is not satisfied being a yard dog only, being tied away from the activities of its master, or being a kennel dog.  It must never be punished  and must never be harshly scolded.  It expects that it will be rewarded!  Its errors and disobediences MUST be ignored!


    The Finnish Spitz is a "voice" dog--a "talking" dog!  It tells about, discusses with, and/or questions its master regarding everything that happens with an unbelievable number of different sounds and tones.  To enjoy a Finnish Spitz, one must have a relationship to it close enough to be willing to listen to its talk!
    Often, someone will ask whether he/she should get a Finnish Spitz.  For most, the answer is, "NO."  Show enthusiasts, hunters, pet owners, or whomever, who can not and/or will not spend the time and effort to train a dog with praise and rewards only should not get a Finnish Spitz!  Anyone, who is of the attitude to insist that the dog MUST do the command immediately and exactly the way the commander insists that the command be done, should not get a Finnish Spitz!
For the right person, the Finnish Spitz is a super dog!



VISIT OUR BREEDER FREINDS TOO!
Maja Croon, Holland
Alison and Steve Piearce, England
Carol and Dan Stone, co-owners with us of the Finkkila's, Reg. Kennel Prefix
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