Description & History

The Suomenpystykorva, Finnish Spitz, or Finnie as he is known to his friends, is the national dog of Finland.

The breed's name and its conformation indicates that it is a member of the Spitz group of dogs. It resembles most other members of the family - short pricked ears, a tail that curls over its back and an attractive coat - but it is lighter framed than some of the other breeds in the group. A similarity which it shares with another of the Spitz breeds - the Pembroke Corgi - is the same foxy expression which followers of both breeds consider one of their most endearing features.

For centuries these dogs have been hunters in the high northern hemisphere - Finland and Lapland - and therefore, like their owners, they were hardy and used to working in a climate which for much of the year has temperatures well below freezing.

The breed is one of the few hounds which hunts using both sight and scent to track its prey. Nowadays its main quarry is game birds, particularly wood grouse, as well as squirrels and hare. In the past, when bears were numerous, this fearless breed was adept in the pursuit of this forbidding and unpredictable prey.

The hunting traits of the Finnish Spitz are similar to that of the Elkhound. It would track, chase and corner its quarry. Its bark would indicate its position and would also assist it to keep a hold on the prey until the arrival of the hunter, who would deal the final blow.

In 1927 the breed was brought into England by Sir Edward Chichester and gradually gained a following. The British Kennell Club recognised it in 1935.

Today's breed is still employed in parts of its own country for hunting, and it enjoys the freedom that is created by the sport. Hounds which are owned as pets are no different from their working cousins and should be able to enjoy a home in a rural environment which will enable them to get plenty of exercise.

Rosamund Walters.

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