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Get to Know the Finnish Spitz: The Barking Champion!

This foxy fellow can out-bark any dog! We're not kidding: Each year in Finland, a "King Barker" is crowned.

Caroline Coile  |  Jun 30th 2015


With his rich red coat, the Finnish Spitz looks like an overgrown fox, and he’s certainly as clever as one. He is a typical northern Spitz breed, square proportioned with a plush stand-off coat, tail curled over the back, and small pointed ears. What’s not so typical is his bark — and fortunately, with the Finkie, the bark is definitely worse than the bite!

More interesting things about the Finnish Spitz

  • The Finnish Spitz may be confused with the Shiba Inu. The Shiba is much smaller, however, with a shorter, more uniform coat length and smaller, rounder ears. He may also be confused with the Chow Chow, but the Chow is much heavier bodied and has a much shorter, wider face with wrinkles.
Finnish Spitz stamp by Boris15 / Shutterstock.

Finnish Spitz stamp by Boris15/Shutterstock.

  • This is an ancient breed that was largely isolated from other dogs until the early 19th century.
  • In Finland, the breed is called the Suomenpystykorva (SWOH-men-pi-stih-KOR-vuh), which means Finnish Pricked Ear Dog. Early English names were Finnish Cock-Eared Dog and Finnish Barking Bird Dog. The name became Finnish Spitz in 1891. But in England, the breed is known as the Finsk Spets. The breed’s nickname is the Finkie.
  • The first of the breed arrived in America in the 1960s, and the Finnish Spitz joined the AKC Non-Sporting group in 1991.
  • In Finland, the breed has been used to hunt all sorts of wildlife, from rodents to big game. It is still used for hunting the capercaillie (a turkey-like bird) and grouse. The dogs follow the bird and bark when it lands. If it moves, they follow it and bark again when it lands. Some claim the barking mesmerizes the bird and it stays in place. Or that it simply distracts the bird so he doesn’t notice the approaching hunter.
Finnish Spitzes are still used for hunting game birds. Spitz and hunter in the snow by Shutterstock.

Finnish Spitzes are still used for hunting game birds. Spitz and hunter in the snow by Shutterstock.

  • Barking is an extremely valuable trait of the breed. Each year in Finland, a “King Barker” is crowned. And any conformation champions there must first prove they are adept at barking while hunting before they can become official champions.
  • Maybe because of all that barking, the Finkie is only the 168th most popular AKC breed, down slightly from 160th a decade ago.
  • Only one Finnish Spitz has ever even placed in the group at the Westminster dog show, and that was back in 1996.
  • The Finnish Spitz has been the national dog of Finland since 1971.
  • We have not been able to locate any celebrity owners of the Finkie. Although doubtless there must be several famous Finnish people who own them!

Interested in other breed profiles? Find dozens of them here.

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About the author: Caroline Coile is the author of 34 dog books, including the top-selling Barron’s Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds. She has written for various publications and is currently a columnist for AKC Family Dog. She shares her home with three naughty Salukis and one Jack Russell Terrier