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The Finnish Hound is a purebred scenthound from Finland also called the Suomenajokoira, Finnish Scenthound, Finsk Stovare and Finnish Bracke. While it is mostly unknown outside of Scandinavia in Finland and in Sweden too it is valued for its great ability on cold and hard terrain. It is rarely kept as just a companion or as a show dog but is rather almost exclusively a dog hunters keep. It is a medium to large sized dog with a life span of 10 to 12 years and typically is used to hunt hare and foxes. When not out on a trail it is affectionate, calm, friendly and social.
|The Finnish Hound at a Glance|
|Other names||Finnish Scenthound, Finnish Bracke, Finsk Stovare, and Suomenajokoira|
|Average size||Medium to large|
|Average weight||45 to 55 pounds|
|Average height||20 to 24 inches|
|Life span||10 to 12 years|
|Coat type||Straight, dense and coarse outer coat, short, dense, and soft inner coat|
|Popularity||Not yet a fully registered member of the AKC|
|Intelligence||Average to above average|
|Tolerance to heat||Good|
|Tolerance to cold||Very good to excellent|
|Shedding||High – expect lots of hair in the home and on you|
|Drooling||Moderate to average|
|Obesity||Average – measure its food and make sure it is well exercised|
|Grooming/brushing||Average to frequent – brush at least twice a week, more if you want to control the loose hair|
|Barking||High – require training to stop on command|
|Exercise needs||High – needs active owners|
|Trainability||Moderately difficult – needs experienced owners|
|Friendliness||Very good with socialization|
|Good first dog||Moderate – best with experienced owners|
|Good family pet||Very good with training and socialization|
|Good with children||Very good with training and socialization|
|Good with other dogs||Very good with training and socialization|
|Good with other pets||Moderate, socialization needed – has a high prey drive toward non canine pets|
|Good with strangers||Good to very good with socialization|
|Good apartment dog||Moderate – needs space and a yard|
|Handles alone time well||Low – suffers from separation anxiety|
|Health issues||Quite a healthy dog but some issues are Hip/Elbow dysplasia, eye and ear problems|
|Medical expenses||$485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance|
|Food expenses||$270 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats|
|Miscellaneous expenses||$245 a year for toys, basic training, miscellaneous items and license|
|Average annual expenses||$1000 a year as a starting figure|
|Cost to purchase||$600|
|Rescue organizations||None breed specific, check local rescues and shelters|
|Biting Statistics||None reported|
The Finnish Hound’s Beginnings
Not much is known about some of its ancestors as records of dog breeding were not commonly kept back then. Scenthounds were common and it was also common to cross them leading to lots of different types developed to suit lots of different regions around Europe. In Finland in the early 1800s a new hunting dog was wanted that could work in elevated terrain even in the winter. A breeding program was begun and it crossed German, Swedish and French Hounds with some local scenthounds and some local Spitzen. At that time Finland was actually a part of Sweden. The resulting dog was kept as a working dog for several decades and owners had little interest in dog shows.
The Finnish Kennel Club or Suomen Kennelliitto was formed in 1889 and this lead to more interest in breeders registering their dogs to preserve their pedigree. One such person was a blacksmith called Tammelin who was known to experiment with crossing and his dogs became known as Suomenojokoira or Finnish Hound. As these dogs became more well known they quickly grew in favor around the country but the political problems of the country did impact on its development. After World War I Finland gained its independence from Russia and in 1932 an official standard was drawn up. In the late 18th century the favored color had been light brown with white markings. In 1913 that became the tri-colored look and then in these standards they state red brown coat, black mantle and white markings.
New Lease on Life
Not long after its official standard being drawn up the FCI gave it full recognition which helped improve its popularity and therefore its numbers. From the late 1930s on it gradually became the most favored hunting dog in Finland and then also proved to be popular in Sweden too where it became the second most popular behind the Drever. It is used to hunt in packs game other than the standard rabbit and fox including moose and lynx. There are an estimated 5000 dogs registered, 20% of those are in Sweden and 80% in Finland. Outside of those two countries it is unknown though. There may be single digits in the US but it is unlikely and that is why it is not recognized by the AKC. It remains mostly a working dog but in recent years a few more are being kept as companions only.
The Dog You See Today
The Finnish Hound is a medium to large breed weighing 45 to 55 pounds and standing 20 to 24 inches tall. It looks fairly similar to other scenthounds in that part of Europe with an athletic look, and a body that is longer than it is tall. It is muscular and should not be overly heavy and its tail is long and tapers to the end. It carries it lower that the back line not above it. Its outer coat is short to medium, rough and harsh and the under coat is soft, dense and shorter. It comes tri-colored and those are tan/reddish brown, a black saddle which possibly extends down their backs, sides and legs and a small amount of white markings on the tail tip, chest, head and feet.
The head is domed a little and in proportion to the rest of the body. Its muzzle is fairly deep and fairly long and tapers to a wide black large nose. Its lips can be long but are not pendulous. Its ears hang down, are somewhat long and fall close to the head. Its eyes are medium sized and are a dark brown in color.
The Inner Finnish Hound
The following are really generalizations when it comes to how it is a companion, as most are kept as working dogs still. That being said it would seem it is much like other scenthounds in many regards. If well worked or exercised and stimulated it is calm and stable inside and only shows that excitability it can have when on the trail out on a hunt. It is very affectionate, even overly so for some owners, if you do not want a dog that needs lots of attention and will be very expressive of its love for you, this is not the right dog to get. It does not like being left alone for long periods and can even develop separation anxiety if it is. It is generally fairly friendly and social and coming from working independently when on a trail it does have an independent side so does best with experienced owners.
It loves going out on the hunt, loves to chase its quarry, barks a lot and is versatile. It is not aggressive though when not working but that frequent barking can come inside too so a command to control it is a good idea. It is an energetic dog and since it has been bred to be able to work with strange hunters it is fine with strangers, polite but without good socialization it can be shy and that can develop into nervousness, so it is important it is well trained and socialized. Some of them can be good watchdogs but not all of them, and they certainly do not make good guard dogs.
Living with a Finnish Hound
What will training look like?
In terms of training for the hunt it needs very little, it is a natural at what it does and it loves to do it. When it comes to obedience training though this is going to be a gradual process and will need a confident, experienced and firm owner able to stick to rules and be the pack leader with consistence. The basics along with good socialization could be a bit easier and you should include in that a stop barking command! But if you want to to go beyond basic obedience things will get harder. It can be stubborn and quite resistant. Be patient and use positive methods like treats but keep in mind if a Finnish Hound has really set its mind to not doing something a treat is not going to be enough to persuade it otherwise! Along with basic obedience training it should also get good socialization. Make sure it is introduced to different places, people, animals, situations and sounds so it learn how to react appropriately and to give it the confidence to deal with them.
How active is the Finnish Hound?
The Finnish Hound is not best suited to apartment living, it needs activity, a yard and it does bark a lot. It is quite active and will need owners who are too. Take it on a couple of brisk long walks a day and play with it too, it should get at least an hour a day. It will need a good amount of mental stimulation too along with enough physical activity, especially if it is not hunting. It should also have regular opportunity to have safe off leash time to run. If it does not get enough activity and stimulation it will be destructive, hard to live with, hyperactive, nervous and bark even more. If it gets enough though it will be calm, laid back even and happy to spend some of its time lazing/relaxing.
Caring for the Finnish Hound
The FH sheds a good amount so that will need vacuuming up daily and you can expect hair on furnishing, clothing and such. Brush the coat at least twice a week, or ideally every day to get rid of some of that and to keep the coat healthy. Since its coat is short it is easy to brush and should not take too long. Bathing should only be done when it needs it as this can dry out its skin. Always only use a dog shampoo otherwise you could damage the natural oils. It should not need professional grooming.
Its ears should be checked for infection once a week and then wiped clean. They do collect particles, debris and dirt easily. Its teeth should be brushed two to three times a week. You will also need to have its nails clipped when they get too long. Take care not to cut too low it will cause bleeding and pain as there are blood vessels and nerves in that part of the nail.
The Finnish Hound eats about 2¼ to 3 cups of a good to excellent quality dry dog food a day, and that should be split into at least two meals. It should also have access to fresh water. How much it eats varies from one dog to another because of things like age, level of activity, health, rate of metabolism and size.
How is the Finnish Hound with children and other animals?
When around children the Finnish Hound is playful, energetic and also very affectionate with them. With socialization and when raised with them, this is a very good dog with children and it can have a gentle side. Be sure to teach the children how to properly and kindly touch and play with them, and supervise young children. If raised in a home with cats and other pets and with socialization a Finnish Hound may be okay with them. But then again it may not, it has a high prey drive with small animals and some can never learn to accept them in the home. It is good with other dogs when socialized having been bred to be able to hunt with other dogs. In fact most like to have another canine around to be buddies with.
What Might Go Wrong?
The FH has a life span of about 10 to 12 years and is mostly healthy but does have one really serious health issue to be aware of in particular which is Cerebellar ataxia. The dogs has brain lesions that affects eyes, gait, balance and movement. It can be on one side or the other of the brain or on both. Whichever side has the lesions is the side impacted. It is quite a common problem in this breed and there is no cure, the only option is euthanasia. Other regular canine health issues can include ear infections, weight gain, eye problems, mange and joint dysplasia.
Over the last 35 years of reports on people being attacked by dogs and being bodily harmed in North America do not mentioned the FH. However that is not surprising since it is not thought there are many if any in that part of the world as of yet. Where it is popular it is viewed as a non-aggressive breed. It is not aggressive against people or dogs in most cases, and is only more so when on the scent of something. That being said a lot of dog owners need to take socialization and basic obedience training more seriously. Also giving the dog the attention and exercise it needs goes a long way in keeping it more stable.
Your Pup’s Price Tag
A Finnish Hound puppy is going to cost about $600 though possibly that could go up a fair bit depending on where you are. A shelter or rescue dog is going to be lower, $50 to $400 but is also likely to be an adult dog not a puppy, and finding a purebred FH from such places is unlikely. There are other places you can buy from, puppy mills, pet shops, backyard breeders. But many of these are either ignorant or bad and mistreating the animals which is not something to fund.
When you have a Finnish Hound you will need to have it examined by a vet as soon as possible, have blood tests done, deworm it, give it shots, micro chip it and have it spayed or neutered. That will cost about $290. Your dog will also need certain items like a carrier, collar and leash and crate. These will cost about $240.
Medical yearly costs for pet insurance and basic health care like check ups, vaccinations and flea and tick prevention will come to $485 or more. A good quality dry dog food and treats will cost another $275 a year. Miscellaneous costs for license, basic training, miscellaneous items and toys will start at about $245 a year. This gives a total starting figure yearly cost of around $1000.
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The Finnish Hound is very rare anywhere but Finland and Sweden, with most being in the former, its home country. Finding one then will take time and ideally you will be keeping it a hunting dog and companion as it really loves to do what it was bred for. If you just want an easy companion dog there are a lot better suited breeds out there that are also easier to find. However when it gets enough exercise and stimulation it has plenty to offer to its owners and family, being loyal, affectionate, spirited and kind.
Featured image credit: Rita Romanyshyn, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.
- The Finnish Hound’s Beginnings
- New Lease on Life
- The Dog You See Today
- The Inner Finnish Hound
- Living with a Finnish Hound
- Caring for the Finnish Hound
- How is the Finnish Hound with children and other animals?
- What Might Go Wrong?
- Your Pup’s Price Tag