Showsight Presents the Finnish Spitz

“The Finnish Spitz is a barking bird dog. This is his function in the field, not in the show ring. PLEASE DO NOT ASK THE HANDLER TO MAKE THE DOG BARK.”

below the topline. Th e carriage points for- ward, fl at along the back. Th e tail should not go up at all nor should there be dis- cernible space between the tail and the topline. It curves vigorously downward and backward, pressing fl at against the thigh. Th e tail then points backward, fol- lowing the line of the sti fl e. Although the tail should be able to reach to the hocks, please do not pull the tail down. An inex- perienced, sensitive dog may not recover from this handling. Assess the tail simply by slightly lifting it when going across the backline to see the set on. If the set on and carriage are correct, the tip of the tail bone should reach the middle of the thigh. It is important to feel the length of the tail as tail feathering can disguise a short tail. Th e tail may go to either side. You will often see handlers putting the tail on the judge’s side when the tail falls better to the other side—not because that is the side it must fall but because a tail falling on the judge’s side tends to make the dog appear squarer! Although the dog looks better if the tail is carried up, it is not required. An inexperienced or uneasy dog will often not hold the tail up when gaiting. Assess the appropriate tail set-on, carriage and length during the hands-on. Th e gait is light and lively. Because the Finnish Spitz is moderately angulated, he will not have as much reach and drive as some other Spitz breeds. He tends to single track as the speed increases. Since his working gait is a gallop, he may move quickly from a trot to a gallop. Please do not penalize the Finnish Spitz for this transition. Th e handler will adjust the speed back to a trot. One of the fi rst impressions of the dog is his striking red-gold double coat.

Th e coat should have a short, soft under- coat that warms him in the cold clime and a harsher outer coat that repels the snow, ice and rain. Th e outer coat is medium in length. Any trimming of the coat should be severely faulted. Th e only exception is neatening the feet. Spring and Fall bring seasonal changes of coat. Females are usu- ally more a ff ected by the seasonal “blow- ing of the coat” than males who tend to rotate coat. Th e color ranges from pale cream to honey to mahogany red. Whatever the shade of red (there is no preference to the shade), the coat is bright, with an obvi- ous lighter shade in the undercoat. Th is lighter color should be easily found on the underline, the tail, the britches and the “harness markings.” Th e two tone shades create the unique Finnish Spitz “glow.” A monotonous color is “muddy” and undesirable. Although the Finnish Spitz is a red-gold dog some white is allowed. A quarter-sized spot or a narrow strip of white, not to exceed ½ inch, is allowed on the chest. White markings are also allowed on the tips of the toes. Although excessive white is not a DQ, too much white, as in full stockings and/or a white bib, will destroy the essence of the Finnish Spitz. Most Finnish Spitz are born with a heavy black overlay which starts to clear when the puppy is around six weeks old. Th e head clears fi rst; the buttocks and tail clear last. If you judge the four to six month puppy class, you may still see black shadings towards the rear of the dog. Do not penalize this in a puppy. Also do not penalize black hairs along the lip line and the tail in an adult dog.

Th e Finnish Spitz is a barking bird dog. Th is is his function in the fi eld, not in the show ring. Please do not ask the handler to make the dog bark. Th e US handlers work hard to train the dog not to bark when being shown! Once a Finnish Spitz starts to bark, it is di ffi cult to get them to stop, and the bark is infectious. BIO Cindy Stansell started showing Sibe- rian Huskies in the early 1980s and Finnish Spitz in the late 80s. She and her family owner-handled the dogs to cham- pionships and obedience titles. She is past president, secretary and newsletter edi- tor, and the current delegate and JEC of the Finnish Spitz Club of America. She is approved to judge breeds in the Work- ing, Non-Sporting and Herding groups. She has also judged in Central Amer- ica, South America, Europe, Asia and New Zealand.

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , A PRIL 2014 • 271

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