The national dog of Finland, the Finnish Spitz, is by far the oldest of all the Finnish breeds. It was bred directly from the native landrace dog population without crossbreeding, and it has followed the Finnish people since ancient times. A dog similar to the Finnish Spitz has been found in prehistoric cave paintings. The Finnish people lived in isolated residential areas in the wilderness in the Northern part of Finland, from Kainuu all the way to Murmansk, and their dogs remained purer in comparison with dogs living more south where they easily got mixed with other dogs.
Below is archived content... from the Finnish Kennel Club website.
"The Finnish Spitz is the end result of high-standard domestic breeding work. It was bred directly out of the native landrace dog population without crossbreeding, making it a real rarity as a hunting dog on the international level as well.
The Finnish Spitz primarily barks at birds perched in trees, using its voice to indicate the location of game. It is mostly used to hunt forest game birds, but also to some extent as an elk-hunting dog as well as to hunt small game and retrieve birds shot into the water.
When retrieving game, the Finnish Spitz will move over a distance of 100 - 500 metres and often even further away from the hunter. The connection with the hunter will be retained in spite of this distance, however. It finds birds on the ground or in trees with the help of its extremely sensitive nose and is capable of tracking an escaping bird for several hundred metres in even the most difficult terrain. It indicates the location of the bird with its bark and behaviour, and will try to keep the bird in the tree by barking until the hunter gets there." read more... at the Internet Archive -
"The object of the book is to help the reader develop a clear picture of what the Finnish Spitz is and what it should be.
The primary intention of these notes and explanations develop from the Finnish Spitz breed standard, is to introduce new judges as well as those experienced in judging other breeds, to Finland's national breed. Writer hopes that they will also be useful to breeders, exhibitors and owners who wish to understand the finer points of this breed."
National kennel clubs and breed clubs (see, e.g. Breeding/Health Strategy Documents, below)
Population-level statistics (see, e.g., Swedish Insurance Data, below)
Breed club surveys
There are numerous breed standards.
The basis of breed/conformation shows is the judging of pedigree dogs against the 'Breed Standard', which is a picture in words that describes the range of features that are deemed appropriate for the breed.
This week the Journal of Animal Breeding and Genetics published a study regarding the impact of breed history on the genetic diversity in Finnish and Nordic Spitz. The study was conducted in collaboration between Genoscoper Laboratories, breed enthusiasts and the department of Environmental and Biological Sciences, University of Eastern Finland. Besides combining traditional pedigree analysis and genotyping in a unique way, the work is also a rare example of citizen science. With the publication, the authors of the study want to raise the awareness of the historical significance as well as the present state of the two breeds and thus to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Finnish independence.
The closely related Finnish Spitz and Nordic Spitz represent a direct continuation to the prehistorical, medium sized hunting spitzes, which were once used for subsistence hunting throughout the northern Fennoscandia. Breeds started to diverge only after the founding of the Finnish Spitz in 1892. When compared to the Nordic Spitz, Finnish Spitz has been always very popular and owned a large population size. In contrast, the Nordic Spitz nearly went extinct before being resurrected as a breed in Sweden in 1966 from a handful of dogs, which were later supplemented with Finnish feral spitzes. The studbook was closed in Sweden in 1980’s but remains open in Finland.
Due to its long history, Finnish Spitz has been until recently under intensive breeding regime, including the overrepresentation of few champion males in the breeding population. This quite likely explains the lower than average genetic heterozygosity in the breed. The situation has already been known for a while and the Finnish Spitz club has intensified efforts to broaden the breeding population and to increase genetic diversity in the breed.
Rather surprisingly, the study revealed high diversity in the Nordic Spitz, with heterozygosity levels similar to mixed breed dogs. This diversity is explained partly by the short breeding history but also by the recent admixture with other dog breeds, as evident from the existence of a genetic disease mutation originating from the Finnish Hound.
Another interesting outcome of the study is the evaluation of the historical effective population sizes (Figure 1). For both breeds, the effective population size collapsed concomitantly with the breed establishment, demonstrating how breed standard efficiently blocks the gene flow among dog populations. The large historical population sizes do not necessarily indicate large local populations, but rather the fact that the ancestors of our modern spitz breeds are genetically connected to most northern hunting spitzes. The historical effective population size of Nordic Spitz is somewhat larger than Finnish Spitz, probably due to the recent admixture with other modern breeds.
Finnish Spitz and Nordic Spitz represent thousands of year’s old cultural history, whose continuation will be dependent on maintaining the breeds in hunting use. Finns have particular responsibility in this, as not only the majority of the world population of these two breeds lives in Finland, but also because these dogs are a living link to the traditional lifestyle that enabled subsistence in the wilderness.