Finnish Hound: Versatile Hunter for the Rough and Tough Terrain

adult finnish hound standing
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Hunting dogs live for the hunt. As a hunter, you will admire their passion, skill, and courage. This will spur you to love and cherish your dog, who is the perfect companion out there in the field. Picking the perfect hunting dog is not easy. There are many different types of hunting dogs—each bred for a specific purpose, built to handle a specific type of terrain. If your preferred terrain is the rough and tough kind—possibly with extreme temperatures—then the Finnish Hound may be just the companion you need.

The Finnish Hound is a scent hound breed from Finland. This breed is famous for its sense of smell and ability to handle the frigid climate and rough terrain of its homeland. These versatile hunting dogs will relentlessly pursue their prey with a continuous bark. They remain the exclusive hunting dogs in many Finland and Sweden homes.

In this article, we look at this dog’s history, appearance, health issues, and grooming needs among others. We have done all the legwork for you. At the end of this article, you will have all the information you need to decide if this dog is your perfect hunting companion or if you need to keep looking.

Breed Characteristics

Finnish hound puppy

  • Adaptability: High; can adapt to different conditions including cold and hot conditions.

  • Trainability: Moderate; an intelligent dog that can be a little bit stubborn. The dog needs a firm and consistent trainer, leader, or an experienced owner.

  • Health and Grooming: Average; the dog is an average shedder. Also, the floppy ears need to be kept clean to avoid ear infections.

  • All Around Friendliness: Good; can be a very good companion for children and other dogs with training and socialization. However, may chase non-canine pets around the home.

  • Exercise Needs: High Maintenance; this is an energetic hunting dog that needs at least one hour of daily moderate to vigorous exercise.

Dog Breed GroupHunting Dogs
HeightMales: 20-24 inches
Females: 20-23 inches
WeightMales: 45-55 pounds
Females: 44-54 pounds
10-12 years

The dog’s origin can be traced back to the 1800s when breeders in Finland came up with a program to create a new breed that was perfect for hunting on the rough, hilly terrains of Finland. The breeders used various breeds including German, Swedish, and French hounds to develop the dog.The Finnish Hound is also known as the Finnish Scent Hound, Suomenajokoira, Finnish Bracke, or Finsk Stovare. It is an excellent hunter and tracker of small animals such as hares and foxes during the winter hunting months of September and February.

This is a medium to large-sized canine and has a lifespan of 10 to 12 years. These dogs weigh between 45 and 55 pounds with the females usually being a pound lighter.

The Finnish Hounds are excellent hunters and hunt by following scent trails. The breed was developed as a solo hunter. A versatile tracker, the Finnish Hound is eager to hunt even in difficult terrains.

The dog will pursue the game with a passionate bark. This barking can also be heard when not hunting, so you might need to teach the dog a command to control the barking.

See Also: How to Train a Dog Not to Bark

These dogs can be stubborn and independent, and this is the reason why they need early training and a firm pack leader to prevent behavior issues. They are not for beginner dog owners, nor are they suited to apartment living. Moreover, they don’t tend to be suspicious of strangers, so they don’t really make good guard dogs.

Overall, these dogs need good socialization at an early age to know how to react to animals, people, and different situations and sounds. They are very energetic, playful, and affectionate around children.

Main Highlights

Finnish hound lying on grass

  • A popular breed in Finland and Sweden. Bred through a breeding program where Swedish, German, and French Hounds were combined to come up with the dog.

  • A versatile hunter that is eager to hunt even in difficult circumstances.

  • Developed as a solo hunter, thus can be stubborn and independent. These dogs require a firm leader to lead the pack.

  • Not aggressive when not hunting. A very friendly and affectionate dog for children.

  • Recognized by the Finnish Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club.

  • A working dog that needs daily mental and physical stimulation.

  • The average litter size is 4 to 8 puppies.

  • Not recommended for apartments as they require room to exercise and they bark a lot.

  • Needs human companionship and can suffer from separation anxiety when left alone for long hours.

  • Has a short coat that is easy to brush and does not need professional grooming.

  • Needs regular checks and cleaning of the ears to prevent infection.

  • Needs socialization early to learn how to react to different animals, people, and situations.

Breed History

Finnish hound head

In the middle ages and renaissance times, scent hounds were common. Breeders were known to cross them to develop dogs that were suited for different regions. In Finland, most of the scent hounds used for hunting were from Germany and Sweden.

In the 1800s, a new dog was needed in Finland that could work in the rough terrain during the winter season. A breeding program was developed where German, French, and Swedish Hounds were crossed.

These breeds were preferred due to their natural resistance to the cold weather in Finland. The resulting Finnish Hound was better adapted to the harsh terrain and climate across Finland.

In 1889, the Finnish Kennel Club was founded. The club sought to develop a standardized pure hound breed that was unique to Finland. This caused many scent hound breeders to become very interested in registering their breeds. One such breeder was a blacksmith known as Tammelin.

Tammelin often experimented with crossing different scent hound breeds. The dogs that resulted from his crossings became known as Suomenojokoira or Finnish Hounds. These dogs became very popular and were favored by Finnish hunters. Their official color was light brown with markings.

After World War 1, in 1932, an official standard for the Finnish Hound was drawn by the FCI where the tri-colored look of a red-brown coat with white markings and a black mantle was drawn as the accepted look of the dog. This full recognition improved the breed’s popularity and numbers.

Finnish Hound is one of Finland’s national breeds, and for some time it was known as the most popular of the five. It is also the second most favored hunting dog in Sweden after the Drever. However, due to urbanization, other breeds such as the Retrievers have taken over the Finnish Hound’s spot.

The United Kennel Club recognized the dog on the 1st of January, 1996. The number of registered Finnish Hounds is estimated to be 5000. 80% of these can be found in Finland and 20% in Sweden. Even today, these dogs are kept for their hunting abilities and very rarely as companions.

See Also: Best Companion Dogs


Finnish hound sitting on snow

The Finnish Hound is a medium to large dog weighing between 45 and 55 pounds at maturity. These dogs stand at 20 to 24 inches and have athletic looks like the other European hounds, but they are fairly small compared to other European scent hounds.

These dogs’ heads are in proportion to their bodies. They have wide, large black noses. The muzzle is long, and the ears hang down, although not as far down as that of most other scent hounds. The ears are also positioned very close to the dog’s head. These dogs have dark brown eyes that are medium in size.

With a body that is longer than it is tall, this dog is not expected to be heavy. This dog has a long tail that tapers to the end. The Finnish Hound also has a short outer coat that is harsh, dense, and rough. The undercoat is soft and short.

Personality and Character

Finnish hound running on water

These dogs are hunters, and while hunting, they are very alert, energetic, and known for their stamina and endurance. They are versatile and often will prefer to hunt independently rather than as a part of a pack. Barking is a notable characteristic during hunts as the dogs pursue their prey with a consistent bark.

In a home environment, these dogs can be calm and even friendly. They can also be very affectionate especially toward their owners. However, they can also be stubborn—preferring to be independent. They are not aggressive when at home although they tend to bark a lot even indoors.

These dogs were developed as a working breed, so they have very high energy levels. They require daily moderate to vigorous exercises including runs and long walks. They also need plenty of mental stimulation to keep away boredom and prevent destructive behavior.

These dogs are not recommended for apartment life. If you live in an urban area, ensure there is a fenced yard in the vicinity where the dog will be able to exercise. Just like other scent hounds, when exercised and emotionally stimulated, these dogs are very calm and obedient.

These dogs need a lot of attention and should not be left alone for long hours as they can suffer from separation anxiety. They are friendly even toward strangers as they were bred to work with their owner’s hunting partners as well. Thus, they are not good guard dogs.

See Also: Top 10 Best Guard Dogs

Health and Potential Problems

Finnish hound lying on stone

The Finnish Hound is a hardy and healthy breed. However, these dogs do have a few potential health issues.

#1: Cerebella Ataxia

Lesions in the dog’s brain cause this complex health condition. The lesions affect the dog’s coordination, balance, and motor skills.

In most instances, the condition is inherited via a recessive gene. This means that both parents would carry the defective gene if they were to pass on the disease to the puppy. The disease will appear in puppies who are around two months of age.

The most common sign of the disease is an abnormal gait whereby the dog will be very unstable on his/her feet. The dog will stand with his/her feet apart to try to stay upright or walk with an exaggerated goose stepping walk. The disorder can also cause difficulty in hearing, rapid head and eye movement, lack of appetite, and lethargy.

If the disease is caused by a brain tumor, treatment might be in the form of surgery or medications. However, if the ataxia is hereditary, there is no cure. Despite that, supportive treatment in the form of therapies or medications can be used.

#2: Heart Disease

Heart disease in dogs is very common—as common as it is in human beings. The most common form of heart disease is the valvular disease. Heartworm disease is also common, and myocardial disease does affect Finnish Hounds too.

During your dog’s early years, there might not be symptoms of the disease. As the disease progresses to congestive heart failure, however, your dog will show signs of fatigue, labored breathing, reduced willingness to exercise, weight loss, and trouble sleeping.

The best way to prevent and treat heart disease is to take your dog for screening every year. If your vet suspects heart disease, your dog will undergo further tests to determine the cause and to start treatment.

There is no cure for congestive heart failure, but there are medications that can help your dog’s heart work better. Your vet will advise you on the best medication for your dog depending on the severity and the type of the heart problem.

See Also: Best Heartworm Prevention for Dogs

#3: Lymphoma

Lymphoma is a type of cancer that originates from the lymphocytes. These white blood cells help the immune system fight off infections. They are often found in lymph nodes, the bone marrow, and the spleen. Therefore, these cancers often occur in these specific organs.

The symptoms of this cancer depend on the location and stage. However, the most common symptoms include lack of appetite, weight loss, lethargy, and weakness. Your vet will take an initial health history of your dog and later perform laboratory tests to diagnose if your dog is suffering from lymphoma.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease, but chemotherapy and radiotherapy might be recommended although relapses are common.

#4: Black Hair Follicular Dysplasia

This is characterized by hair loss. The condition will occur in puppies as young as one-month-old. The disease will progress slowly, and all the hair in the black-colored areas may be eventually lost by the time when the dog is 8 to 9 months old. The condition might not affect the health of your Finnish Hound but will leave the skin susceptible to infections.

The condition is believed to be genetic and is often in dogs with dual or tricolored coats. Symptoms of the condition include hair loss in the black-colored areas, scales on the skin, dry skin, skin infection, and itching.

The changes in your dog’s coat may be permanent. Treatment may not be necessary. However, your vet may recommend treatments for some of the symptoms such as pain or dry skin.

#5: Atopic Dermatitis

This inflammatory skin condition is caused by allergies. Substances such as grass, mites, house dust, or mold spores can bring about an allergic reaction.

Your dog will show signs of the condition between 3 months and 6 years of age. The most common sign is itching, rubbing, scratching, and licking the paws, underarms, and face, although other areas might also be affected.

The treatment will depend on the cause of the allergic reaction. Injections of the allergens that your dog is sensitive to may be given. Other medication and sprays might be given to reduce itching and other symptoms.

See Also: Dog Skin Allergies: How to Help Your Dog Overcome Itchy Skin

Care Features

Finnish hound lying on autumn leaves

The Finnish Hound is a very active dog. These dogs need owners that are active. They require daily physical and mental exercises. Owners should not be shy to play with them for at least one hour daily.

If you are a hunter, these dogs will love accompanying you to hunting sessions, and they will show a lot of excitability when on a hunting trail. If you do not give them enough stimulation and activity, they may become destructive, nervous, and hyperactive.

These dogs also need early socialization and training at an early age. However, they do not need to be trained to hunt, as they are natural hunters. But you need to train them on obedience and good socialization.

They require a patient trainer as they can be quite stubborn. The trainer also needs to be experienced, firm, and consistent. Positive remarks and treats can make the training easier, but these dogs might not be swayed by a treat if they have made up their mind that they will not do something.

Feeding Schedule

These dogs are not picky eaters, so it shouldn’t be difficult to figure out what to feed them. Still, it is recommended that you feed them a mixture of dry and wet dog food.

The meal should be split into two. However, the size of the meal can vary depending on age, health, size, activity level, and metabolism. A mature dog will eat 2½ to 3 cups of quality dry dog food per day. The dog should be provided with fresh, clean water too.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

Finnish hound in yard

The acceptable coloration of this dog is tricolor with a tan or reddish coat, as well as black and white saddle markings that are found on the dog’s back, neck, and side. The dog can also have white markings on the head, tail tip, and the chest.

These dogs don’t need to be bathed frequently, and they don’t shed a lot, although you should still brush their coats occasionally.

Check the dog’s ears weekly and wipe them clean with a wet cloth to prevent infection. Brush the dog’s teeth twice or thrice a week to avoid gum diseases. You will also have to clip the dog’s nails if they are too long. Be careful not to cut too deep as this can lead to bleeding and pain as you will interfere with the blood vessels and nerves near the dog’s nails.

See Also: How to Stop Dog Nail Bleeding

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

two finnish hounds walking together

The Finnish Hound is very energetic and playful near children, especially if raised with them. They can also be very affectionate. They have a gentle side when near children. However, children should be taught how to touch and play with the dog. Very young children should be supervised when playing with pets.

These dogs are very affectionate especially toward their owners and can be very expressive of their love. Most Finnish Hounds like to have another dog around as a friend or a companion. These dogs do okay with cats when raised with them.

However, in some instances, especially when not taught socialization at an early age, these dogs might chase other household pets around the home. Some small animals such as hamsters may never learn to accept these dogs due to their high prey drive. Early socialization is very essential if you want these dogs to get along with other pets in your home.

These dogs are okay with strangers as they were bred to hunt with strangers. The fact that they are friendly toward strangers means they might not be the best guard or watchdog.

Wrap Up

Finnish hound in winter

The Finnish Hound is an excellent hunter. These dogs will offer great companionship out there in the fields. When they get enough exercise and stimulation, they are very affectionate, kind to their owners, and they are also very gentle and accommodative toward children.

These dogs crave companionship from either humans or other canines, and thus it might not be a good idea to leave them alone for long hours. This is not the best dog breed to keep in apartments as it requires its daily dose of exercise and it’s likely to cause noise complaints due to constant barking. However, if you have a sizeable yard, do not be afraid to keep this dog.

Do you own a Finnish Hound? What is your experience with the dog? If you are looking for a dog, do you think this dog would be perfect for you and your family? Let us know your take on this dog in the comment section below.

If you decide to adopt a Finnish Hound and you now need a name for your new friend, we recommend you take a look at our Flower Names for Dogs article. These energetic dogs belong in the great outdoors, so we believe that nature-related names will be apt.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.