Finnish Hound

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Finnish Hound
EtäKärppä /

A medium-sized, attractive hound dog, the Finnish Hound should be well-proportioned with a tri-colour double coat. They excel when it comes to hunting, successfully pursuing the likes of hares and foxes over wintery, harsh terrains. Their melodic bark will alert the hunter to the presence of the prey, which has little chance of escaping these athletic and determined canines.

Suited to family life as long as they have been adequately exercised, the Finnish Hound should ideally be given the opportunity to hunt and track when possible. While intelligent, they can be a wilful breed, their independence making them very difficult to train. Kind with people, they have the endearing personality of most hounds, and form strong bonds with their owners from an early age.

About & History

The history of the Finnish Hound, or Finnish Bracke, is similar to many other scent hounds of its time. Within Finland in the 1800s, there was a desire to create a versatile hunting dog that could successfully navigate a variety of terrains and was not impeded by the freezing, wintery conditions. It is thought that English Foxhounds, as well as a variety of German, Swiss and French hounds were consciously bred together to produce the Finnish Hound.

An authentic working dog, to this day, the Finnish Hound is hardly ever kept as just a pet and is seldom seen as a show dog, though continues to be a respected hunter within Scandinavia. They are typically used to hunt rabbits, foxes and even bobcats and moose. They like to work alone, and will track scents that are in the air or on ground, happily chasing their prey, barking noisily as they go.

Outside of Finland and Sweden, they are a rare find indeed. However, they are often quoted as being in the top three most popular dog breeds within their native Finland, and are undoubtedly the most popular scent hound by far. The breed was recognised by the Finnish Kennel Club in the 1930s, and it was at this time that their breed standard was completed. It was not until 1996 that the UKC officially accepted the Finnish Hound within their Scent Hound group.


Finnish Hound Large Photo
EtäKärppä /

The Finnish Hound is an athletic breed built for stamina and hardiness, and as such, should be robustly built and well-muscled. A medium-sized dog, males will measure between 54cm and 60cm, while the female will measure from 52cm to 58cm. It is important that they are not overly heavy, and most breed members will weigh between 20kg and 25kg.

An elegant hound, their head is proportionate in size to their body and slightly domed in shape. Their muzzle and skull should be roughly the same length, and not exaggerated. One of their discerning features is their upper lip that has a notable curve, forming a 'n' shape when viewed head on. Their oval, hound dog eyes are dark brown and should exhibit a tranquil expression. Their wide, flat ears are not overly long, and reach to the level of the eye if pulled forward. They have a rectangular body with a deep chest and well-sprung ribs. Their tail is carried low and is broad at the base, tapering to a point.

Their double coat is one of the breed’s most striking features. It should be short and thick and must be the traditional tri-colour of the hound dog. Most dogs have a defined black saddle marking and white on their face, chest and paws.

Character & Temperament

It is vital to remember that, unlike most of today’s dog breeds, the Finnish Hound is an authentic working dog. They are typically housed alongside other scent hounds, and will tolerate the company of other dogs very well. When it comes to other animals, they are seen as prey, and the strong hunting instincts of the Finnish Hound will mean that small animals are not safe in their presence.

They have a lot of drive and enthusiasm when on the hunt and will be keen to work regardless of the weather or environment. They will track a scent for hours on end and are a musical hound, much loved for their characteristic baying.

While the primary purpose of the Finnish Hound has never been as a companion animal, they do fit into family life surprisingly well. As affectionate as any hound, they crave human company and are generally very friendly with people of all ages. While they can make efficient watch dogs, barking at a new arrival, they do not have the suspicion or aggression to make an adequate guard dog.

Incredibly energetic, only once the Finnish Hound has been provided with enough daily exercise will they be content to relax in the family home.


Little to no training is needed in the line of scenting and hunting – activities which the Finnish Hound instinctively knows how to do. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for other aspects of training, which the Finnish Hound can find challenging at times. They are known to be independent and stubborn, often ignoring commands and tiring of training sessions quickly. A trainer must be patient and firm, and should keep the dog on side with a hefty supply of tasty treats.

If the aim of the trainer is to reduce the natural hunting instincts of the Finnish Hound, such as their high prey drive or inclination to follow their nose at all times, the trainer is very likely to fail. Instead, these traits should be put to use, and the training should focus on obedience and manners instead.


Most Finnish hounds will live until 12 years of age with few health concerns. Hunters, owners and breeders should be aware of the following conditions:

Cerebellar Ataxia

This condition occurs due to a genetic defect in the SEL1L gene, and genetic testing should be performed before an animal is bred. Affected puppies lack coordination and struggle to move efficiently, so sadly, they are humanely euthanised.

Ear Infections

While the shape of the ear of the Finnish Hound predisposes them to the development of ear infections, the incidence can be reduced by regularly checking and cleaning the ears, as well as drying them after they get wet.

Black Hair Follicular Dysplasia

This is a rare dermatological condition that leads to hair loss and makes the affected animal more susceptible to skin infections during their lifetime.

Hip Dysplasia

An orthopaedic condition seen in a wide array of purebred dogs, responsible breeders will screen dogs before they are mated to ensure their hips are in good condition.

Atopic Dermatitis

An exceedingly common skin complaint, affected animals have allergies that result in very itchy skin. Most animals are managed with medication during flare-ups. Avoiding the allergen responsible is the most effective strategy, though can often be hard to achieve.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Bred for endurance, the Finnish Hound has a high exercise requirement that should never be ignored. Possessing the capability to track prey for miles on end without a break, the Finnish Hound will rarely tire himself out. Any opportunity to hike, jog or play will be appreciated, and they should be provided with at least 60-minutes of daily exercise. Keeping their mind active is also important, and this is why scenting trials, fetch and similar activities are so important for their well-being.

Access to a large home with substantial outdoor acreage that they can explore is a plus, and attempting to keep this dog in a small home with no garden will not end well. A bored, under-exercised Finnish Hound will soon let their dissatisfaction be known, whether it be via excessive howling or destructive behaviour in their kennel or home.


Their dense coat needs a good brush through every few days, but other than that, the breed is very low maintenance. If sufficiently exercised, their claws will usually wear themselves down, and if not, can be trimmed every few months. Bathing should only be done if needed to prevent drying out their natural oils.

Owners should be committed to maintaining the ears of the Finnish Hound in good condition. As well as checking them every few days, most ears will need cleaning out a few times a month.

Famous Finnish Hounds

A breed that is rarely, if ever, spotted outside of Scandinavia, there are no famous Finnish Hounds in the media. The breed gets plenty of tags on the popular photo-sharing site, Instagram, however. Simply search the hashtag #FinnishHound for some gorgeous examples of Finnish Hounds owned across the globe. You will certainly get a sense of how much exercise their humans give them in order for them to stay so happy!


There are no widely accepted cross-breeds of the Finnish Hound.

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