Article reproduced with kind permission of the Kennel Gazette (April 99)
Judges name the Finnish Spitz they consider the greatest whether a favourite from long ago or currently in the show ring, their choice can encompass dogs from anywhere. The most popular choice was Ch Toveri Panu.
"Giving an opinion on the best Finnish Spitz I have judged or seen takes me back a long way, as I first judged the Breed with CCS in 1970, and have also judged three club shows, one Open and two Championships in 1975 and 1990, also the breed at Crufts and 10 other Ch shows. In assessing dogs of great quality one tends to look back in the past, but in this instance I had not to go far back for my choice. I found my opinion settled on four dogs all from the same kennel. I found it easy to select my first and second choice, but deciding upon my third choice was harder.
The most outstanding dog of the Breed was Ch Toveri Panu, owned by the Gattis and bred by the Cavills, he gained CC and BOB. I was fortunate to have the pleasure to judge him at Windsor Ch Show in 1988 and what a joy I felt going over him, he was so full of quality and with super construction moved with so much style, every inch a show off. I understanding he came down from an imported line which seemed to be so successful, at Richmond 1991 he not only gained another Best of Breed, won the Hound Group and Res Best in Show, but he did so much winning I believe he ran out of judges to enter under.
"My second choice is Ch Winterreise Toveri Half A Guinea another really top winner owned by the Waltons and bred by the Cavills. I judged him a Crufts in 1980 and was delighted to award his Best of Breed. He went on to take Res Best in Hound Group and was the father of my first choice. He was another one of this kennel that came down from imported stock which had proved so successful. He looked a real stallion with not a sign of being coarse or over loaded, never putting a foot wrong, always making his presence felt in the ring, with a smart shapely head and good flow of neck. He had such a firm frame and quarters. The dog was a breed specialist's choice as well as an all-rounder's dog.
"My third choice is Ch Toveri Toby owned by the Cavills, Minns and Masters, bred by the Cavills and handled by June Minns. I judged him at Manchester Ch Show in 1983, he looked stunning that day gaining CC and Best of Breed. He is descended from the dam Ch Urheilie Pennon Pipsa of Toveri (mother of my first choice) whose blood lines have done so much for the Breed, and his sire was Half A Guinea, my second choice. He also represented the quality that was being bred by this kennel, he had so much going for him being in tip-top condition"
"All three of my choices come from Angela and Dave Cavill's Toveri kennel. Their record as breeders of Finnish Spitz means that this is not surprising. That none were/are owned by them again speaks volumes of breeders who have been generous with their blood lines.
"In my opinion the greatest ever Finnish Spitz was Ch Toveri Panu. I make no apologies for this choice even though I was honoured to be the handler for many of his considerable wins. Few Finnish Spitz have had the personality and 'star quality' to become Group winners and his success at this level speaks for itself. That he impressed so many judges from his country of origin alone gives him the right to this title.
" He excelled in outline and movement. Fit and strong he could go for miles, as light on his feet as any could wish for. His voice...well that's legendary too!!
"My second choice is his sister Ch Toveri Paivii. A feminine version out of the same mould. I've only to close my eyes and picture that head and expression.
"My third choice is Ch Toveri Talvikki, I awarded a CC to her as a youngster and could find nothing to better her at the Club Ch Show in '97 awarding her a second CC and BIS I love her soundness, shape and true breed type"
"The Finnish Spitz has been recognised by the Kennel Club for many decades, but the type of dog seen in Britain altered gradually from the late 1970s.
"The dog responsible for the most significant change was born in 1980 and is my first choice.
"In my opinion the greatest ever Finnish Spitz was Ch Toveri Panu, bred by the Cavills and owned by Mr and Mrs Gatti. He won under different judges handled by a number of different handlers and simply typified his breed by barking his way to the top! He was Best of Breed at Crufts on several occasions under specialists and all-rounders including one from Finland! His final BOB at Crufts was as a 12 year old! Needless to say he is still the Breed Record-Holder. He was a dog of enormous charm as well as being an influential stud-dog.
"In my opinion he not only changed the breed type, he also changed judges perception of the breed"
"In my opinion the greatest ever Finnish Spitz is the UK Finnish and International Ch Santesepon Pipsa. This lovely bitch was (and still is) a top dog in her own country. She came to England for a short period to Angela and David Cavill and had a star studded show career winning through to the last eight in the group six times in the six months she was shown. She is now back in her native Finland.
"In 1998 she won Best Veteran at the Helsinki World Show. She was also a previous 'World Show Winner'. I consider this lovely bitch to be an ideal blueprint for the breed. Luckily she left some progeny behind in England and I think this can only be of great benefit for the future of the breed here.
"My second choice is Ch Urheilie Pennon Pipsa of Toveri an import from Finland and a real Finnish type of the correct size and colour. She has proved herself a great asset to the Breed in the UK. A large percentage of the dogs of today have descended down from her proving the excellence of her bloodlines.
"My third choice is a tie between two lovely dogs. Ch Toveri Panu who did marvels in the show ring to bring this lovely hound breed into the public eye. Panu is still the Breed Record Holder. He won two groups and won through to Reserve Best in Show at the prestigious Richmond Ch Show. Panu ties with Ch Toveri Toby who was another big winner in the show ring. He was beautiful, full of breed type and as sound as they come. He always seemed to be in his best coat - a real eyecatcher and a great ambassador for the breed"
I wish I had seen some of the 'late great's as it is difficult to compare them to more modern dogs without seeing them in the flesh. However, I can go back 30 years and have seen the fluctuations within the Breed in that time as the old style dog has transformed into a breed which the Finns themselves find acceptable. For that reason, I realise as I look at my choice that it has fallen on dogs which are/were not only beautiful, but have also had an impact on the Breed. I cannot choose dogs carrying our prefix, so the top brood bitch (an import) cannot be mentioned.
"In my opinion the greatest ever Finnish Spitz was Cullabine Tophunter Tommi. When we arrived at Griselda Price's kennels to buy our first Finnish Spitz, this 'gentleman' came to the gate and escorted us to the house. If we had any doubts before he certainly dispelled them. Tommi's mother Nasse was imported by Mrs Shirley Simons of the Tophunter prefix and Tommy was born in quarantine in 1959. He was bought by Mrs Griselda Price who added her famous Cullabine prefix and he started a new era in the Breed. He is still the Breed's top stud dog having sired 14 Champions. I do not know why he never gained his title as he was a beautiful, elegant dog, as the photo shows. Of course in those days Mrs Price was not only campaigning many dogs, but there were fewer CCs and of course some judges were probably wary of putting up this 'different' very typical dog.
"My second choice is Ch Cullabine Kiho Tipsa bred by A Louna of the Kiho prefix in Finland. Tipsa came to Mrs Price in the UK from Finland in 1963 and became the dam of three Champions. Her import set the seal on the new era heralded by Tommi. She was a very beautiful, very feminine bitch with a lovely square outline lacking in many of the bitches at that time, and her lack of white markings helped in the at least partial eradication of that persistent fault. Although it would still be some 20 years before we could start to relax on that issue.
"My third choice is English Finnish Int Champion Santasepon Pipsa (imp) bred and owned by Erkki Santapukki and Seppo Laine. This bitch was sent to England to help improve the quality of Spitzes with an injection of Finnish blood from a new line. In her brief show period over here, she won CC and BOB virtually every time out and was always pulled out in the Group. A beautiful bitch, square, soundly constructed and feminine with a lovely character, she resumed her successful Finnish show career immediately on her return to Finland with a BIS at a general Championship Show. Her quarantine litter contained future Champions who themselves have produced Champions. She is the choice of top breed specialists in the Breed's native country.
"When one thinks of Finnish Spitz one's mind automatically turn to Toveri, a name made famous over the past twenty years by David and Angela Cavill, who during this time have broken just about every record there is to break in the book, with their successful breeding and showing of this little native bird dog of Finland. Bred in small numbers only 14 were registered for 1997, this is a breed only kept, bred and shown by a very small band of connoisseurs. There have been other great breeders who have preceded the Cavills and I know will be referred to by other Finnish Spitz breeders in this article.
"One is spoilt for choice in listing the three most important dogs in the Breed, for there are a number I have given tickets to who have gone on to give good account of themselves. However, I will have as joint firsts (if that is allowed!) the great Champion Toveri Toby that I awarded CC and BOB to at Birmingham City 1984 and who became the Breed Record Holder until being retired and Champion Toveri Paivi also bred by the Cavills, to whom I gave the ticket and BOB at the Breed Club show and she too, went on to be the Bitch Breed Record Holder at that time. Toby was jointly owned and shown by the Cavills and June Minns and perhaps the most important of his victories was being placed in the last four in the Hound Group at Crufts.
"A special place in my heart was reserved for the bitch Champion Thorfinn Thorelf, true greatness eluded her because of her late start in the show ring! First shown under me as a novice of eight years at Bath Championship Show in 1983, she won the CC and BOB, quickly to go on under Bobby James at the Welsh Kennel Club, gaining her second CC and she was crowned at the next Bath Championship show when the great Joe Braddon made her BOB. Already a veteran before she made her debut in the show ring who knows what her potential would have been as a potential breed and prizewinner had she first appeared in the ring as a youngster."
MISS E J SEEL
"The three dogs I have chosen were outstanding in their time and certainly have had the most influence on the development of the breed.
"In my opinion the greatest ever Finnish Spitz was Ch Mountjay Peter. Born in Finland in 1948, he was a very good looking dog with a very gentle nature. Mated to most of the bitches available at the time, which was very few, he started the long road back to the desired standard for the faithful few who kept the breed alive during the war.
"Pale in colour, but with a typical coat and a lovely plume to his tail, his body shape was light and elegant, in particular his movement was very good. These qualities, he passed on to his progeny, many of whom looked very like him. Unfortunately many of his offspring were shy which accentuated what was already a problem in the breed.
"My second choice is Ch Friendstaihlls Saila, born in Sweden in 1950. A very fine looking dog he won a great deal in the show ring including a best hound at WELKS. He was very dark red with a glorious glow to his coat. Tall, somewhat thickset with a good square outline, in temperament he was very much his own man. Very quickly, under his influence, the Breed become much more stable and nearer to the Breed Standard, particularly in colour. Most of all shyness quickly became a thing of the past.
"My third choice is Cullabine Tophunter Tommi. Born in Finland in 1959, he never enjoyed the show ring, he left that to his more glamorous brother Turre. Tommi was very close to the ideal, he excelled in tail placement, had small well set ears with such a typical expression. He carried on Saila's influence on the Breed, siring many champions and he put the Breed into a really strong position, ready to be enhanced by today's breeders who have done just that."
JAYNE WILSON STRINGER
"I still cannot believe that it is 40 years since I first laid eyes on a Finnish Spitz and they have held my interest ever since.
"It was at the home of Mrs Winifred Chadwich (Winjones affix), and breeder of some 17 Borzoi Champions. She also had Finnish Spitz and Schipperke. I was invited to tea many times and she took me through the finer points of her chosen breeds. The 'Finkies' appealed to me, but I had already purchased a pet Basenji which Mrs Chadwich insisted I showed and you all know the result of that!
"Mrs Griselda Price at that time really was the top breeder and she had a super dog called Ch Cullabine Aureole. It was an education to visit her home which was awash with the breed all running around as a well ordered pack. In 1962 Mrs June Minns purchased from Mrs Price a bitch by Aureole called Cullabine Jakki and whose name had added to it the affix Hellomy.
"Mrs Minns in 1964 allowed her bitch Jakki to have a litter to Mrs R O Mant's Ch Kazan of Finmark. I do not know what the arrangement was, but Mrs Mant is listed as the breeder of Ch Hellomy Doneraile. This dog appealed to me greatly, he had great presence and the most super temperament. I got to know him well and gave him Best of Breed when I judged the Breed for the first time in April 1968. Of course, there were good dogs in the meantime and some people said that he was up to size. His conformation could not be faulted.
"There have been a number of good dogs imported from Finland and one notable one was Ch Urheilu-Pennan Pipsa of Toveri brought to the UK by David and Angela Cavill. He sired Ch Toveri Panu bred by David and Angela Cavill and owned by Delores and Loris Gatti. I remember when giving him the CC and BOB in 1989 I admired his style and presence in the ring, his balanced confirmation and excellent head and expression, he was a great ambassador for the Breed.
"In 1987 at Bath Ch Chow I gave the seventh CC to Ch Toveri Tuulikki bred by David and Angela Cavill and owned by the Dalley, Cavill, Gatti partnership. From the same lines as Panu, it showed, in fact in some ways I preferred her to Panu. She had that feminine quality with a most pleasing expression and excellent conformation together with a good ring presence, most necessary in the Show ring.
"In the meantime there were still good dogs from the Cullabine Kennel and those of Finmark (Mrs Mant), Mrs Leibert and her team of Forestar Finnish Spitz should also be mentioned for her undying love of the breed.
"I have given above three names of dogs which have given me such pleasure to judge and it is to be hoped that there will be others, as I understand there are more imports in the pipeline. Certainly the Finnish breeders have sent their best to the UK and there is a sound basis for breeding. Unfortunately these days people do not have the money or space to keep large numbers of dogs and I think that to be an essential in order to see the potential of one's stock.
"Out of the three names above which do I prefer? Well they all have their outstanding qualities. Doneraille from a sentimental point of view, but first the bitch Ch Toveri Tuulikki and the other two equal second!"
"I bought my first Finnish Spitz in 1962 and owned the Breed continuously in small numbers for the next 25 years, my main breed being Shetland Sheepdogs. The Finnish Spitz is a fascinating breed, very intelligent, independent, but can be very self-willed and quite vocal. I feel it to be an advantage to have 'lived with' this particular breed when assessing them. I have had the privilege of judging all three dogs I have chosen.
"In my opinion the greatest ever Finnish Spitz was Ch Cullabine Tarik - bred and owned by Griselda Price. I judged him in 1975 when he was about three years old, and for me he was the Breed Standard in the flesh. Of ideal size and substance, he was masculine, but with no trace of coarseness, with a clean square outline and good tail set, strong muscular neck, and the best head and expression I have ever seen on a Finnish Spitz. He had the neatest of ears, dark expressive eyes, a clean lipline and was a dog with great presence enhanced by his rich red colouring.
"I had the honour of making him BIS at the Finnish Spitz Society Show - I am still looking for another 'Tarik'. Shortly after I saw him he was exported to Canada, but he did leave behind a few Champions, eg my second choice - his son.
"My second choice is Ch Winterreise Toveri Half a Guinea - bred by Dave and Angela Cavill and owned by Veronica Walton. A real glamour boy with a rich red gold coat, very similar in type and size to his sire - a sound well balanced dog with a lovely temperament . I had the pleasure of awarding him BIS and the Finnish Spitz Club Championship Show in 1979. Though only lightly shown throughout his show career he was Reserve in the Hound Group at Crufts and Windsor and he was an outstanding stud dog. The Breed owes much to 'Guinea', one of whose sons in my third choice.
"My third choice is Ch Toveri Pannu, bred by Dave and Angela Cavill, and owned by Loris and Delores Gatti.
"I first judged him as a puppy in 1981 when he did not impress me at all, whilst his litter sister 'Paivi' took BOB. However, in 1987 he was my BIS at the Finnish Spitz Society Championship Show. A slow-maturing dog, he now had the body, bone and substance I had found lacking as a youngster, and he now had a very experienced handler to keep him on his toes. A rich red dog with a superb outline, good tuck up, well set tail, pleasing in head, with keen, alert expression he just got better with age.
"Extensively shown, he went on to gain many top awards. A great ambassador for the Breed who will be remembered with affection."