Dog of the Day: Charlie the Finnish Spitz Mix

Another ‘I have no clue’ dog, but Autumn did have a clue on this one: she thinks it’s a golden retriever/collie mix, or maybe an Irish setter/collie. I have no idea. All I know is that I love this dog. He was tied to a fence along the Embark-bark-barkadero, and when I stopped to look at him he turned ‘the look’ on me. So hypnotic. Next thing I knew, I was rubbing his belly, with absolutely no memory of the intervening time.

Oh, and when I got home I discovered that all the dog treats were missing from my backpack. Which was even stranger, because I’d left my backpack at home.

Second, even more awesome, picture, after the break.

Edit: We’re now relatively sure that he’s a Finnish Spitz mix. Also, his name is Charlie, and he’s also featured hereย and here.

The words for fox in Irish are, literally, 'red dog' ('madra rua'). This must be the one they were thinking of.

The words for fox in Irish are, literally, 'red dog' ('madra rua'). This must be the one they were thinking of.

That is the patented border collie 'stare' right there. So maybe he's part border collie, not regular collie? Who knows!

That is the patented border collie 'stare' right there. So maybe he's part border collie, not regular collie? Who knows!

This entry was posted in Dog of the Day and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to Dog of the Day: Charlie the Finnish Spitz Mix

  1. Jim says:

    Unbelievably beautiful!

    • Adam Lang says:

      Isn’t he just? I see him every couple months, and I have to restrain myself from taking another hundred pictures every time. (So that this blog doesn’t become ‘Charlie and the Other Dogs of San Francisco’.)

  2. Sam says:

    My dog looks very much like Charlie!! She is gorgeous and every time I walk her, she
    is gazed at by everyone. She is a Finnish Spitz breed but has the very long fur…like Charlie. She has golden eyes and thick black eyeliner around them. She is absolutely
    beautiful and sweet. She is now 13 years of age. Her paw prints in the snow appear very much like a coyote. She loves to run and could not be contained-as a pup-until after a few unnerving events (when she was 7 months old, whereby I actually lost sight of her), found her scaling a cliff & nearly capturing a Heron’s leg…yikes! She Another time, she became very fearful when encountering a thunderstorm/lightening and because my black flat coat retriever was running loose (in a golden field) with her….I was able to see Sady first, than both and retrieve them (after two hours of searching….and one heart attack ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyhow…
    I have tales to tell for generations to come. My beautiful/spectacular Sheba!
    p.s. Thanks for sharing Charlie’s photos….he’s the first dog that I’ve seen that looks very much like her. Sheba had more black around her nose…but now it is white under her chin. Still gorgeous…after all these years!!!!!!!

    • Adam Lang says:

      Do you have any pictures of Sheba online? If so, please do leave a link, she sounds lovely. And I have to say, Charlie/Charley (I never did figure out how they spell it, but he’s also featured here and here) is one of my favorite dogs ever. I see him every few months and I always run up and say hello, and get some very calm smooches in response.

      I suggested this to someone else too, by the way, but Autumn (my girlfriend) and her family had a golden retriever which was VERY frightened by loud noises and thunder, and they got her one of these and it worked AMAZINGLY well. It would be thundering outside and they would put it on her and she’d calm right down and sit down and just look SO HAPPY.

  3. Hannah says:

    My parents have a nearly identical dog (everything but the ears, which are a bit floppier, and her eyeliner is more like Cleopatra). We’ve been curious about her breed for a while, but figured her for a Chow/Retriever mix. It wasn’t until today, while browsing my cities animal welfare site that I came across another nearly identical dog named Clifford, the exact same age. Our dog’s name was Cleo when we adopted her from the same center. I figure this cannot be coincidence, and they are probably related… And I’m a little sad that I can’t afford to adopt Clifford… But anyhoo, listed on his breed information was Finnish Spitz mix. I googled it and here I am. Most likely a pointless story to you, but I’m VERY excited about it. This breed mix makes the most gorgeous dogs I’ve ever seen.

    • Adam Lang says:

      No story with Charlie in it is pointless. I have run across Charlie probably thirty or forty times since I took these pictures, and I get excited every time. If you have a dog that’s anything like Charlie, then you are one lucky person.

  4. Nathan says:

    This looks just like my girl Scarlet. I’ve always wondered what she was in terms of breed. She’s extremely friendly and protective over me. Take a look and let me know if you think she’s the same.

    • Adam Lang says:

      I think she might be a fair bit smaller than Charlie (who is almost as big as a golden retriever). In fact, although it’s pretty hard to make out any details from that picture, I think she might look quite a bit like the dog of a friend of ours, Watson. (Note: in all those pictures, Watson’s ears are folded down. But he can flip them straight up whenever he wants to. It is amazingly goofy.)

      We think Watson might be a long-haired Chihuahua/long-haired dachshund mix, but there’s also a good chance that he might be something mixed with Nova Scotia duck-tolling retriever.

  5. Karen Horwitz says:

    I rarely see a dog that resembles my dog until I saw Charlie. I’ve always wondered what mix of breeds she is. We’ve been told that Ruby could be a bit of any of these breeds: Sheltie, Collie, English Shepherd, ‘Toller, Spaniel, Chow and now Finnish Spitz from seeing Charlie. Her thick reddish coat, canine eyeliner and her black tipped “earrings” are what are most distinctive about her. She is quite the mixed up mutt. She is smart, sweet and likes to herd other dogs.

  6. Karen Horwitz says:

    /Users/karenhorwitz/Desktop/Photos/Ruby Photos/DSC_0084.JPG

    • Adam Lang says:

      Unfortunately, that’s just some text describing where the photo is on your own hard drive… not very useful unless I have your computer!

      You can upload your image to, though, and then post a link to it here. It’s pretty easy to do: just go to and click the ‘Upload Images’ button right at the absolute top of the page, and follow the instructions.

  7. Jody D says:

    Huh! Seems to resemble our Zeke quite a bit! Whatcha think?

    • Adam Lang says:

      Quite a bit, yep, apart from the ears.

      Do you know what Zeke is? He totally looks like a golden mix to me, but I can’t quite place with what. How much does he weigh?

      • Jody D says:

        We don’t know for sure what he is. When we got him from the shelter we were told Golden Retriever/Border Collie/Chow mix. He looks alot like a Golden, herds like a Border and has a mottled tongue and is kind of a “one person dog” like a Chow. He weighs around 50-55 lbs and is about 23″ at the shoulders (our American Golden is significantly bigger at around 75 lbs and 25″ at her shoulders). Zeke’s ears are kinda floppy like a Border and he can get one pointed up with the other either flopping over or straight out. I see that look on Border Collies quite often. It sure would be interesting to do a DNA test. But I’d rather donate that money to a rescue and it doesn’t really matter, I couldn’t love him any more than I do.

  8. jim again says:

    Loving these photos of Charlie and readers’ longhaired red mixes from all over. Here’s mine as a youth:

    And a few years later:

    Now at 12 her face and eyelashes are completely white, but she still has her Cleopatra eyeliner. She lost her long black ear hair but gained curls and thicker hair on neck and belly and legs.

    She could be anything but loves water and has some physical traits of a golden retriever. Other possibilities could be boxer (color), staffie (eyes, people personality, legs slightly short), ridgeback (eyes, color). Can’t think of a combination that results in the stand-up ears though.

    Tollers, spitzes, and chows are as rare as hens’ teeth in our city so more likely to be a very mixed-up mix of common breeds.

    Other people have suggested border collie, kelpie, corgi. But the shape of the face (shortish muzzle not tapering down at end, dent in forehead like a retriever, shape of actual nose), greying pattern (inverted heart on the face like a retriever), shape of eyes (not so rounded like a retriever or collie), shape of body (short back, fat stored up top like a water dog, not rangy), intelligence (average! no interest in fetching), don’t really give you a whiff of the collie close up. Or of the distinctive kelpie/heeler face and body. It’s a funny thing to try and ID your dog’s breeds. Suggestions from dog connoisseurs gratefully received!

    • Adam Lang says:

      She’s gorgeous! And I agree, I’m definitely seeing golden retriever in there, especially in the first picture. And the slight ear floppage is just enough to make me think that she’s probably half golden and the ears mostly come from the other half.

      There’s no way there’s corgi in there, probably not even 1/4. Border collie is possible, and actually I have seen a very few with fully erect ears and the ear fuzz kind of looked like hers. However, I find it somewhat hard to believe that a border collie/golden mix would have ears that looked like that. So if there is some border collie there’s probably something else as well. Perhaps a quarter German shepherd, or greyhound.

      Any combination of border collie, golden, and GSD would probably be super-smart. I dunno, that’s a tough one. I will tell you, though, that your pup has the recessive red gene, almost certainly, which means that both parents had that gene. It’s not a terribly common gene in most breeds, but it’s ubiquitous in the golden retriever. So I’d tend to guess that both of your pup’s parents were at least half golden.

      Ever think of trying one of the dog breed genetic tests? They’re not super-accurate but they could at least give you something to think about.

      • Jim (=Emma) says:

        Thanks so much for your opinion! Glad you can’t see corgi – I couldn’t either. Retrievers in NZ are almost all of the very pale type, but maybe still have the red genes? I’m going to send off a DNA test to an Australian company as I think it will be more accurate for markers for the strains of the common breeds in NZ (not that I know much about it!). I have to pick the company carefully because my dog died a month ago so I only have one DNA cheek swab thingy in the freezer. I love seeing these photos of similar dogs (and reading about their traits) because I’ll be so sad when I get to the end of digging out my finite number of photos so it’s like seeing a new photo of a little bit of her.

        If anyone has a similar dog and interested in checking her out for comparison my instagram is She’s old in those photos and has changed a lot over the years but I will keep posting all-ages photos. I could maybe see Staffy when young but not so much in later years. She went blind (corneal epithelial degeneration) and deaf but was still very happy and independent. She was a bit of a dummy, but cuddly, emotional, fearless, stubborn, stoical, water-loving, and would yank my hand off the gearstick with her paw for pats. Like Amber below, I also would love to have known what my dog looked like as a puppy and sometimes google red puppies to get an idea!

        • Adam Lang says:

          Awww! I’m so sorry to hear that she’s gone, she sounds like she was an amazing dog.

          The recessive red gene, if the dog gets two of them, just means that any black hair that would be on the dog is instead red (which can be a deep red or a very light red depending on other factors.) So, for example, compare Melvin to Rocky: Melvin inherited two copies of the recessive red gene, so all the black fur is red. If the dog wouldn’t have any black fur anyway, the gene does nothing. And if the genetics of the dog mean that the color of ‘red’ fur that it would have is very, very light blond, then that’s what it would get instead of black.

          Another example (I KNOW I have an example of this on my site as well, but I can’t find it!) is the golden retriever cross that is all black, even when the dog that it is crossed with never comes in all black. For example, that looks to me like a border collie golden mix. The reason it would be all black is because the golden, ‘behind’ its golden ‘red’ color, has all the genetics for black, but it also has two copies of recessive red. It only passes one of those on to its child, but it passes all of the black color genes (which are sort of a ‘default’ in some ways) and the child turns out black.

          Dog coat genetics are really neat. (Not quite as complicated and cool as cat color genetics, though.)

  9. Don says:

    I have the same type of dog from a rescue shelter. Nobody knows her breed….she’s so very loving, and insticts are very close to that of what I read here… my vet can’t say what she is concerning her mix. She had a litter before I took her in. Great dog all around!!! Soooi beautiful and loving.

    • Adam Lang says:

      You’re so lucky. Charlie is one of my favorite dogs ever. Like, I’ve posted thousands, literally thousands of dogs, and Charlie’s one of the ones I think about most.

      Any pictures of your pup online? Feel free to leave some links in the comments.

  10. I love this post and the comments. Charlie looks a lot like my boy, Basil. He’s not as red but they seem to be the same size (50-55lbs) and all of the “accent” hair (under the ears, back of the legs, tail, butt) are the same. My guess is retriever and spitz. I just received my doggie DNA test in the mail, so after having him almost 9 years I’ll finally have some kind of clue.
    As far as his demeanor for comparison.. he’s super sweet and extremely smart/sly (he figured out how to turn my touch lamp on), loves swimming, people, and other dogs (plays hard), but kind of ignores kids and is a jerk to cats. He’s pretty quiet, only barking at cats or rare knocks that startle him. He’s very fast and loves freedom above all when he escapes, he won’t come back for treats. When he gets out I have to run FROM him because it’s a game, but he always keeps his eyes on mama and always comes back home once he’s explored. He’s totally me in dog form, definitely my spirit animal. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Here’s a pic of him from my Instagram, where you can dig for plenty more if you want:

    • Adam Lang says:

      Oh, man, he’s gorgeous. And the trick with the running-away-to-catch-the-dog is a classic one. I’ve used it a couple times, and the looks you get when the dog catches you and then you end up play-wrestling with him are worth the price of admission right there.

      Please do leave the doggie-dna results here, but take them with a grain of salt, because even with popular breeds they’re only between 50 and 75 percent accurate, and a lot of breeds they just don’t include at all.

      • I got the Wisdom Panel DNA results back and they say one parent was likely Border Collie/Chow/German Shepherd/and a “mix” they’re not sure of and the other was Chow/Siberian Husky/and another random “mix”. The mixes were defined as probably some sporting breeds like Golden Retriever, and Terrier breeds. They predicted a dog of Basil’s mix was between 51 – 77lbs, so he’s on the low end of that. I wonder if Finnish Spitz is a breed they test for? AKC rated it 183th most popular breed lol. I read that Siberian Husky is part of the lineage so maybe that’s why it’s in the DNA panel.
        I don’t really feel super satisfied by the result but not really disappointed either. I’ve wanted to have a DNA test done on him for the past 9 years though, so here it is. ๐Ÿ™‚
        Since I got him when he was 1-2yrs, I’d be curious to see if anyone who owns a dog that looks like him has any “baby pics”. I bet they were cute pups..

        • Adam Lang says:

          I have to say, that actually sounds like a pretty plausible mix to me, from the looks of your pup. I’d expect more purple on the tongue, but otherwise the mix is pretty reasonable for a dog that looks like that.

          On the other hand… it’s not likely that they would have Finnish spitz in their toolkit, and husky is a spitz breed, and the chow is sort of a spitz. So it could well be that there’s some Finnish spitz in there, and that looks like one of the other spitz breeds to them.

          If I run across any others like him I will totally see if I can get some baby pictures!

  11. sam says:

    Wow! I have the same response as everyone else. Charlie looks just like my baby bear! I’ve never seen any dog close to him. Bear was a craigslist dog that my dad and me rescued from going to the pound. A younger couple found him wondering the streets in glassport in the middle of winter. Bear’s tail is chopped possibly from being raised to fight, he xan jump 4 feet off the ground, he’s very affectionate and loves to play, i call him my benjamin button because he’s 9 and a half and acts like a pup but when we got him he didn’t play with toys or roll around on his back like he does now haha he has black eyeliner Cleopatra eyes and his ears stick straight up, his fur is brown red tan and a little white now from age. People have told me he looks like a shepherd chow mix, he has black spots on his tongue. I never did a test to find out what breed he is because i never really cared that much.. He’s a dog and he’s my very best friend and that’s all that matters. Thanks for sharing all these wonderful stories and here’s a picture of my buck-a-boo!

    • Adam Lang says:

      Oh wow. He is gorgeous! I have to say he looks a lot like a golden retriever border collie, possibly with some chow in him too. But yeah, whatever he is, I’d take one in a heartbeat. Both he and Charlie are totally awesome.

      • sam says:

        Thank you! He’s one of the best trained dogs I’ve ever had. I would love to have another if i knew what he was haha and oddly enough he rarely barks!

  12. Brody C McHaffey says:

    Looks just like my dog her name is Cece and che is a golden sheltie ,and has been the greatest dog.

    • Adam Lang says:

      Oh wow! Sure does look a lot like Charlie. And I love that second picture, where the eyes say ‘help I am pinned to the ground!’ and the tail says ‘and I love it!’

  13. Kelly Brandt says:

    He looks like my Ginger girl. She passed earlier this month and all I can do is look for picture of other dogs like her. I hope one day I can find another dog as special as her. I am convinced she is a Finnish Spitz mix – possible Finnish & Border Collie? Who knows – all I can say is I have had a lot of dogs in my lifetime but none quite like her.

    • Adam Lang says:

      Oh, wow. That is one of the few dogs I’ve ever seen who I think is every bit as gorgeous as Charlie. That soulful stare, and that gorgeous fur…

      • Kelly Brandt says:

        Thank you. She truly was gorgeous. The top icture of Charlie looks exactly like her. His eyes are a different color – hers were darker – but otherwise – nearly identical. โค๏ธ

  14. Marie says:

    My dog is the exact replica of your dog!!! Unbelievable !!! Sheโ€™s a mix breed

    • Adam Lang says:

      We want pictures! Do you have any online? If so, put links to them in a comment. If not, is a good place to go to upload pictures. And then get links and put them in a comment!

  15. Meagan says:

    Okay, I know this post is now ten years old, but WOW my Ellie looks so much like Charlie! She is on the smaller side (35lbs), and has a doublecoat. I was told she looks like an Icelandic Sheepdog, and everyone we see comments on how much she looks like a fox.

    • Adam Lang says:

      Oh my gosh you are so right! They could be twins! And what a gorgeous dog. Charlie was always one of my favorites, even though I am not officially allowed to have favorites since ALL the Dogs of San Francisco are awesome. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Sanjay says:

    Is charlie a middle size dog ? Charlie looks like my dog Bella …… I’ve been wondering what breed my dog would be …. It looks exactly like charlie but the colour is gold.

    • Adam Lang says:

      That depends on what you consider to be ‘middle-sized’. Charlie is about the size of a medium-sized golden retriever, maybe a titch smaller.

      Post some pictures online and put links in a comment here and Autumn and I will take a look, we might be able to help you out!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *