AKC Dog Breeds: Finnish Lapphund

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Herding Group
Height: 16-21 inches   Weight: 44-47 pounds  Color: Black, Sable, Tan, White, Brown, Golden; Markings Of Cream, Gray, Black, White, Tan

The Finnish Lapphund is a hardy, easy going, medium-size breed of Spitz type. Traditionally it has been used for herding reindeer, but has also gained wide popularity as a companion animal. Although it is one of the most popular dog breeds in its native country, Finland, it is not very numerous outside of Scandinavia. There are two lines of the breed: the original herding line and nowadays more popular exhibition line. The Finnish Lapphund is also known as Lapinkoira. The Finnish Lapphund is an old breed believed to be around since the 7000 BC based from various archeological cave paintings and writings showing the presence of Arctic spit breeds during those periods. It was believed that they were originally a guarding/hunting breed, able to protect the reindeer herd and same time hunt for food. With further domestication, the Saami found that these Arctic dogs are quite intelligent and trainable for herding purposes.

General Appearance

The Finnish Lapphund is strongly built, of medium size, sturdy and hardy. They possess a bright, intelligent expression and a striking appearance. The breed is relatively a well balanced dog of small to medium size with a strong base and muscle. The average female Lapphund is smaller from its male counterpart and character wise is more biddable. He is a genuine arctic spitz with long, straight and coarse coat, and a thick dense downy undercoat, commonly categorized as a "double coat.” The harshness of its coat needs minimal maintenance and is quite water resistant. Features that proves valuable in the harsh climates of the Arctic. The ears which are small to medium sized are either pricked (erect), or have folded tips and are well furnished with hair inside. All colors are allowed as long as one basic primary color is dominant with colors other than the main color occurring in the head, neck, chest or the underside of the body. Another interesting feature of the lapphund is the presence of spectacles, the light hair coloring around the eyes that gives an impression of the dog wearing "eyeglasses".


The Finnish Lapphund is a very intelligent and active breed. Finnish Lapphunds take well to training due to their extreme intelligence. Some owners and fanciers claim that "Lappies" even have the ability to think through actions first. Although small in number worldwide, a noticeable number of Finnish Lapphunds have excelled in activities such as obedience trials, agility, herding trials, and pet therapy. The Finnish Lapphund breed is loyal, devoted, and calm. They are excellent with children, dogs, and other household pets. The Finnish Lapphund is wary and suspicious of strangers and will bark to alert their family. They are non-aggressive, affectionate, courageous, and exuberant. The Finnish Lapphund is neither shy nor aggressive, quite intelligent, and friendly toward people and other dogs. At the same time, he possesses an independent streak. Mild mannered and eager to please, he exhibits a strong sense of loyalty to its family. Sometimes, one wonders if he sees his family as reindeer herd, a flock to be tended. Being particularly social dogs, they prefer to be an integral part of the family and do not make good outdoor-only pets. Lappies are steady of temperament and will sound the alert; however, they are not protective dogs. As with many herding and working dogs, the biddable nature and intelligence of the Finnish Lapphund translates to a dog that excels in obedience, agility and other dog sports and their steady temperament and sweet, social nature make them ideal therapy dogs.


Regular brushing is required of the Finnish Lapphund breed. Special attention should be given to the coat during periods of heavy shedding.  The double coated dog do shed at least once a year (twice or more for females). Maintenance of the coat is not labor and time intensive, regular brushing and occasional baths are fairly sufficient. Care should still be observed when combing out dead hair to avoid skin diseases.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy

The Finnish Lapphund is one of the healthiest dog breeds. But like most purebreds some lines do carry genetic diseases. A small percentage of the Lapphunds have PRA or HC, and very few hip dysplasia cases are found. They do best in colder climates. It is widely acknowledged that the average lifespan is between 12-15 years for the Finnish Lapphund.

Activity Level
The breed makes the ideal outdoor companion. It is active, cold-proof, and water-proof, and will gladly accompany people on walking or running trips. It is one of two breeds permitted to live outdoors in Finland. This highly active breed requires an active owner. Finnish Lapphund's do best in a large securely fenced yard or a rural setting with room to roam and a job to do. The Finnish Lapphund excels in agility, obedience, fly-ball, search and rescue, and as therapy dogs.


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