Finnish Lapphund

If there is one breed you have to put in charge of reindeer, the Finnish Lapphund would be the ideal dog for the job. In fact, it was herding reindeer that put this medium size Northern Finland breed on the map.

As more people find out about this mystical breed, it is the Saami people, who know best why the Finnish Lapphund is such a sacred dog.

Keen and kind with a sweet and caring disposition. Moreover, the Lappie is a lover of people and an ultimate family dog.

So what makes this breed such a great family find?

Here is what you need to know about the Finnish Lapphund.

History

There isn’t a lot of history outside of modern Finland, Sweden and portions of Russia. In fact, the breed’s main history belies with a certain semi-nomadic group, the Saami people. The Saami people are from Lapland. And many centuries ago, according to legend, the tribe would use the breed as hunting dogs against deer or reindeer. 

The Finnish Lapphund and its ancestry possibly dates as far back as 7000 BC. Lapponian Dog remains have been found by scientist to further advocate this claim. Furthermore, historians claim that certain drawings in caves resemble or describe a breed similar to today’s Finnish Lapphund. 

We do know that the breed originates in the northern region of Finland, Sweden and portions of Russia. However, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of definitive documents as to when the breed specifically appears in that region.

Once the Saami people began to settle the breed became more of a herding dog. Instead of hunting, the Finnish Lapphund was in charge of keeping the reindeer moving. This role the breed did successfully as well.

In the late 1800’s, the first Finland dog show began showing the Finnish Lapphund. At that time, the breed went under the name Lappish Shepherd Dog. Once fanciers caught wind of the breed, a spike in interest towards the breed happened.

Yet times were changing, snowmobiles and technology made things easier on people. The old Lappish Shepherd Dog began losing its appeal. However, Lapphund enthusiasts didn’t want to see the breed disappear. A distemper epidemic nearly cost the breed its existence but luckily a few breeders persistently kept on with developing the breed.

During the 1940’s, a consolidation of kennels brought together the Finnish Kennel Club. In 1945, under the name Lapponian Shepherd Dog, the breed was given FKC recognition. In that time, an adoption of the Lapponian Shepherd Dog was put into place. Breeders did have concerns about the integrity and sought the original dogs from the Saami tribe. 

There was an introduction of two types beginning in the 1960’s. Short and long coat varieties. However, in 1967, the breed would get a new standard and name. The name, Finnish Lapphund. The shorter coat version would become the Lapponian Herder.

Many speculate that there is a possibility that the Finnish Lapphund went to the United States much earlier than the 1980’s. Yet, there is no solid proof to indicate that is the case. Instead, the only real proof point to the breed appearing around 1987. It would take some time before the breed would get a standard or recognition in the United States.

Finally, in 2008,  the American Kennel Club did allow the breed to compete in events for the Miscellaneous Class. Three years later, the Finnish Lapphund would finally get recognition. Today, the breed has recognition in most of the major kennel clubs including: FCI, ANKC, AKC, UKC, NZKC and CKC. 

In 1993, according to the breed’s club in Finland, the breed’s name would change from Lapphund to Finnish Lapponian Dog. 

The Finnish Lapphund has two different fates. In the United States, the breed is the 173rd most popular breed in AKC’s rankings. However, their registration numbers continue to grow and make them one of the more popular breeds in Finland. Today, the breed can still be found herding and tracking down reindeer. Although, the breed is mainly a companion dog throughout the world.

Size

The Finnish Lapphund is a medium size breed. According to the standards put forth by the American Kennel Club, a male should between 18 to 21 inches. A female should range between 16 to 19 inches.

In regards to weight, both shall weigh between 33 to 53 pounds.

Personality and Temperament

The Finnish Lapphund makes a wonderful watchdog but really a lousy guard dog. They are alert, active and will vocally signal to their master that something may be happening. However, it is this breed’s gentle disposition that makes them less than practical guards.

Very eager to please their master, the Lapphund is submissive with their people. They do tend to bark quite a bit, and use it to their advantage especially at work. In fact, it was their barking that would allow the tribal people to distinguish dog from wolf. 

At times, the breed can be a bit stubborn and independent. They do pick up on things rather quickly and do love to learn. This is a breed that can excel in most canine sports. They love agility, obedience, luring and coursing. Herding is still a task that the breed loves to do. The Finnish Lapphund is seeking a role or job. More importantly, however, they love to be with their family. 

Children will adore the breed and vice versa. This is breed that is very patient and understanding. They will not escalate a situation but rather walk away. The Finnish Lapphund is a people pleaser first, which explains their growing popularity in their home country. 

All in all, this isn’t a hyper breed but they are very playful. You can have smaller children around the dog, but you should caution. They do have herding instincts and this may be problematic, if they breed doesn’t separate herding from playing. Faithful, reliable and charming, the Finnish Lapphund is a delight to have in the family. Perhaps, their tribal mentality is from their tribal experience.

Health

Their clubs and breeders call the Lapphund a generally healthy breed. On average, the dog will live between 12 to 15 years. Of course, if you buy a Finnish Lapphund, you should only make a purchase from a reputable breeder. This breeder needs to be able to show you the proper documentation you’ll need for particular health clearances. Coupling that with regular visits to the veterinarian and your dog will have a better chance at living a long and fulfilling life.

A malformation of the hip joint or Hip Dysplasia, which large breeds generally suffer from can be seen in this breed. Specifically, the dysplastic rate for the Finnish Lapphund is 10.6%. However, that is rather high when you consider only 110 dogs were a part of the survey from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. That ranks them at 110th around the Tibetan Spaniel.

Elbow Dysplasia can be found with the breed as well. Typically, the onset timeframe for a dog to suffer from this condition is around four to ten months. This breed ranks 74th among the Basenji and Border Terrier with a 3.4% rate. This is one of the most common causes of pain in the elbow as well as lameness. It is brought on by malformation or abnormal growth in the elbow.

When the knee slips out of place or dislocates, then the dog is suffering from Patellar Luxation. This will cause some rubbing, which will result in agitation and other ACL issues. The Finnish Lapphund ranks 80th with a low risk of 1.6% rate.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy and Cataracts are found within the Finnish Lapphund. Each condition has consequences on the dog’s vision.

Degenerative Myelopathy, which is a progressive spinal cord disease often found in older dogs leading to atexia and causing issues with the central nervous system can be seen in this breed. 

Finally, type 2 Pompes Disease, a disorder due to a deficiency of a particular enzyme has been found to affect this breed. Muscular weakness, vomiting and cardiac complications are common symptoms of this disease. It is fatal for dogs and most die before they even reach two years old.

Care

Although you don’t need to go crazy exercising the breed, the Finnish Lapphund should get regular exercise. Whether that is two short walks per day or one long walk. This is a breed that does better when they have a task or job. They need to be a part of the family. This is a breed that doesn’t like a bunch of separation. That can lead to destructive behavior out of anxiety or boredom.

Early socialization and training is a must with this kind of breed. They are a herding dog, which means certain herding traits may arise. This could be a problem with smaller children and people who have little experience with dogs. Reinforcing training in a positive fashion will go a long way for the Finnish Lapphund. It also helps to break up repitition and present new challenges for the breed.

They should have a house with a comfortable size yard. This will allow them to get the proper amount of outdoor activity they need to be happy. 

Trimming their nails and checking their ear regularly will help prevent unnecessary infection. You should only need to bathe once in a while, as the breed doesn’t omit foul odors on their coat.

Feeding

If you are raising the Finnish Lapphund to be a herding dog, then a high quality diet is a must. Meat should be the first ingredient. Chicken, beef, fish, veggies and fruit will help maintain a healthy balance of a diet this breed needs. 

Entertain the idea of Omega 3 and Omega 6, as well as Glucosamine, which will help the breed with their coat, heart, and joints. If they are active, there will be a strain on their joints. Calories are important as well. If you have a active dog or modern working dog between 33 to 53 pounds, then 1300 to 2300 calories per day will suffice their needs. An average activity rate of the same weight group will need less at about 960 to 1601 calories per day.

Most people who own a Finnish Lapphund seem to agree with 2 to 3 cups of food per day. You can reduce the chances of Bloat when you feed them multiple times a day instead of once. 

As always, you should provide your Finnish Lapphund with fresh drinking water.

Coat

A Finnish Lapphund has a double coat, that likes to shed heavily twice a year. You can expect to groom them on a routine basis. In fact, if you do weekly brushing you’ll greatly reduce dead hairs and encourage healthier growth. Also, you’ll reduce the amount of matting that exists at times especially around their ears. Most owners suggest brushing two to three times per week to help with matting.

According to the breed standard put forward by the American Kennel Club, the following colors are acceptable for the Finnish Lapphund: Black, blonde, brown, cream, wolf sable, and tan.

There are also six acceptable markings: Black mask, domino, tan points, tri color markings, white, white and tan markings.

Fun Finnish Lapphund Facts

  • The Finnish Lapphund is a cross between a female wolf dog and a male hybrid dog that is from the native land of Lapland.
  • This was the 173rd breed in AKC history.

Closing Words

Even though they are new with regards to standard, the Finnish Lapphund comes from an old spitz type family tree. They have a long history of herding in harsh, cold weather. And surely, their sweet charm and loving personality has made them favorites in their country of origin.

As their popularity grows, people will grow more custom to the great traits the breed posseses. A complete family dog, with a resilient and hard working herding mentality.