long and profuse coat. It was traditionally used to herd reindeer and is one of the most popular dog breeds in its native origin of Finland. The Finnish Lapphund is described as a brave but friendly breed. It has a distinctive erect or semi-erect mobile ears, dark elegant nose and eye rims, and a short muzzle. It also features oval-shaped dark brown eyes with soft and friendly expression, well-arched feet covered with thick hair, and a highly set, medium length tail covered with profuse long hair which is carried curved over the back or side when moving as is typical of all Spitz-type dogs. The profuse double coat is made of soft and dense undercoat with long, coarse and straight outer coat. Males features a more abundant mane than females. Distinct markings are visible on the face, neck, chest, legs, tail, and belly. One of the distinct facial markings is the ring of lighter coloured hair around the eyes of the dog that resembles “spectacles”. The breed comes in all coat colours except merle. The Finnish Lapphund’s ideal height is 49cm for dogs and 44cm for bitches and a weight range between 15kg and 24kg.
The Finnish Lapphund was originally bred by the Sames in the Nordic countries to herd reindeer. For centuries, the indigenous Sami people have bred dogs for the sole purpose of herding but no one exactly knows when the Sami people first bred this reindeer herder. These dogs have typically long bodies with long profuse coats and straight tails that would curl over the back when the dog is active. These dogs were trustworthy, independent, and courageous, capable of defending their flock and themselves when necessary. Archaeological studies have shown that these native Spitz-type dogs of the Lapps were similar to the type seen today. Prior to the advent of the Second World War, the Norwegians and the Swedish were among the first to standardized the breed of the Lapps. In Finland, the first breed standards were written in 1945 just following the end of the World War 2 when the breed was called the Lappish Herder or Kukonharjunlainen. The breed standard was confirmed in 1975 and subsequently revised in 1982 and 1987.
This breed is cheerful, courageous, friendly, and lively with a tendency to herd. It is an intelligent and faithful breed which makes for an excellent household companion. It is highly alert and will typically bark at unfamiliar people and unknown circumstances which makes it an excellent watchdog. It is resistant to extreme cold which make it an ideal outdoor companion during the winter season and will gladly join the family on walking, running, or playing activities. With that being said, it will not do well in warm weather conditions and may suffer from heat stroke. It has a slight stubborn streak but proper training can help mitigate this temperament.
This highly intelligent breed takes well to training with an uncanny ability to think through actions. It can excel in various dog sports such as dog agility, obedience trials, mushing, Rally obedience, flyball, tracking, showmanship events, and herding. Its affectionate and friendly nature makes it also a good dog to train as a therapy dog for sick people and the elderly. However, being originally bred as a reindeer herder, some Finnish Lapphunds have a tendency to bark a lot but proper training can help control this behaviour.
The Finnish Lapphund has a profuse double coat that only requires a modest amount of grooming to keep it in top condition. This waterproof coat is resistant to extreme cold and weekly brushing all-year-round will keep it healthy, except during shedding seasons where daily grooming is recommended to rid the coat of dead hairs.
The Finnish Lapphund is a hardy and healthy breed with an average lifespan between 12 and 14 years, although there are some documented dogs that lived longer than the average. Some of the known medical predispositions that affects the breed are Generalized Progressive Retinal Atrophy (GPRA) and cataracts. GPRA is a progressive disease of the eye, which, when left untreated can cause permanent loss of vision. It typically appears between the ages of 1 and 8 years and is genetically passed from the parents to the offspring. Hereditary cataracts also affect a significant portion of Finnish Lapphunds in Finland, although quite a small number of dogs are affected in the UK. Canine hip dysplasia is also known to affect other dogs but the incidence is quite low.
As a true working dog, the Finnish Lapphund is an active breed that requires daily exercises that are challenging both physically and mentally to prevent him from developing destructive behaviour such as chewing and excessive barking. It will appreciate an opportunity to run freely and explore the outdoors. It will gladly go for a long walk with its owner and can engage its handler in any type of active canine sports for hours on end. Like other working dogs, particularly the herding type, the Finnish Lapphund has a tremendous amount of energy and stamina and is a perfect companion for active owners who like running, hiking, mountain biking, and other outdoor activities. It is not a recommended pet for a city dweller or to someone who works in an office all day.
The Finnish Lapphund is an ideal pet companion to a family with small children as it can tolerate small children. It adapts extremely well to a family life and is very responsive to commands and has a gentle nature with children and other immediate members of the family. It is a very friendly breed and can get along quite well with other dogs. Often, it will run away from any threatening situations and is not the typical breed to pick a fight.