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Finnish Lapphund

Quick facts

Finnish Lapphund AKC Group: Herding
Height: Male: 18 - 21 inches, Female: 16 - 19 inches
Weight: Male: 43 - 53 pounds, Female: 33 - 43 pounds
Colors: White, Black, Brown, Gray, Tan
AKC recognized in: 2011

The Finnish Lapphund was originally developed as a hunting and helper dog by the Sami, a tribe of semi-nomadic people in Lapland. Also known as the Finish Lapland Dog, Lapponian Shepherd Dog, Suomenlapinkoira, Lapinkoira, or Lappy, these dogs were used to help hunt reindeer. Over hundreds of years, as the Sami culture settled into a more sedentary life of breeding reindeer, the dogs too evolved from hunters into herding dogs that helped maintain the reindeer. With the arrival of the snowmobile, the use of these dogs for hunting, herding or maintaining reindeer gradually decreased, but the breed still remains very popular as family pets in their home country of Finland.

Around the 1940s, renewed interest in preserving the breed resulted in establishing the breed standard, which was recognized by the Finnish Kennel Club in 1945. At first, the dogs were known as Lapponian Shepherd Dogs and the breed included a shorthaired variety as well as a longhaired variety, both of which could be born in the same litter. In 1967, the two types were declared separate breeds and the longhaired dog became known as the Finnish Lapphund.


Finnish Lapphund Summary
Affection four paws
Cold Tolerance five paws
Ease of Training three paws
Energy level four paws
Exercise Requirements four paws
Friendliness : Children four paws
Friendliness: Other Animals three paws
Friendliness: Other Pets three paws
Grooming Requirements three paws
Heat Tolerance two paws
Playfulness four paws
Protection Ability two paws
Watchdog Ability five paws

The Finnish Lapphund is extremely alert, active and always ready to be part of the action, regardless of what may be going on. Bred for outdoor work around reindeer, horses and cattle, these dogs love the outdoors and appreciate any opportunity to run and explore outside any time, no matter what the weather. Because they hail from frigid arctic areas, these dogs do well outdoors no matter how cold the climate.

Like most other herding breeds, these dogs have a tremendous amount of strength and stamina and are better suited for people who enjoy backpacking, mountain biking, hiking and other outdoor activities. The Finnish Lapphund wants and needs plenty of exercise and may become restless and destructive if it does not get the opportunity to expend some of that energy. They enjoy going on long walks with their owners and engaging in all kinds of active canine sports.

The Finnish Lapphund is active, agile and noisy, all characteristics related to its heritage as a herder of reindeer. Its strong herding instinct can also be seen in the fact that this dog likes to keep its 'possessions' tightly together. Its possessions include its owners, the kids in the family and the household pets as well.

Essentially a people loving dog, the Finnish Lapphund can never be happy left out in the backyard by himself. He needs to live in the house where he can mix and mingle with other humans.

A most interesting and unusual characteristic of this dog is its strong startle reflex. This is a throwback to its many years herding reindeer. Reindeer are big and tough and do not hesitate to use their hooves as deadly weapons against dogs and wolves. Its strong startle reflex allowed the Lapphund to jump out of the way and regain his composure immediately in the event that a reindeer suddenly decided to turn on him. The Lapphund of today still shares those traits and will jump and bark incessantly at any unexpected movement or noise. With consistent, patient training you can train your pet to calm down and moderate his barking, becoming a good watchdog and family companion.

Because of its herding heritage, the Lapphund is always alert and makes an excellent watchdog. He is not protective though and is not suited to be a guard dog.

Lappies get along well with other dogs and they are good with children. Their friendly nature and immense patience often makes them the preferred choice as therapy dogs, especially for the elderly and people with disabilities. Though they are not known to be shy, they can be a bit aloof towards people they do not know.


The average lifespan of the Finnish Lapphund is 12 to 15 years.

While the Finnish Lapphund is generally a healthy dog, it is susceptable to certain health problems. These problems include:

  • Hip Dysplasia - Where the thigh bone does not fit snugly into the hip joint. This can lead to severe lameness or arthritis. A dog diagnosed with hip dysplasia should never be bred, as this is an inherited condition.
  • Elbow Dysplasia - A condition involving several developmental anomalies of the elbow joint in the dog. This keeps the three bones that make up the joint to fit together imperfectly, causing irritation and pain.
  • Cataracts - A cloudiness in the lens of the eye, with varying degrees of opacity. Symptoms vary depending on the degree of opacity.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) - A group of diseases that progress over time and eventually cause blindness in your dog. The retina either stops developing early or the receptors start degenerating early in life. This is an inherited disorder.
  • Retinal Dysplasia - An eye condition that produces small blind spots in your dogs sight, sometimes not even noticeable This is caused by round clumps or folds that form on the retinal tissue. Most cases of retinal dysplasia are hereditary.


The Finnish Lapphund require brushing once a week to remove dead hair and keep its double coat clean. During the spring and fall shedding seasons, this will have to be increased to a daily brushing.

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