Finnish Lapphund (Suomenlapinkoira)

Country of origin:
Height (cm):
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Life span (years):
any; basic colour must be dominant
Hair length:
Recognized by:
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Good with kids:
Pros Cons
  • forms equally strong bonds with all family members
  • loves children
  • great herder and watchdog
  • excellent companion
  • heavy shedder
  • requires a lot of daily exercises
  • doesn't suit for living in a small apartment

The Finnish Lapphund is a nimble average-size Spitz-type dog, which initially appeared in the Northern parts of Finland. It served as an indispensable companion for the Sami folk from time immemorial and it was highly treasured for its versatility and pleasant nature. Nowadays the breed is usually placed in the top ten most preferable companion dogs in its homeland.

The Finnish Lapphund descended directly from the Spitz-type dogs that inhabited Northern Scandinavia for at least 6 000 years. These dogs were extremely useful for local tribes, which are known as the Sami people. This folk lived primarily as hunter-gatherers and they didn’t quite settled until well after X A.D. They used the forefathers of the Finnish Lapphund to hunt reindeer, bear, moose, and other large animals but these dogs also were highly effective as guardians of temporary camps. Gradually the indigenous people started to herd the reindeer, which they had formerly killed in a hunt. The Sami breeders were determined to develop specific talents in the dog, which would be favourable for its role as a herder. The resulting dog was endowed with excellent endurance and quick-wittedness and was able to work in some of the toughest environment in the world.

The purity of the Finnish Lapphund remained intact until the XVI and XVII centuries since the Sami people avoided contacts with other nationalities as much as possible. Nevertheless the breed later experienced very little influence from foreign dogs at least as long as the majority of indigenous people preferred to live as semi-nomadic herders and used their dogs solely for working purposes. This situation began to change by the 30s of the XX century when such modern inventions as snowmobiles and railroads were introduced to these isolated territories. Foreign breeds were imported to the region in quantity and brought some serious illnesses with them. The Finnish Lapphund was unprotected by innate immunity from these infections and huge number of dogs was mowed down by several outbreaks of distemper and other types of illnesses.

The Finnish Lapphund would have died out entirely if some Swedish and Finnish breeders hadn’t taken active part in the fate of this dog. In the 30s of the XX century they combed the whole country in an attempt to find pure-blooded and high-quality specimens for their breeding program. The breeders divided into three groups each of which gave preference to some definite characteristics of the Sami dogs. Eventually they drew to a conclusion about a necessity of a common standard for the Finnish Lapphound. By 1966 it became evident that two distinct varieties of the coat existed in the breed so two unique breeds were officially registered by the Finnish Kennel Club. Thus the dog with longer coat was granted its current name, the Finnish Lapphund.

Nowadays the breed primarily enjoys life of a good-natured and affectionate family companion and it is very popular in this role in Scandinavian countries. Although the Finnish Lapphund is extremely rare outside this region it has the recognition of two most reputable kennel clubs. The United Kennel Club (UKC) fully acknowledged the breed in 1988 and the recognition of the American Kennel Club (AKC) followed in 2011.

The Finnish Lapphund is an amiable and lively dog, which craves for attention and caress of its owner. Despite the fact that some specimens can be rather discreet in demonstration of their feelings most dogs develop truly close connection with the people they love. Moreover this breed is prone to establish equally tight bonds with all family members. The Finnish Lapphund gets on exceptionally well with children and actually greatly prefers their company. Undoubtedly it needs to learn basic manners in order to treat a child with appropriate carefulness and patience.

The Finnish Lapphund is usually very open to new acquaintances and has reputation of inappropriate greeter. This dog does require socialisation around unfamiliar people otherwise it’s apt to become unreasonably anxious or timid in their presence. It can make a really capable watchdog, which will warn its owner about a newcomer in the house timely and reliably. This friendly breed will most probably fail as a guard dog because it would rather happily greet an intruder than come into a conflict.

The matters don’t stand so well as far as the communication of the Finnish Lapphund with other canine concerns. Male specimens are notable for aggressiveness towards other dogs of the same sex. So it would be wise to keep male Finnish Lapphund with only a female dog. On the whole the breed is tolerable to non-canine animals though some specimens possess quite a powerful prey drive and may harass street cats and other species. It’s most likely that this dog will treat a home cat respectfully if they have been living together since its puppyhood.

Health Problems
The most common problems for the breed include:

• eyes problems;
• canine hip dysplasia;
• elbow dysplasia.


The long coat of the Finnish Lapphund requires moderate amount of care. Naturally it should be brushed every two or three days. In summer season it’s much more convenient to have this dog regularly shaved and this procedure can be easily done by the owner himself. The breed should be bathed infrequently and just when it’s completely necessary. The Finnish Lapphund sheds yearlong. The amount of shedding greatly increases when the season changes and the dog completely looses its undercoat.

The Finnish Lapphund is rather keen on learning so its training won’t cause much difficulty. The dog likes to please its owner and it’s able to achieve outstanding success in almost any kind of canine sport, including obedience, agility, and Frisbee. However it’s not as biddable as the Labrador Retriever and requires strong and assertive trainer in order to fulfil its potential to the maximum. Furthermore some individual dogs can be really stubborn and sometimes even plainly wilful.

The Finnish Lapphund responds better to training methods, which are based on food incentives and kind words. The screaming and abusive techniques will only result in an intimidated and nervous dog, which will totally ignore all of your commands.

The Finnish Lapphund was hardened by centuries of working in the harshest terrains of Finland, which are fairly regarded as most challenging on this planet. That’s why it’s quite evident that this dog possesses virtually inexhaustible supply of energy and needs an impressive amount of exercise in order to feel itself fully satisfied.

The Finnish Lapphund will willingly join you in your daily jog or bicycle ride and will tirelessly run besides you for hours on end. Anyway it should receive at the very least an hour of brisk walk each and every day otherwise it will turn into a nasty creature, destructive, nervous and disobedient.