Finnish Lapphund

The Finnish Lapphund is a hardy, easy going, medium-size dog breeds 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 the Nordic countries. There are two lines of the breed: the original herding line and the nowadays more popular exhibition line.

Finnish Lapphund Appearance


The Finnish Lapphund is a medium sized dog, strongly built dog. It is slightly longer than it is high at the withers. It has a profuse coat with pricked, highly mobile ears. It usually has long hair, and a bit of a long snout. Its color might be brown & black.


The dog breeds standard is 46 to 52 centimetres (18 to 20 in) at the withers for a male, and a slightly smaller 41 to 47 centimetres (16 to 19 in) for a female. However, some variation is allowed, since the breed standard states that the type is more important than the size.

A typical male of 49cm height normally weighs 17 to 19 kilograms (37 to 42 lb), but the breed has a weight range of 15-24kg 15 to 24 kilograms (33 to 53 lb), depending on size of the dog.


The Finnish Lapphund has a profuse double coat, with a short, fluffy undercoat and a longer, coarse topcoat. The coat makes the dog waterproof as well as resistant to extreme cold. In Finland, only two dog breeds are legally allowed to be kenneled outdoors in winter: the Finnish Lapphund and the Lapponian herder.

The profuse hair around the head and neck gives the distinct impression of a mane. Although the coat is profuse, it requires only a modest amount of maintenance.


A wide variety of colors are found in the breed. Any color is allowed in the breed standard, although a single color should predominate. Almost any color can be found: white, black, red, brown, sable and wolf-sable are frequently seen. One of the most common color combination is black and tan: a predominantly black dog with tan legs and face.

Many Finnish Lapphunds have very distinctive facial markings. One of the unusual facial markings is "spectacles", where a ring of lighter colored hair around the eyes gives the impression that the dog is wearing spectacles. The spectacles of the Finnish Lapphund, while reminiscent of their cousins, the Keeshond, are larger and more pronounced.


Like other (spitz) types, the tail is carried curving over the back. The Finnish Lapphund has a tail covered with profuse and long hair. The tail may hang whilst the dog stands.

Differences in breed standard between countries

The Finnish Lapphund is a recognized dog breeds in Finland, Europe, Great Britain, Australia and the USA. The breed standards are mostly identical, with a few minor exceptions: in the English standard, the acceptance of tipped ears is omitted.

Finnish Lapphund Temperament

The Finnish Lapphund is a very intelligent and active breed. Finnish Lapphunds take well to training due to their 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 dog breeds is friendly and alert, and makes a good watch dog, due to its tendency to bark at unfamiliar things. The breed was originally used to herd reindeer by droving, and barking helped it to be distinguished from wolves. Even when not herding, the Finnish Lapphund tends to bark with a purpose, and more rare cases of problem barking can normally be controlled by training.

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.

Lappies are ideal choice for a family with small children. This very friendly dog breed and it normally avoids and flees from threathening situations. The breed is very curious, however, so some watching after them is necessary.

In Finland, at least two dogs have won national championships for obedience (Obedience Champion Hiidenparran Tielkka and Fin and Nordic Obedience Ch Kettuharjun Elle, both owned and trained by Rauno Nisula).

Finnish Lapphunds are also suitable for agility. In the UK, Elbereth Taika has been awarded an agility warrant, and has represented England at the 2005 Kennel Club Nations cup, where she achieved a second place.

The dog breed adapts well to family life, including being responsive to children. Finnish Lapphunds have a gentle nature with children, people with disabilities, and the elderly.

Finnish Lapphund Health

The Finnish Lapphund is a naturally healthy breed, and typically lives 12-14 years, although dogs of 16-17 years are not uncommon in Finland. Known medical issues include Generalised progressive retinal atrophy (GPRA), hereditary cataracts.

  • GPRA is a progressive eye disease that can cause permanent blindness in dogs. In the Finnish Lapphund, this tends to be late onset, but can typically appear between the ages of 1 an 8 years. GPRA is a genetic illness, and is transmitted via an autosomal recessive gene. A reliable genetic test for the prcd-form of GRPA has been developed by OptiGen, and breeders are increasingly testing breeding animals before deciding on suitable mating pairs. The Finnish Lapphund club of Great Britain adopted an ethical policy in 2006 that matings will only be allowed if the progeny can not be affected by GPRA. In 2001, 2.5% dogs of Finnish dogs were affected by PRA.
  • Some Lapphunds are affected by cataracts, with 3.4% of Finnish dogs affected. Cataracts can be caused by a number of factors, and the mode of inheritance is not yet well understood. Since the incidence in Finland is relatively high, the disease is considered to be hereditary. In the UK and USA the number of affected dogs is very small.
  • The ethical standard in most countries require the stud dogs to be hip-scored, but the incidence of hip dysplasia is low.

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