AKC Gazette breed column, Finnish Lapphunds—This worker from the Arctic Circle makes a versatile, affectionate companion.
Prospective owners of a Finnish Lapphund are often curious about what to expect of their new family member. Lappies, as we call them, have a strong desire to please, and as social, pack animals they are extremely loyal to their family and do not wish to be without them. Lappies and children make fast friends—although as with any herding breed, you may need to teach them not to herd the children! They are also accepting of other pets in their household when properly introduced. However, they may “alert bark” at strange people, animals, or events. In most cases, with reasonable effort, undesired barking can be curtailed. Lappies are an energetic breed, but given proper exercise, they make wonderful, calm housepets and companions.
Their biddable nature makes training a Finnish Lapphund a rather rewarding venture. Finnish Lapphunds have tested well for herding instincts. However, their instincts for working with reindeer have yet to translate well to U.S. herding tests and trials that use cattle and sheep. That said, their intellect and adaptable manner enables Lappies to excel in a wide variety of canine events including obedience, agility, tracking, and therapy-dog work, and as dock and disc dogs. Some have even been trained as upland-gamebird hunting dogs.
The Finnish Lapphund is a medium-sized, generally healthy breed, with average longevity of 12 to 15 years. While occurrences are low, hip and elbow dysplasia, PRA (a form of hereditary blindness), and juvenile cataracts are health concerns for the breed, and all breeding stock should be examined and cleared for these conditions prior to breeding. Lappies were bred to live and work north of the Arctic Circle, and they have a dense, double coat in order to ensure their success in this harsh environment. Thorough brushing every week and regular baths every four to six weeks help to keep their coat in excellent condition.
They lose their coat twice a year, with the largest loss in the summer. This helps them to withstand the summer heat. Because it is never exactly hot in Lapland (summer highs are usually below 75 degrees Fahrenheit), Lappies are extremely heat intolerant. At temperatures of 80 degrees and above, one should halt strenuous outdoor activities with a Lappie, or continue only with great caution. Owners in warmer regions must keep their dogs in climate-controlled environment during the warmer months.
Many find the breed’s coat color to be the most fascinating aspect of the Finnish Lapphund. Because temperament and structure are considered by breeders to be most important, focus on color has been minimal, and the Lappy coat spectrum has developed a broad range of hues. Lappy puppies are usually born dark and lighten in coloring as they mature. However, cream pups are born light and will tend to darken a bit with age.
The Finnish Lapphund is intelligent, versatile, willing, and affectionate. They are very energetic, while remaining composed and adaptable. The breed’s outstanding looks, good health, and great temperament make them wonderful companions and great canine family members. —Andrea Johnson
Finnish Lapphunds are alert, agile, and friendly companions. Learn more about the breed here. If you think this breed is right for you, check out the AKC Marketplace for Finnish Lapphunds puppies.
Further information about Finnish Lapphunds can also be found on the website of the breed’s national parent club, the Finnish Lapphund Club of America. Read more AKC Gazette breed columns here, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.