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  • Temperament: Friendly, Alert, Agile
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 173 of 192
  • Height: 18-21 inches (male), 16-19 inches (female)
  • Weight: 33-53 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
  • Group: Herding Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Finnish Lapphund standing in three-quarter view
Finnish Lapphund head turned left
Finnish Lapphund sitting in three-quarter view
Finnish Lapphund standing facing left
Finnish Lapphund

Find a Puppy: Finnish Lapphund

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GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Finnish Lapphund is a medium sized breed that combines the look of the northern type dog with the temperament of the herding dog. They are intelligent, alert, agile, friendly and eager to learn. Developed to live and work outside, north of the Arctic Circle, the breed is strongly built and thickly coated. These dogs were never intended as guardians, and are particularly submissive towards people. Despite its strength, the Finnish Lapphund conveys a certain softness, particularly in expression. Males are recognizably masculine and females feminine.

HEAD

The general appearance of the head conveys strength, yet the expression is soft. The skull is approximately as broad as it is long. The top of the skull is slightly domed. Depth of skull is equal to breadth. The stop is well defined, with an easily distinguishable frontal furrow. The ears are set rather far apart, just off the top of the head and should be small to medium in size, triangular in shape, broad at the base and rounded at the tip, and covered with a heavy coat of hair. Ears may be erect or semi-erect (tipped). Drop ears are a fault. Eyes are oval in shape and as dark as possible. The color of the eyes may blend with the color of the coat, being lighter in lighter colored dogs. Yellow or blue eyes are a serious fault.

NECK, TOPLINE, BODY

The neck is medium in length, strong and well muscled. The back is broad, strong and straight. The loin is short and muscular. The croup is of medium length, well developed and only slightly sloping. Overall, the topline is level. The depth of chest is slightly less than half the height of the dog, reaching almost to the elbows. The ribcage is rather long and not very broad. The ribs are slightly arched, with a clearly visible, but not strongly defined, forechest, never barrel-chested. The underline includes only a slight tuck up, more pronounced in males than females.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders moderately angulated. Legs straight. Pasterns flexible with very slight slope when viewed from the side. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet – Catlike, pads hard, pigmentation harmonizing with nose and eye rims. Nails strong, hard, pigmentation harmonizing with either nose and eye rims or coat.

COAT

Double coat. Outer coat-straight, harsh, flat-lying. Outer coat of medium length on body, shorter on front part of the legs and head; longer on ruff, tail, top of withers and back of thigh. Ruff more pronounced on males. Thick brush tail tapering to a pointed tip. Undercoat – soft and short with density varying with climate. Excessively long outer coat that masks the clean outline of the dog is undesirable as is any trimming that alters the natural appearance of the dog.

HINDQUARTERS

Moderately angulated. In balance with forequarters. Straight when viewed from the rear. Thigh musculature well-developed, moderately broad. Hocks well-let-down. Dewclaws must be removed. Feet and nails as in fore-quarters.

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About the Finnish Lapphund

Finnish Lapphunds, with their luscious coat, sweet spitz-like face, and profusely coated tail that curves over the back, are instantly recognizable as Nordic dogs. Lappies stand about 20 inches at the shoulder and are surprisingly muscular and substantial for their inches. Quick and agile, they move effortlessly and can go from a trot to a full gallop in a second flat.

Lappies are friendly and submissive companions, though a bit wary of strangers. They crave companionship and will be miserable when neglected. A distinctive breed trait is a strong “startle reflex,” the result of centuries spent ducking the antlers of ornery reindeer. Despite their propensity for shedding and barking, Lappies are popular pets in their homeland.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Finnish Lapphund

Find a Puppy: Finnish Lapphund

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Finnish Lapphund Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

A high-quality dog food appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) will have all the nutrients the Finnish Lapphund needs. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Give table scraps sparingly, if at all, especially avoiding cooked bones. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.

GROOMING

The Finnish Lapphund has a double coat: a smooth outer coat over a soft, dense undercoat. Weekly brushing—daily during shedding season—will help to remove dirt and loose hair and keep the dog looking his best. Lappies don’t have a doggie odor, so an occasional bath is usually sufficient. Lappies should never be shaved, as it reduces their ability to keep cool in warm weather and warm in cold weather. As with all breeds, the nails should be trimmed regularly, as overly long nails can be painful to the dog and cause problems walking and running.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

Finnish Lapphunds are calm dogs with moderate exercise requirements. A long, brisk walk every day is usually enough to keep the breed healthy and happy. Lappies tend not to exercise themselves, but a half-hour play session with their owner and a ball, or with another dog, can also satisfy their exercise needs. This is herding breed, so many Lappies enjoy participating in herding trials. Other canine sports in which they can excel include agilityobediencerally, and tracking.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended. Gently exposing the puppy to a wide variety of people, places, and situations between the ages of about 7 weeks and 4 months helps to ensure that the Lappy grows into a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion. Like other herding breeds, the Finnish Lapphund is intelligent and quick to learn, but they also tend to be independent or even strong-willed. As a pack dog, the Lappy wants to be with his family, and undesirable behaviors can result if he is regularly left alone for long periods of time.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Eager to Please

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Reserved with Strangers

HEALTH

Finnish Lapphunds are generally healthy dogs, but there are a few conditions the breed is prone to. Two of these are elbow and hip dysplasia, both of which can be detected with X-rays. Also present in some Lappies is progressive retinal atrophy, which causes vision loss. Responsible breeders check their breeding stock for conditions that can affect the breed. As with all breeds, a Lappy’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often.

 

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Elbow Evaluation
  • Patella Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • PRA Optigen DNA Test
  • Pompe’s Disease DNA Test
  • Degenerative Myelopathy DNA Test

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Finnish Lapphund
Finnish Lapphund
Finnish Lapphund
Finnish Lapphund
Finnish Lapphund
Finnish Lapphund

History

Lapland is a region north of the Arctic Circle that takes in parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and northwestern Russia. It is named for the Sami, or Lapp, people, who have sparsely inhabited the region for several thousand years.

In ancient times, the Sami developed a profusely coated spitz-type dog (the “Lapps’ dog,” or Lapphund) used for hunting reindeer over expanses of barren tundra. Sami history is often obscure, but a few centuries ago they shifted from hunter-gathering to full-scale nomadism. The Sami became reindeer herders, moving large herds in search of pasture land.

One authority tells us, “The Sami lived in tents or turf huts and migrated with their herds in units of five or six families, supplementing their diet along the way by hunting and fishing.” As Sami society evolved, the Lapphund evolved with it. Like their masters, they went from hunting reindeer to herding them, while retaining their duties as hunting dogs, guarders, and close companions to their humans. (Lapphunds are among the Arctic breeds that spent thousands of years huddled together for warmth with their humans and other dogs on ferociously cold nights. This is one way of explaining the innate sociability of these dogs.)
Unlike the adorable cartoon characters who pull Santa’s sleigh every December, actual reindeer are stubborn, cantankerous beasts whose antlers can do serious damage. Controlling reindeer requires dogs of great courage, quickness, and intelligence, qualities that still define the Lapphund.

Reindeer herding was the bedrock of Sami society until very recently. Lapland is still home to several hundred thousand reindeer, and though modernity has encroached upon traditional reindeer territory, it is still possible to see the Finnish Lapphund, and its sister breed, the Swedish Lapphund, moving herds across the vast frozen north.

Did You Know?

The Finnish Lapphund is also known as Lapinkoira.
The breed was first imported for breeding, and brought to the attention of show people with the idea of AKC recognition, in 1987.
The Finnish Lapphund is the AKC's 173rd breed.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Finnish Lapphund is a medium sized breed that combines the look of the northern type dog with the temperament of the herding dog. They are intelligent, alert, agile, friendly and eager to learn. Developed to live and work outside, north of the Arctic Circle, the breed is strongly built and thickly coated. These dogs were never intended as guardians, and are particularly submissive towards people. Despite its strength, the Finnish Lapphund conveys a certain softness, particularly in expression. Males are recognizably masculine and females feminine.

HEAD

The general appearance of the head conveys strength, yet the expression is soft. The skull is approximately as broad as it is long. The top of the skull is slightly domed. Depth of skull is equal to breadth. The stop is well defined, with an easily distinguishable frontal furrow. The ears are set rather far apart, just off the top of the head and should be small to medium in size, triangular in shape, broad at the base and rounded at the tip, and covered with a heavy coat of hair. Ears may be erect or semi-erect (tipped). Drop ears are a fault. Eyes are oval in shape and as dark as possible. The color of the eyes may blend with the color of the coat, being lighter in lighter colored dogs. Yellow or blue eyes are a serious fault.

NECK, TOPLINE, BODY

The neck is medium in length, strong and well muscled. The back is broad, strong and straight. The loin is short and muscular. The croup is of medium length, well developed and only slightly sloping. Overall, the topline is level. The depth of chest is slightly less than half the height of the dog, reaching almost to the elbows. The ribcage is rather long and not very broad. The ribs are slightly arched, with a clearly visible, but not strongly defined, forechest, never barrel-chested. The underline includes only a slight tuck up, more pronounced in males than females.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders moderately angulated. Legs straight. Pasterns flexible with very slight slope when viewed from the side. Dewclaws may be removed. Feet – Catlike, pads hard, pigmentation harmonizing with nose and eye rims. Nails strong, hard, pigmentation harmonizing with either nose and eye rims or coat.

COAT

Double coat. Outer coat-straight, harsh, flat-lying. Outer coat of medium length on body, shorter on front part of the legs and head; longer on ruff, tail, top of withers and back of thigh. Ruff more pronounced on males. Thick brush tail tapering to a pointed tip. Undercoat – soft and short with density varying with climate. Excessively long outer coat that masks the clean outline of the dog is undesirable as is any trimming that alters the natural appearance of the dog.

HINDQUARTERS

Moderately angulated. In balance with forequarters. Straight when viewed from the rear. Thigh musculature well-developed, moderately broad. Hocks well-let-down. Dewclaws must be removed. Feet and nails as in fore-quarters.

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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Black Check Mark For Standard Color 007
Blonde Check Mark For Standard Color 460
Brown Check Mark For Standard Color 061
Cream Check Mark For Standard Color 076
Tan Check Mark For Standard Color 195
Wolf Sable Check Mark For Standard Color 230
Blue 037
Brindle 057
Saddle 251

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Black Mask Check Mark For Standard Mark 004
Domino Check Mark For Standard Mark 017
Tan Points Check Mark For Standard Mark 029
Tri Color Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 024
White & Tan Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 062
White Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 014
Piebald 025
Tan Points & Ticked 049
White Markings, Black Mask 114

Other Breeds to Explore

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