Unless you live in Finland or happen to have reindeer that need herding, you may not be familiar with the Finnish Lapphund. If you do know the breed, you know what wonderful family dogs they can be. Smart and eager to please, Lappies are also naturally submissive with people and great with children. Already one of the most popular breeds in Finland, they deserve the acclaim they're gaining in the U.S. So, what makes the Finnish Lapphund special?
1. They're beautiful dogs. Although their voluminous coat makes them appear larger, Finnish Lapphunds are really medium-sized dogs, with males averaging 18-21 inches tall and females ranging from 16-19 inches. They have a straight or wavy coat with a soft dense undercoat. They also have a sweet, soft expression that's sure to win hearts.
2. This is an ancient breed. The Finnish Lapphund originated with the Sami, a semi-nomadic people in Lapland, which covered parts of Finland, Sweden, and Russia. Remains of Lapponian dogs date back to 7000 B.C.! As the Sami culture evolved into a less nomadic one, the dogs were used to herd reindeer.
3. Speaking of reindeer, those are tough animals with hooves that can be deadly. Although herding sheep or cows requires special skills, herding reindeer takes other distinct skills that are inherent in Lappies. The breed is quick, brave, and agile, with a strong startle reflex that served them well if a reindeer suddenly turned on them.
4. Another trait crucial to this herding dog is a tendency to bark. Finnish Lapphunds used barking to control the herd, and they are still barkers today. On the one hand, this makes them very good watchdogs that will let you know if someone's coming. On the other hand, teaching your Lappie when it's OK to bark and when it isn't is an important part of training.
5. The Finnish Lapphund is sometimes referred to as a “thinking breed.” Although, as with most herders, they can be strong-willed, Lappies take to training and do well in dog sports, like agility and rally. They also perform well as tracking dogs, therapy dogs, and in search and rescue.
6. The Lappie is not a guard dog. He'll alert you to the presence of strangers, but he's not aggressive. In fact, he's a devoted, sociable and good-natured breed.
7. Despite similarities in appearance to the Australian Shepherd, Samoyed, and Siberian Husky, he's his own breed. He is calm, friendly, and attached to his human pack, yet with the intelligence, quickness, and courage of a dog used to working in tough Northern conditions. It's no wonder the breed is becoming such a favorite!
Interested in adding one of these agile, alert, and friendly dogs to your family? Check out the AKC Marketplace for Finnish Lapphund pups. And if you're looking for some adorable Lappie products, the AKC Shop has breed-specific items and more!