An Ultimate Guide to the Finnish Lapphund Breed

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The Finnish Lapphund is an exquisite breed. It is the eighth most popular breed in its native country Finland but it is considered rare in other countries. Right now, it has a growing popularity in Australia and the United States. Get to know more about this fluffy and unique breed in today’s post.


Studies suggest these dogs have been around for more than 7000 years now. They are 173rd breed recognized by the American Kennel Club. The writing of the breed standard began in the 1940s when people showed interest in preserving the breed. It was accepted by the Finnish Kennel Club in the mid-40s.

The breed originated from Finland, hence the name, more specifically in the Arctic north, Lapland. These are the northern parts of Sweden, Finland, and parts of Russia. History tells us that they were kept by semi-nomadic people called the Sami. These are the indigenous people from the northern region of Scandinavia.

Lappies have been originally bred to herd reindeers. The Samis used the lappies to keep the reindeers safe from other animals. In fact, Sami people continue to herd deer to this day but they already use modern technology to do so. The dogs were brought to the United States by Finnish immigrants.

Finnish Lapphund Appearance

According to the Finnish Lapphund breed standards, they have a broad face and oval-shaped dark brown eyes. The head and skull are strongly outlined. They have strong jaws and a black nose although it may harmonize to the color of their coat. They have a long snout, curled tails, and pointed ears.

The eyes of this breed are surrounded by lighter coat color, making them look as if they were wearing spectacles. They are classified as spitz or dogs with physical attributes almost similar to the wolf. They have a strong resemblance to another spitz dog, the Keeshond.

They look like wolves in the body of a bear. They are medium dogs that can be easily mistaken as large dogs. Truth be told, they only appear bigger than they actually are because of their heavy coat volume. The males also have a more profuse coat compared to the female lapphunds.

Female lapphunds are around 41-47 centimeters in height and 15-24 kilograms in weight. They grow as tall as 16 to 21 inches at the shoulder. The male ones grow to the same weight but are usually taller than females. On average, they develop to 46-52 centimeters tall.

Did you know that there are only around 2000 of them worldwide? They are rare because their litter size is limited to five pups, putting them among the types of dogs with a small breeding population. The breeders are actually putting more importance on the quality and not the quantity of the litter.

This breed should not be mistaken for the Swedish Lapphund although they are almost the same. According to the American Kennel Club, these are two different breeds although they have a similar fox-like appearance. They are cousins but the Swedish Lapphunds are not as popular as the Finnish Lapphunds.

What You Need to Know about the Lappie’s Coat

Most of the dogs of this breed have dark colors, the black and tan, wolf-sable, and tan and white. You can find them in white, brown, and red, grizzle. They can have two or three colors but the breeding standard says one color should dominate the rest. For instance, a black Lappie may have brown spots from the legs all the way to the feet and white on the face and neck.

They have double coats with a rough texture. The outer layer is usually straight and smooth, rare but wavy. The undercoat is dense. It has feathering on the back of the legs, underbelly, and tail. The undercoat regulates their body temperature, keeping them cool during summer and warm during winter.

The coat helps them survive even in harsh climates. This comes as no surprise because their native country Finland has one of the coldest climates in the Scandinavian region. The undercoat should not be trimmed because it also protects them from dirt and UV rays.

The lappies shed once or twice a year. In fact, they shed a lot so they are not considered as hypoallergenic dogs. However, lappies do not require much grooming because they don’t have an oily coat that may cause foul odors. They need more grooming as puppies than as adults. Less grooming will only apply if the adult coat comes out.

Finnish Lapphund: Other Names and Recognitions

“Lappie” is the nickname of Finnish Lapphunds. The original name of the breed is Lapponian Shepherd. Although rare, there are clubs created just for them. There is the Finnish Lapphund Club of Great Britain and the Southern Finish Lapphund Society.

There is also a rescue organization for them, the Finnish Lapphund Club of Great Britain Rescue. More importantly, the breed has been recognized as a herding one by the American Kennel Club in 2011.

Finnish Lapphund Group and Dog Type

The Lappie is a purebred dog. The lappies belong to the group of pastoral dogs in the United Kingdom and are in Group 7 in the Canadian Kennel Club. In the United States and most countries, they are more known as herding or working dogs.

Finnish Lapphund Traits

The Finnish Lapphund is not just charming, it also has a superb temperament, making it a more lovable companion. Originally, they were agile, courageous, and brave, something natural for herding dogs like them. Today, they are known as laid-back dogs.

The modern-day lappies still have the same traits but they are more known for their friendly nature. They look tough because of the wolf-like appearance but in reality, they are very affectionate with a friendly nature which makes them suitable for families and the perfect addition to broods with young children.

They are reserved with strangers, which makes them qualified as watchdogs. This is due to their noisy barking. All Lapphund owners will agree that this breed has a high pitched barking. This is a natural ability of excellent watchdogs. If there are unfamiliar faces approaching, your Lapphund will keep on barking until you notice what he is barking at.

The Lappie can easily adapt to most living environments. However, they may not thrive in warm climates. It will not be a problem if you have a small yard or if you have a spacious house. However, their active nature may not be suitable for living in an apartment.

As long as the dog is able to do lots of activities, then your place will not be a big issue. They can get along well with cats or other breeds of dogs given that they were trained early on to socialize. Socialization teaches the Lappie not to be dominant. However, they may chase small furry creatures. So, if you have other pets around the house, don’t expect your Lappie to behave well at all times.

Exercise Needs

This breed has an average wanderlust potential and will enjoy accompanying people on outdoor activities such as walking and running. It is sporty and needs lots of exercise. Lappies can be exercised up to an hour a day and their top running speed is 22 miles per hour.

They are so sporty they do well in tracking and herding events and will appreciate taking part in dog agility trails. On top of that, they are easy to train so you will not have a hard time joining in showmanship contests. Exercise will not only keep your Lapphund healthy but also happy.

Important Reminders in Raising a Finnish Lapphund

  • Serve a well-balanced meal and do not overfeed. Lappies love their food, which makes them more susceptible to obesity if you don’t limit their meal proportions. You may offer kibbles, bones, and chicken carcasses. If you want to offer them raw food, ask your vet about the safety measures involved in doing so. It’s important to offer anything new gradually, especially if your Lappie has a sensitive stomach.
  • Brush weekly. Although Lappies don’t need much bathing, brushing is essential since they are double-coated. It should be done upwards than downwards. The best tool for dogs with a dense coat is a slicker brush. Daily brushing is only recommended during the shedding season. This is best done with a pin brush and comb. You may also use a de-shedding tool. A wide-toothed comb is ideal for getting rid of excessive molting. Also, pay attention when brushing around the ear area.
  • Bathe when needed. The normal bathing frequency for dogs is every one to three months. However, the type of coat also plays a big role in determining whether your dog needs fewer or more bath times. It also only depends on the climate. Since Lappies don’t have a foul odor and they are often found in cold climate regions, they require less bathing than other dogs. A shampoo made of natural ingredients like lavender will be the best type for them.
  • Keep the nails, ears, and teeth clean. As with the coat, it is important to regularly check these body parts. You have to trim their nails every week. Although the ears are self-cleaning, they may attract debris and dirt especially if your dog plays outside often.

Finnish Lapphund Health issues

On average, the life expectancy of Lapphunds is 12 to 14 years though you can find dogs living up to 16-17 years in their native country. Despite being a generally healthy breed, the Finnish Lapphund may be subject to hereditary conditions including the following:

  • Hip Dysplasia – hip dysplasia can be environmental or genetic. It is the malformation of the hip joints that causes them to slowly deteriorate, leading to the loss of function of the hip joints. It is a common skeletal disease that happens to most dogs. It may occur even during puppyhood.
  • Elbow dysplasia – this is due to an abnormal growth of cells and tissue or bones. The age for the onset of clinical signs is typically four to ten months, with diagnosis generally being made around 4 to 18 months. Like the hip dysplasia, it can be genetic. Nutrition may also contribute to elbow dysplasia.
  • Cataracts – there are more reported incidents of cataracts in dogs living in Finland. There is a low number of affected dogs in the UK and the United States. This suggests that the condition is hereditary.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) – refers to the group of hereditary retinal diseases in canines. Regardless of the form, it can lead to blindness if left untreated. One of the first symptoms is night blindness. Over time, the dog will lose his ability to see even during the day. In the Finnish Lapphund, this tends to be late onset, but can typically appear between the ages of 1 and 8 years.

Lappie Ownership Tips

The Finnish Lapphund is quite costly. The price for one puppy varies but it ranges from $1800 to $2500. Registering the dog offers tremendous benefits. Most breeders already provide insurance for the pet, early vaccinations, and deworming. Some even give free initial vet appointments.

Once you already have a Lapphund, don’t forget to join groups. You will get tons of information about raising one. You will be easily connected with expert trainers. Because the Lapphund is such a rare breed, you may only get the most relevant info from legit Lappie owners.


This is a generally a healthy breed with lots of positive traits and minimal negative ones. Still, the overall friendliness will depend on how the dog is raised. The best way to figure out if a Lappie is the breed for you is to research first about their traits. You may request to join organizations intended for them, join Lappie get-togethers, or meet up with breeders in your region.


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