The Finnish Lapphund, one of Finland’s most popular breeds, is faithful and friendly at home. These non-aggressive dogs are intelligent and gentle, making them wonderful family pets for people with kids or other dogs. This breed is excellent at herding reindeer. As pack dogs, they don’t like to be left alone and can bark or become destructive when they’re upset.
The Finnish Lapphund came from the Sami, or Lapp, people, a group that has inhabited the Lapland region of the north Arctic Circle for thousands of years. The Sami bred the original “Lapps’ dog,” a thick-coated pup used to hunt reindeer. These dogs had to be courageous and swift, which are all words that still describe the Finnish Lapphund today.
Over time, Sami society evolved, and their canine companions changed with them. Eventually, these reindeer hunters became herders, while still acting as hunting dogs, guardians, and companions for their owners.
These days the Finnish Lapphund isn’t needed quite as much to herd reindeer, but their friendly companionship is still much appreciated by the Sami in frigid Arctic Circle.
Although the Finnish Lapphund is considered a medium-sized dog, their ample coat often makes them appear larger.
The Finnish Lapphund has a double coat, and although all shades are allowed, the most common include black and brown and grey tones. Some members of the breed may also have light or tan markings throughout.
Similar in look to breeds like the Siberian Husky and Samoyed, they are smaller versions with generally straight and smooth—although sometimes wavy—outer coats, with feathering on behind their legs, underneath their belly, and on their tail.
The Finnish Lapphund has a strong and straight back, and although their head is powerful, their eyes are soft and soulful. Their triangular ears are set far apart on their head, while their hindquarters are straight and strong, full of power for a day of herding reindeer.
Originally bred to herd reindeer, modern Finnish Lapphunds still possess the same poise, strength, and control of their predecessors.
They can be noisy when in pursuit of a hunt, and are always alert and watchful. Because of their hunting instinct, the Finnish Lapphund can be startled easily, though they always recover quickly to move on with their work.
When they’re off-duty, the Finnish Lapphund is submissive and calm with their people, but they tend not to be shy. As pack dogs, they don’t like to be left alone for long periods.
Feed your Finnish Lapphund a high-quality dog food that’s suited to their particular age and activity level, as well as any additional health concerns.
As with any dog, it’s important to monitor the amount of food and treats that you give your Finnish Lapphund to avoid having them gain weight, especially as they age. Your veterinarian is always a good source to help provide you with appropriate nutrition and feeding guidelines.
Although the Finnish Lapphund does have a thick double coat, their fur requires minimal care. When they are young, the breed’s coat may require more attention and combing, but once their adult fur comes in and the texture changes, regular, once-weekly grooming should be enough to keep it in good shape.
All dogs require regular dental care, including at-home teeth brushing and professional dental cleanings, and the Finnish Lapphund is no exception. Maintaining good dental hygiene is important for their overall long-term health.
The Finnish Lapphund is a relatively calm breed. But, because of their hunting background, they have moderate exercise requirements. Daily walks or a quick game of fetch in a (secure) backyard will do.
Since they are a herding breed, Finnish Lapphunds also enjoy herding trials or other dog sports like agility and tracking.
As is the case with most herding breeds, the Finnish Lapphund is intelligent and can be a fast learner, but they may also have a stubborn and independent streak, which can make training difficult.
Early and proper training can help limit some of the undesirable attributes of the breed, though. For example, as a pack dog, they don’t like to be left alone, so when they get lonely or bored, this breed may bark or exhibit destructive behavior.
Canine Multifocal Retinopathy 3 (CMR3) is an eye disorder that can cause retinal decay which may impact vision, but very rarely results in blindness.
PRCD is a particularly common form of progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and is found in many breeds and mixed breed dogs. PRA is caused by the degeneration of photoreceptor cells of the retina resulting in progressive vision loss and eventual blindness.
Knowing if your Finnish Lapphund is a carrier or at-risk for these conditions can help you and your veterinarian plan for your pup’s lifelong care. With Wisdom Panel™ Premium, you can get results for over 200 genetic health tests.
Reviewed July 26, 2020 by Cindy Elston, DVM, MPH