Originating in the area known as Lapland, which incorporates Sweden, Finland and parts of North Russia and Norway, the Sami people used dogs of the same type as the Finnish Lapphund as reindeer herders, watchdogs and family companions. Although used as a working dog by the Sami people for centuries, it has only been in recent times that they have been recognised as an official breed, with attempts to protect them. The first standard was established by the Finnish Kennel Club in the 1950s, with a review in 1967 splitting the breed into two – the shorter-coated Lapponian Herder and longer-coated Lapphund. The name for the longer-coated breed changed in 1993 to Finnish Lapphund.
Today, the Finnish Lapphund is a friendly, loving companion and is one of the more popular family dogs in Finland. They have only been in Australia relatively recently, the first arriving in 1995. They have tended to adopt the nickname Lappies here. The Finnish Lapphund is extremely affectionate and loyal, a fact corroborated by breeder and enthusiast Vanessa Brotto, who knows the Finish Lapphund all too well.
Finnish Lapphunds really are an all-round great dog for anyone. Their temperaments once they are grown are relaxed and gentle. They want to learn, they want to please their owners, they also very much want to be with their owners. Putting in a little effort at the beginning of a puppys life rewards you with a companion that adores you for life, Brotto tells Dogs Life. The perfect person for this breed is someone of any age who is dedicated to loving their dog and willing to spend time with it. The calm, friendly and faithful nature of this breed makes it a very suitable household companion.
A child-friendly dog
These dogs get along wonderfully with children and other animals, but early socialisation is a must. As with all breeds, children should be supervised. Finnish Lapphunds are very gentle with small children. They adore children and know to be gentle around them, although puppies and adolescents may be more boisterous, Brotto says.
They are bright, happy and friendly, and love nothing more than to join you on the couch. The breed is on average a gentle, keen and intelligent dog that adapts to humans lifestyle very quickly, she adds. Despite its gorgeous looks, the Lapphund makes a good watchdog. They will bark a lot when someone approaches your house, but do not show any aggression toward humans and will happily welcome any visitors into the house, wanted or otherwise. They are not suitable for anyone wanting a guard dog, Brotto tells Dogs Life.
This breed loves human companionship and does not adapt well to solitary life in a backyard. The Lapphund requires an average-sized backyard that is fully fenced, plus the benefit of a daily walk. They are a fairly active breed and have great stamina since they were bred for herding, but are willing to adjust to walks around the neighbourhood with their family.
A Lapphund needs attention from their owners. Not a dog to just visit once a night in the backyard. They are an ideal inside dog and companion to their human friends, Brotto says.
Brotto tells Dogs Life about the Lapphunds amazing herding skills. I was sitting in my kitchen eating my breakfast when I heard my Malamutes go wild, she says. Glancing out the kitchen window I saw to my disbelief a deer milling around with the horses in the paddock behind my dogs exercise runs.
I thought Id better go and chase the deer off my property. I had seen it before; it belongs to one of my neighbours in the area. I went down to the back paddock and started shooing this deer into the front paddock, so the owner could come and get it. Gasping for breath and getting absolutely nowhere with the deer, I stopped and thought, What am I doing chasing this deer around, when I have a perfectly good example of a reindeer-herding Finnish Lapphund, barking madly in my back yard?
I went and got Blaze the Lappy and told him on the way down to the paddock what I wanted him to do. He danced around me with delight in his eyes.
When Brotto got him to the paddock, she says he stopped dead still and quivered then he took off after the horses! I called him off them and started chasing the deer myself. Watching me perform like an idiot, Blaze decided to take over and in under a minute he had the deer chased out of that paddock into the top paddock, with me puffing and panting behind him. I had one very upset deer, one very excited Lapphund and six drooling Malamutes. The deer owner came over that evening to collect him and I went off to enter Blaze in some herding trials! she says.
Great at most dog sports
The Finnish Lapphund is extremely intelligent and easy to train. Always wanting to please its owner, its a highly versatile breed to train for any dog sport, such as obedience and agility, and it has also been used overseas as a very successful tracking dog.
The Finnish Lapphunds coat is relatively easy to look after; around 30 minutes of grooming a week is required. Their coat is reasonably waterproof and any mud easily brushes out once the coat is dry. They require a bath only rarely.
They do very well in cooler climates, but cope well with the hotter weather, as long as care is taken to let them rest during the hottest part of the day and providing plenty of shady areas. As a Spitz breed, they have a full double coat, erect ears and carry their tails over their back when moving.
They come in a large range of colours, although black with various degrees of paler-coloured markings on the face and legs, is the most common. The Lapphund is quite a healthy, robust breed and has few hereditary diseases, howe’ver hip dysplasia, PRCD/PRA and cataracts can appear. Responsible breeders test for all these conditions and breed only from stock they believe will return good results.
Most breeders take time to study the bloodlines with intent of eventually breeding these problems out.
The lifespan of this breed is around 14 years. If you have the time and dedication to allow one of these admirable dogs into your home, you will be blessed with an extremely loving and intelligent companion for life.
Grooming: 2 out of 4 ticks
Exercise: 3 out of 4 ticks
Lifespan: 14 years
For more information
On the Finnish Lapphund or to locate a breeder near you, please contact your state canine council on www.ankc.aust.com/Structure.htmlLove our breeds? Find your new best friend on our DOGSLife Directory