The breed is both old and new. The “old” because the Saame or “Sami” farmers in Lapland (comprised of the northern region of Finland, Sweden and, in part, Russia) have used dogs of this type for centuries, and there are old cave painting depicting dogs of this type. Archeological digs in Lapland have unearthed skeletal remains of Lapponian dogs that have been estimated to date back prior to 7000 BC. Now, the “new” because the breed Finnish Lapphund has only become accepted as a breed in its own right (by the FCI) since the mid 1960s. Around the 1940’s as the use of the Finnish Lapphund as a herder decreased, the Finnish people realized that they needed to work towards saving their wonderful breed and dogs belonging to the original Sami people were collected with the intent of establishing a breeding program. The first breed standard was accepted by the Finnish Kennel Club in 1945, with the breed being called the Lapponian Shepherd Dog.
The Finnish Lapphund is a small to medium-sized, sturdily-built Spitz-type dog with a profuse fluffy coat, upright ears and an especially happy facial expression. This breed is intelligent, alert, agile, friendly and eager to please. Despite being quite strong for its moderate size, the Finnish Lapphund is submissive with people and has a certain softness about it, which accentuates its cheerful disposition. The Finnish Lapphund’s ears are set rather far apart and should be small to medium in size, triangular in shape, broad at the base and round at the tip. The ideal adult male Finnish Lapphund stands 19 ½ inches at the shoulder, and the ideal female is 17 ½ inches in height. The acceptable range for males is 18 to 21 inches and for females is 16 to 19 inches. Most Finnish Lapphunds weigh between 33 and 53 pounds.
The Finnish Lapphund is an intelligent, affectionate and versatile herding dog at heart. The Finnish Lapphund is a wonderful “all-around” dog with its intelligence and eager to please disposition. They are a breed quick to learn and coupled with their non-aggressive attitude towards people, children and other dogs they are fast gaining popularity as a wonderful companion breed. As a breed that tends to be naturally submissive with people, which should not be confused with shyness, they are gentle dogs and great dogs for families with children. Due to their “herding” instincts the Finnish Lapphund will give chase to anything including squirrels, rabbits, etc. and while they will return, such behavior can have severe consequences involving roadways and cars before they think about coming home. They can and will dig especially as puppies but most will outgrow this as they move into adulthood however with enough human companionship this can easily be deterred.
As a puppy they usually have a soft texture to their coats which requires a bit more grooming but this is also the best time to establish good grooming habits which will make it easier on you when they become an adult. Once their adult coat comes in and the texture changes, grooming doesn’t take as long. But remember, as a double-coated breed they do require regular grooming. As an adult their dense undercoat provides insulation in both cold and hot weather and should never be shaved as this will reduce their ability to keep cool during the summer months. Regular brushing is required, particularly during the shedding season which usually occurs once or twice a year. The breed does not have the usual doggy odor that other breeds do therefore bathing is not required but once a month unless needed due to weather conditions. Weekly brushing is recommended to keep them free of mats especially behind the ears, armpit areas and groin area.
The Finnish Lapphunds exercise needs are moderate depending on age and if there are other dogs in the household. While they would obviously enjoy and benefit from daily walks, sometimes that isn’t possible and a game of ball in the yard to expend energy will work. If there are other dogs in the household their daily play will also benefit your Lappy. Exercise should be limited to early morning or evening during the summer months.