Finnish Lapphund

Temperament: Friendly, Alert, Agile

  • Height: 18-21 inches (male), 16-19 inches (female)
  • Weight: 33-53 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
  • Group: Herding Group 
 The weatherproof Finnish Lapphund is a tough and substantial reindeer herder from north of the Arctic Circle. This remarkably empathetic breed is among the friendliest of all dogs—once he’s satisfied that you aren’t a reindeer rustler. 


The Finnish Lapphund is a medium sized breed that combines the look of the northern type dog with the temperament of the herding dog. They are intelligent, alert, agile, friendly and eager to learn. Developed to live and work outside, north of the Arctic Circle, the breed is strongly built and thickly coated. These dogs were never intended as guardians, and are particularly submissive towards people. Despite its strength, the Finnish Lapphund conveys a certain softness, particularly in expression. Males are recognisably masculine and females feminine.

About the Finnish Lapphund

Finnish Lapphunds, with their luscious coat, sweet spitz-like face, and profusely coated tail that curves over the back, are instantly recognizable as Nordic dogs. Lappies stand about 20 inches at the shoulder and are surprisingly muscular and substantial for their inches. Quick and agile, they move effortlessly and can go from a trot to a full gallop in a second flat.

Lappies are friendly and submissive companions, though a bit wary of strangers. They crave companionship and will be miserable when neglected. A distinctive breed trait is a strong “startle reflex,” the result of centuries spent ducking the antlers of ornery reindeer. Despite their propensity for shedding and barking, Lappies are popular pets in their homeland.

NUTRITION A high-quality dog food appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) will have all the nutrients the Finnish Lapphund needs. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Give table scraps sparingly, if at all, especially avoiding cooked bones. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.

GROOMING The Finnish Lapphund has a double coat: a smooth outer coat over a soft, dense undercoat. Weekly brushing—daily during shedding season—will help to remove dirt and loose hair and keep the dog looking his best. Lappies don’t have a doggie odor, so an occasional bath is usually sufficient. Lappies should never be shaved, as it reduces their ability to keep cool in warm weather and warm in cold weather. As with all breeds, the nails should be trimmed regularly, as overly long nails can be painful to the dog and cause problems walking and running.

EXERCISE Finnish Lapphunds are calm dogs with moderate exercise requirements. A long, brisk walk every day is usually enough to keep the breed healthy and happy. Lappies tend not to exercise themselves, but a half-hour play session with their owner and a ball, or with another dog, can also satisfy their exercise needs. This is herding breed, so many Lappies enjoy participating in herding trials. Other canine sports in which they can excel include agility, obedience, rally, and tracking.

TRAINING Early socialisation and puppy training classes are recommended. Gently exposing the puppy to a wide variety of people, places, and situations between the ages of about 7 weeks and 4 months helps to ensure that the Lappy grows into a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion. Like other herding breeds, the Finnish Lapphund is intelligent and quick to learn, but they also tend to be independent or even strong-willed. As a pack dog, the Lappy wants to be with his family, and undesirable behaviour can result if he is regularly left alone for long periods of time.

HEALTH Finnish Lapphunds are generally healthy dogs, but there are a few conditions the breed is prone to. Two of these are elbow and hip dysplasia, both of which can be detected with X-rays. Also present in some Lappies is progressive retinal atrophy, which causes vision loss. Responsible breeders check their breeding stock for conditions that can affect the breed. As with all breeds, a Lappy’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  1. Hip Evaluation
  2. Elbow Evaluation
  3. Patella Evaluation
  4. Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  5. PRA Optigen DNA Test
  6. Pompe’s Disease DNA Test
  7. Degenerative Myelopathy DNA Test

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