The Finnish Lapphund, or Lappie, hails from Finland, where it was used by the indigenous Sami people to drive reindeer across the frozen tundra. The dogs would bark and drive the deer across water and land, similar to a sheepdog driving sheep. The exact origin of the breed is unknown, but Lapphund types have been around for thousands of years, developed to work in harsh tundra conditions. After World War II, the breed’s numbers declined, but Finnish clubs have since worked hard to re-establish healthy populations of the breed. They are rare beyond the Scandinavian region, but are popular pets there and are still used very much as working dogs.
A Sami saying claims "Give the first bite [of your meal] to your dog and they will work harder for you."
Lappies are brave, intelligent, and loyal to their owners. They make great family pets and have a natural love of children, the elderly, and people with disabilities, making them ideal therapy dogs. They tend to get along just fine with other dogs and cats in the home, especially if they have been brought up with them. They are watchful and will woof when someone is at the door – or, indeed, whenever they sense anything unfamiliar. This means it is important to get them accustomed to new places, people, to help them settle in. They are friendly with strangers as long as they receive attention, and they are never timid.
Lappies are quick-witted and intelligent, and they like to keep busy. They have a tendency to herd other dogs and small children. Training has to be firm and consistent, as these dogs can have a stubborn streak. When they learn something, though, it sticks with them and their recall and obedience is generally excellent. Their curiosity sometimes leads them to wander off following interesting smells. Like all breeds, keeping the training interesting and fun is key. Lappies tend to pull on the lead, so heel work should be started early. They will want to please you, and this they do very well in competitions such as agility and obedience.
Lappies make great jogging/running/hiking partners, and will walk or run for miles without tiring. They will always follow you and thoroughly enjoy the outdoor life and the company of their owner. They are lively when outdoors and usually good when meeting other dogs. Given enough exercise – at least one long walk each day – they are calm within the home.
This breed’s thick outer coat rarely tangles and only needs occasional brushing. They have a dense undercoat, and this keeps them warm and dry.
Finnish Lapphunds are active and alert dogs, and make good watchdogs. They will be quick to alert you to any visitor but they will welcome people without aggression. They are sociable and playful dogs who do best when socialized in early puppyhood. With a good play session and a long walk every day, they will be happy house dogs. Starting training early is advisable, as Finnish Lapphunds can be quite wilful and self-confident, and leaving training for too long risks shaping a stubborn dog who thinks they know best.
Lappies rarely suffer major problems, although possible issues include progressive retinal atrophy (PRA: degeneration of the retina, which can lead to blindness), cataracts, and canine hip dysplasia (CHD).
- Status: Common
- Life Expectancy: 12 - 14 years
- Weight: 33 – 53 pounds
- Height: 16 - 20"
- Rare: No
- Coat: Medium - Double
- Grooming Requirements: Everyday
- Town or Country: Either
- Minimum Home Size: Small House
- Minimum Garden Size: Small to Medium Garden
- Breed Type: Herding
- Size: Medium
- Energy Level: High
- Exercise Required: Up to 1 hour
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