Athletic, good-natured, and clever, the Finnish Lapphund is a herding breed once used to hunt reindeer. Over the years, hunting turned to shepherding, and the “Lappie” developed the smarts and agility to keep up with the job. Today, the Finnish Lapphund is well known for its friendly and gregarious demeanor, possibly an artifact of the close working bond these dogs had with their original owners, the Lapp people of the Arctic Circle. This spitz breed is not far removed from its roots, and once an initial wariness is overcome, these dogs are happy to befriend anyone. On the AKC breed popularity charts, the Finnish Lapphund ranks at 161 of 193, making it a rare breed to see in most locations throughout the world.
Finnish Lapphund APPEARANCE
The Finnish Lapphund is usually 16 to 21 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs about 30 to 55 pounds, classifying them as medium dogs. Beneath the fluffy exterior, Lappies are unexpectedly strong and muscular. Since it’s built for the Arctic Tundra and snowy weather, the Finnish Lapphund’s double layers of fur can keep this dog happy in even the coldest temperatures.
Contrary to what its appearance may indicate, the coat of a Finnish Lapphund doesn’t require much grooming attention, and this dog should rarely be bathed. Weekly brushing is recommended by the American Kennel Club simply to help with shedding and appearance.
Though coat care isn’t difficult, like many spitz breeds, the Finnish Lapphund sheds seasonally, resulting in a coat blowout and the requirement for more grooming than usual. It’s a good idea to invest in a vacuum for pet hair for these periods. Make sure never to shave a Finnish Lapphund; their thick coat is insulation for cold and warm weather both, so having less fur will not help to keep this dog cool.
The Finnish Lapphund makes a fantastic family dog. This breed will grow attached to the whole family; Lappie loyalty is not to be underestimated. This breed is not a dominant sort, and shows kindness and consideration to children of all ages. Lappies also usually get along very well with other dogs and cats, though it’s a good idea to raise multiple animals together for the best results. That said, this dog breed doesn’t do well with being left without human companionship. Many of these dogs are extremely sensitive in nature and attached to their owners, and may develop separation anxiety.
Though a star citizen among its family, the Finnish Lapphund can be somewhat wary around strangers. This might result in barking whenever the Lappie meets somebody it’s unsure about. That said, the Lappie doesn’t make a good guard dog, and it prefers sounding the alarm without taking aggressive action towards humans. If you want to prevent excessive barking, it’s a good idea to have your dog meet lots of new people while young to help prevent noisy behavior later on. This breed also has a pronounced “startle reflex,” which once helped it avoid injury at the hooves of reindeer.
The life expectancy of a Finnish Lapphund is around 12 to 15 years, much to be expected for a medium-sized dog. The Lappie has a few genetic issues that may affect its health, but overall lifespan is usually unaffected.
The Lappie may have a moderate tendency towards barking, though this is not quite as pronounced as in many other breeds. Though reportedly a barker during herding, the Finnish Lapphound knows how to calm down at home without too much noise. Make sure to train your dog just in case, but Finnish Lapphounds might make good candidates for tight living situations like apartments. The Lappie makes a good travel dog for many reasons, but keep in mind that this dog can be sensitive to chaos, particularly if the owner isn’t always close by. You may want to invest in calming aids to aid in travel if your dog lands on the sensitive or noisy side.
CARING FOR A FINNISH LAPPHUND
The Finnish Lapphund is a rather well-rounded breed, built for athleticism and intelligence without much bad breeding. Be sure to exercise and train this dog for mental stimulation.
Since the Finnish Lapphund is an active dog with a slower metabolism, it may need significantly more or less food depending on how much exercise it’s getting on a daily basis. Try to stick to a protein and fat rich diet with no grains. Otherwise, the Lappie could end up faced with weight gain and eventual obesity, along with all the health problems that come with it. Keep an eye on the weight of the Finnish Lapphund to ensure it’s not packing on extra pounds.
Sometimes, this breed suffers from a Glycogen storage disease known as Pompe’s disease. This affects the likelihood of mesoesophagus, a disorder that leads to difficult eating and likely death from heart disease at less than two years of age.
Exercise is particularly important to the Finnish Lapphund breed. Since this dog was meant to do high-intensity work as a herding dog, both the physical activity and the mental stimulation of exercise is something to ensure the Lappie receives. This is a rather high-energy dog, and adequate activity is an important part of preventing barking or obesity. There are many dog activities that can satisfy this breed’s needs, such as obedience, agility, herding, mushing, and flyball. Whatever activity you choose, the Lapphund will love participating in “work” alongside its owner. If you’re playing outside with the Lappie, make sure it’s not too hot out; this breed is suited to the coldest conditions, and may be at risk of overheating when temperatures rise.
Training is a very good activity to take part in with the Finnish Lapphund; this dog loves to learn and it’s an easy breed to teach. Lappies are very intelligent, and their past in herding means that they would rather work with their owners than against them, if given adequate opportunity to do so. Teach commands such as speak, quiet, and heel to prevent later issues, but the Lappie will enjoy learning almost any trick with its owner. Puzzle toys may be a good tool to help stimulate the minds of these dogs, and it’s a great idea to invest in many different kinds of toys and interactive games to fill this dog’s life with as much interest as possible.
The health of the Finnish Lapphund breed is fairly good, as a whole. The Lappie was mostly bred for ability rather than appearance and structure. That said, the American Kennel Club has several recommended tests for this breed, and it’s smart to ask breeders for hip, elbow, and patella evaluation, as well as opthamologist evaluation, a PRA Optigen DNA Test, a Pompe’s Disease DNA Test, and a Degenerative Myelopathy Test. Pompe’s disease is rare but fatal, so it’s important to rule this out when looking for a puppy of this breed.
Ask your vet to assess the weight of your Finnish Lapphund. As the owner, it may be difficult to see changes in your dog’s weight or make diet restrictions. Avoid giving the Finnish Lapphund table scraps or human food, as these can affect dogs of this breed by adding on fat. Obesity in Finnish Lapphund can contribute to other health problems such as joint pain, patellar luxation, hip and elbow dysplasia, diabetes, heart issues, and breathing problems.
Keeping the Lappie’s mind and body active is a big part of care for the health of these dogs. Proper care and supplements or fish oil can help limit some quality-of-life health issues like hip and knee problems, and people in Finland report these dogs sometimes living to 17 years old.
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