The Finnish Lapphund: Everything You Need to Know

The Finnish Lapphund is an alert, agile, and friendly reindeer herder with a remarkably empathetic personality. The breed is considered to be the friendliest dog in the canine world. 

This article will explain everything you need to know about the Finnish Lapphund, from its history, ancestors, and origins to its physical traits, temperament, and health considerations.

History and Origin of the Finnish Lapphund

The Finnish Lapphund, or Lapinkoira, is an ancient breed that originated in the northern regions of Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Russia. They were originally bred by the indigenous Sami people. 

The breed’s main purpose was herding reindeer. The Sami people have lived in the region for thousands of years, and they have relied on their dogs to help them survive in the harsh Arctic climate.

The Role of the Finnish Lapphund in Lapland

In Lapland, the Finnish Lapphund played a vital role in Sami culture. They were considered members of the family and, in some cases, were even buried alongside their owners.

As herding dogs, they worked tirelessly in the harsh Arctic conditions. The Sami people would often move their reindeer herds from one location to another, and the Finnish Lapphund was an essential part of this process.

The dogs would help round up the reindeer and keep them together, making the journey safe and easy. The Finnish Lapphund was also used as a guard dog, protecting the Sami people from predators such as wolves and bears.

The Finnish Lapphund was highly intelligent and trained to be alert and vigilant at all times. It barked to alert its owners of any potential danger and would not hesitate to defend its family and property if necessary.

The Finnish Lapphund’s Journey to Modern Popularity

Finnish Lapphunds were relatively unknown outside of Lapland until the 20th century. The breed started gaining recognition in the 1960s. Today, they are beloved for their intelligence, loyalty, and unique physical characteristics.

Physical Characteristics and Appearance

The Finnish Lapphund has a sturdy, muscular build with a broad, deep chest and strong, straight legs that allow them to move quickly and efficiently over rough terrain.

Size and Weight

On average, male Finnish Lapphunds stand between 18 to 21 inches tall at the shoulder, and females between 16 to 19 inches. Both genders weigh around 33 to 53 pounds. 

Despite their relatively small size, Finnish Lapphunds are strong and enduring. They are capable of working long hours in challenging conditions, thanks to their robust physique and high energy levels.

Coat and Colors

One of the most distinctive features of the Finnish Lapphund is its thick, double-layered coat. This coat is designed to keep the dog warm in cold weather, and it is one of the breed’s most important adaptations to its native environment.

The Finnish Lapphund’s coat comes in a variety of colors, including black, brown, blonde, tan, cream, and wolf sable. Some individuals may have a mixture of colors, white markings, and black masks.

The breed’s coat requires regular grooming to keep it in good condition. Finnish Lapphunds should be brushed at least once a week to remove loose hair and prevent matting.

Distinctive Features

The Finnish Lapphund has a curled tail, which is carried over its back. The tail is an important part of the breed’s body language, and it can be used to communicate a range of emotions and intentions.

Finnish Lapphunds also have dark, expressive eyes and a friendly, alert expression. Their face and eyes convey the breed’s extreme intelligence and trainability.

Temperament and Personality Traits

Finnish Lapphunds are known for their intelligence, affection, and loyalty. However, there is so much more to these wonderful dogs that make them stand out from other breeds.

General Disposition 

One of the most striking personality traits of Finnish Lapphunds is their playful and curious nature. They are always eager to explore their surroundings and engage in new activities. 

Additionally, Finnish Lapphunds are incredibly adaptable dogs. They are equally happy living in a city apartment or a rural farm as long as they have plenty of love and attention from their owners.

Intelligence and Trainability

As herding dogs, Finnish Lapphunds are highly intelligent and trainable. They excel in obedience and agility training and are also known for their problem-solving skills. They love to learn new tricks and tasks and thrive on mental stimulation.

Training a Finnish Lapphund can be a fun and rewarding experience for both the dog and the owner. They are eager to please and respond well to positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise.

Affection and Loyalty

Finnish Lapphunds are affectionate dogs who form strong bonds with their families. They are particularly attached to one person, whom they will follow around and shower with love and attention.

Their loyalty is unwavering, and they will do anything to protect their loved ones. Finnish Lapphunds make excellent watchdogs, as they are quick to alert their owners to any potential danger.

Energy Levels and Exercise Needs

Finnish Lapphunds have moderate energy levels and enjoy regular exercise. Daily walks or runs, as well as playtime in a fenced yard, are important for their physical and mental well-being.

These dogs also love to participate in outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, and swimming. Finnish Lapphunds are natural explorers and thrive in environments where they can use their instincts and energy to the fullest.

Health and Lifespan

Common Health Issues

Like all breeds, Finnish Lapphunds are prone to certain health issues, such as: 

  • Joint Problems: The most common orthopedic issues in the breed are hip and elbow dysplasia 
  • Eye Issues: The breed is susceptible to progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), cataracts, and glaucoma 

Lifespan and Aging

The average lifespan of the Finnish Lapphund is between 12 and 15 years. As they age, breed members require more specialized care –  adjustments in the diet and exercise routine, as well as regular check-ups for age-related issues.

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Finnish Lapphund

To ensure your Finnish Lapphund stays healthy and happy throughout their life, it’s important to provide them with proper care. This includes feeding a high-quality diet, enabling regular opportunities for exercise and play, and scheduling frequent check-ups with a trusted vet.


The Finnish Lapphund is a medium-sized dog with a thick, fluffy coat and a friendly, outgoing personality. It is highly trainable and excels in a variety of activities, including obedience, agility, and herding.

If you’re considering a Finnish Lapphund, do your research and find a reputable breeder. The breed is a national treasure, so it is vital to choose a breeder committed to preserving the dog’s unique characteristics.

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