Saturday, September 3, 2011


This breed is the third one that was recognized by the AKC in June.  They are from Finland, as you can maybe figure out from their name.  But there is also a Swedish Lapphund, and there is a Lapponian Herder, so it's a little confusing.  All of these dogs probably started out being kind of the same, and then they got made into different breeds because of how people bred them.

Anyway, the Finnish Lapphunds were first used by the Sami people to herd reindeer.  In fact, the Sami people still use lapphunds sometimes to do this, but they now also use snowmobiles and Lapponian Herders, which is a dog breed with shorter hair than the lapphunds.  The Sami people live way up north, above the Arctic Circle, in a place called Lapland, and it is really cold there, especially in the winter.  So that is why they needed a dog who had a nice thick coat, and who didn't mind being outside in the snow all day.

The Sami used to be a really nomadic people, and they traveled around a lot to wherever they could find grass or whatever reindeer eat.  The lapphunds guarded the reindeer and herded them from place to place.  Reindeer are harder to herd than some other animals are, because they can suddenly turn around and try to trample a dog.  So the lapphunds had to bark a lot so that the reindeer knew they weren't wolves, and the dogs also had to use their "startle reflex" so they could get away from a reindeer in a hurry if the reindeer got nasty.

Nowadays, the Sami people stay mostly in one place, and they keep the lapphunds more as companion dogs than as working dogs.  In other parts of Finland, the lapphunds have become popular as family dogs because they have a good temperament and they do well with children.  Since lapphunds have a thick double coat, they are one of only two breeds that it is legal to keep in an outdoor kennel during the winter in Finland.  The other breed is the Lapponian Herder.  Besides being really warm, the lapphund's coat is also waterproof.

Lapphunds are medium-sized dogs.  The males are 18 to 20 inches tall at the shoulder, and the females are 16 to 19 inches tall.  A male usually weighs between 37 and 42 pounds, and a female weighs 33 to 53 pounds.

The most common colors for Finnish Lapphunds are white, black, red, brown, sable, and wolf-sable.  Any color is actually okay, but the dog should be mostly all that color.  Like, for instance, you would not see a spotted lapphund.  Lots of lapphunds have interesting markings on their faces.  One of these markings is called "spectacles" because it is a ring of light-colored hair around the eyes.

Lappies are very intelligent and also very active, since they were meant to do the job of herding reindeer.  They are easy to train, and they do well in activities like agility, obedience trials, carting, mushing, flyball, tracking, herding events, and pet therapy.  They are gentle and friendly, but they are also good guard dogs.

This breed is usually healthy, and they live to be 12 or 14 years old.  Sometimes they even get to be 16 or 17, especially in Finland.  The main medical problems they have are progressive retinal atrophy and hereditary cataracts.

In 1944, a breed standard for the Swedish Lapphund was written, and one for the Finnish Lapphund was developed not long after that.  But later, in the 1960s, the Finnish breeds were divided, and the Lapponian Herder was made into a separate breed.  The Finnish Lapphund got its own separate breed standard in 1967.

The first litter of lappies in America was born in 1988.  The UKC recognized the breed in 1994, and the AKC accepted it into the Miscellaneous Group in 2009.  This year it got full recognition.  So if you go to your local dog show, you might see a Finnish Lapphund, or you might not, depending on how big the show is.  Probably, the breed will get to be more popular as time goes by, but Mom says we are not going to be getting one because they have way too much hair!


  1. Very interesting! Another breed I did not know about. To be honest, when I saw some of the pictures before reading the subject, I thought it would be about some kind of husky. Anyway, I think I would like these dogs...except for the "hair." After I read this blog, I was reading the Westminster web-site and was sad to read they are eliminating the number of contestants by 500. Hopefully, after the renovations, they will go back to the usual 2,500 contenders. Thank you for today's blog!
    Love, AP

  2. Awwwwwwwwww, look at them as puppies! They're so cute!

    But, gosh, I'd hate to groom that dog come fall and spring! Talk about a lot of fur! Not to mention hours of brushing. It would be like, FWOOSH!, a carpet of dog. No, thank you. That's WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much fur and waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much brushing. Zena takes up a lot of time in terms of brushing as is (not because she needs to be brushed, mind you, but because she demands a massage from that Zoom Groom! I'm going to hide it one day and see how she likes it when it goes missing.)

    How's the wee puppy Piper feeling?

    Big human kisses to Piper,

  3. Yep, the short-haired dogs are definitely the very best dogs! But the stuff I read about Finnish Lapphunds said that they actually don't need a lot of brushing. I find this hard to believe, but that's what they said.

    I am feeling okay, thanks for asking. I got another blood test yesterday, but we can't know the results until Tuesday because of the holiday. We hope my cortisol levels will be okay, so it's very suspenseful waiting to find out.

    I'm sorry to hear that they are having 500 fewer dogs at Westminster. I guess that means they won't be inviting me to compete! LOL

    Love, Piper

  4. Piper - I think you and I must have alot in common; I, too, had to have blood tests and WON'T know until Tuesday. I also had a CT scan...did you have one? I do empathize with you...this unhealthy stuff is for the "birds"...although I do like birds and I'm sure you do too!
    Love, AP

  5. No, I did not have a CT scan, unless that's the same thing as a CAT scan. Charlie and Chloe are scanning me all the time, so I have had lots of CAT scans! Hahahaha! I had an ultrasound, and I have had a bunch of x-rays, but this time I just had a blood test.
    Love, Piper

  6. Hi Piper,

    No, I don't believe that at all. Most long haired puppies need a lot of brushing because of the potential for matting. If it's not the shedding, it's the matting and matting is BAD. Zena gets little mats and she hates me because I have to yank them out (her hair is too short for me to cut them or brush them out) or give her a bath if she has a lot of them. It hurts me more than it hurts her to yank out a mat (oh, to hear my baby whine in pain!), but it's mats are bad for the skin!

    I hope your blood test comes back with good levels. We wouldn't want the itsy bitsy Piper go to the icky hospital for several days now would we?


    P.S. CAT scans and CT scans are the same thing. MRI and CAT/CT scans are different. Different machines, different technological eras (MRIs came before CAT scans), different technologies and used for different things. Well, they do overlap in uses, but they do have areas where they don't!

  7. Dear Katie,
    You are really smart and full of good information, like the difference between MRIs and CAT scans. My blood test will just tell where my cortisol levels are. They were too high at first, which gave me the Cushing's disease, and then I took too many of those expensive pills, so my cortisol got too low. Now I'm taking prednisone. We are just trying to get the levels in the normal range and then figure out how many pills I need to take to keep it there. I don't think there is any danger of having to go to the hospital, or at least I hope not!

    I am glad I have really, really short hair because I never get any mats at all, and that's a good thing!

    Your friend, Piper

  8. Dear Piper,

    I pretty much know the difference between medical equipment and all that good hospital junk because I went in and out of the hospital as a kid and the nurses and doctors kind of entertained me with hospital trivia! Asthma and Epilepsy means you go into the ER and to the neurology and radiology areas of the hospital quite a lot!

    Zena's hair is really short too, but it doesn't mean you can't not get mats!

  9. Dear Katie,

    I'm sorry you had to learn about hospital stuff by actually being in the hospital. I think it would be nicer to learn about it by reading a book! Hahahaha!

    Have a happy Labor Day!

  10. Dear Piper,

    Happy Labor Day to you too!


    P.S. Eh, you get used to being in the ER and doing hospital visits after awhile. Just don't ask me to go into one WILLINGLY. I quite hate the smell! That and anything citrus. Yuckie!

  11. Dear Piper,
    We are owners of a 10 year old male Finnish Lapphund. He is very full coated and he DOES NOT require a lot of brushing. Because this breed is not well know in the U.S. People assume they are high maintenance.....quite the opposite is true. They " blow out" their coat semi annually...spring and fall. But, you can just pick up the " tufts" of hair. When brushed, you can fill up a shopping bag full, but they do not drop hair. My past dogs were Labrador that is a messy hairy non-stop sweeping mess!
    Laura and Mike MacDonald

  12. Dear Laura and Mike,
    Thank you for telling me about your Finnish Lapphund. I am happy to know that I was not imagining things when I thought I read that Lapphunds don't need much grooming. I guess if you save the hair, you could spin it and then knit a sweater out of it, if that's the kind of thing you like to do!
    Sincerely, Piper

  13. Agreed with Laura and Mike--I have an 11 year old bitch, and although her coat has always been a bit... off (she's show quality and has UKC conformation titles--her show days were long before AKC recognition--but her coat is not what did it for her and is part of the reason--albeit a small part--she was never bred), she doesn't take much grooming. If the coat texture is correct, it is quite harsh and does not mat.

    We had a sheltie for a while, and whereas she needed almost constant grooming to avoid matting--my Lapphund can be brushed once a month or even less (although that's not ideal for other reasons), and you won't find a mat on her anywhere.

    Also, no greasiness or 'dog smell,' even when wet or having gone a long time without a bath.

    I would like to point out, however, that the 'white' mentioned in the article is actually cream or sable--true white Lapphunds, to the best of my knowledge, don't exist.

  14. I have a 3 year old female Lappy and she's the best dog I've ever had. I've had a Lab, a german shepherd, several Aussies, a black and tan hound, a chow, a daschund, a dobie, you get the picture.
    It's true, she sheds a bit when the seasons change, so I just take her to the groomer 2X/yr for $35 to brush her out and that's it. She has ALL of the best qualities a dog can have, except she doesn't swim a well as my 85 pound Lab. She is really smart (2-3 repetitions and she has it), she is extremely obedient (I can take her off leash, and she'll see a deer down the street or a dog across the street, and I only have to say 'no' calmly and firmly once and she obeys), she's very playful and great with kids and other dogs and will bark at but not bite complete strangers, she'll lay down outside my desk at work and just chill and let people step over her without stressing, she's great outdoors. I can't say enough about what a fabulous breed this is! I'm totally sold on Lappys. They're probably not an ideal breed for new york or Los Angeles or Phoenix, but they're great in the upper half of the states. Incredible, in fact.

  15. like the way you have stolen my group photo of my lapphunds which is a professional photo and subject to copyright!!!

    1. I am very sorry for using your copyrighted photo. I have removed it from the blog.