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Finnish Lapphund

The Finnish Lapphund is a medium-sized dog with a robust build and coat designed to cope with the harsh, icy conditions of Lapland. A squarely built dog capable of galloping, they show the typical spitz features of pricked ears and plush tail that curls over the back.

  • Dog suitable for owners with some experience
  • Basic training required
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys walking one to two hours a day
  • Medium dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Non hypoallergenic breed
  • Very vocal dog
  • Guard dog. Barks and alerts
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • May require training to live with kids

Key Facts

Lifespan: 12 – 15 years
Weight: 17 – 19kg
Height: 44 – 49cm
Colours:  The coat comes in all colours except merle, and Lapphunds usually display a
distinct light mask over the face that gives them a very attractive smiling appearance
Size: Medium
UK Kennel Club Groups: Pastoral


Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 4/5
Easy to train: 5/5
Tolerates being alone: 2/5
Likes other pets: 5/5
Energy level: 5/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 3/5
Finnish Lapphund standing in the field


Keen to work with their owners, the Finnish Lapphund retains a strong herding instinct and is an instinctive hunter outdoors. At home they are alert yet calm, affectionate and loyal. Not as noisy as some spitz types, they will still require some effort put into training to stay quiet as they are naturally inclined to alert to anything they perceive as novel or suspicious.

Finnish Lapphund lying on the grass

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Finland

Whilst it is clear from archaeological records that the region and people of Lapland have for centuries lived and worked alongside a medium sized arctic spitz type, exact details are unknown. Little written information exists and that which does is written in Laplandic dialect that is now almost impossible to translate. We do however know that the Lapphund worked with the semi-nomadic Sami people of Lapland (a region covering the north of Finland and bordering Sweden and Norway), herding reindeer and likely performing hunting, watchdog and guarding dog roles, as well as companion dog duties.

With the damage done to Lapland during the second world war, and then the invention of the snowmobile, Lapphunds are rarely used for reindeer herding today - although some still do. Built to gallop, the Finnish Lapphund often works alongside the shorter-legged Lapponian Herder, another native breed of the region. Recognised by the Finland Kennel Club in 1945, they were not included on the Import Register by the UK Kennel Club until the late 1980s.

Health and Common Issues

As with many breeds, the Finnish Lapphund can occasionally suffer from various hereditary eye disorders, and hip dysplasia (a condition that can lead to mobility problems). Eye testing and hip scoring of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important.

The breed club monitor the health of the breed carefully and should be contacted for the most up-to-date information and details of any DNA or additional testing they recommend. Breed Clubs can be found on the Kennel Club website.

Exercise Needs

The Finnish Lapphund ideally requires two hours exercise per day, although some of this can be in the form of training and dog-based sports or activities. This is an active breed and they can turn a paw to a variety of canine hobbies such as agility, canicross, man-trailing and more. Not a dog to leave idle, their independent and problem-solving mind will lead them into (often noisy) trouble if you do!

Space Requirements

The Finnish Lapphund is not demanding on space, however this is a dog bred for arctic conditions so if you like a warm stuffy home, and aren’t keen on the outdoors or doors being open all day, they may not be for you.

The coat is weatherproof but may pick up considerable amounts of wet and mud, so space to groom and dry off is necessary. A secure garden of a decent size, and access to interesting and varied walking routes are essential. 

Given their alert, watchdog nature and desire to herd and hunt, a rural environment will suit the Lapphund better than a city location.

Nutrition and Feeding

Your dog's diet needs to have the right balance of all the main nutrient groups including a constant supply of fresh water. It's important to conduct regular body condition scores to ensure you keep your dog in ideal shape and remember to feed them at least twice daily and in accordance with the feeding guidelines of their particular food.

Grooming Finnish Lapphunds

The double coat is made up of a long, straight top coat, which is shorter on the head and the front of the legs, and a thick, soft undercoat. Males have a 'mane' of thick hair around their neck and chest. The coat will need grooming a couple of times a week, but daily grooming may be necessary when shedding.

Training Finnish Lapphunds

The Finnish Lapphund will actively enjoy training for its own sake - and fun, engaging training in a variety of games and hobbies will keep them amused and entertained. Pay particular attention to teaching a strong recall to avoid hunting and herding instincts getting them (and you!) into trouble. Teach them to be quiet on cue and socialise well from an early age to avoid them becoming a barky nuisance.

Best Family Dog Breeds

Great for families with older children but keep in mind their desire to herd and propensity towards barking, a noisy family with very small children may find the addition of a barking dog insistent on rounding up toddlers rather stressful. For older children and teenagers who want to participate in training and dog sport, the Finnish Lapphund can be an excellent companion.

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with and respect each other, and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them.

did you know?

Did You Know?

  • These attractive smiling dogs are so clever and trainable, the breed club in the UK (Finnish Lapphund Club UK) runs versatility awards, where owners can submit evidence of their dog’s achievements both in the show ring and at activities such as flyball, agility, mountain rescue and more.
  • Through mitochondrial DNA testing, the Finnish Lapphund is known to be a part of the d1 subclade, which can be traced back over 3000 years. This subclade has been pinpointed to have occurred as a result of a female wolf mating with a domesticated male dog.
  • The Finnish Lapphund is also known as the ‘Lapinkoira’.
  • This breed is incredibly smart which makes them perfectly suited to working roles and sporting, however some owners report that they’re ‘too smart for their own good’.
  • Finnish Lapphund’s toes are spread out to act as a snowshoe and have fur on their feet and between their paw pads.

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