Finnish Lapphund

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finnish lapphund portrait
Meet the Finnish Lapphund, a fluffy ball of pure joy and adventure! These lovable canines are not only adorably cute with their majestic coats and friendly smiles, but also boast a rich history as reindeer herders in the Arctic Circle.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Finnish Lapphund is an exceptional choice for families, singles, and couples alike, thanks to their adaptable nature, friendly demeanor, and love for companionship. This breed thrives in households that provide consistent mental and physical stimulation, making them a perfect match for active individuals or those who enjoy outdoor adventures.


OFFICIAL NAMEFinnish Lapphund
OTHER NAMESFinnish Lapponian Dog, Lapinkoira, Suomenlapinkoira, Lappie
BREED GROUPHerding Group
HEIGHT16-20 inches
WEIGHT26-53 lbs
LIFESPAN12-15 years
two finnish lapphund dogs running in an open field
Photo: Bigandt_Photography/Getty Images


The Finnish Lapphund is a medium-sized breed with a sturdy and well-proportioned build, exuding both strength and agility. Known for their striking appearance, these dogs boast a variety of captivating physical features that make them stand out.

Males typically stand between 18 and 20 inches at the shoulder, while females are slightly smaller, measuring 16 to 19 inches. In terms of weight, males usually range from 33 to 53 pounds, whereas females weigh between 26 and 44 pounds.

The Finnish Lapphund’s body is slightly longer than its height, giving it a rectangular shape. The chest is deep and well-developed, allowing for ample lung capacity in cold climates. The back is strong and straight, with a muscular loin and a slightly sloping croup. The tail is high-set and typically curls over the back in a plume-like fashion, adding to their distinctive appearance.

One of the most endearing features of the Finnish Lapphund is their head, which is broad and slightly domed, with a well-defined stop. Their medium-sized, almond-shaped eyes exhibit a warm and friendly expression, reflecting their gentle nature.

The eyes can be various shades of brown, with some even having blue eyes or one blue and one brown eye – a trait known as heterochromia. The triangular ears are set wide apart and stand erect, giving them an alert and curious look.

The Finnish Lapphund has a double coat, comprising a dense, soft undercoat for insulation and a longer, harsher topcoat that helps repel water and snow. This luxurious coat is one of the breed’s most recognizable features, providing protection against harsh weather conditions. The coat is especially thick around the neck, forming a mane-like ruff that is more pronounced in males.

They come in a variety of colors, including black, brown, tan, cream, and various shades of sable, often with white markings on the chest, face, and legs.

Overall, the Finnish Lapphund is a visually striking breed with a unique blend of physical characteristics. Their sturdy build, expressive eyes, erect ears, and luxurious coat all contribute to their enchanting appearance, making them truly stand out among other breeds.

finnish lapphund sitting in a meadow
Photo: Jouni Pihlanko/Getty Images


Imagine a friend who always greets you with the biggest grin, whose eyes sparkle with joy every time they see you. Now, imagine this friend is fluffy, has four legs, and a tail that never stops wagging. That’s the Finnish Lapphund

Finish Lapphunds are not just friendly but radiate friendliness like their own personal sunshine. They’re the kind of dogs who can turn strangers into friends within minutes. Their warmth and charm are infectious, making everyone around them feel instantly at ease.

But their friendliness isn’t restricted to just humans. Lapphunds are incredibly loyal to their families. They’re like your shadow, following you around the house, always interested in what you’re doing. It’s as if they’re saying, “Hey, I’m here for you, no matter what.” This deep-seated loyalty makes them wonderful companions, their presence a constant source of comfort and happiness.

Yet, there’s more to Lapphunds than just being friendly and loyal. They’re also incredibly intelligent. Their minds are always at work, exploring, learning, and discovering. Every new toy or person is a mystery to be solved, an adventure to embark on. This curiosity is contagious, filling the household with an air of excitement and fun.

Despite their intelligence and curiosity, Finnish Lapphunds are surprisingly calm. They’re not the kind of dogs who get easily worked up or create chaos. Instead, they prefer to take life as it comes, facing each new situation with a calmness that’s truly admirable. This balance between intelligence and tranquillity makes them wonderfully balanced pets.

When it comes to strangers, Lapphunds might be a bit reserved initially. But once they realize there’s no threat, they’ll quickly warm up. They’re like the perfect hosts, always welcoming, always accommodating. Their open-hearted nature makes them excellent companions for social events or family gatherings.

In a nutshell, a Finnish Lapphund is a bundle of joy, intelligence, and Arctic charm. They’re the type of dogs who can transform even the most ordinary day into an adventure. They’re not just pets, they’re friends, companions, family members.

finnish lapphund lying on a rock
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Ideal Environment

Physical Environment

The Finnish Lapphund thrives in environments where they can enjoy ample physical and mental stimulation, as well as a strong bond with their owners.

As a versatile breed, they can adapt to various living situations, including city apartments, suburban homes, and rural properties. However, they are most content when provided with a securely fenced yard or outdoor space where they can explore, play, and exercise.

Climate Adaptability

In terms of climate, the Finnish Lapphund is well-suited for colder environments, thanks to their thick double coat that keeps them warm and protected against harsh weather conditions. They are more than capable of handling snowy winters and frosty temperatures.

However, during hot summer months, it’s essential to take precautions to ensure their comfort and safety. Provide plenty of shade, fresh water, and avoid exercising during peak heat hours to prevent overheating or heatstroke. Regular grooming, including brushing and occasional trimming, can also help manage their dense coat and keep them comfortable in warmer climates.

Ideal Owner

Ideal pet parents for Finnish Lapphunds are those who can commit to meeting their exercise, training, and grooming needs. This breed requires daily walks, play sessions, and mental stimulation to remain happy and healthy.

Other Pets

Finnish Lapphunds typically get along well with other pets, especially if introduced and socialized properly. They can coexist harmoniously with other dogs, cats, and even smaller animals, although their herding instincts may occasionally cause them to “round up” or chase other pets.

Monitoring and managing interactions between your Finnish Lapphund and other pets is essential for maintaining a peaceful household dynamic.

finnish lapphund in the nature
Photo: Eerik/Getty Images


The Finnish Lapphund’s luxurious double coat requires regular grooming to keep it looking and feeling its best. Grooming not only helps maintain their appearance but also promotes healthy skin, prevents matting, and reduces shedding.

Coat Care

Due to their thick coat, Finnish Lapphunds need to be brushed at least once or twice a week to remove loose hair, prevent tangles, and distribute natural oils throughout their fur. During shedding seasons, which usually occur in spring and fall, daily brushing may be necessary to manage the increased shedding.

A slicker brush or a pin brush is ideal for removing loose hair and debris, while an undercoat rake or a de-shedding tool can help tackle the dense undercoat. Remember to brush gently and thoroughly, reaching down to the skin to ensure you’re removing any loose undercoat.

Finnish Lapphunds don’t require frequent baths, as over-bathing can strip their coat of essential oils and cause dryness. Bathe your Finnish Lapphund every two to three months or whenever they become dirty or smelly.

Use a gentle, dog-specific shampoo and conditioner to maintain the coat’s natural balance and shine. Make sure to rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residue, as leftover shampoo can cause skin irritation.

While the Finnish Lapphund’s coat doesn’t require regular trimming, occasional trims around the ears, paws, and sanitary areas can help keep them clean and comfortable.

Use a pair of blunt-nosed scissors or thinning shears for a neat and tidy appearance. If you’re unsure about trimming your dog’s fur, consult a professional groomer for guidance.

Ear Care

Regular ear checks and cleaning are essential to prevent infections and maintain your Finnish Lapphund’s overall ear health. Clean their ears every two to four weeks using a dog-specific ear cleanser and a cotton ball or soft cloth.

Gently wipe the visible parts of the ear, avoiding inserting anything into the ear canal. Keep an eye out for signs of infection or irritation, such as redness, swelling, or foul odor, and consult your veterinarian if you notice any issues.

Dental Care

Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial for the Finnish Lapphund’s overall health. Brush their teeth at least two to three times a week using dog-specific toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush or finger brush.

Regular dental check-ups with your veterinarian and professional cleanings, as needed, can help prevent dental issues such as gum disease and tooth decay.

Nail Trimming

Trim your Finnish Lapphund’s nails every four to six weeks, or as needed, to prevent overgrowth and discomfort. Use a pair of dog nail clippers or a grinder, being careful not to cut the quick – the blood vessel inside the nail. If you’re unsure about trimming your dog’s nails, consult a professional groomer or your veterinarian for guidance.

finnish lapphund in the snow
Photo: Eerik/Getty Images


The Finnish Lapphund is an energetic and active breed that requires regular exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being. As a herding dog, they have a natural drive to work and move, making daily physical activity essential for their overall happiness and health.

Exercise Amount & Types

A Finnish Lapphund’s exercise needs can typically be met with one to two hours of activity per day. This can be divided into multiple sessions, such as a combination of walks, playtime, and training exercises. Regular walks or hikes are excellent ways to keep your Finnish Lapphund physically fit while also providing them with mental stimulation through new sights, smells, and experiences.

In addition to walks, engaging in interactive play sessions with toys like balls, frisbees, or tug toys can help channel their energy and strengthen the bond between you and your dog.

Socialization is another crucial aspect of a Finnish Lapphund’s exercise routine. Regular interaction with other dogs, people, and environments helps develop their confidence and adaptability. Dog parks, group training classes, or playdates with other dogs can provide valuable social experiences while also offering additional opportunities for physical activity.

Dog Sports

Finnish Lapphunds also enjoy participating in various canine sports, such as agility, obedience, rally, and herding trials, which allow them to showcase their intelligence, athleticism, and problem-solving skills.

Exercise Precautions

When exercising your Finnish Lapphund, it’s important to consider their adaptability to different weather conditions. In colder climates, they are more than capable of handling snowy winters and frosty temperatures, thanks to their thick double coat.

However, during hot summer months, it’s essential to take precautions to ensure their comfort and safety. Provide plenty of shade, fresh water, and avoid exercising during peak heat hours to prevent overheating or heatstroke.

finnish lapphund standing in a green meadow
Photo: suefeldberg/Getty Images


Training a Finnish Lapphund can be a highly enjoyable and rewarding experience, as they are known for their intelligence, eagerness to learn, and strong desire to please their owners. This breed’s natural herding instincts and problem-solving abilities make them quick learners, capable of mastering various commands and tricks with relative ease.

Positive Reinforcement

When training a Finnish Lapphund, it’s essential to establish clear communication and use positive reinforcement techniques. They respond best to praise, treats, and affection, which help build their confidence and strengthen the bond between you and your dog. Using harsh corrections or punishment can have negative effects on their progress and overall temperament.

Consistency & Starting Early

Consistency is key when training a Finnish Lapphund. Make sure all family members are on the same page regarding rules, commands, and expectations to avoid confusion and ensure a well-rounded, obedient dog. It’s also important to begin training and socialization as early as possible, ideally starting during puppyhood. This sets the foundation for a confident, adaptable, and well-behaved adult dog.

Training for Dog Sports

Finnish Lapphunds excel in various canine sports and activities, such as obedience, agility, rally, and herding trials. These activities not only provide physical exercise but also offer mental stimulation that keeps their minds sharp and engaged. Participating in these events can further enhance your dog’s training progress and help develop a stronger bond between you and your Finnish Lapphund.

Additional Training Tips

While Finnish Lapphunds are generally easy to train, they may occasionally display stubbornness or independent thinking. In such cases, patience and persistence are crucial. Keep training sessions short, fun, and engaging to maintain their interest and motivation.

If you encounter difficulties or require additional guidance, don’t hesitate to consult a professional dog trainer or enroll in group training classes.

finnish lapphund in the snow
Photo: Eerik/Getty Images

Diet & Nutrition 

The Finnish Lapphund’s diet and nutrition play a vital role in maintaining their overall health, energy levels, and coat condition. Providing a balanced and appropriate diet will ensure your dog thrives and enjoys a high quality of life.

What to Feed & How Much

When selecting food for your Finnish Lapphund, look for high-quality dry, wet, or raw food options that follow the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines. These guidelines ensure that the food meets the necessary nutritional requirements for your dog’s specific life stage.

Choose a product made with high-quality, easily digestible protein sources, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals to support their overall well-being.

The amount of food to feed your Finnish Lapphund depends on various factors, such as their age, weight, activity level, and individual metabolism. Generally, puppies require more frequent meals (3-4 times a day) to support their growth and development.

As they mature, you can gradually reduce meal frequency to twice a day. It’s essential to monitor your dog’s weight and adjust their food intake accordingly to prevent obesity, which can lead to various health issues.

Regularly consult with your veterinarian to discuss your Finnish Lapphund’s specific dietary needs and make any necessary adjustments as they age or experience changes in their activity levels. Your veterinarian can also recommend appropriate food options and help you create a tailored feeding plan to meet your dog’s unique requirements.


Treats can be a valuable addition to your Finnish Lapphund’s diet, as they can aid in training and provide mental stimulation. However, it’s crucial to use treats in moderation, as excessive treats can contribute to weight gain and an unbalanced diet. Opt for healthy treat options, such as fruits and vegetables (in small quantities), lean meats, or dog-specific treats with minimal additives and preservatives.


Water is another critical component of your Finnish Lapphund’s diet. Ensure they have access to clean, fresh water at all times to stay hydrated and support their overall health. Monitor their water intake, especially during hot weather or after exercise, to prevent dehydration.

finnish lapphund in the forest
Photo: Janko Ferlic/Getty Images


The Finnish Lapphund is a generally healthy dog breed with a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. However, like all breeds, they can be prone to certain health issues. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and proper exercise can help maintain their overall health and well-being. It’s essential to be aware of the potential health risks associated with this breed to ensure early detection and treatment.

Here are common health issues associated with Finnish Lapphunds:

Hip Dysplasia: This is a genetic condition in which the hip joint doesn’t develop properly, leading to arthritis and discomfort. Regular screening and responsible breeding practices can help reduce the prevalence of hip dysplasia in the breed. Maintaining a healthy weight and providing appropriate exercise can also help manage this condition.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is an inherited eye disease that gradually leads to blindness due to the degeneration of the retina. Responsible breeding practices and genetic testing can help identify carriers of the PRA gene and prevent the spread of this condition within the breed.

Cataracts: Finnish Lapphunds can be prone to developing cataracts, which are cloudiness or opacity in the eye lens, leading to impaired vision or blindness. Treatment options include surgical removal of the affected lens and replacement with an artificial one.

Elbow Dysplasia: Similar to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is a developmental disorder affecting the elbow joint, leading to pain, inflammation, and limited mobility. Responsible breeding practices and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of this condition.

Allergies: Finnish Lapphunds may be susceptible to various allergies, including food allergies, contact allergies, and inhalant allergies. Symptoms can range from itching and skin irritation to gastrointestinal issues. Identifying the specific allergen and implementing appropriate management strategies, such as dietary changes or medication, can help alleviate symptoms.

finnish lapphund running in the park
Photo: Bigandt_Photography/Getty Images


The Finnish Lapphund, also known as the Lapinkoira or Suomenlapinkoira, has a rich history that dates back thousands of years to the indigenous Sami people of northern Scandinavia.

This hardy and versatile breed was initially developed to help the Sami with their day-to-day tasks, such as herding reindeer and guarding homes and properties. The breed’s intelligence, adaptability, and strong work ethic made them invaluable partners to the nomadic Sami culture.

The Finnish Lapphund’s ancestors were likely Spitz-type dogs, characterized by their prick ears, curled tails, and thick double coats. Over the centuries, these dogs adapted to the harsh Arctic climate, developing the dense coat and sturdy build that we associate with the modern Finnish Lapphund.

As reindeer herding became more prevalent in the region, the breed’s herding instincts were further refined, making them highly skilled at managing large herds across vast expanses of land.

The first written records of the Finnish Lapphund date back to the 17th century, but it wasn’t until the early 20th century that efforts were made to standardize and preserve the breed. In the 1930s and 1940s, Finnish dog enthusiasts began collecting information on the various Lapphund types throughout Finland and neighboring countries.

During this time, they discovered that there were two distinct types of Lapphunds: one with a long coat and another with a shorter coat. The long-haired variety eventually became known as the Finnish Lapphund, while the short-haired type was recognized as the Swedish Lapphund.

In 1945, the first breed standard for the Finnish Lapphund was established, and the breed was officially recognized by the Finnish Kennel Club. The breed gained popularity in Finland as both a working dog and a companion animal, thanks to their intelligence, friendly temperament, and striking appearance.

Over the years, Finnish Lapphunds have successfully transitioned from their traditional role as reindeer herders to versatile family pets and competitors in various dog sports.

The Finnish Lapphund was introduced to the United States in the 1980s, and the breed’s popularity has steadily grown since then. The American Kennel Club (AKC) first recognized the Finnish Lapphund in 1994 as a Foundation Stock Service (FSS) breed and in 2011, it was fully recognized and became a member of the Herding Group.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Finnish Lapphund in the United States is the Finnish Lapphund Club of America (FLCA). Founded in 1998, the FLCA is dedicated to promoting and preserving the Finnish Lapphund breed through responsible breeding practices, education, and public awareness.

The club also organizes events, supports rescue efforts, and provides resources for Finnish Lapphund owners and enthusiasts. Visit their website to learn more about the club and its activities.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. 

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check out the Finnish Lapphund’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

finnish lapphund puppies in the park
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When considering acquiring a Finnish Lapphund, it’s essential to research the breed and ensure that it’s a good fit for your lifestyle. Prepare by learning about their exercise, training, grooming, and health needs. Instead of buying from a breeder, consider rescuing a Finnish Lapphund in need of a loving home. Many dogs in rescue organizations are awaiting adoption, and you can provide them with a second chance at a happy life.

The Finnish Lapphund Club of America (FLCA) can assist you in finding a rescue organization or connecting with adoptable Finnish Lapphunds. They work closely with rescue groups and provide valuable resources, support, and advice for potential adopters. By choosing to rescue a Finnish Lapphund, you not only gain a loyal and loving companion but also make a positive impact on the life of a deserving dog.


Are Finnish Lapphunds good family dogs?

Yes, Finnish Lapphunds are known for their friendly and gentle temperament, making them excellent family dogs. They typically get along well with children and other pets, and their loyalty and affectionate nature make them wonderful companions.

Do Finnish Lapphunds howl?

While not all Finnish Lapphunds howl, some may express themselves through vocalizations such as barking, whining, or even howling. Proper training and socialization can help manage excessive vocalizations.

Are Finnish Lapphunds suitable for first-time dog owners?

Finnish Lapphunds can be a good choice for first-time dog owners due to their intelligence, trainability, and eagerness to please. However, it’s essential for new owners to commit to consistent training, socialization, and exercise to ensure a well-behaved and happy dog.

Do Finnish Lapphunds have blue eyes?

Finnish Lapphunds typically have brown eyes. Blue eyes are considered a fault in the breed standard and are relatively rare.

How much exercise do Finnish Lapphunds need?

Finnish Lapphunds are an active breed that requires daily physical activity to stay healthy and happy. Aim for at least one hour of exercise per day, which can include walks, playtime, or engaging in dog sports such as agility or herding trials.

Are Finnish Lapphunds hypoallergenic?

No, Finnish Lapphunds are not hypoallergenic. They have a thick double coat that sheds seasonally, which may trigger allergies in sensitive individuals.

Can Finnish Lapphunds adapt to living in an apartment?

While Finnish Lapphunds can adapt to apartment living, they will require adequate daily exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and restlessness. As long as their exercise needs are met, they can be comfortable living in smaller spaces.

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