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Finnish Lapphund - Breed Profile

 Arlo (Mirawee) and Anikka (Kalevi) who live in Western Australia
The Finnish Lapphund or Lappie is growing in popularity in Australia due to its striking good looks and versatility as a companion and sporting dog.


The Finnish Lapphund is an ancient breed. 
Its Spitz type ancestors were used by the semi-nomadic people known as the Sami people of Finland / Lapland as helper dogs to guard or herd reindeer, and doubled as hunting dogs. 

Because the breed is naturally co-operative, they also make good human companions and watch dogs

Today, the Finnish Lapphunds not only herd livestock (sheep and cattle), they are now also being bred to be sporting dogs and family pets.

The first standard of the breed was established by the Finnish Kennel Club in 1945 and was known at the time as the Lapponian Shepherd Dog. 

Its introduction to Australia is fairly recent (1996) with the first Australian bred litter only occurring in 2001.

In Finland, this breed has been ranked in the top twenty on the most popular breeds list, because of its good health, temperament and outstanding looks.


The Finnish Lapphunds are a medium-sized “Spitz” type dog and range in size from 41cm to 52cm at the withers.

They appear strongly built, an impression accentuated by their abundant, thick coat.
Photo by MG Studios featuring L-R: Ryker from Theldaroy Kennels, Veikko or 'Squiggle' of Armahani Kennels, Ahsoka of Magpielane Kennels and Alleria or 'Wookie' from Caleebra Kennels.
They come in almost all colours though the most common is black with tan points. They also come in cream, solid black, brown as well as intricate patterns such as domino, wolf sable (agouti) and red sable. White markings on the chest and feet are common, and more occasionally on the face and neck.

For the Finnish Lapphund breed standard, please visit Dogs Australia.


Happy and affectionate, the Finnish Lapphund is naturally drawn to people. It is probably one of the most intelligent canine breeds around. Finnish Lapphunds are quick learners and easy to train and they also think before they act.

Being a herding animal, tend to look at their owners as a flock that needs to be tended! Some can be barkers, particularly when stimulated by play or something exciting and this needs to be managed through appropriate training. 

Finnish Lapphund Asta with Karri - Photo Credit: Finnish Lapphund Club of NSW
Whilst you should always supervise children around dogs, the Finnish Lapphund gentle and laid back temperament makes it an excellent choice for homes with children. They also make excellent therapy dogs.

Exercise Needs

Though the Finnish Lapphund can adapt to living in an environment with limited space, they still need to be exercised regularly. 

Finnish Lapphunds should have at least 30 minutes of activity each day.

A number of Finnish Lapphunds are active participants in a range of dog sports such as agility, herding, tracking, flyball, rally-o, endurance, dog sledding and even dancing!

Finnish Lapphunds Nuppu & Mod - Photo Credit: Finnish Lapphund Club of NSW

Living Conditions

The Finnish Lapphund does not have very special living needs. Despite having been bred to help herd reindeer, the Lapphund can be kept inside apartments or homes with limited space. The Lapphund is known to be able to adapt itself to different environments and circumstances.

Grooming Requirements

Male Finnish Lapphunds are known to have an abundant “lion-like” mane however one the best aspects of the breed is the low maintenance required for grooming.

The coat’s double layers means that it is more “wash and wear” and is not prone to tangles or knotting like other long-haired dog breeds. A simple half hour of brushing once a week will usually be enough. Lappies will ‘drop’ their coats once or twice a year.

Health & Lifespan
Finnish Lapphund puppy (8 weeks) - Photo Credit: Finnish Lapphund Club of NSW
The Finnish Lapphund is one of the healthiest canine breeds with an average lifespan of 12 to 14 years.

There have been very few reports of Lapphunds afflicted with Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) or Canine Hip Dysplasia.

Recommended for

Although considered a working breed, the Finnish Lapphunds do not require the same amount of exercise. 

Photo by MG Studios
 Puppy Fenix (Caleebra Kennels)
Whilst regular walks and mental stimulation are essential, they can be ‘couch potatoes’ during their rest times.

They do need however to be part of the life of their owner and should not be an “outside only” dog so if you’re planning to be away at work for 10-11 hours each day, this is not the dog for you.

A bored dog can be destructive and it is essential to start training early to ensure you end up with a happy, well-adjusted and obedient dog.

For more information on the breed, please visit

The Finnish Lapphund Club of NSW


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