Finnish Lapphunds

The Finnish Lapphund was originally developed by a semi-nomadic people, the Sami, to help them herd their reindeer. These days the dogs are popular companions in their home country of Finland and are beginning to make a name for themselves in North America. The Lappie, as he is nicknamed, has a thick double coat in any color, prick ears, a wedge-shaped head, and a waving tail that curls over his back as he moves. The Finnish Lapphund is a medium-size dog and weighs 33 to 53 pounds. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering bringing a Finnish Lapphund into your home.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

The Finnish Lapphund is smart, friendly and alert, making him an excellent family companion and watchdog. He may be aloof towards people he doesn't know. Like most herding breeds and spitz dogs, he barks a lot. If you don't want him to annoy the neighbors, you'll need to teach him when it's okay to bark and when it's not.

The Lapphund is active and intelligent, so he requires daily exercise that will challenge him physically and mentally and prevent him from becoming destructive or noisy in an attempt to entertain himself. Plan to exercise him for 20 to 30 minutes at least once a day. He'll enjoy a long walk or run, going for a hike or a vigorous game of fetch or flying disc. He performs well in dog sports such as agility, flyball, obedience and rally, and is a sturdy and tireless playmate for kids. If the Lapphund is brought up with cats, he will get along just fine with them.

Lappies respond well to positive reinforcement techniques such as play, praise and food rewards, but they are independent thinkers. Don't expect unquestioning obedience from them and you won't be disappointed. Keep training sessions short and fun so they don't get bored.

If the presence of Finnish Lapphund dust puppies would make you crazy, reconsider your decision to get this breed. He's not difficult to groom, but he does shed a lot of hair. Brush his double coat weekly to keep it clean and remove dead hair. During spring and fall shedding seasons, daily brushing will help to keep excess hair under control. In addition, trim his nails as needed, brush his teeth, and keep the ears clean to prevent infections.

Last but not least, it should go without saying that a people-loving dog like the Finnish Lapphund needs to live in the house. It's an unhappy Lapphund who is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship. Remember, too, that the Lapphund comes from the far North and is intolerant of heat. Keep him indoors on hot or humid days.

Health Issues Common to Finnish Lapphunds

All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

That said, the Finnish Lapphund is a pretty healthy breed. Health problems that may be seen include hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy and cataracts. Ask the breeder to show evidence that both of a puppy's parents have hip scores of Excellent, Good or Fair from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or a PennHIP score, as well as a clearance for PRA from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation.

Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Hip Dysplasia Medium $1,500-$6,000
Cataracts Medium $1,000-$5,000

5 Tips to Bringing Home a Healthy Finnish Lapphund Puppy

Finding a good breeder is more important than finding the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. The Lapphund is not very common in North America and you may have to wait six months to a year or more for a puppy to be available.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health problems in Finnish Lapphunds aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. In addition, a Finnish Lapphund can live 12 or more years, so an adult dog will still be a part of your family for a long time to come.

Puppy or adult, take your Finnish Lapphund to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You're more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to housetrain puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Finnish Lapphunds

Pet insurance for the Finnish Lapphunds costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Finnish Lapphunds are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are preexisting) to which Finnish Laphunds are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Finnish Lapphund is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.