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Finnish Lapphund by a lake

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Herding group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height — 16-19 inches (female), 18-21  inches (male)
  • Weight — 33-53 pounds
  • Coat length & texture — Long, thick, double coat
  • Coat color — The coat color can vary but typically is white, red, black, brown, sable, or wolf-sable. Often different colors are present on the coat.
  • Exercise needs — Average
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Moderately vocal
  • Life span — 12-15 years
  • Temperament — Friendly, gentle, loyal, intelligent
  • Hypoallergenic — No
  • Origin — Finland

Finnish Lapphund fun facts 

  • A rare breed. Finnish Lapphunds are not typically found in the United States, and mostly live in the Arctic Circle. They are, however, slowly growing in popularity all over the world.
  • Born to be of service. Due to their high intelligence and love of having tasks, Finnish Lapphunds make excellent service or therapy animals.
  • Dogs with a long history. Finnish Lapphunds originated from the Sami, a semi-nomadic people who lived in what is now Finland, Russia, and Sweden. Historical reports date the breed’s origin at around 7,000 B.C.
Finnish Lapphund lying on a mountain

Finnish Lapphund temperament and characteristics 

At first glance, one might assume the Finnish Lapphund is a lapdog by its name. But these medium-size pups are actually a highly intelligent herding breed originating from ancient Lapland, or what is now Finland. The Finnish Lapphund (also affectionately known as a Lappy) still has a strong herding instinct and is often still found in the Arctic Circle herding livestock. Herding takes a lot of intelligence, and these pups have it in spades. That’s why Finnish Lapphunds also make excellent service dogs and typically do very well with agility training.

Behind the book smarts, Finnish Lapphunds are also super sweet and gentle canines. They’re a great choice for a house with kids or other animals. Finnish Lapphunds aren’t the ideal choice for a guard dog, though; they’re more likely to lick an intruder’s hand than bite it. This breed thrives on companionship and always wants to stick close to their humans. They can be pretty strong willed and might be destructive if left alone too long. These dogs do best in a home with owners committed to their training, quality time and grooming maintenance.

Common Finnish Lapphund health problems 

Finnish Lapphunds are overall a healthy breed that can live a long and happy life. There are some hereditary health concerns that are possible. Prospective pet parents can ask for the records of a pure-bred dog’s ancestry to see if any concerning health conditions run in the family.

  • Hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip socket that happens more commonly with medium-size or larger breed dogs. This can cause painful arthritis and result in costly surgeries. Getting your dog from a breeder who is careful not to breed dogs with hip dysplasia is the only way to prevent this condition from occurring with your pup.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). This condition causes the cells in your dog’s retina to begin to deteriorate and may cause blindness over time. Typically PRA occurs with older dogs. There are treatments and supplements available to help slow the progression and promote your dog’s quality of life.
  • Patellar luxation. This painful disorder, also called a luxating patella , occurs when the dog’s kneecap shifts out of alignment. Surgery might be necessary to slow the progression of arthritis later in their life depending on the severity of the condition.
  • Degenerative myelopathy. Also known as chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy (CDRM), degenerative myelopathy happens when the white matter in the spinal cord degenerates. This disorder can lead to paralysis, and is unfortunately an untreatable disease.

Cost of caring for Finnish Lapphund

Monthly or annual costs of caring for your Finnish Lapphund can vary. Pet owners can expect to pay between $50-$80 on dog food, depending on the size of your dog and the type of food. It’s also very important to keep your dog healthy with flea, tick and heartworm prevention medicine. Simparica Trio is one brand we recommend!

Like all other household expenses, dog owners should plan on making a monthly pet budget and expect to spend at least $200 every month on routine costs associated with their dog. And just like other life expenses, sometimes the unexpected happens. For rainy days, investing in pet health insurance early on can really come in handy to protect your pup and your wallet from big medical expenses.

History of the Finnish Lapphund

Finnish Lapphunds or Lappys have an ancient history. They were originally helper dogs of the Sami, who were a semi-nomadic tribe that lived in Lapland (what’s now considered Finland, Sweden, Norway, and parts of Russia). Cave drawings of the Lappy have been found in this area, and archaeologists have even uncovered remains of these dogs from as far back as 7000 BC.

This nomadic tribe eventually settled into a more sedentary life, which changed the role of the Finnish Lapphund to a herding breed for reindeer. Although modern technology has done away with the need for Lappys to herd reindeer like their ancestors did, these pups still have a strong herding instinct. Some sheep farmers today use Lappys as a trusted and hardworking watchdog over their flocks.

The Finnish Lapphund’s population began to decline over time, but in the 1940s an effort was made to breed the dogs and prevent them from extinction. Today, the Finnish Lapphund is a very popular dog breed in Finland. While the breed is rarer outside of the Arctic Circle, there have been efforts to popularize them in other parts of the world. In 2008, the breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Finnish Lapphund in a snowy forest

Caring for your Finnish Lapphund

When you become a new pet parent, the to-do list can be overwhelming! You’ll need to make your first trip to the vet and schedule your dog’s vaccinations. It’s also essential to puppy-proof your home and prepare for teething. While no one likes to think about losing their new puppy, FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag so you’re prepared just in case. Here are some other caretaking basics specific to Finnish Lapphund.


These herding dogs need a moderate amount of exercise, around 1-2 hours per day. Finnish Lapphunds enjoy long or vigorous walks and several play sessions a day. They also love training and being given tasks to do. Learning new tricks or agility training acts as a mental exercise for the Finnish Lapphund. Because of their long double coat, these pups can withstand extreme weather any time of the year, and may enjoy a nice snowy hike.

It’s important to remember that this breed needs to keep busy. Leaving them alone for long periods of time may lead to neighbors upset at non stop barking or even destructive behaviors.

Finnish Lapphund walking


The long and beautiful double coat of the Finnish Lapphund does require some TLC to maintain. It’s recommended that pet parents brush their Lappy’s coat twice a week to prevent mats and tangles and to remove loose fur. In the spring and fall, your dog will go through what’s called a shedding season. Keep your dog brush and a vacuum handy during these times, as there will be a lot more loose fur than normal.

During the shedding season, your pup should be brushed daily. Although it may seem more convenient to shave a dog, this can be very harmful. Dogs rely on their coats for insulation in hot and cold weather, so shaving your dog can reduce their ability to regulate body temperature.

Finnish Lapphunds don’t need a bath too often unless they get dirty; expect to bathe your pup about once a month or so. Also, keep their nails trimmed and clean to protect their paws, and check your dog’s ears weekly to see if they need cleaning. Brush your dog’s teeth at least three times a week (or daily if your pup will let you!) to prevent health issues down the road.

Diet and nutrition

This medium-sized dog breed requires moderate servings of food to keep up with their lifestyles and maintain their health. Be sure to choose a high-quality dog food appropriate for your Finnish Lapphund’s age, size, and activity level. Generally, your dog’s food should be served in two or three smaller portions throughout the day to prevent digestive problems. Always consult with your veterinarian to determine the best type and quantity of food that’s right for your dog.

Training your Finnish Lapphund

The Finnish Lapphund is whip-smart and eager to please their humans. This breed typically does very well with training, though they do best with a trainer who can keep up with their mental exercise needs. As a herding breed, Finnish Lapphunds love having jobs and tasks to complete. Agility training is an excellent option for the Finnish Lapphund.

Of course, starting out any new pet parent will want to get their puppy house trained. One of the most effective modes of house training for your puppy is crate training. No matter what mode of training you choose, always use positive reinforcement training methods and give plenty of praise and treats.

Finnish lapphund-playing with ball

Breeds similar to the Finnish Lapphund

Not quite sure that a Finnish Lapphund is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Finnish spitz. The Finnish spitz is a smaller but more high energy breed than the Finnish Lapphund. They are also known to be a very vocal breed.
  • Norwegian elkhound. Norwegian elkhounds are about the same size as a Lappy, though they’re more known for being a breed that is protective of their families and make great guard dogs.
  • Icelandic sheepdog. The smaller Icelandic sheepdog is also a herding breed that loves mental stimulation and excels at agility training.

Frequently asked questions

Are Finnish Lapphunds good pets?

The Finnish Lapphund makes an excellent pet. They’re very loving and do best in a home where they can spend lots of time with their humans.

Are Finnish Lapphunds high maintenance?

The grooming required for a Finnish Lapphund means they’re moderately high maintenance. Be sure to keep their coats well brushed and free of mats.

How many Finnish Lapphunds are in the U.S.?

Finnish Lapphunds are a rare breed in the United States. It’s estimated there are only about 11 in the country now. Most Finnish Lapphunds are found in the Arctic Circle.

How much exercise does a Finnish Lapphund need?

Dog owners should expect to spend an hour or two of daily exercise for their Finnish Lapphund. These pups love brisk walks, agility training, and mental stimulation exercises.

Are Finnish Lapphunds well-suited to families and houses with other pets?

Yes, these dogs make a great addition to a household with children or other furry friends. They have a very gentle demeanor and are exceptionally friendly.