Breed History & Information
The original Finnish Lapphunds were the helper dogs of a tribe of semi-nomadic people, the Sami, in Lapland (the northern region of Finland, Sweden, and in part, Russia). Archeological digs in Lapland have unearthed remains of Lapponian dogs estimated as old as 7000 BC. There is even the existence of old cave drawings depicting this type of dog. Over hundreds of years, the originally nomadic Sami culture evolved into a more sedentary existence, which revolved around the keeping of reindeer herds. At the same time, the dogs evolved from the hunter/protector dogs of a nomadic tribe, into the herding dogs needed to help maintain the reindeer. Their job was to keep the herds together. With the arrival of the snowmobile, the use of dogs became less and less necessary. Now dogs are rarely used on reindeer herds. The breed still retains a strong herding instinct, which has been demonstrated on sheep in the United States and has been seen on our dogs that have earned their Herding Instinct Certifications.
Around 1940, in Finland, interest in saving the breed began to grow. Dogs belonging to the original Sami people were collected with the intent of establishing a breeding program. The first breed standard was accepted by the Finnish Kennel Club in 1945, with the breed being called the Lapponian Shepherd Dog. The original standard included both a shorter coated dog and a longer coated dog, which I have been told were often born in the same litters. In 1967, the long coated dogs were given a separate standard, and called the Lapinkoira, which is translated as Finnish Lapphund, while the short coated dogs were called the Lapinporokoira, which is translated as Lapponian Herder. The standard was revised in Finland in 1996 and an English translation was accepted by the FCI, Federation Cynologique Internationale in 1999. The Finnish Lapphund has become very popular as a pet in Finland, and in 2005 was the third most popular breed in the country, with registrations of over 1000 puppies for the year.
It is quite likely that Finnish Lapphunds came to the United States as the pets of Finnish immigrants, although there is no documentation of these dogs. However, 1987 began the first organized effort to import breeding stock and establish the breed in this country. Since the breed was not recognized by the American Kennel Club, a separate registry was established. These dogs began the first breeding program for the Finnish Lapphund in the United States. Not all dogs were bred from and only a few dogs in the United States now have ancestors from the original imports. Other dogs were imported at later times, and importation of both dogs and frozen semen continues in an effort to keep the gene pool for the breed in this country as large as the gene pool in Finland.
In August 2008, the AKC Board of Directors approved the Finnish Lapphund to move to the Miscellaneous Class effective July 1, 2009. On June 30, 2011 Finnish Lapphunds were officially moved from the Miscellaneous Group into the Herding Group becoming an AKC fully recognized breed now able to compete in all AKC sanctioned events and compete for Championships and Titles.