Living with a Lappie
The Finnish Lapphund has many great qualities; they are smart and quick to learn, make great alert dogs, are wonderful family companions and often referred to as a clown. However, not every dog is suited to every situation and environment and as with any other breed, the Lappy is not the dog for everyone. Please take the time to learn about the Finnish Lapphund and talk to breeders before adding one to your family. To help you get started in your research you will find some basic information here and elsewhere on the FLCA site.
The Finnish Lapphund is considered a "medium" sized breed but due to their coat volume they often appear larger. They are smaller than the Samoyed, Siberian Husky or Australian Shepherd with Lappy males averaging 18 to 21 inches and females averaging 16 to 19 inches.
The Finnish Lapphund is a wonderful "all-around" dog with its intelligence and eager to please disposition. They are a breed quick to learn and coupled with their non-aggressive attitude towards people, children and other dogs they are fast gaining popularity as a wonderful companion breed.
As a breed that tends to be naturally submissive with people, which should not be confused with shyness, they are gentle dogs and great dogs for families with children. Lappies should be taught early the rules of household behavior and children should be taught to be kind, gentle and to not to mistreat your dog/puppy. As long as both behaviors are taught early and with consistency, your Lappy will be a wonderful family companion. It is wise to remember that all children should be supervised by an adult when in the company of a dog, whether it is a puppy or adult.
Coat & Care
The Finnish Lapphund has a straight and smooth, sometimes wavy, outer coat and a soft and dense undercoat accompanied by fringes or “feathering” on the back of their legs, underbelly and tail with males having a more profuse coat than females.
As a puppy they usually have a soft texture to their coats which requires a bit more grooming but this is also the best time to establish good grooming habits which will make it easier on you when they become an adult. Once their adult coat comes in and the texture changes, grooming doesn't take as long. But remember, as a double-coated breed they do require regular grooming.
As an adult their dense undercoat provides insulation in both cold and hot weather and should never be shaved as this will reduce their ability to keep cool during the summer months. Regular brushing is required, particularly during the shedding season which usually occurs once or twice a year. The breed does not have the usual doggy odor that other breeds do therefore bathing is not required but once a month unless needed due to weather conditions. Weekly brushing is recommended to keep them free of mats especially behind the ears, armpit areas and groin area. They will learn to enjoy this time as it allows you to give them the "once over" checking for any bumps, lumps and abnormalities.
The Finnish Lapphund is generally a healthy breed although, as with all other breeds of dogs, they too are subject to genetic disorders. They can develop hip and/or elbow dysplasia and several types of eye disorders. While the occurrences of these is relatively rare they do occasionally happen. Our "Health Information" tab above will direct you to more information on these genetic disorders.
Finnish Lapphunds come in a variety of colors from black to pure white including various shades of golden, brown, cream, wolfsable, white and a domino pattern which generally includes dark colored "cap" type markings. The typical colors are black or brown with or without tan and/or white markings which are usually found on the face and legs. The darker colors such as the black, brown or wolfsable may have spectacles surrounding their eyes and/or tan points over their eyes giving them a delightful expression. On the lighter dogs such as the cream or golden colors the the markings may be lighter therefore may not be very noticeable unless the cream or golden is very dark.
Home, Yard & Exercise Needs
The Finnish Lapphund needs to be a part of your family, they are a breed of "pack" nature and their family is their "pack". They do not do well as yard dog with little human interaction as they will become a nuisance barker and, as with all breeds, they may then also become destructive to trees, bushes, etc. The breed is generally not suited to apartment living unless you are considering an older more mature dog because, depending on their age, they may not require the yard/exercise that a youngster does. If you live in an apartment and are considering a Lappy, it is wise to contact a breeder to discuss the pros and cons and if a specific dog may suit your environment.
Yard & Fencing
Regardless of the size of your yard, it is a must that it be fenced. Due to their "herding" instincts the Finnish Lapphund will give chase to anything including squirrels, rabbits, etc. and while they will return, such behavior can have severe consequences involving roadways and cars before they think about coming home. They can and will dig especially as puppies but most will outgrow this as they move into adulthood however with enough human companionship this can easily be deterred.
The Finnish Lapphunds exercise needs are moderate depending on age and if there are other dogs in the household. While they would obviously enjoy and benefit from daily walks, sometimes that isn't possible and a game of ball in the yard to expend energy will work. If there are other dogs in the household their daily play will also benefit your Lappy.
As a puppy your Finnish Lapphund will need supervision. As with any breed, puppies will chew on anything and get into everything. Their balls and stuffed toys, your shoes, your furniture, rags, the trash, your closet, pillows, your cat toys, your kids toys, the hamper (for some reason they especially like dirty socks!) etc., all are fair game and could lead to major veterinary expenses. Puppy proof their environment as if child-proofing for a two year old.
The Finnish Lapphund will enjoy the winter months even in the snow if they are acclimated to the cold temperatures and have a correct double coat to help keep them warm. Should your Lappy not be "in coat" due to a late shed, please remember that may not be ready for that early winter and will want and need the comfort of their warm home with their family. Following the winter months comes summer and you will need to be sure your Lappy is comfortable. The Lappy can live in hot climates but they must be allowed access inside, preferably your home and air-conditioning, so that they do not suffer from heat related issues, especially if you live in an area where there is also high humidity. Remember, do not shave your Lappy for the summer months as they need their coat to insulate against the heat. Fresh water and shade should be provided at all times and Lappies often enjoy a large tub or pool to stand in. Exercise should be limited to early morning or evening during the summer months.
Frequently Asked Questions
How are they with... ?
The Finnish Lapphund is great with children and teaching proper manners to both will reap rewards for both as they become lifetime friends.
The Finnish Lapphund is not an aggressive dog and will generally not go looking to start trouble however, they won't back down either. Puppy introduction is generally quite easy as the puppy will know it's place in the "dog pack". Adult introduction, especially with two intact dogs reasonably close in age requires a bit more and it is recommended that you ask your breeder for guidance.
The Finnish Lapphund can indeed share a household with cats and while it is easier to train a puppy to co-exist, even adults can learn to live with a cat.
Because the Finnish Lapphund is a herding breed they are a natural when it comes to "alerting" to a stranger coming up the walk to your front door or someone lurking around your property after dark yet one doesn't have the concerns of owning an aggressive dog. It is important to remember that the Finnish Lapphund used their bark to perform their job of herding reindeer so barking during the excitement of play is to be expected. If your Lappy is a problem barker it is probably because he is bored and looking for your attention.
The Finnish Lapphund is not a breed prone to being a fence climber however, as mentioned before, if left alone for extended periods of time the may become interested in what is on the other side and learn to climb your fence to get there.
Any dog will dig, especially puppies. Generally speaking the Finnish Lapphund is not as persistent about digging as some other breeds, however finding occasional holes in your yard as they go for the those tantalizing smells after a fresh rain is to be expected.
Coming from the "herding" family, which includes Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, German Shephards and Border Collies, the Finnish Lapphund is intelligent and quick to learn yet at the same time can be independent and strong-willed. Often referred to as a "thinking" breed, the Lappies do very well in all aspects of performance from obedience to agility, rally, CGC (Canine Good Citizen) and therapy dogs to tracking and even search and rescue.
With routine veterinary health care, the overall general good health of the breed and few genetic disorders in the Finnish Lapphund, you can expect an average lifespan of around 12-15 years with some living longer and most living closer to the 15 year age. For more information about the genetic issues than can affect the breed, please click on the "Health Information" tab above.
Resources & Education
- How to Pick a Puppy - The American Kennel Club
- Responsible Dog Ownership - The American Kennel Club
- Choosing, raising and enjoying your puppy - The American Kennel Club
- Registering Your Dog - The American Kennel Club
- Finnish Lapphund Breed Brochure
- Finnish Lapphund Slide Show
- Finnish Lapphund Standard of Perfection
- Lapphund General Health
- Caring for your Lappie
- More Resources