Finnish Lapphund: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Finnish Lapphund lying on wooden step


Eerik / Getty Images

The Finnish Lapphund is a medium-size herding dog breed from Finland that has a thick, medium-length coat, which comes in a variety of colors and markings. The dense coat insulates the Lapphund against extreme temperatures, allowing it to work as a herding dog for reindeer in cold Finnish climates. The breed sports triangular, upright ears and oval eyes, which sometimes feature markings around them that are referred to as “spectacles.” Overall, this is an agile, alert dog that’s capable of quick bursts of speed. It’s also known for being highly affectionate and devoted to its family.

Breed Overview

Group: Herding

Height: 16 to 19 inches (female), 18 to 21 inches (male)

Weight: 33 to 53 pounds

Coat: Medium-length double coat

Coat Color: Black, brown, cream, tan, wolf sable, or blonde with a variety of markings

Life Span: 12 to 15 years

Temperament: Friendly, sociable, intelligent

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: Finland

Characteristics of the Finnish Lapphund

Finnish Lapphunds generally have a friendly and outgoing temperament. They love their family and can even be good around kids. High intelligence also helps to shape their personality, along with the ability to excel in training. 

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs Medium
Playfulness Medium
Energy Level Medium
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark High
Amount of Shedding High

History of the Finnish Lapphund

The Finnish Lapphund got its name from Lapland, a region by the Arctic Circle where its spitz-type ancestors originated centuries ago. People there developed thick-coated dogs that they used first for hunting and then herding reindeer. 

These dogs had to be nimble and quick to avoid the hooves and antlers of stubborn reindeer. Today’s Lapphund still has a strong “startle reflex,” meaning it reacts quickly to movements and noises. 

It wasn’t until the mid-1900s that a breed standard was developed for the Finnish Lapphund. And the American Kennel Club didn’t recognize it as a breed until 2011. It’s not very common in North America but is still popular in Finland. It even continues to work as a reindeer herder, though not as frequently as it once did.

Finnish Lapphund Care

Finnish Lapphunds prefer to be active with their owners, so plan on some exercise every day. They also need regular grooming, as well as consistent training and socialization.


Plan to spend at least an hour per day exercising your Finnish Lapphund. These dogs aren’t as high energy as many other herding dogs, but they still like to be active. Daily walks, jogging, hiking, and vigorous play sessions all are ideal ways to get out some of their energy. And puzzle toys can provide mental challenges. Finnish Lapphunds also can excel at dog sports, including agility and herding trials.


Brush your Finnish Lapphund’s coat at least weekly to remove loose fur and prevent tangles. Plan on periods of higher shedding often in the spring and fall, during which you’ll have to brush up to daily to keep up with the loose fur. Never shave your dog, as that can harm the coat’s ability to keep the dog warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather. 

Finnish Lapphunds don’t typically have an odor. But still plan on a bath every month or so, depending on how dirty your dog gets. Check your dog’s ears at least weekly to see whether they need cleaning. And trim its nails roughly every month. Also, aim to brush its teeth daily.


Start training and socializing your Finnish Lapphund ideally when it’s a puppy. A puppy obedience class can help it learn both basic commands and manners. Plus, aim to expose your puppy to different people, other dogs, and various locations to help boost its comfort and confidence.

Always use positive-reinforcement training methods, such as treats and praise. These dogs are generally smart and learn quickly, as long as training sessions are positive and fun. 

You might have to work extra on teaching your dog to be comfortable when left alone. Finnish Lapphunds prefer to be with their humans and might develop separation anxiety when alone for long periods. A professional dog trainer or behaviorist can give you tips to help combat this. But this breed is best for a household where someone is home for most of the day. 

Finnish Lapphund near a lake
Jouni Pihlanko / Getty Images

Common Health Problems

Overall, Finnish Lapphunds are a healthy breed, though they are prone to some hereditary health issues, including:

Diet and Nutrition

Always make sure fresh water is accessible for your dog. And offer a high-quality canine diet with balanced nutrition, typically via two measured meals per day. Discuss both the amount and the type of food with your vet to ensure that you’re meeting your dog’s individual needs, which can vary by age, activity level, and other factors. Also, be mindful of treats to prevent overeating and excess weight gain.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Finnish Lapphund

The Finnish Lapphund is not a very common dog breed in North America, but it’s still worth checking animal shelters and rescue groups for a dog in need of a home. See whether you can get on a breed wait list if possible. For a puppy from a responsible breeder, expect to pay around $1,000 to $2,500 on average.

For further information to help you find a Finnish Lapphund, check out:

Finnish Lapphund Overview

  • Friendly and affectionate

  • Can be good around children

  • Typically takes well to training

  • Doesn't tolerate being alone for long periods

  • Can be very vocal

  • Sheds quite a bit

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

As with any breed, if you’re interested in the Finnish Lapphund be sure to do thorough research before bringing one home. Talk to breed owners, rescue groups, reputable breeders, and vets. Visit with some Finnish Lapphunds too if you can.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

  • Are Finnish Lapphunds good family dogs?

    Well-trained and socialized Finnish Lapphunds can be good for families with children. They are typically gentle with kids but should always be supervised around young children.

  • Are Finnish Lapphunds good apartment dogs?

    Finnish Lapphunds do best in a home with a secure yard in which they can run freely. They might be too vocal of a breed for apartment living.

  • Are Finnish Lapphunds rare?

    Finnish Lapphunds are relatively rare in North America but not impossible to find. You might have to wait some time and travel a considerable distance to find a dog from a reputable breeder or rescue group.

Article Sources
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  1. Finnish Lapphund. American Kennel Club.

  2. Finnish Lapphund Puppies and Dogs. Adopt a Pet.