Finnish and Swedish Lapphunds are two separate but extremely similar breeds and as evident from their names, these dogs originated in Finland, Sweden, and northern Scandinavia. The name ‘Lapphund’ comes from Lapland, a region in the Arctic Circle and the northernmost area of Scandinavia where this breed first appeared. This region is known for many things, like the village where you can visit Santa Claus year-round, the midnight sun, aurora borealis, roaming reindeer, and of course, the Finnish Lapphund and Swedish Lapphund!
As a breed, the Finnish Lapphund is still relatively new in the US, as the American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed in 2011. While the AKC recognition is new, the breed is actually well developed and in some way, shape, or form, has had a centuries-long history in the Lapphund region of Scandinavia. These dogs have been used to help herd reindeer with the Sámi people, indigenous peoples of northern Scandinavia. Their coats can come in a few colors, like black, brown, cream, tan, wolf sable, or blonde with markings; they generally stand 17-21 inches tall and weigh 33-53 pounds (making them roughly the same size as border collies!)
These dogs are very similar to Finnish Lapphunds but tend to be slightly smaller, standing 16-20 inches tall and weighing 30-45 pounds. Swedish Lapphunds do have a similar history as Finnish Lapphunds but the American Kennel Club did recognize this breed in 2007, four years before their Finnish counterparts. Additionally, their coats tend to only come in black or brown.
Health and Behavior
Swedish and Finnish Lapphunds tend to be reasonably healthy dogs but can be prone to hereditary health issues like hip/elbow dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and patellar luxation. However, with regular vet visits, exercise, and other preventative measures, many health issues can be relatively easy to manage! There aren’t usually many behavioral issues with this breed but like any herding breed, they love being active, can be barkers, and would likely thrive with regular positive reinforcement training. While they will typically bark at strangers coming near or in the house, Lapphunds are not guard dogs and aren’t aggressive. They can be startled easily but generally, these dogs tend to be very affectionate with their families and with the people they get to know.
The dense double coats of Lapphunds help keep them warm during extreme winter temperatures, allowing them to herd reindeer all year round! Their coats definitely add a lot of floof to these dogs. Grooming is essential for these dogs; brushing with the right tools should happen at least once a week to help remove loose/dead fur and prevent tangles. Like any double-coated dog, they will have periods of high shedding during the spring and fall and brushing should happen several times a week during that time. Nail trims and dental care are also essential and while these things aren’t particularly fun for them, both can help Lapphunds feel happy and healthy.
The Brave and Fearless Grim
Living on Svalbard an island close to the North Pole, Grim might be the most TikTok-famous Finnish Lapphund there is! Grim is a sweet and fluffy boy who lives with his owners on an island in the Arctic Ocean. His owner does post about life on Svalbard and often includes Grim in videos. Grim even has his own theme song!
Finnish and Swedish Lapphunds can be fairly rare to find outside of Scandinavia but are wonderful dogs who thrive with active families and colder climates. Grooming can be a bit tedious with their double coats but regular brushing can help prevent matting and keep their coats looking good! With their herding histories, dog sports would likely be a lot of fun for Lapphunds and these dogs tend to be happy, affectionate, and fun dogs to have.
Have you ever met at Lapphund before? Let me know in the comments!