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Finnish Lapphund


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The Finnish Lapphund

ANKC Standard

(from http://www.ankc.org.au/Breed_Details.aspx?bid=142 )

Group: Group 5 (Working Dogs)

General Appearance: Smaller than medium sized, its conformation is strong for its size, slightly longer than the height at the withers. Long and thick coated with pricked ears.

Important Proportions , The depth of the body is slightly less than half of the height at the withers. The muzzle is slightly shorter than the skull. The skull is slightly longer than broad, the depth is the same as the breadth.

Characteristics: Utilisation , Originally a herder and watch dog used in the work of keeping reindeer. Today also popular as a companion dog.

F.C.I. Classification , Group 5 Spitz and primitive type, Section 3 Nordic Watchdogs and Herders.

Temperament: Keen, courageous, calm and willing to learn. Friendly and Faithful.

Head And Skull: Strong in outline, rather broad.

Cranial Region:

Skull , Broad, slightly convex. The forehead is rather domed. The frontal furrow is clearly defined.

Stop , Clearly defined.

Facial Region:

Nose , Preferably black, yet harmonising with the coat colour.

Muzzle , Strong, broad and straight; viewed from above and in profile, evenly tapering, but only slightly.

Lips , Tight.

Cheeks , The zygomatic arches are clearly marked [defined].

Eyes: Dark brown in colour, yet harmonising with the coat colour. Oval shaped. The expression is soft and friendly.

Ears: Medium sized. Carried erect or semi-erect, set rather far apart. Triangular in shape, rather broad at the base. Very mobile.

Mouth: The jaws are strong. Scissor bite.

Neck: Medium in length, strong and covered with profuse hair.

Forequarters: General Appearance- Powerful with strong bones. Viewed from the front straight and parallel.

Shoulders , Slightly oblique.

Upper Arm , As long as the shoulder blade. The angle between shoulder and upper arm is rather open.

Elbows , Placed slightly lower than the lower edge of the ribcage, pointing straight backwards.

Forearm , Rather strong, vertical.

Carpus [Wrist] , Flexible.

Pastern , Of medium length, slightly sloping.

Body: Withers , Muscular and broad, only slightly marked [not prominent].

Back , Strong and straight.

Loins , Short and muscular.

Croup , Of medium length, well developed, sloping only slightly.

Chest , Deep, rather long, reaching almost to the elbows, not very broad. The ribs are slightly arched; the forechest clearly visible but not too pronounced.

Underline , Slightly tucked up.

Hindquarters: General Appearance , Strong boned, powerful. Viewed from behind, straight and parallel. The angulation is clearly marked but not too strongly.

Upper Thigh , Of medium length, rather broad with well developed muscles.

Stifles , Pointed forward, the angulation is clearly marked [well angulated].

Second Thigh , Relatively long and sinewy.

Hock Joint , Moderately low set; the angulation is clearly marked but not too strongly. [Moderate angulation]

Metatarsus [Rear Pastern] , Rather short, strong and vertical.

Feet: Well arched, oval rather than round, covered with dense hair. The pads are elastic with the sides covered with dense hair. Rear dewclaws are not desirable.

Tail: Set rather high, medium in length, covered with profuse and long hair. The tip of the tail may have a J-formed hook. In movement the tail in curved over the back or side; at rest it may hang down.

Gait/Movement: Effortless. Changes easily from trot to gallop, which is the most natural style of movement. The legs move parallel. Agile and fast when working.

Coat: Skin - Tight overall without wrinkles.

Hair , Profuse, the males especially have an abundant mane. The outer coat is long, straight and harsh. On the head and on the front of the legs, the coat is shorter. There must be a soft and dense undercoat.

Colour: All colours are permitted. The basic colour must be dominant. Colours other than the basic colour can occur on head, neck, chest, underside of the body, on legs and tail.

Sizes: Height at withers , Ideal height for males - 49 cm [19.5 ins]

Ideal height for females - 44 cm [17 ins]

With a tolerance of +/- 3 cm [just over 1 in]

Type is more important than size.

Faults: Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.

Males not masculine and females not feminine

Light head, insufficient stop.

Dropped ears.

Tail carriage continuously lower than the topline.

Over angulated or too straight rear angulation.

Lack of under coat. Flat coat. Curly outer coat.

Basic colour indistinct.

Disqualifications ,

Over or undershot mouth.

Kinky tail

Notes: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.


1. What is my relationship with the breed? (ie breeder, first time owner etc)

2. Where and why was the breed first developed?

3. How common is it in Australia?

4. What is the average lifespan?

5. What is the general temperament/personality?

6. How much daily exercise is needed for the average adult?

7. Is it a breed that a first time dog owner could easily cope with?

8. Can solo dogs of this breed easily occupy themselves for long periods?

9. How much grooming is required?

10. Is it too boisterous for very small children or for infirm people (unless the dog is well trained)?

11. Are there any common hereditary problems a puppy buyer should be aware of?

12. When buying a puppy, what are the things you should ask of the breeder? (eg what health tests have been done (if applicable) and what is an acceptable result to those tests so the buyer has an idea of what the result should be)

If you wish to contribute to the knowledge about this breed, please answer the above questions. (Copy and paste them into a new post).

  • Please only answer if you breed or own a pedigree example of this breed.
  • You do not have to answer all questions
  • Please keep posts limited to answering questions or for asking further questions if you require more (or expanded) information.

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1. What is my relationship with the breed? (ie breeder, first time owner etc)

I own, show and will soon be breeding our first litter of Finnish Lapphunds. Our kennel is Taigakoira, a very small family kennel, where our dogs are important family members!

2. Where and why was the breed first developed?

Although a very old breed, the Finnish Lapphund was only officially recognised in 1945, when the first breed standard was created. Originally bred to guard and herd, the Finnish Lapphund has been an invaluble dog for farmers and reindeer herders in its native Finnish homeland. These dogs proved themselves to be loyal, intelligent and dedicated workers, to the point where they were so important that they were elevated to a family member status. Today, the Finnish Lapphund is one of the most popular dog breeds in Finland, having made the transition from working dog to family pet very successfully. However, they still retain their herding ability, and Finnish Lapphunds, or lappies, as they are affectionately known, are still used for their original purpose in Finland, as working dogs.

Lappies are a well balanced breed, medium size with an athletic build and excellent temprament. According to Kennel Club Breed Guide (Toni Jackson 2003), lappies "should not develop into a showy, heavy-coated spitz, standing with its tail up all the time, but should be a more primitive animal that should bear similarities to the rough and tough wolverine."

3. How common is it in Australia?

Lappies are not a common breed in Australia; although they are growing in popularity. In April 2009 there were 218 individuals, although since this time there have been several litters and the numbers are probably closer to 250. To own a lappie is very special - its not uncommon for perfect strangers to stop you and ask about your 'gorgeous dog' - although they may have difficulty in guessing the breed, and you may have to give a short history on where they came from!

4. What is the average lifespan?

Lappies have a life span of aproximately 12 to 14 years, but dogs of 16 - 17 are not uncommon in Finland.

5. What is the general temperament/personality?

Lappies have the best temperament! Known for their laid back and relaxed demeanor, the breed standard of Keen, courageous, calm and willing to learn. Friendly and Faithful is definately spot on. They should be friendly, easy going dogs, bold and inquisitive, but unobtrusive in their nature - they are curious about their surroundings but should always be in harmony with their environment.

Lappies are generally a submissive breed, loyal to their family and eager to please and receive praise for their actions. Some personalities, particularly bitches, may be a little bit distant or shy with strangers at first, but should never be overlly timid.

Lappie owners who work with their dogs will attest to the fact that they train with a minimum of effort, with many claiming that their dogs seem to have an inbuilt intuition of what is acceptable or desirable behaviour, and what is not. It is true that many Breeders have observed that lappies seem to have an emotional empathy that allows them to fit in with their new family pack almost immediately. In general, their laid back nature allows them to naturally be followers, looking to their human owners to be the 'pack leaders'. However, like with any dogs, it is important for the owner to be the 'pack leader', and to establish rules and boundries.

It should be noted that while lappies are readily trained, they do have an independent streak; in some more than in others. Although most lappies are fine to be let off lead, it may be some time before your lappie returns, especially if there are more interesting things around to chase and play with. As this independence is more obvious in dogs that are not trained from an early age, it is important to install a sense of working as a team with your lappie. However, even well trained lappies may occassionally turn 'deaf' in a recall; deciding eventually to return but only after they have said their greetings to others on the way back!

6. How much daily exercise is needed for the average adult?

Lappies are a working breed, and while they don't have the same drive as a border collie or kelpie, they do need regular exercise and mental stimulation. As long as they get this, however, you'll find that in their 'down time' they are quite happy to be couch potatos - with you, of course!

7. Is it a breed that a first time dog owner could easily cope with?

In terms of spitz breeds, lappies are definately more suited to first time owners - but you should speak to your breeder so that they can assist in selecting a puppy that would be suitable to your home and lifestyle. They *love* kids, and like nothing better than hanging out with the pack!

8. Can solo dogs of this breed easily occupy themselves for long periods?

It depends on the individual of course, but I would never recommend that any dog be left alone for extended periods. I would also emphasis that lappies should not be an outside only dog - they are definately happiest when with their family!

9. How much grooming is required?

Surprisingly, not a great deal. Like other long coated spitz breeds, lappies have a double coat - the outer coat is quite harsh while the undercoat soft. The outercoat keeps dirt, snow and damp away from the undercoat (thus the dog has natural insulation) and doesn't normally matt or tangle. Pet lappies should be brushed for about 20mins once a week (show dogs more so), and their coat should never be cut or trimmed (other than their feet and nails). Your breeder will be able to advise on that.

One note on lappie colours - they come in all colours of the canine rainbow! All colours are acceptable in the breed standard, as long as there is a basic main colour that dominates, with colours other than the main colour occuring on the head, neck, chest, underside of the body, legs and tail. This means that solid colours are permitted within the breed standard as well as the more common bicolours (which are the most common colour seen in Australia). Colours include cream, black, red, tan, brown, black and tan or brown and tan, with or without white, as well as sables (eg wolf/game sable and blue sable).

Many lappies have the distinctive 'four eyes' - which appear as contasting colour patches just above the eyes. Less common in Australia is the "spectacle" marking, which appear as circles of lighter hair around the eyes.

One of the most interesting aspects of lappie colouring is just how much it can change over time as they develop from a puppy to an adult. Some lappies will darken as they get older, others will lighten. Face markings often become far more distinct, in some, tan points will fade to cream, in others sable colour may appear.

10. Is it too boisterous for very small children or for infirm people (unless the dog is well trained)?

Puppies can be boisterous, but if properly socialised more mature dogs should be fine. As always, you should never leave children and dogs unsupervised - but having said that, every lappie I've met thinks children are wonderful!

11. Are there any common hereditary problems a puppy buyer should be aware of?

Yes. There are two conditions that are seen in the breed and should be noted - Generalised Progressive Retinal Atrophy (GPRA, also known as PRA) and Canine Hip Dysplasia (see below). Breeders also test for Hereditary Cataracts (see below).

It should be noted that these conditions are not unique to Finnish Lapphunds but can occur in a number of other breeds, and in cross breeds. All registered, ethical Lapphund breeders in Australia screen for these conditions, and will only breed from Lappies that pass the necessary health checks and are free from genetic problems. It is therefore very important that you only buy from a registered breeder, who can guarantee the health and genetic background of your new pup.

Generalised Progressive Retinal Atrophy (GPRA, also known as PRA)

This is a progressive hereditary eye disease that affects a number of breeds, in which eyesight of the affected animal will deteriorate over a relatively short period of time, culminating in total blindness (usually by the age of five, although the age of onset can vary from one to eight years of age). It is often first noticed as a loss of night vision, then a loss of vision in all types of lighting.

The disease is inherited via a simple autosomal recessive gene. As such, the parents and offspring of any affected animal will be carriers, even if not affected themselves.

Thankfully, genetic testing can now determine if a dog is clear of GPRA or a carrier. In Australia to date there have been no cases of GPRA in Finnish Lapphunds, and while breeding from a carrier to a clear dog is permitted, the breeding of a carrier to another carrier is not recommended under Victorian Code of Practice (under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986). It is important to note that the legislation is designed to cover all recognised dog breeds that carry PRA (and hereditary cataracts), and so while the legislation states that carrier to carrier breeding may only be permitted as part of an approved breeding program, it should be noted that the Finnish Lapphund Club of Victoria (FLCV) prohibits the breeding of carrier status to carrier status animals.

The legislation states that progeny that has come from a pairing that includes a parent who is a carrier of the GPRA gene must also be tested, as it is likely that a number of the offspring a carrier will also be carriers. However, progeny from two clear parents will also be clear.

When buying a Lappie puppy, you should always ask your breeder as to the GPRA status of your puppy's parents; if one is a carrier your pup should also be screened. It is important to note that carrier status does not mean that the puppy will be affected by PRA; it is in the offspring of two carriers that the disease is likely to emerge.

Hereditary Cataracts

There are many types of cataracts, which essentially is the lend or the lens capsule becoming opaque. Causes may be due to a congenital abnormality, an infection in utero, trauma or injury to the eye, a metabolic disorder, the result of nutritional disorders or as a result of the influence of certain drugs. Cataracts may also be hereditary; although the number of instances of this occurring outside of Finland are small. However, your breeder should have ensure that both parents of the litter have been tested. As some cataract conditions can develop over time, breeding dogs should be tested in the 6 - 12 months prior to mating.

Canine Hip Dysplasia

Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) occurs in most breeds of dogs, including mixed breeds, and can result in debilitating 0rthopedic disease of the hip. A dog that has hip dysplasia is said to be dysplastic and has hip joints that are not formed perfectly (caused when the femoral headdoes not fit properly in the hip socket), which causes instability of the joint. Over time, this malformation can cause degenerative joint disease, resulting in increased pain and immobility.

CHD is a common canine inherited condition that is not apparent at birth, the imperfection can be slight or severe. A dysplastic dog may experience no pain or problems from its condition or it may experience mild to severe discomfort when moving. Breeders in Australia should test for hips prior to their dog being involved in any breeding program; at Taigakoira Kennels we test for hips and elbows, and publish this information freely.

12. When buying a puppy, what are the things you should ask of the breeder? (eg what health tests have been done (if applicable) and what is an acceptable result to those tests so the buyer has an idea of what the result should be)

Other than what is outlined above, you should expect your breeder to want to keep in touch with you and your lappie! There is a strong lappie community emerging in Australia, with regular picnics, events and internet chat groups - which has links to international groups. And be warned - you will find that one lappie is never enough!


Edited by lappiemum
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Guest rhapsodical78

Sounds like a breed that can only take off. I've heard nothing but good things about them.

Any pictures? :p

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Here's my boy Kivi Tarro as a 9 week old pup:


And now at around 16 months pouncing on crabs down on the mud flat:


And this is what I'm generally greeted with whenever I come home:


Kivi definitely slotted himself very neatly into our lives and was/is dead easy to train. He has a very reliable recall and there's not much in the world that could be more interesting to him than someone that might have food for him, yet he's not especially food obsessed. It's just the right level of food drive where he'll work with moderate enthusiasm for a chewy junk food treat and a fair bit more enthusiasm for, say, roast chicken.

Kivi has been quite into other dogs since he was a puppy. He just loves to play. It's the only thing he'd blow off roast chicken for, but thanks to a bit of work he doesn't often do that anymore. He is basically a big living teddy bear. He loves cuddles and is calmly friendly to everyone. He behaved impeccably around my 90 year old grandmother earlier in the year, so much so that she sent me a letter telling me how well behaved he was, and he was very good although a little boisterous around my 5 year old niece when he was about 8 months old. He adores kids despite having had next to nothing to do with them and generally just stands quietly beside them waiting for them to hold out their hand so he can lick them.

I think that Kivi is probably a very mellow and quiet Lapphund, but those that I've met have all been pretty quiet and gentle dogs. They have the sweetest temperament. Kivi is particularly submissive, but we have never even seen him growl.

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The warning about lappies being addictive is definately true - I think its the combination of lappie cuddles and their easygoing personality. I know I look forward to getting home and having pack cuddles on the couch - some pics below of my babies....LOL!

Also, some one asked how they change-

here's a pic of my girl at 4 weeks:


and now:


And just to show how cute they are, here's some puppy shots....!




And ofcourse, some couch shots...!



with my daughter as well...


and my favourite of Tasha to date!


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Wow, lappiemum answered those questions very thoroughly! I don't really have much to add!

I own and show a Finnish Lapphund and have big plans for more flappies to join our family!

They are a wonderful breed and are very family orientated. They are great fun to train and can have the focus and drive of other working dog breeds (e.g. border collies) but have a very nice off-switch!! They are, however more independent than other working dogs which brings its own challenges, but that's all in the fun of owning a spitz breed! As lappiemum said, they are quite happy to be the couch-potato dog and laze around with you and the rest of the family. They are suitable for most dog sports and have been known to do well in the agility, flyball, tracking, herding and obedience rings.

6 weeks old


11 weeks


Focus while heeling


1 year old


Even black/tan/white lappies can look very different from one another... This is Ahsoka (13 months), Aurora-Rose (8 months) and Magnus (2.5 years)


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TN - I noticed in the last picture that Soaks seems to be much leggier than AR and Magnus. Is that because of her lines? or is it more to do with her lack of coat not masking the leg length? I am just curious as I have noticed in other breeds (such as BMD's and St Bernards) that certain kennels are producing a taller/leggier type rather than the shorter/stockier type that I am used to seeing.

Also a question on coat. How long does it take for a Lappie to grow a full adult coat like Magnus's?

Edited by aquaticmalamute
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I think Kivi has exceptionally long legs in comparison to other Lapphunds, and Ahsoka is pretty tall as well. I think I remember Chrissy saying something about it taking a good 18 months for the coat to settle down and be normal. Kivi's still has a few kinks and he is just shy of 18 months, now.

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TN - I noticed in the last picture that Soaks seems to be much leggier than AR and Magnus. Is that because of her lines? or is it more to do with her lack of coat not masking the leg length? I am just curious as I have noticed in other breeds (such as BMD's and St Bernards) that certain kennels are producing a taller/leggier type rather than the shorter/stockier type that I am used to seeing.

Some lines are leggier than others, including Ahsoka's. She does also have less coat than say Magnus, being a bitch and she's also blowing her coat at the moment.

Also a question on coat. How long does it take for a Lappie to grow a full adult coat like Magnus's?

A full adult coat takes about 18-24 months. Prior to 18 months, the coat length is in a transition phase and will have lots of waves/kinks in it due to the varying lengths.

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Tasha had a major de-nudeing last Feb, and is still growing back her coat; Boof's coat has thickened up but is still coming in. Both my lappies have just hit 18months; they are a slow maturing breed.

I should note that although I love him to death, Boof's brains are still growing.....I'm told that with the boys it can take up to 3 years for them to 'grow up'. Tasha is already a lot more mature, although they are infact litter mates.

Some pics of Boof in coat taken in June this year; he's moulting at the moment (ofcourse - the royal is just around the corner!) but he'll probably be a big boy when he matures.



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Guest belgian.blue

One breed that is on my list of future dogs .. although may I ask a ball park figure for a pedigree?

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  • 2 weeks later...

For those who are interested in Lappies, there will this weekend be breed picnics in both Vic and NSW - details below.

Also, for those who want to read more about lappies, the UK publication Dog World did a breed special on rare breeds, in which lappies featured prominently - see http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.u...982b8&skip=


Lappie Walk and Picnic

Where: Yarra Bend Park in Fairfield. We’ll meet (and lunch) at the Bellbird Picnic area, which is located off Yarra Blvd

When: Sunday 13 September

Time: 11am

Bring: Your Lappie/s on-lead, a picnic table or a rug, chairs, drinks, water for your dog(s)

Lunch: The FLCV will be hosting a gold coin donation sausage sizzle

Cancellation: The day will go ahead regardless of weather conditions

Who: This is an open invitation to all Lappie owners, breeders and admirers to join us for a fun filled outing, everyone is welcome (FLCV members and non-members), and we do hope this will be our biggest picnic yet! It would be greatly appreciated if you could please pass on this information to those you know who may also be interested

RSVP: Please send an email to [email protected] if you will be attending so we can finalise numbers


Inaugural Finnish Lapphund Friends Walk and Picnic

When: Sunday 13th September 2009

Time: 10:00AM

Where: Cumberland State Forest, Bellamy Picnic Area, Castle Hill Rd entrance

near the information centre and café.

Facilities: Picnic area with gas BBQ's, Toilets, Wheelchair accessible,

walking trails

What to bring: Your Finnish Lapphund if you have one, other breeds also

welcome. Water for your dog and drinks for yourself. Picnic food and a


What to expect: A great day out with your dog with competitions and a

leisurely walk

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Helen-

In Australia, the system used to grade hips scores (known as the BVA/KC) is also the system used in Britain, Ireland, and New Zealand. The process scores each hip joint based on the severity of changes of 9 specific morphological radiographic criteria. Each criterion is scored from 0 (ideal) to 6 (worst). The final hip score is offered as the sum between 0 and 53 for each hip joint and as the sum of both hips (0-106); so to give an overall rating, so a score of 2/3 will be an overall score of 5. Scoring is done by 3 panellists out of a group of certified radiologists or small animal surgeons jointly.

In Australia, the commonally accepte hip score average for the breed is 13; although some breeders and countries (such as the UK) place it at 14. As always, the lower the better. :thumbsup:

Hope this helps - are you looking at becoming a lappie person? :laugh:

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