Although there are pictures of sami people with herding dogs akin to the lapphund on cave paintings, the actual breed was only identified as such in 1950s to 60s.
First in the 50s, the Finnish Kennel Association worked to define the Lapponian Herder – which was based on the indigenous reindeer herders of the Sami people, but when the Finnish Kennel organisations were unified then all the different types of reindeer herding dogs were accepted to the same register, but it soon became apparent some were short coated and other long. The breed was then split by its coat length to give us the Finnish Lapphund (suomenlapinkoira) and the reindeer herder (lapinporokoira).
The breed came to UK in 1989, and has been steadily growing in popularity since, the first import being Lecibsin Loru at Sulyka who entered UK through quarantine, the advent of the pet passport scheme (Feb 2000) has had significant impact on the breed in UK, facilitating importation and overseas matings to enable the breed to develop a good gene pool.
The Finnish Lapphund is a medium sized dog with a thick weather resistant coat – designed to withstand the cold winters of Lapland.
It is a very intelligent breed, usually food motivated that can be easily trained for a wide variety of canine hobbies, such as obedience, agility and search and rescue activities. The breed has been used as support dogs. The dogs are brave calm and faithful, with soft and friendly expressions and natures, meaning they are friends with all, and therefore not very good guard dogs. They have a independent streak at times as is common in spitz type breeds and can be vocal if not trained. A fun loving active breed which suits active families.
In essence a robust and healthy breed, long living. As seen with many breeds there are instances of a number of eye diseases and high hip scores, for this reason both breed clubs advocate the testing of parents regularly for eye conditions, and for breeding dogs to be hip scored.
In Finland the breed is covered by the PEVISA scheme which also requires these regular routine tests. The breed is fortunate that a DNA test has been developed for prcd-1 PRA so all breeding stock should be tested and their DNA status identified, this can be seen on the KC health test result finder service.
There is a small incidence of epilepsy in the breed.