What to Know About Finnish Lapphunds

Medically Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on June 10, 2024
7 min read

Finnish Lapphunds, also called Lappies, are the fluffiest friend you can imagine. They're eager to snuggle up with you, so it's good that their coat is so soft!

Their coat is for more than snuggling, though. It kept the Lappies warm while working the fields as reindeer herders in Scandinavia. 

Finnish Lappies are best for people who want to spend a lot of time with their pups. They'll want to stay right by your side as much as possible.

Finnish Lapphund size and shape. Finnish Lapphunds are stout dogs. Their fluffy coat exaggerates their muscular shape.

Male Finnish Lapphunds are around 18 to 21 inches tall at the shoulder. Females are about 16 to 19 inches tall.

The stout and fluffy Finnish Lapphunds weigh between 33 and 53 pounds.

Coat characteristics. Finnish Lapphunds are native to cold climates. They have a medium-length double coat to keep them warm.

Their coat can be almost any color and have various markings. Some less common colorations include blue, brindle, and saddle, as well as white markings with a black mask or piebald markings. 

Distinctive face. Finnish Lapphunds resemble other Scandinavian spitz breeds. The defining feature of the Finnish Lapphund as a spitz breed is their wolflike face.

Finnish Lapphund lifespan. Finnish Lapphunds tend to live a bit longer than similar-sized breeds. They typically live between 12 and 15 years.

Finnish Lapphund personality. Finnish Lapphunds are adaptable dogs that can fit different lifestyles. You can expect most Lappies to love their family unconditionally.

Lappies are great companions for dog people. They'll want to spend a lot of time with you and don't do well being independent.

Finnish Lapphund temperament. Lappies were once herding dogs, which still influences their temperament. They love training, have moderate energy, are watchful, and tend to be vocal.

While lappies tend to be active dogs, they also love to cuddle. As long as they get enough exercise and stimulation, they’re adaptable to many lifestyles.

Coat care. Finnish Lapphunds have a double coat that needs brushing once a week and bathing as needed. During shedding season, your Lappie needs daily brushing to remove hair and dirt.

Lappies shouldn't be shaved. Their double coat helps them regulate their temperature in all climates.

Tooth and nail care. One of the most common conditions in dogs is dental disease. More than 80% of dogs older than 3 years have dental disease. 

Dental disease can be dangerous. The bacteria involved in a dental disease can cause other systemic diseases in the heart, liver, or kidneys.

Your Finnish Lapphund needs their teeth cleaned to stop bad breath and dental diseases. You can clean their teeth by:

  • Brushing their teeth daily with dog-friendly toothpaste 
  • Giving them dental treats and chews
  • Asking your vet to clean their teeth professionally

You should trim your Finnish Lapphund's nails once a month. Long nails are uncomfortable and can hurt you while playing.

Their nails can also naturally wear down by playing on rough surfaces. You, your groomer, or your vet can trim your Lappie's nails.

Feeding and nutrition. Two meals a day is usually enough for a Lappie. Your dog's size, age, and health conditions determine how much food you should feed them. 

There are enough nutrients for your Lappie in commercially available, high-quality wet and dry foods.

Dogs can also eat a homemade diet, but this type of diet needs thorough planning. Plan with your vet to make sure your Finnish Lapphund gets their necessary nutrients. 

You'll need to adjust your Lappie's diet as they age. Consult your vet before altering your dog's eating habits.

Treats are an effective way to train your Lappie, but they can cause them to become overweight. Treats shouldn't make up more than 10% of your dog's daily caloric intake.

Exercise and activity. Lappies have a moderate amount of energy, so they only need a little exercise to keep them happy. A daily long walk with about 30 minutes of play is enough for a Finnish Lapphund.

Many Finnish Lapphunds aren't independently active. Activities and games you can do together with them will encourage them to exercise.

Lappies are smart and do well with training, competitions, and canine sports. They're strong-willed, so these activities can also help with behavioral problems.

Temperature sensitivities. Finnish Lapphunds are initially from the Arctic Circle, making them naturally acclimated to cold weather. Their double coat regulates their temperature in all climates, but you should always watch for signs of overheating in extreme heat.

Flea, tick, and heartworm prevention. All dogs need lifelong parasite prevention, regardless of their lifestyle. Fleas and ticks can cause deadly diseases and while they don't all have vaccines, Lyme disease does have a vaccine available.

Without vaccines or cures, prevention is the only way to keep your dog safe.

There are many medications available to prevent fleas and ticks. You and your vet can determine which preventative is best for your lifestyle and Lappie. 

Your Finnish Lapphund needs protection from heartworms. Infected mosquitoes transfer heartworm larvae through their bites, leading to heartworm disease.

Your dog still needs protection if your area doesn't typically have mosquitoes. Infected mosquitoes and cases of heartworms have been found in all 50 states in the United States. 

Most heartworm medications are affordable and easy to use. You and your vet can decide which option is best for your Lappie. 

Your vet should check for heartworms at your Finnish Lapphund's annual visit. Heartworms can be deadly, so there's no harm in taking extra preventive steps.

Vet visits. Finnish Lapphund puppies need regular visits to monitor their development, get vaccines, and get spayed or neutered. Your vet will determine how often your puppy needs to visit. 

Lappies need a yearly checkup once they're around 1 year old. They'll keep their vaccines up to date at these visits. All dogs should have the following core vaccines (unless there’s a medical reason not to vaccinate):

  • Distemper
  • Adenovirus
  • Parvovirus
  • +/- Parainfluenza
  • Rabies

In addition to these, other vaccines are just as essential for some dogs based on their lifestyle and risk.

Your vet will monitor your dog's weight and changes in their health. These checkups can be an opportunity to catch early-onset diseases before they develop.  

Senior Finnish Lapphunds need a vet visit every 6 months or so. These vet visits are crucial to catch health problems early, so your vet will monitor your Lappie's mobility, sight, and other symptoms of age.

Finnish Lapphunds are healthy dogs without many health problems. Most health issues are hereditary and are only prevented through safe breeding practices.

Hip dysplasia. Canine hip dysplasia is common and affects the Lappie's hip joints. The ball-and-socket hip joint doesn't develop correctly, causing the joint to deteriorate.

Some dogs are genetically predisposed to getting hip dysplasia. Intense exercise and poor nutrition can increase the odds of hip dysplasia in a predisposed Lappie.

If your Finnish Lapphund has hip dysplasia, they may have:

  • Difficulty jumping, moving, or running
  • A hop or limp when they walk
  • Decreased muscle mass in their back end
  • Stiffness or pain

Some lifestyle changes can treat minor dysplasia. These include physical therapy, improved exercise and nutrition, and anti-inflammatory medications.

Surgery can treat severe hip dysplasia. There are options available if your Finnish Lapphund is a suitable candidate.

Elbow dysplasia. Like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia causes the elbow joint to form incorrectly. The symptoms are similar, except they occur in one or both front legs.

Your vet will likely suggest surgery to treat elbow dysplasia. Otherwise, it often progresses into arthritis, pain, and loss of functions. 

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Finnish Lapphunds are likely to get eye disease, but PRA is the most common. PRA causes the deterioration of photoreceptor cells and eventually causes blindness.

Inherited PRA is also called retinal dysplasia. PRA starts with night blindness, which may appear as:

  • Nervousness at night
  • Clumsiness in dim light
  • Nervousness in dark rooms

PRA typically progresses to complete blindness within 1 to 2 years. Unfortunately, there's no treatment for PRA.

Are they good with other pets? Finnish Lapphunds can be good with other pets. But they may be hesitant around new animals.

Are they good with kids? Lappies are good with children since they're a family companion breed. 

Are they allergenic? Finnish Lapphunds are heavy shedders. They'll irritate people with dog allergies.

Do they bark a lot? Lappies are vocal. Barking is part of their herding instinct, so they'll need behavior training if you want to tame their voice.

Do they drool? Lappies don't drool, so you don't need to worry about drool stains on your clothes or furniture.

Finnish Lapphunds originated in the Lapland region. This region includes parts of:

  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Finland
  • Russia

The indigenous Sami people of Lapland bred the first Lapphund to hunt reindeer. As the Sami became nomadic, they began herding reindeer instead of hunting them, and Lapphunds did the same.

One theory for the Lappie's need for companionship is its lifestyle as a herder in Lapland. The dogs and owners huddled for warmth during cold nights, which gave them a strong social bond.

The Finnish Lapphund and other Lapphund breeds nearly went extinct after World War II because of a distemper outbreak. But soon after, the breed standard spread through several organizations and secured its place.

The Finnish Lapphund didn't reach North America until 1988. Its popularity continues to grow, and more kennel clubs now recognize the adorable Lappie.