Breed History

 

Seldom can a breeds "history" span the length of time as that of the Finnish Lapphund; it is often stated that the breed is both old and new.  The "old" because the Saame or "Sami" farmers in Lapland (comprised of the northern region of Finland, Sweden and, in part, Russia) have used dogs of this type for centuries, and there are old cave painting depicting dogs of this type.  Archeological digs in Lapland have unearthed skeletal remains of Lapponian dogs that have been estimated to date back prior to 7000 BC.   Now, the "new" because the breed Finnish Lapphund has only become accepted as a breed in its own right (by the FCI) since the mid 1960s.  The Finnish Lapphund, or the Suomenlapinkoira as it is known in its home country of Finland, evolved within the nomadic Sami culture which kept reindeer herds for food and clothing.  Originally there were three "Laponian" breeds and all descended from the old arctic "spitz" breeds of the Scandinavian area, today they are known as the Finnish Lapphund, the Swedish Lapphund and the Lapponian Herder.  The "job" of the Finnish Lapphund was and is to keep the herd together, they are the gatherer not the drover.  

Initially, the breed was indeed used to maintain the reindeer but with the modernization brought about by time, in other words the snowmobile, the use of dogs with the herds became less necessary as the nomadic Saame developed a more sedentary existence and now dogs are rarely used on reindeer herds. Today, the breed still retains a strong herding instinct, which has been demonstrated here with their use on sheep.

Around the 1940's as the use of the Finnish Lapphund as a herder decreased, the Finnish people realized that they needed to work towards saving their wonderful breed and dogs belonging to the original Sami people were collected with the intent of establishing a breeding program. The first breed standard was accepted by the Finnish Kennel Club in 1945, with the breed being called the Lapponian Shepherd Dog. This original standard included both a shorter coated dogs and a longer coated dogs, which has been said were often born in the same litters.  In 1967 the long coated dogs were given a separate standard and called the Lapinkoira, which  translates as "Finnish Lapphund", while the short-coated dogs were called the Lapinporokoira which is translates as "Lapponian Herder".   In Finland the standard was revised in 1996 and an English translation was accepted by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in 1999. The Finnish Lapphund has become very popular as a pet in Finland, and in 2005 was the third most popular breed in the country, with registrations of over 1000 puppies for the year.

It is quite likely that Finnish Lapphunds came to the US as the pets of Finnish immigrants, although we have no documentation of these dogs.  In 1987 the first organized effort began to import breeding stock and establish the breed in this country. Since the breed was not recognized by the American Kennel Club, a separate registry was established and these dogs began the first breeding program for Finnish Lapphunds in the United States.  Not all dogs were bred from and only a few dogs in the U.S. now have ancestors from the original imports. Other dogs were imported at later times, and importation continues in an effort to keep the gene pool for the breed in this country as large as the gene pool in Finland.

In August 2008, the AKC Board of Directors approved the Finnish Lapphund to move to Miscellaneous Class effective July 1, 2009.  In January 2011 the AKC Board of Directors approved the Finnish Lapphund to move to the Herding Group as of June 30, 2011 therefore making them eligible to earn their AKC Championship.