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.
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,
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
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.