History of the Finnish Lapphund Breed

Finnish Lapphund is an old breed which have been used by the nomadic Saami people of Northern Scandinavia and Karelian Russia, possibly even as old as the sighthounds of Asia.  Their original purpose, as with any dogs, were guard dogs but eventually were trained to assist the Saami in reindeer herding.   The Saami people  employs two type of lapphunds in guarding and herding, the long haired variety which is now known as the Finnish Lapphund (and Swedish Lapphund)  and the short haired variety which is commonly referred to as the Lapponian Herder.

Life of  the Saami people slowly changed in the 20th century.  They became less nomadic and started settling down on permanent homes.  Modern technology have resulted in less reliance on dogs for reindeer herding and increasingly more into using of snowmobiles and in some degree helicopters.  Some of the Saami farmers that still use dogs had also selecting short-coated dogs to assist them with their herd.    It was also at this point when the utility of the reindeer herding dog to the Saami were diminishing, the interest on the same indigenous dogs was growing from the rest of Scandinavia.


Breed Recognition in Finland

Just after the Second World War, the Finnish Kennel Association  have began the work of creating and recognizing a breed that will be based from the reindeer herding dogs of  the Saami.   The breed was referred to as Lapponian Herder.  In collaboration with the  Lappish Kennel District and the Finnish Spitz Organization,  the association scoured  the reindeer farming area of the North and scrutinized  dogs that fits to the standard of the aforementioned Lapponian Herder.  

In the early 1960's saw the  unification of the various Finnish Kennel organizations to form the Finnish  Kennel Club.   All the different lapphund dogs that were registered in the various kennel organizations were accepted into the same breed register.  However,  breeders came to realized that some of the lines have shorter coats and while others are definitely long-coated. The “lappish breed”  was reassessed in 1966-1967 and it was decided that dogs were to be separated solely on the basis of their coat length.  The short coated  Lapponian Herder (Lapinporokoira) was first officially recognized in 1966 and the long coated dogs  identified as the “Lapinkoira”  was designated as a distinct breed in 1967.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Marri Vainio of the Peski Kennel had made use of her good knowledge of the breed and took on the task of identifying individual dogs in the Laplands and made a significant contributions in breeding and stabilizing the "type" of the Lappland herder. A number of the early Lapphunds that were exported outside of Scandinavia were offsprings of the original Peski Kennel dogs brought down from the Lapplands.

The standard was further revised 1975 and again in 1993. It is also in 1993 when  the official name of the breed has also been changed from Lapinkoira to Suomenlapinkoira (Finnish Lapphund). In Finland, the breed registry is still open, allowing unregistered dogs to be admitted if they meet the breed standard.

Finnish Lapphunds in Canada

It is quite possible the first Finnish Lapphunds in Canada were pets brought along by Finnish and other Scandinavian immigrants even as early as the 1960s  but were either not registered or records mis-identified them as a different breed.

In spring of 1995,  Diana Kinsey imported from the US, the first known Finnish Lapphund in Canada, the male Sugarok Echo of Jesse.  It is worth noting that Jesse was from the kennel of Linda Marden, who is the pioneer in the organized and formal attempt to get the breed recognized in North America.  A year later, Diana Kinsey imported  the blonde female Sugarok Vaaleaverikko (Sasha).   Despite a lot of pioneering work by Diana to get the attention of the CKC on the breed,  both dogs were never bred.

In 1998,  Catherine Healey adopted the  female Sugarok Kewpie Pie which was 6 years old at that time, the third known Finnish Lapphund in Canada  Unfortunately, Kewpie unexpectedly died in 2001 and Linda Marden have intended to have one of her retired dogs, Sugarok Annisette (Annie) as a replacement.  At almost the same time,  Johanne Parent, an Eurasier breeder was also interested in adopting and hopefully show and breed Finnish Lapphunds.   An idea was struck to have Annie bred before being brought up to Canada.  Johanne  would take care of the pregnant Annie till it whelped and the puppies weaned before finally going to her permanent home with Cat Healey.  Annie whelped on late Dec 2002, and her puppies became the first Finnish Lapphund litter to be registered with the Canadian Kennel Club.

Since then, interest in the Finnish Lapphund breed had grown not only here in Canada but in the entire North America.  Janice Thomaschewski also adopted another bred female Lapphund from Sugarok (Sugarok Susa) in early 2004 whose litter became the second litter to be registered with the CKC.   From that litter came My Sidekick Alera, who in June 2006, produced the first Canadian bred and born Finnish Lapphund litter.

In December 15, 2006,  the CKC approved a decision for the Finnish Lapphund to be a “listed” breed effective July 1, 2007.  This decision meant the breed was  allowed to compete in CKC sanctioned events.   The club gained accredition afterwards and is currently working on behalf of the breed to gain full recognition with the CKC in the near future.


Diana Kinsey's Sasha and Jesse in 2008
(courtesy of canadianlappies Yahoo Group)