These fascinating facts about the Finnish Lapphund dog breed will entertain you and perhaps even make you crave getting one of these beautiful dogs one day.
1) Bred to Herd Reindeer
The Finnish lapphund was selectively bred to herd reindeer, in their their native Lapland, the largest and northernmost region of Finland.
In particular, the Finnish Lapphund worked along with semi-nomadic people, known as the Sami. Originally nomadic, the Sami settled down and started raising reindeer herds. The reindeer were used as means of transport and for their milk and meat production.
The Finnish Lapphund's job was therefore primarily keeping the reindeer under control and together.
Nowadays, with the invention of the snowmobile, the Sami have relied less and less on these dogs, which still though retain a strong herding instinct.
2) A "Loose-Eyed Dog
Did you know? There are different herding styles in dogs and the eyes play a big role in controlling the movement of livestock.
There are strong-eyed herders, medium-eye herders and loose-eyed herders.
Strong-eyed herders stare down intensely and continuously and the staring is often accompanied by a crouching stance. Border collies, are known for being strong-eyed herders "giving eye" to move sheep.
Medium-eyed herders do make strong contact and some may crouch, but they don’t give eye continuously and therefore, there's less pressure on the animals.
Loose-eyed dogs are constantly moving as they surround the animals using an upright stance and do not stop to stare down animals.
The Finnish Lapphund is an example of a loose-eyed dog who surveys the animals (usually reindeers) keeping a watchful eye for the ones who may bolt or wander away.
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3) A Tendency to Bark
Finnish Lapphunds have an ingrained tendency to bark. This trait was selectively bred for as it helped in their line of work as herders, barking to move stubborn animals.
While today Lappies are mostly kept as pets, their tendency to bark is still well alive. This breed indeed will often bark in play or to alert of some intruder, although they were never intended to be guardians and therefore have a tendency to be friendly to strangers.
They may also bark for attention being that they have strong needs for companionship and feel miserable when neglected and left out.
4) A Strong Need for Companionship
As mentioned, Lappies are known for being very sociable dogs who crave companionship. Keeping them away from family activities may lead to FOMO (fear of missing out).
This strong need isn't surprising after all considering their past. When not herding, at the end of a long day, Finnish Lapphund were spending the night huddled together with their human family and other dogs for warmth.
5) A Strong Startle Reflex
Another interesting trait of the Finnish Lapphund is the fact these dogs are blessed with a strong startle reflex. While this may sound like a problem, it's actually a blessing considering that herding large reindeer wasn't without risk.
Just consider how important it was to avoid the antlers of reindeers. Despite their reputation for pulling Santa's sleigh, reindeers are flighty animals which can do lots of damage by turning and trying to trample the dogs.
A mere touch would therefore have Lappies startle quickly enough to move away and get themselves out of a sticky situation. After startling, Lappies show a fast recovery so they can return to work swiftly.
6) Specialized Snowshoe Feet
Among dogs, only a few selective dog breeds have snowshoe feet. The purpose of these feet is to help them navigate more efficiently through the snow fields.
Just like snowshoes, a Finnish Lapphunds' paws are large so to distribute their weight across a greater surface area, a quality that prevents them from sinking into the snow.
The breed standard for the Finnish Lapphund, as described by the American Kennel Club, describes this breed's feet as being "well arched, oval rather than round, with toes slightly spread, to act as a snowshoe."