The Swedish Lapphund, sometimes called the Lappie, is a very old breed and is thought to be one of the oldest of the native Swedish spitz breeds. Originally these dogs were used by the nomadic Sami people of Lappland, an area that consisted of Finland, Sweden, Norway, and northwestern Russia. The Swedish Lapphund originally assisted with herding reindeer and performing guard duties. These dogs are a very resilient breed that are able to work through the rough terrain and harsh climate of the region. Today these dogs are still used for herding and sometimes hunting elk, deer, wild boar, and even bears. They are also used as a search and rescue breed and an army dog. The Swedish Lapphund is not yet recognized by the AKC, but they are recorded in the Foundation Stock Service, which is a preliminary step to official recognition. The purpose of this service is to keep records and information on breeds that are either rare or still being developed.
The Swedish Lapphund is a medium sized spitz dog. They stand at about 16 to 20 inches tall at the withers and they should weigh between 33 and 53 pounds. These dogs have a slightly wedge shaped head that is slightly rounded on top. The muzzle is a medium length, tapering towards the nose with a well defined stop. The nose is black and the eyes are round and somewhat large. They should be dark brown with black rims. The ears are small and triangular with rounded tips. They stand high up on the head and are highly mobile. The tail is high set and curled up over the back. Swedish Lapphunds have a profuse double coat. The outer coat is long and stands straight off the body and they undercoat is dense and wooly. The coat is longer on the back of the legs, the brisket, the tail, and a ruff around the neck. The coat is solid black, usually with some bronzing. There is sometimes white on the chest, feet, and tip of the tail, but that is not usually desirable. The hair should be brushed about once a week to maintain it and remove dead hair. Daily brushing will be needed during the shedding seasons. The nails should be clipped and the teeth and ears should be checked and cleaned regularly as well.
Swedish Lapphunds have been known to be loving and lively family companions. They get along easily with children and other animals, including cats. Swedish Lapphunds enjoy being aroung their family and are playful with children. They are also alert and make excellent watch dogs. This is an intelligent breed that can learn very quickly with the proper techniques. They should be obedience trained thoroughly while they are still puppies. Obedience training should be firm and consistent, but at the same time gentle. These dogs will benefit from positive reinforcement techniques such as treats and games for a job well done. As long as training is varied and interesting these dogs should pay attention and continue to learn. Like many spitz breeds these dogs have a tendency to bark at anything they think is suspicious. It is important to teach them to stop when commanded. Swedish Lapphunds can be a somewhat independent breed, but as long as the owner is a strong pack leader they will always listen. These dogs will also need to be well socialized while they are young. This means taking them out to expose them to new people, places, and situations. This helps them to be well adjusted when they get older, and ensures that they aren’t timid.
The Swedish Lapphund is a fairly active breed both indoors and out so they are not generally recommended for apartment life. They need plenty of exercise every day that should include a long walk or a jog. They will also enjoy playing different games. As long as these dogs are getting enough exercise they won’t become bored and destructive. They may even bark obsessively if they aren’t getting enough exercise.
Swedish Lapphunds are a generally healthy breed, but they do have a few health issues to be aware of. Diabetes and progressive retinal atrophy are concerns for this breed. Sometimes with rare breeds like this, the dogs are bred despite any health issues that may be passed along. A healthy Swedish Lapphund will live about 10 to 13 years.
Overall the Swedish Lapphund is a breed that can make a good worker and a nice companion breed as long as they are properly trained and socialized. This is an active breed that is best suited to an owner that can take them out for plenty of exercise.