About Us

Dr. Nicole ("Nic") Prokopishyn and Elizabeth ("Leeza") Friedman-Prokopishyn both have an intense passion for pure-breed dogs.  The establishment of Bearspaw Finnish Lapphunds allows them to share their love of the breed with others.


Leeza and Nic are members in good standing of the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), Finnish Kennel Club (FKC), the Southern Finnish Lapphund Society (SFLS - UK), the Alberta Kennel Club, and the Finnish Lapphund Club of Canada (FLCC). They are lifetime members of the Finnish Lapphund Club of Finland (Lappalaiskoirat Ry). Leeza served as the PR director for the Alberta Kennel Club starting in late 2015, and served as a member of the Board 2015-2017. She is currently working towards becoming a conformation judge. Leeza and Nic have attended Finnish Lapphund breed club meetings in 4 countries and dog shows in 4 countries.


Nic and Leeza work in healthcare. Nic completed a PhD in biochemistry for the University of Saskatchewan and is currently the director of a clinical cellular therapy lab. Leeza completed an undergraduate degree in Russian from Bryn Mawr College, and a masters in clinical social work (MSW) from Smith College. Leeza works as a mental health therapist with complex disorders using behavioural approaches.


In 2014, Leeza had the fantastic opportunity to handle a Finnish Lapphund at the World Dog Show in a presentation about the breed during groups (see photos above). The Lappy is a sable male (soopeli in Finnish), Fin Est Lv Ch Teelikamentten Lumiukko, owned by Minna Mielonen. Kiitos (thank you) to everyone for inviting a Canadian on stage to handle at WDS 2014!

About the Kennel

Bearspaw Kennel is a small kennel solely devoted to breeding and exhibiting pure-bred Finnish Lapphunds. The kennel is situated outside Calgary, where the dogs enjoy 4 acres to run and play. All our dogs reside in the household with us and not in a separate kennel facility. Some of the dogs you will meet on our webpage reside with the home team, and others reside with co-owners.


We are dedicated to breeding Finnish Lapphunds which are of lovely temperament, sound structure, and superior health. We are committed to maintaining the breed as it is known and loved in Finland, while continuing to expand the gene pool here in a healthy and robust manner. We have imported several dogs from Finland and frozen semen from Finnish bred dogs in Finland, Holland, and the USA. We are passionate about educating others about the amazing personalities, health, genetics, and history of our Finnish Lapphunds. We were the first North American breeders to export back to Europe (Belgium), back to Finland, and the first Canadians to provide stud services outside North America (to Australia)


Dr. Nicole Prokopishyn and Leeza Friedman-Prokopishyn have been involved with the breed for 13 years. Dogs bred by us have completed many conformation, agility, rally-o, barn hunt titles.  Dogs owned by us or who carry our kennel name have qualified for Crufts 8 times, have placed at The World Dog Show, Westminster, Eukanuba US National Show, the Purina National (Canadian National Show), and in Finnish Lapphund national specialty shows in Canada. BIS NBISS MBVIS RBIS MBPIS Am Gr Ch Can Gr Ch Ex Bearspaw Sampo, RN, TT, HIC qualified for Crufts 2016 with a group placement at the Purina National, the first year one could qualify as a Canadian bred dog with a group placement. He is the first Canadian bred, owned, and handled BIS winner and the first Gr C|h Ex. With Shaunna Bernardin at the helm, he is also the first owner-handled NBISS in Canada. In 2018, we celebrated hosting past world winnder, Multi Ch Peikkovuoren Vahca in Canada, Lv Lt Ee Balt JrCh Balt JrW-18 Can Ch Peikkovuoren Muuska. Overseas, EeJW-18 JWW-18 Bearspaw Innovations So Fiery became a World Winnder.


Information on the fantastic adventures of our dogs in and out of the conformation and performance rings can be seen on the individual pages devoted to each dog.

All material is copyright protected and may not be reproduced in any form (full or in part) without written permission from Bearspaw Kennel, CKC Registered. All rights reserved. Site was designed and is maintained by Leeza Friedman-Prokopishyn, Leeza@bearspawlappies.ca. Unless otherwise noted, all photographs were taken by NIcole Prokopishyn. © 2013-2017.