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), 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. Leeza is working towards becoming a conformation judge, and currently judges matches, sweeps, and on-line shows.


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). We have also exported to the US and Czech Republic.


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 Mussukka. Overseas, EeJW-18 JWW-18 Bearspaw Innovations So Fiery became a World Winner.

Breeding Philosophy

Bearspaw Finnish Lapphunds actively imports new DNA from Europe in order to maintain a healthy gene pool. This has involved many trips to Finland and elsewhere in Europe. We continue to import DNA to achieve healthy matches, complimentary, and compatible pedigrees. We very much view our kennel as part of a family of dogs, and we seek to take care of the dogs and our line as treasured family members. Many would call this being a preservationist breeder- seeking to maintain the health and longevity of the breed we love, and our family of dogs. As we are engaged in dog shows, we would also be considered show breeders as well.


We are are very concerned about the health and well being of our family of dogs. As a result, we conduct extensive health testing prior to considering a breeding match. This includes testing hips, elbows, patellae, eyes, PRA carrier and GSD II carrier status (if unknown). We have gotten to know many nuances of our pedigrees over the past 15 years. We seek to match dogs together well based upon our understanding of our family of dogs.

About How We Raise Puppies

We provide the gold standard in neonatal care for the mother and babies, making full use of current veterinary science and standards. We take full advantage of modern technology and medical care to provide the best for mothers and babies. We do not cut corners before or after puppies are born. Once they are born, we provide intensive socialization to prepare the puppies for life. Puppies are raised in the house, under foot. Every litter we raise receives ENS (early neurological stimulation), the principles of the law of sevens, the best nutrition, and most of all, lots of socialization time with people and our other dogs. We provide the best start possible to every puppy we have bred.

Working with us as Breeders

Building and maintaining relationships is important to us, whether than be with our puppy families, mentorship, and collaborative relationships between kennels and breeders. As a result, working with us will likely not feel like a commercial transaction with a larger retailer. Think of working with us as a two way relationship, and the choice to own a pedigree, heritage dog breed as a lifestyle choice. Owning a purebred dog from a preservationist and show breeder is not a one-time transaction.


We provide a lifetime of support with all puppies and dogs we have bred. That means that we are available for phone calls, e-mails, and texts, answer questions, and provide resources. In return, we would like all the families we work with to keep us in the loop about the health and well-being of the dogs. We care deeply about the dogs we breed. For us to maintain our lines, it helps us to know how dogs are maturing, their health, and even their personality quirks. When our puppy people are local to us, we are also able to provide in person support when that is needed.

Becoming a Greener Kennel

We use an many reusable and local products as possible to raise and care for our puppies and dogs. This includes washable bedding and compostible puppy bedding, with an emphasis on locally made products and working with local suppliers whenever possible. This includes the natural cleaning products we use and our raw food suppliers. We and are family have also made a number of our household items- whelping boxes and crates out of wood, etc. Although we do purchase some products from afar, Hills Science Diet to raise litters for example, when we can buy locally and green, we do. We obtain our specialist veterinary care locally as well, which does reduce our carbon foot print with driving.

Connecting with Us

We typically receive multiple e-mail and Facebook messages daily about the breed, about our puppies, and with questions. That is in addition to e-mails and calls we receive from our puppy families, breeders and judges we mentor, and other breeders with whom we collaborate. That can be a lot for us to wade through, especially now. Due to COVID-19, a portion of our work is done virtually through platforms like Zoom and Skype, which makes our eyes very tired. If I have 5 e-mails and messages at the end of the day, I do need to prioritize our puppy family with a teething puppy question, or the fellow breeder with a pedigree question. Ensuring 100% follow up for the people who have our puppies and DNA sometimes means a little less of time for new people looking for a companion puppy.


If you are seeking a companion puppy, we like an initial e-mail contact to begin to get to know each other. Keep in mind- you know things about us because we have a web page, and we are getting to know you from the beginning. Our screening process also includes an application/questionnaire, a phone or Zoom interview, and sometimes checking references. We do not place companion or show puppies on a first come first served basis, rather on a best fit basis. Due to the small gene pool of the breed in Canada, we try to make the most thoughtful decisions we can about which dogs to keep in the gene pool, and which can go to companion homes with a spay/neuter agreement. We also like connecting through social media. You can follow our public page, or send us a friend request. We like that too. Leeza can usually respond to Facebook and WhatsApp messages quickly, as they are not difficult her my eyes.


If you do e-mail us about puppies, please include your full name, location (city, province, country, etc.). As we triage our puppy query e-mails, we are least likely to respond to an e-mail in which you do not identify yourself and your location.

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.