Welcome to the F.A.Q. page, which contains our answers to common questions we have been asked about Lappies.
1. HOW ARE LAPPIES WITH CHILDREN?
Lappies are well suited for families with children, including young children. Lappies, like any dog, must be trained appropriately and children must be taught how to interact respectfully with dogs. Lappies were an all purpose dogs and had a significant role as playmates of children within Sami and Finnish families. It is not unusual for children to use Finnish Lapphunds as first training and hobby dogs.
2. HOW ARE LAPPIES WITH OTHER DOGS? OTHER ANIMALS? CATS?
Lappies with correct temperament (to the breed standard) interact well with most other dogs and domestic animals, including cats. Just like people, individual dogs may be indifferent to other animals or not like other another dog for a specific reason. Lappies are generally a good choice for household with other animals or well established cats. They are more adaptable to different environments than many breeds. Many Lappies do have a prey drive for mice, moles, and other small animals. They can be as good a mouser as a cat. They will instinctively want to herd animals which remind them of reindeer. One of the challenges with a cat is that a Lappy may wish to chase the cat, to try to play with it as if it were a Lappy. Not all cats appreciate this type of play. Some Lappies can learn that the cat does not wish to play this way. Some Lappies are higher energy, and less likely to let the game go.
3. WHAT KIND OF PERSONALITY CAN I EXPECT FROM A LAPPY? ARE THEY OKAY FOR FIRST TIME DOG OWNERS?
Breeding puppies who live well with people is very important to us. This breed is expected to have a good temperament which is generally friendly towards people, including people they have recently met for the first time. If their family believes that new people are okay, a Lappy generally should as well. Although they may be reserved at the first moment, it generally does not take them long to warm up to people. They are highly intelligent, and motivated to please their people. They are intended to be a breed which can live and work well with people.
Due to their temperament, Lappies also make excellent choices for first time dog owners who are willing to invest the time in training and socializing them. They are equally well suited for the experienced dog owner.
Many Lappies rear up on their hind legs when they are walking on leash, because they want to play with another dog. This is actually not aggression, and can be mistaken for such by inexperienced people. Lappies have a style of play which is a bit like a Boxer- rough, tumble, involving chasing and wrestling.
There have been rare cases of aggression in Lappies in North America and Europe. We can typically link it back to developmental and environmental experiences occurring during fear periods. Fear periods can occur in Lappies at around 4 to 6 months, and again in the first year of life. It is similar to fear periods in other herding breeds.
4. DO LAPPIES MAKE GOOD HOUSE DOGS? CAN THEY LIVE OUTDOORS?
Lappies adapt very well to life as house pets, which is how most Lappies live today. They would very much like to sit on top of you, your sofa, your cool tile floor, or whatever you will permit. Lappies like to be around people, and temperament wise they are well suited for this. Living indoors all the time is not as good for coat development, which is not usually a big concern for families who want a house pet.
Some Lappies in Finland and other "winter" countries live partially or fully outdoors. We have met both outdoor living Lappies with delightful temperaments and those with dreadful temperaments. The temperament and personalities of the Lappies is determined by the lines, attention they receive as puppies and adults, skill of the trainer, response to fear periods, and number of dogs the breeder has in comparison to their resources to care for them. For show and working Lappies, living outside full or part time, or working outside promotes ideal coat development and hardies them for harsh conditions. The key for a healthy and happy Lappy is contact with their people -- so if you spend time outside, they will be thrilled to spend it with you.
Our Lappies do not live outside, due to wildlife concerns. That said, our Lappies spend substantial time working and playing outside with us every day (yes, even if it is -40C).
5. ARE LAPPIES HARD TO TRAIN?
Lappies are quick learners. Lappies are always happy to train new people. We always suggest that people consider taking puppy classes with them, so you train the puppy and not the other way around. Classes are helpful for both humans and dogs alike. Since Lappies are a highly intelligent dog that is eager to please you they are very trainable. However, they can think for themselves, so you must be prepared to keep them entertained and motivated.
Lappies are in the FCI Group 5.3, Primitive Spitz and Herding Dogs, and in the Herding group in North America. Lappies are 100% a spitz breed, and 100% a herding breed at the same time. As a result, they are not as reserved as many spitz breeds. The eagerness to please, when used as a tool, makes them a rather fun breed to train.
6. ARE LAPPIES A HEALTHY BREED? HOW LONG DO THEY LIVE?
Lappies are generally a healthy breed when responsibly bred, with lifespans averaging 12-15 years. It is not unheard of for Lappies in Finland to be 15-20 years old.
Breeders cannot prevent 100% of health problems, but with responsible breeding, we can reduce the incidence of many. See our health information page.
All the testing is not because there are widespread health problems in the breed, but rather, to keep them healthy. The Finnish philosophy in this breed is to take preventative measures to increase good health.
7. WHAT ARE LAPPIES LIKE TO LIVE WITH?
Lappies are a highly personable breed. Whether they are supervising you from across the room, or participating by being as close as possible, Lappies try to be involved in everything you do. They are adaptable to different people and lifestyles, so long as their needs are being met for exercise and mental stimulation. In general, they are a reasonable breed to live with for the right family.
Lappies bark as part of how they herd, but generally do not bark without a purpose. They may bark when playing, or out of excitement. Lappies are more likely to become problem barkers if they are not getting enough exercise to meet their energy level (medium energy), or are bored. There is a range in how much Lappies bark. Some Lappies howl or vocalize like Huskies.
8. ARE LAPPIES DIFFICULT TO GROOM?
Lappies are generally not difficult to groom. They can be groomed by owners or by professional groomers. Once adults, they blow coat twice yearly. Puppies and yearling dogs may loose coat more often, as their coat is developing. Lappies generally benefit from once weekly brushing, nail trimming, teeth, and ear cleaning. Lappies are not a trimmed breed, and the coat should never be shaved or sculpted. Shaving takes away the protection the coat provides not only from cold, but also the sun. Shaving should only be done for medical reasons (surgery, etc.). Sculpting, or trimming the coat in ways to try to give the image of better structure, is unacceptable. Both may cause the coat not to grow back properly.
9. CAN LAPPIES BE TRAINED OFF LEASH?
With appropriate training, adult Lappies are excellent off leash. Read our history page. They were among the few breeds permitted to be off leash in Finland historically. We suggest that people interested in training their Lappies off leash take a class designed to teach off leash recall. Puppies generally cannot be trusted to have recall to be off leash and should not be permitted off-leash in an uncontrolled environment. Most of our adult Lappies over a certain age are trained to be off leash.
We highly encourage off leash training. It makes it more likely that a dog will return to you if you drop the leash, or if the dog accidentally escapes. If you have not trained your dog off leash, it is less likely that it will come when you really need it to. Training is practice for everyday life situations.
10. WHAT KIND OF ACTIVITIES CAN I DO WITH MY LAPPY?
Lappies adapt well to many family activities. They make good hiking partners. Many Lappies swim well, but some prefer only to wade. It is best to train your Lappy when they are young to enjoy activities you enjoy, so they can become a part of normal life.
Lappies make good dogs for conformation, herding practice/trials, and junior handling. Lappies generally do well with agility, obedience, rally-o, disc dogs, barn hunt, and pet therapy. They can be trained as service animals and there are a small number of Lappies trained in Finland to do search and rescue. Lappies in Finland have been trained to participate in working trials. They can also be used for skjoring and to pull kick sleds.
Lappies are generally not the best choice for schutzhund or protection work.
11. WHAT IS THE IDEAL FAMILY FOR A LAPPY?
There is no one family situation which is correct for a Lappy. The Lappies make nice family dogs for many people, and are still not the right breed for everyone. They are the right breed for people interested in a highly intelligent, herding spitz dog with a sense of humour. In our screening process, we get to know families over several interactions. This way, we can understand personalities, activity levels, interests, and philosophies on training and dog ownership. If we do not feel that your lifestyle or training beliefs are appropriate for this breed, we will not consider you for a puppy.
We do consider geographic environment and climate when families contact us. These dogs are very important to us, and we try to ensure that they will have the best lives possible. It is up to us to place puppies where we think is best for them. The Lappies bred by us are accustomed to a winter country climate. If you reside in a warm climate, the burden is on you to prove to us that you can keep a heat sensitive dog happy and healthy.
12. WHAT SHOULD I FEED MY LAPPY? DO THEY HAVE ALLERGIES?
We generally raise litters of puppies on Acana kibble (a locally sourced but internationally available premium kibble). We may change puppy kibble based on the needs of the mommy dog or puppies. We feed all our adult Lappies a raw diet.
The reason we feed raw is that Koda, our oldest Lappy, had chronic gastrointestinal issues when eating processed kibble. This sort of grain allergy or sensitivity is a problem in a few lines of Lappies, and is extremely rare. Koda is neutered and has never been bred due to subluxated patellae, although the allergies were a concern as well. Lappalaiskoirat ry is currently tracking allergy problems, and currently suggest that dogs with Koda's problem not be bred. Not all poor response to food is an allergy, but some problems can be an allergy. Some allergies have a genetic basis and others do not. Just like people, there is a range of severity in allergies and sensitivities.
We do not require that people feed raw or any particular type of food. We know Lappies who have done very well on Pro Plan, Royal Canin, Science Diet, low grain kibbles, NRG, and raw. We generally suggest a medium to high quality food which is low grain or relies on rice and/or potatoes as a starch. The important thing is to monitor your dog, and see how well they are doing on the diet of choice.
13. CAN LAPPIES LIVE IN APARTMENTS OR TOWNHOMES?
Some families living in condos, town homes, and apartments can offer an appropriate situation for the right Lappy. Whether or not that will work can depend upon the city, proximity to parks, and the owners' commitment to provide enough exercise. The highest energy Lappy in the litter will never go to an apartment, but some of them can be happy in an apartment. It is important before bringing a dog into a rental situation with a landlord, that you have their approval to have a dog.
14. I THINK I RESCUED A LAPPY FROM A SHELTER. WHAT CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT THEM? DO YOU SUPPORT RESCUE?
We get several e-mails a month from people who believe that they have a rescued Lappy from shelters. It is always possible that the dog is part Lappy or pure-bred. All pure bred Lappies registered with kennel clubs must be microchipped or tattooed. It is possible there are Lappies bred that are not registered in North America. There are certain characteristics which tell us that you might have a Lappy or Lappy-Mix. Mixes with Chows and Rotties can often product black and tan colour plus coat and therefore look like Lappies. Several other mixed breed combinations can also result in dogs that resemble Lappies. Shelter dogs need homes and we are glad people can offer them homes. At the same time, if you want a pure-bred Lappy it is very unlikely you will find one at a shelter.
We occasionally hear of other cases in the US of Lappies needing homes, most recently a large scale case in California. Thanks to Tibetan Mastiff Rescue Inc. and two local shelters, all the Lappies now have homes. Our hope is that the breeders of surrendered Lappies will take them back and find them homes but we know that this does not always happen. We are grateful for those involved in rescue and continue to support these efforts to help dogs in need.
We have referred many people on our waiting lists to consider a rescue Lappy in recent years. We have supported rescue both financially and through publication. Leeza has a little bit of professional experience with Compulsive Hoarding and has written about it for the dog show community. Leeza has done animal shelter volunteer work before becoming a breeder.
15. WHY ISN'T THERE A BREEDER IN MY AREA?
Chances are, if you can't find a breeder in your area on the web, or at a local dog show, they probably do not exist. Most breeders have some sort of presence on the web, at dog shows, or within either breed or all breed clubs. It is a fact that there are not very many breeders in North America. Getting a Lappy may require that you be on a waiting list and be willing to travel. If you are not willing to travel to a breeder or wait for a puppy, this may not be the breed for you. While sometimes people get lucky and do find a puppy or adult quickly and in their area, that is often not the norm in this breed.
16. WHICH COLOUR IS PREFERRED?
Black is the original documented colour in this breed circa 1600 (see pages on history and breed information). So long as one colour predominates, most colours are permitted in the breed standard. This is a breed which was bred for purpose and not colour (unless that colour somehow detracted from function or health). The healthy variety you see today is due to many regional differences in breeding populations. We believe that all colours should be maintained at naturally occurring rates within a given line of dogs, so long as the colours are healthy and permitted within the Finnish (FCI) standard. The Finns care about colour least, and things like temperament, structure, coat quality, and health the most.
17. HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO WAIT IF YOU ADD ME TO YOUR WAITING LIST, AND HOW MUCH DOES THIS BREED COST?
These are the two most common questions we get through e-mail. It may seem a little odd to some that most breeders do not tell you on the websites how much puppies cost or how long the waiting list is (or if they keep one). Our waiting list fluctuates, and is typically 6-24 months long. The cost of the puppy depends upon the quality of the puppy (show, show/performance, pet, etc.), specific contract agreements (co-ownership, stud rights, age at which we are selling you a puppy or dog, etc). We would ask you to contact us directly with this question.
It is possible that we can help you sooner if you are interested in breeding and showing with us on team Bearspaw. This would involve contract requirements on your part, which vary by contract. Breeding and showing is a rewarding hobby for many. Breeding, showing, and co-ownership are not for everyone, but they are for some people. This is how we ensure that there will be Lappies for future generations. A certain number need to remain in the gene pool.
18. DO YOU WANT TO KEEP THE BREED RARE OR MAKE IT POPULAR?
Actually, neither. Lappies are good family dogs, and can fit in a variety of situations. At the same time, we cannot and will not breed enough to meet the demand. (We would have to quit our jobs to do that, or become a larger operation than we are willing to become.) We will not be able to help everyone who contacts us for a puppy, but we will be able to help some people who contact us for puppies.
Right now, there is much interest in our puppies. Some of this is due to the fact that there are few experienced breeders in North America. The rest is due to what we offer at Bearspaw - really thoughtfully bred and raised puppies. We carefully choose our families, and try to find the right homes for our puppies.
19. IS THERE A SHOW LINE AND A PERFORMANCE LINE IN THIS BREED?
Not really. Some dogs have a better drive for things like agility than others dogs. We can usually tell if puppies have that drive when they are young, and with the proper training and socialization, if we think that they have the "right stuff" for performance. Performance Lappies should actually have as good a structure as a "show" Lappy, with the correct drive.
There has been historical inter-breeding between "show," "performance," and "working" Lappies. This is not the same as in some other breeds, wherein there are very distinctive lines used for different purposes.
There is a club in Finland which supports dogs with traditional working characteristics and who are used for herding. There are some differences between lines of Lappies more often being used for show and those more often being used for herding. Although a herding demonstration or trial is not required for a Finnish championship title, it is deemed desirable to maintain working ability in all lines.
We have serious show dogs at Bearspaw. We also take then for herding lessons and instinct tests, do CGN and CGC testing, Rally-O, and are exploring starting search and rescue with one of our dogs. We have in the past done pet therapy as well.
20. I WOULD LIKE TO IMPORT A LAPPY FROM EUROPE FOR SHOW. WHERE DO I START?
We are genuinely interested in seeing more people import. The only way to avoid a North American variation of this breed is to continue to bring in European DNA thoughtfully. Lappalaiskoirat ry is a good resource within Finland. They have an English speaking contact who can tell you about litters of puppies being born. Most established breeders also have a website. There is also an active breed club in Sweden (SLK), and a number of other countries where one can find Lappies and Lappy fanciers. To date, North Americans have imported Finnish Laphunds from Finland, Sweden, Denmark, France, and Australia. If you are sincere about wanting to import a dog for show and breeding, we are willing to answer questions about our experiences and provide information. It benefits all of us in the long run, If more people are willing to import.
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.