Swedish Lapphund

Swedish Lapphund: For Herding Reindeer



The Swedish Lapphund, also known as the Svensk Lapphund, has a long and rich history in northern Sweden, particularly among the indigenous Sami people. The breed is a Spitz dog often associated with the Lapponian herders, who used it as a working dog for herding reindeer.


Aerial view of reindeer herd in winter Lapland Finland
Aerial view of reindeer herd in winter


The exact lineage of the Swedish Lapphund is somewhat uncertain, as it has likely evolved through crossbreeding of various spitz-type dogs with the native reindeer-herding dogs of the Sami people. These dogs were bred for their herding abilities, endurance in harsh climates, and versatility in performing tasks like guarding, hunting, and pulling sleds.


The Swedish Lapphund remained a breed primarily known within the Sami community for many years, with little recognition outside its native region. It was not until the mid-20th century that efforts were made to standardize and preserve the breed. In 1944, the first breed standard was established by the Swedish Kennel Club, and since then, dedicated breed enthusiasts have worked to establish and promote the breed further.

Recognition by Kennel Clubs


The Swedish Lapphund gained international recognition in 1967 when it was officially recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), the international canine organization. Nowadays, it is cherished for its herding skills and admired as a loving family companion and a versatile working dog.


Despite its long history, the Swedish Lapphund is still considered a relatively rare breed outside of its native region, but its popularity is gradually growing. Its exceptional temperament, loyalty, and adaptability make it a beloved companion for many dog owners worldwide.

What are the physical characteristics of the Swedish Lapphund?

The Swedish Lapphund is a medium-sized breed with a well-built and muscular body. Here are some of its physical characteristics:

  1. Size: The Swedish Lapphund typically stands between 16 to 20 inches (40 to 51 cm) at the shoulder for males and 16 to 19 inches (40 to 49 cm) for females.
  2. Weight: The average weight for males is around 33 to 45 pounds (15 to 20 kg), while females tend to weigh slightly less, about 29 to 40 pounds (13 to 18 kg).
  3. Coat: They have a thick double coat that provides insulation and protection from harsh weather conditions. The outer coat is medium-length and coarse, while the undercoat is soft and dense.
  4. Colors: The Swedish Lapphund comes in various colors, including black, brown, or shades of gray. It also has markings of different colors on the head and legs, such as white, tan, or red.
  5. Tail: The breed has a thick, bushy tail that they carry curled over their back.
  6. Ears: The Swedish Lapphund has medium-sized, triangular ears that are erect and set high on the head.
  7. Eyes: Their dark, almond-shaped eyes give them a friendly and alert expression.
  8. Head: The breed has a broad, wedge-shaped head with a slightly domed skull and a pronounced stop between the forehead and muzzle.

What is the difference between Swedish and Finnish Lapphunds?

Finnish Lapphund in a garden
Finnish Lapphund Puppy

Swedish Lapphund and Finnish Lapphund are both breeds of dogs that originated from Scandinavia, specifically from the region traditionally inhabited by the Sami people. These dogs were initially bred for herding reindeer.




Here are some differences between them:

1. Appearance: Swedish Lapphunds have a slightly more compact and sturdy build than Finnish Lapphunds. Finnish Lapphunds have a slightly longer body and may stand a bit taller than their Swedish counterparts.


2. Coat: Both breeds have thick, double coats well-suited to cold climates, but the Finnish Lapphund’s coat is longer and more profuse, especially around the neck and tail.


3. Colors: Both breeds can come in a variety of colors, but the Swedish Lapphund is often black, dark brown, or dark grey, while the Finnish Lapphund is often seen in a broader range of colors, including wolf-sable, cream, black, brown, and several shades in between.


4. Temperament: Both breeds are intelligent, friendly, and good with children. However, some owners report that Finnish Lapphunds may be slightly more laid-back and easygoing than Swedish Lapphunds.


5. Recognition: The Swedish Lapphund is recognized by the Swedish Kennel Club and the FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale), but not by the American Kennel Club (AKC). On the other hand, the Finnish Lapphund is recognized by all three.


6. Population: The Finnish Lapphund is more common than the Swedish Lapphund, a rare breed. Individual dogs within each breed can vary significantly regarding their physical characteristics and temperament, so these generalizations may not apply to every Swedish or Finnish Lapphund.

Is the Swedish Lapphund a good family pet?

Swedish Lapphund on the blurry backgroundThe Swedish Lapphund is generally considered to be a good family pet. They are known to be friendly, gentle, and loyal dogs. They have a strong bond with their family members and are usually good with children.

Swedish Lapphunds are also intelligent and trainable, making them suitable for families willing to provide proper training and socialization. Additionally, they have a moderate energy level and typically get along well with other pets, making them an excellent choice for families looking for a versatile and loving companion.


What are the health concerns of the Swedish Lapphund?

The Swedish Lapphund is generally a healthy breed. However, like all dog breeds, they may be prone to specific health issues. Here are some of the potential health concerns of the Swedish Lapphund:

  1. Hip Dysplasia: This is a hereditary condition where the thighbone doesn’t fit properly into the hip joint, causing pain and lameness. Regular screening, such as X-rays, can help identify and manage this condition.
  2. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is a degenerative eye disorder that can lead to blindness. Responsible breeders will perform eye exams and only breed dogs free from PRA to minimize the risk.
  3. Exercise-Induced Collapse (EIC): Some Swedish Lapphunds can suffer from EIC, a condition where physical activity leads to a loss of muscle control, weakness, and sometimes collapse. Affected dogs should be avoided for breeding purposes.
  4. Canine Hip and Elbow Dysplasia: While relatively uncommon in the breed, some individuals may experience elbow and hip dysplasia.

Choosing a reputable breeder who conducts health screenings and genetic tests on their breeding dogs is essential to minimize the risk of passing on these health concerns. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, exercise, and overall good care can contribute to a healthy and happy Swedish Lapphund.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the size and appearance of the Swedish Lapphund?

The Swedish Lapphund is a medium-sized dog breed with a sturdy build. They have a thick double coat, usually black or brown, with distinct facial and chest markings. The breed has a fox-like appearance with small, erect ears and an expressive face.

What is the temperament of the Swedish Lapphund?

Swedish Lapphunds are known for being friendly, alert, and intelligent. They are highly loyal and bond closely with their family members. These dogs are generally good with children and other pets if properly socialized. They are also known for their adaptability and are often seen as great family dogs.

What is the exercise and grooming requirement for Swedish Lapphunds?

Swedish Lapphunds have moderate exercise needs and require daily walks and playtime. They enjoy activities like obedience training, agility, and hiking. Their thick double coat requires regular brushing to prevent matting, and they tend to shed seasonally. They are generally considered a clean breed with no strong odor.

Are Swedish Lapphunds good for families with children?

Swedish Lapphunds are generally good family dogs and get along well with children. However, as with any breed, proper socialization and supervision are essential to ensure they interact safely and appropriately with kids. Teaching children how to interact with dogs and respecting boundaries is essential.

How long does the Swedish Lapphund live?

The average lifespan of a Swedish Lapphund is typically between 12 to 14 years. However, a Swedish Lapphund can sometimes live even longer with proper care.


In conclusion, the Swedish Lapphund is a remarkable breed with a unique blend of intelligence, loyalty, and adaptability, making it an ideal companion for various lifestyles. With its long history of herding reindeer and its ability to thrive in harsh arctic conditions, this breed has emerged as a perfect partner for outdoor enthusiasts and active families.


Furthermore, the Swedish Lapphund’s friendly and gentle nature makes it an excellent choice for families with children. As we delve deeper into understanding this breed’s characteristics, it becomes evident that the Swedish Lapphund is a versatile and lovable companion, bringing joy and companionship to any home lucky enough to have one.

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