How We Began with Finnish Lapphunds--Our Experience in Dogs


Yutori began in 1989 with Akitas; although my first AKC show experience began with Rottweilers in 1985. In May of 2005, Lynn Drumm and I decided to get a Finnish Lapphund. My Akita lines were aging out and I had decided not to continue them; so in 2005 Lynn and I were looking for a smaller, similar breed.

Finnish Lapphunds are a spitz relative, used for herding reindeer. Lappies appealed to us because of their beautiful looks and wonderful personalities. This non-aggressive breed is happy and extremely intelligent yet willing to please. They have a joy in life and innocent enthusiasm that is infectious. They weigh roughly 35-40 lbs and ideally stand 17.5 inches in females, and 19.5 inches tall in males with a deviance of 1.5 inches on each side. There are no size disqualifications--balance is the key. The breed is comparatively healthy, with an average lifespan of 12 to 15 or even 16 years not being uncommon.

Finnish Lapphund health concerns include: PRA (for which a genetic blood test is now available through Optigen), hip dysplasia (low frequency), and although occurences are rare to date, certain bloodlines have produced a few cases of epilepsy, hypothyroidism and autoimmune disease. However as stated previously, the incidence of these things have been extremely low. For the most part, Finnish Lapphund Breeders have been extremely careful about their breeding practices and importation choices.

A rare breed, Lappies number under 500 dogs in the US at this time. The breed numbers climb a little every year with a few more litters born. AKC has accepted the Finnish Lapphund into full recognition effective June 30, 2011 when the breed was admitted into the herding group and eligible to earn points toward AKC Conformation Championships.

IF you are interested in this breed, we recommend that you apply for membership in the Finnish Lapphund Club of America (FLCA). You may contact our Membership Chair, Lynn Drumm, at


The AKC Breed Standard

General Appearance
The Finnish Lapphund is a medium sized breed that combines the look of the northern type dog with the temperament of the herding dog. They are intelligent, alert, agile, friendly and eager to learn. Developed to live and work outside, north of the Arctic Circle, the breed is strongly built and thickly coated. These dogs were never intended as guardians, and are particularly submissive towards people. Despite its strength, the Finnish Lapphund conveys a certain softness, particularly in expression. Males are recognizably masculine and females feminine.

Size Proportion, Substance - Size
The ideal male stands 19.5 inches at the shoulder and the ideal female is 17.5 inches. The acceptable range for males is 18 to 21 inches and for females is 16 to 19 inches. Type and soundness are far more important than size. The length of the body is slightly greater than the height at the withers, in a ratio of approximately 11:10. Care should be taken not to interpret a heavily coated dog as being too short of leg. In addition, a dog which carries itself in a more upright manner will give the impression of being closer to square than it is in actual fact. The breed has a greater substance than might be expected for its size: bone is substantial and muscles are well developed.

The general appearance of the head conveys strength, yet the expression is soft. The skull is approximately as broad as it is long. The top of the skull is slightly domed. Depth of skull is equal to breadth. The stop is well defined, with an easily distinguishable frontal furrow. The ears are set rather far apart, just off the top of the head and should be small to medium in size, triangular in shape, broad at the base and rounded at the tip, and covered with a heavy coat of hair. Ears may be erect or semi-erect (tipped). DROP EARS ARE A (serious) FAULT.

Eyes are oval in shape and as dark as possible. The color of the eyes may blend with the color of the coat, being lighter in lighter colored dogs. Yellow or blue eyes are a serious fault.

The muzzle is strong, broad and straight. When viewed from above or in profile, it tapers slightly but evenly. The length of the muzzle, from tip of nose to stop, is slightly less than the length of the skull, from stop to occiput. Pigmentation of the nose leather, the eye rims, and the lips are preferably black. However, brown dogs will have dark brown pigmentation. The jaw is strong, the lips tight, and the bite is scissors. A bite that is overshot or undershot is a serious fault.

Neck, Topline, Body
The neck is medium in length, strong and well muscled. The back is broad, strong and straight. The loin is short and muscular. The croup is of medium length, well developed and only slightly sloping. Overall, the topline is level.

The depth of chest is slightly less than half the height of the dog, reaching almost to the elbows. The ribcage is rather long and not very broad. The ribs are slightly arched, with a clearly visible, but not strongly defined, forechest, never barrel-chested. The underline includes only a slight tuck up, more pronounced in males than females.

The tail is set on rather high and is covered with a profuse coat. When moving, the tail is carried over the back or side. When at rest, it is often dropped, particularly in females. A mobile tail is desirable. The tail may have a "J" hook in the end, but should not be kinked. A kinked tail results from the fusion of vertebrae and cannot be straightened out completely. A kinked tail is a serious fault.

The front legs give the appearance of being strong and powerful, with heavy bone emphasized by thick coat. When standing, the front legs are straight and parallel when viewed from the front. The shoulder is moderately laid back. The upper arm is equal in length to the shoulder blade, and the angle formed by the two bones is slightly greater than 90 degrees. The elbow is just below the bottom of the rib cage and points straight backwards. The pasterns are of medium length, flexible and slope slightly when standing. Front dewclaws are normally present and should not be faulted, but may be removed. If present, they are set on very close to the leg and are barely visible under the coat.

Feet are well arched, oval rather than round, with toes slightly spread, to act as a snowshoe. Pads are thick and elastic. Pigment in the pads and nails is generally dark, but may blend with the color of the coat. The feet are covered with a thick coat of hair, including between the pads.

The rear legs are strong and powerful, appearing straight and parallel when the standing dog is viewed from behind. From the side, the angulation is clearly marked but not extreme, and in balance with forequarters. The upper thigh is of medium length, rather broad, with well developed muscles. The stifle is well angulated. The second thigh is at least equal to the upper thigh in length, and is well developed. The hock joint is moderately low set and well defined. The metatarsus is rather short, strong and vertical.

Rear dewclaws may be present, but are not desirable. Removal is acceptable. Rear feet are the same as described in Forequarters.

The coat is thick and profuse, but shorter on the head and the fronts of the legs. The outer coat is straight and long, and very harsh and water-repellant. The under coat is soft, very dense and plentiful, so that it makes the outer coat stand erect. The outer coat may have a slight wave, particularly in young dogs, which is less desirable but permissible as long as it is still harsh. Males, in particular, should carry a profuse mane. It is important for undercoat to be present.

All colors are permitted, but the primary color (the color which covers the largest portion of the dog) must cover the body. A color which consists of bands of different colors on a single hair shaft (sable, wolfsable, or domino) is considered a single color. Secondary colors are allowed on the head, neck, chest, underside of the body, legs, and tail. (Explanation/Clarification inserted by Yutori: Colors NOT accepted include Brindle, Piebald <pinto>, and Saddle <black saddle on the back such as in the German Shepherd Dog>).

A good website for colors, written by a Finn, is

Movement is effortless and changes easily from a trot to a gallop, which is the most natural style of movement for the breed. When working, Finnish Lapphunds are very agile and capable of sudden bursts of speed. When moving at a trot, the limbs angle slightly toward the midline when viewed from the front or rear. Viewed from the side, the trotting dog appears powerful, with a medium stride.

Finnish Lapphunds were developed to herd reindeer, an animal that is not as fearful of dogs and wolves as many other herd animals. As a result, the breed has a temperament that reflects a basic need to both control, and get away from, these animals. When herding reindeer, the dogs are extremely active and noisy. They must be constantly on the watch, as a reindeer may turn and try to trample them at any moment. As a result, the breed has a very strong "startle reflex", as well as being extremely agile and alert. However, they also recover quickly after startling, and will return to their work, exhibiting extreme courage. When interacting with people, Finnish Lapphunds are calm, friendly, and very submissive. At times, they may appear a little distant or aloof. This combination of submissiveness and reserve should not be misinterpreted as shyness. Although excited barking is typical, excessive sharpness and snarling are by no means acceptable, not even in males toward other males.

Approved May 12, 2008
Effective July 1, 2009


YUTORI CLARIFICATION--PLEASE NOTE: Did you see a reference to tan points on the face and or legs in the standard--anywhere at all? No? That would be correct. They are a pattern that happens in the dark colors--sometimes. You might see it on a brown or a black or a wolfsable dog--or you might not. A dog can have tan points on the legs only, or on the face, in any amount--whether eyebrows, or cheeks, or muzzles. But it is NOT a part of the standard. It has nothing to do with breed type. Some dogs have tan legs but no facial markings. Others have also tan (of any shade from white to copper) rings/spectacles around the eyes, some do not. Some have spectacles AND tan eyebrows and cheeks and/muzzle markings or any combo. OR the dog may be a solid color with no tan markings at all. It doesn't matter. Tan points or anyother markings are NOT to be used as an evaluation of breed conformation. Only breed type, structure and conformation to the standard should apply. The markings whether tan points or whether white areas, don't matter. They are not called for, and they are not addressed in the standard because it has nothing to do with whether the dog conforms to the breed standard or not, or how well it conforms.

Markings of ANY kind are irrelevant and should NOT be considered when judging the dog.