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Swedish Lapphund

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Origin / History The Swedish Lapphund is an breed of the spitz family and the oldest of the breeds native to Sweden. Its exact origin is unknown, but research suggests that it may have existed with the Sámi people of Lappland (the land now occupied by Sweden, Finland, Norway, and northwestern Russia) as much as 7,000 years ago. Its closest ancestor is the Nordic spitz, one of the world’s most ancient breeds.

The Lapp, as it is commonly called, originally served as a working companion and hunting dog for the Sámi. As the Sámi’s lifestyle evolved from hunting for food to keeping herds of reindeer, the Lapp also evolved from hunting dog to herd guardian. Many believe this is how it got the distinctive bark that still exists in modern-day Lapps. The breed never gained much popularity outside its native country; of the 1,200 Lapps believed to exist today, more than half are registered in Sweden.

Appearance The Lapp has the characteristic look of a spitz: a rectangular frame, compact body, erect ears, and an alert, lively gait. The coat consists of a dense but fine and curly undercoat, and a woolly top coat with the hairs noticeably erect. Both the eyes and ears should be set well apart. The tail is high set, but usually curves over the back when the dog is moving.

Colours The Swedish Lapphund can be black, bear brown, or both. There may be white markings on the feet, chest, and the tip of the tail; markings anywhere else are not accepted in show rings.

Temperament Lapps are generally friendly and outgoing, especially around children. They need constant attention, though, and should never be left alone for more than a few hours. Some Lapps grow up to be more independent, but many are affectionate to the point of being clingy. Boredeom can make them destructive. Because of their herding instincts, they can also be very protective; one can trust a Lapp to announce every person that comes into the house.

Height and Weight Males should be 17 to 20 inches tall at the withers and the females 16 to 19 inches. Standard weight is 42 to 46 pounds for both sexes.

Common Health Problems Lapps are a fairly healthy breed with very few genetic flaws. However, they are not immune to common dog diseases such as eye and ear infection, skin problems, and bone disorders. Hip dysplasia and retinal atrophy appear in some lines.

Living Conditions Modern Lapps are more domesticated and will do well as house dogs. However, their herding instincts are still strong and they should still be taken out regularly. They can be moderately active indoors, so owners should make sure they have enough space to play. They are accustomed to the cold climates of northern Europe and should be kept cool in the hot seasons.

Exercise Requirements These dogs are highly energetic and need a fair amount of exercise to keep their spirits up. Daily walks or jogs are encouraged, although pups should be exercised more lightly to prevent bone problems. Lapps will also be happy to run free around a yard, play catch, or trot alongside the owner’s bicycle. If given enough exercise, they stay much calmer indoors and will be easier to train.

Training Requirements Lapps are very intelligent but may be a bit stubborn. Training should start when the dog is still young enough to learn new commands. They respond best to gentle but consistent training. Lapps can be very sensitive, so harsh methods should be avoided. If they are to be used as housedogs, they should be trained to limit their barking and socialized to prevent shyness and aggression.

Life Expectancy A healthy Lapp can live between 9 and 15 years.

Grooming This breed requires moderate grooming. The coat should be brushed every day to keep it shiny; this can be a great opportunity to bond with the dog. Baths can be given only when necessary, as the coat is waterproof and naturally sloughs off dirt. Lapps shed their coats twice a year and should be brushed more often during shedding season.

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More Swedish Lapphund Information: Check out our Swedish Lapphund Clubs and links to more informative websites dedicated to the breed.

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