Lapponian Herder

Other names: Lapland Reindeer Dog, Reindeer Herder, Lapinporokoira, Lapsk vallhund

Lapponian Herder
Lapponian Herder

The Lapponian herder is a rare breed of dog unique to Finland. It is one of three Scandinavian Lapphund types that are descended from a dog used by the Sami people for herding and guarding reindeer. This particular breed is thought to have come about as a result of a union between a female wolf and male dog after domestication. 


Key facts about the Lapponian Herder

  • Life expectancy : Between 11 and 13 years
  • Temperament : Affectionate, Playful, Intelligent
  • Size : Medium
  • Type of coat : Long, Hard
  • Price : Between £735 and £1

FCI Group

FCI Group

Group 5 - Spitz and primitive types


Section 3 : Nordic Watchdogs and Herders

Physical characteristics of the Lapponian Herder

Adult size

Female dog Between 17 and 19 in
Male dog Between 19 and 21 in


Female dog Between 55 and 60 lb
Male dog Between 55 and 60 lb

Coat colour

The medium to long coat is usually black in different shades, sometimes seen of grey or dark brown. 

Type of coat

Double coated: the topcoat is straight and harsh and the undercoat is fine and dense. 

Eye colour

Dark brown.


This dog is longer in body than it is high at the withers. It is a strong and muscular dog perfectly adapted to Arctic weather. The ears are abundantly feathered and stand small and pricked. The dog’s gait is effortless and lilting. 



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An affectionate and even-tempered dog is the well-socialised Lapponian. 


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This is a playful and energetic dog that does not shy from boisterous play. Play may be interspersed with periods of docile inaction. 


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A calm dog, yet alert and fully aware of its surroundings; the Lapponian is not quick to fright. 


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An intelligent dog, the Lapponian enjoys exercise and obeys commands; it has a great desire to please its owner. 


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The Lapponian is a herding dog rather than a hunter. It is not likely to exhibit predatory behaviour but it is known to be aggressive towards other dogs and animals.

Fearful / wary of strangers

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Lapponians tend to be very wary of new people and take some time to warm to a visitor in their home. 


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The Lapponian can be wilful and dominant, but its love of praise and family love dampens any desire it may have to take command of the household. 

Behaviour of the Lapponian Herder

Tolerates solitude

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The Lapponian does not tolerate solitude particularly well.

Easy to train / obedience

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Firmness, patience and confidence are needed of a trainer for this dog. The Lapponian will respond well to training that is consistent and forthright. Draconian measures will cause this dog to become withdrawn and aggressive.


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This dog tends to bark regularly, especially when it feels threatened. 

Tendency to run away

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The Lapponian can easily be taught the recall command and will on most occasions respond to it. However, training and reinforcement of the command are necessary to ensure this dog does not run away. 


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The Lapponian can cause extensive damage inside the house if it is anxious and upset.

Greedy / Gluttony

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The Lapponian is not known to be a glutton. 

Guard dog

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The Lapponian is an excellent watchdog. Its bark is backed up by fearlessness.  

First dog

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The Lapponian should not be considered as a first dog. The dog requires structured, consistent and clever training.


Lapponian Herder in a flat

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A flat is too small and confined a space in which to keep such a highly-strung animal.

Need for exercise / Sporty

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The Lapponian needs a great deal of outdoor exercise and family interaction. 

Travelling / easy to transport

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A well-trained Lapponian will tolerate travel


Lapponian Herder and cats

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This dog is not suited to a household where a non-canine pet already resides. 

Lapponian Herder and dogs

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Generally speaking, other dogs are not the friend of the Lapponian. This dog is very territorial. 

Lapponian Herder and children

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This dog’s gentleness of spirit and love of boisterous play will appeal to children.

Lapponian Herder and the elderly

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Because it is a dog that requires a lot of exercise the Lapponian is not a good choice for people of senior years


Expect to pay anywhere between £735 and £1,400 for a purebred puppy. It will cost between £80 to £110 per month to care for this breed.


This dog requires at least a weekly brushing. Using a slicker brush, de-shedder and metal comb will achieve the best results and keep the coat looking its best. 


The Lapponian sheds continuously throughout the year. 

Nutrition of the Lapponian Herder

You should feed this dog a dog food formulated to support the health of an active dog. 

Health of the Lapponian Herder

Life expectancy

Overall the Lapponian is a healthy and robust breed of dog that is not prone to any specific illnesses. Its life expectancy is 12 to 14 years.

Strong / robust

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This dog is fearless, strong and confident. 

Withstand heat

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The Lapponian is reasonably tolerant of hot weather but will get hot very quickly due to its thick double coat. 

Withstand cold

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The Lapponian is very tolerant of cold and wet weather. The coat must be dried thoroughly after a wet walk.

Tendency to put on weight

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If a Lapponian is not exercised as regularly as it should be and is fed too much human or substandard food it will become obese. 

Common illnesses

Good to know

It is not wise to try to force the Lapponian to interact with new visitors. The dog will be painfully shy to begin with and will ‘meet and greet’ when it is ready. Patience on behalf of the owner will ensure a meeting between the dog and new people takes place without a hitch.

Origins and history

The ancient Sami tribes of Scandinavia have bred Spitz-type dogs for herding and flock protection for centuries. Most reindeer dogs were lost to the villainy of the Nazi occupation. Following the war local breeders attempted to recreate the original Sami reindeer dog. The breed enjoyed a resurgence of numbers in the 1950s and 60s and its popularity continues to this day.


Heidi, Flora, Heaiki, Hugo

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