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Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Swedish Lapphund
Average Cost to keep/care for a Swedish Lapphund
Breed Specific Buying Advice
The Swedish Lapphund has always been highly prized in Scandinavian countries for being an excellent working dog. They are loyal, courageous and intelligent having helped nomadic tribes herd reindeer for centuries. Today, this attractive Nordic spitz-type dog is still an extremely popular companion and family pet in their native Sweden and other northern countries thanks to their kind natures and the fact they are so amenable to being trained and they are still used to herd reindeer.
However, very few puppies are bred and registered with the Kennel Club every year which means that waiting lists tend to be long. As such anyone wanting to share a home with a Swedish Lapphund would need to register their interest with breeders for the pleasure of doing so.
There is evidence of Swedish Lapphunds being around for around 1000 years with skeletal remains having been found of very similar looking dogs that date back centuries. The breed is known as Vastgotaspets in their native Sweden which translated means “small spitz of the West Goths” which is a region located in the middle of the country. They were bred and developed as versatile farm dogs that helped to herd and bring in cows as well as herding them to market.
They were also bred to herd and guard herds of reindeer for the Sami nomadic people, a job they proved to be extremely good at. As such, Swedish Lapphunds have always been highly prized in many Scandinavian countries other than their native Sweden although lesser well known in other countries of the world.
Swedish Lapphunds almost vanished altogether during the early 1940’s, but thanks to two dedicated breed enthusiasts, they were saved although even today, they are still quite rare and not often seen outside of Scandinavia. With this said, the gene pool remains low. The breed was finally recognised by the Swedish Kennel Club in 1943 and were imported to Britain by a lady called Elizabeth Cartledge.
Today, Lapphunds are still used by the Swedish army as search and rescue dogs and many have been trained to sniff out valuable truffles which is an expensive type of mushroom. Some Lapphunds have even been trained as PAT dogs in the UK and regularly visit the elderly and children who are terminally ill.
Over the years, the Lapp as these charming dogs are often referred to, have become a popular choice both as a companion and family pet, thanks to their affectionate, kind and intelligent natures. The breed is recognised by The Kennel Club and more Lapphunds are now seen in the showring than ever before where they have certainly made their mark on both judges and the public. However, anyone who wants to share a home with a Swedish Lapphund would need to register their interest with breeders and go on a waiting list for the pleasure of doing so.
Height at the withers: Males 45 - 51 cm, Females 45 - 48 cm
Average weight: Males 19 - 21 kg, Females 19 - 21 kg
The Swedish Lapphund is a medium size dog that boasts having quite a rectangular shape body. They also have tremendously weather resistant coats which they needed as protection from the harsher winters in their native Sweden. They are a Spitz-type dog with wedge-shaped heads that are slightly longer than broad. Their occiput is quite prominent and dogs have well defined stops with their muzzles being around a third of the length of their heads. Lapps have strong looking forefaces without any trace of snipiness. Noses are as dark as possible with dogs having straight bridges.
A Lapp's eyes are set nicely apart being round and a dark brown in colour with dogs always having a keen expression in them. The rims are well pigmented and their ears are set well apart being erect, short and pointed. A Lapp's ears are always very mobile as they listen to what is going on around them and are broader and a little more rounded at the base. The Lapp has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Lips are close fitting being well pigmented as is a dog's palate. They have powerful, moderately long necks with no evidence of any dewlap. Front legs are straight with dogs having close fitting elbows and nicely sloping, well laid-back shoulders.
A Lapp's body is a little longer than it is tall at the wither with dogs having deep chests that drop to the elbow and they have well-developed forechests. Their backs are well muscled and level with dogs having short, broad loins and long broad muscular, slightly sloping croups. Ribcages are oval and long. Lapps have strong back, well-muscled back legs with low set hocks and their feet are oval shaped, compact and strong with firm, black pads and nails. A Lapp's tail is set high and long being covered in dense, bushy hair. Dogs carry their tails curled over their backs when on the move but dropped down when resting.
When it comes to their coat, the Swedish Lapphund boasts an extremely weather resistant coat where the hair stands away from their bodies. The hair on a dog's head and on the front of their legs is short whereas it is longer on the rest of their bodies which includes on the brisket, thighs and tail. Dogs have a ruff around their necks and their undercoats are finely curled and dense. The accepted breed colours for Kennel Club registration are as follows:
Under the breed standard solid colours are preferred although dogs can have a white mark on their chests, they can have white feet and a white tip to their tails.
It is worth noting that the accepted breed colours for Kennel Club registration can differ from those set out in the breed standard which are as follows:
It is worth noting that the preferred colours under the Kennel Club breed standard are solid but dogs can have a white mark on their chests, on their feet and on the tip of their tails. However, an excess of white markings in a dog’s coat is highly undesirable.
When a Swedish Lapphund moves, they take light, springy steps covering a good amount of ground when they do.
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and would judge the faults on how much they affect a dog's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform.
Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that a dog can be a little lighter or heavier as well as slightly taller or shorter than set out in the Kennel Club breed standard which is only given as a guideline.
The Swedish Lapphund is renowned for being an intelligent, quick witted and exceptionally patient dog. They form extremely strong bonds with their families and therefore hate being left on their own even for shorter periods of time. They are kind natured, lively and alert which means they need to be kept busy both mentally and physically to be truly happy, well-balanced dogs.
They become very protective of their owners and their property and as such are well known for being excellent watch dogs always letting an owner know when there are any strangers about. They adore being involved in everything that goes on in their environment but can be a little vocal which is a trait that needs to be gently curbed when dogs are still young so it does not turn into a real problem. They are best suited to people who are familiar with the needs of this intelligent and active dog. They are also best suited to homes where at least one person remains at home when everyone else is out so they are never left on their own. Lapps hate being left to their own devices and suffer from separation anxiety when they are which can lead to them developing some unwanted destructive behaviours.
It's important for these dogs to be well socialised from a young age so they grow up to be confident, outgoing mature dogs. Their socialisation must include introducing them to lots of new situations, noises, people, other animals and dogs once they have been fully vaccinated. It's also crucial for their training to start early too and it must be consistent throughout a dog's life. A Swedish Lapp is never happier than when they know their place in the pack and who they can look to for direction and guidance. If they don't know who is the alpha dog in a household, they may quickly take on the role of dominant dog which can make them harder to live with and handle.
Swedish Lapphunds are a good choice for first time dog owners because they are so amenable and people-oriented, loving nothing more than to please and to entertain their families. They are particularly good with young children and older people too although playtime can get a bit boisterous at times.
Although Lapphunds are very social by nature and generally get on with other dogs, cats and pets they already know, they do have a very high prey drive and will happily chase anything they spot in the distance or which tries to run away from them which includes the next door neighbour’s cat should they venture into a back garden.
Lapphunds have a very playful side to their natures and love to entertain and be entertained. They are known to be a little mischievous when the mood takes them and being so clever, they quickly understand what pleases an owner and how to get their own way.
Swedish Lapphunds are highly adaptable dogs and providing they are given enough daily physical exercise combined with as much mental stimulation to prevent boredom from setting in, they are just as happy living in an apartment in town as they would be living in a house in the country. With this said, like other breeds, a Lappie enjoys being able to roam around in a well-fenced, secure back garden whenever possible to really let off steam.
Lapphunds form very strong ties with their families and dogs are never very happy when they find themselves left on their own for longer periods of time. They are better suited to people who either work from home or in households where one person stays at home when everyone else is out, so they are never alone for any length of time which could see a dog suffering from separation anxiety. This can lead to them being destructive around the home which is a dog's way of relieving any stress they are feeling and a way to keep themselves entertained.
Some Lapphunds like the sound of their own voices a little too much which is something that needs to be gently nipped in the bud when a dog is still young being careful not to frighten them. The good news is that because they are so intelligent and highly trainable, teaching a Lapphund not to bark for the sake of it can be relatively easy.
Most Lapphunds like getting their feet wet and will take to the water whenever they can more especially when the weather is hot. However, if anyone who owns a dog that does not like water should never force them to go in because it would just end up scaring them. With this said, care should always be taken when walking a Lapphund off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case a dog decides to leap in and then needs rescuing because they cannot get out of the water on their own.
Lapphunds are natural watchdogs which is a trait that is deeply embedded in a dog’s psyche. They are always quick off the mark to let an owner know when something they don’t like is going on in their surroundings which includes when there are strangers about. However, rarely would a Lapphund show any sort of aggressive behaviour, preferring to keep their distance, stand their ground and bark.
The Swedish Lapphund is a smart dog and a fast learner. The downside to this is they are just as quick to pick up bad habits as they are the good. As such, their training must begin early and it should be consistent and always fair throughout a dog’s life so they understand what's expected of them. Lapps are never happier than when they are given something to do which is why they are so amenable to learning new things and spending time with their owners.
The key to successfully training a Swedish Lapphund is to make their training as interesting as possible and to avoid too much repetition. It's also a good idea to keep training sessions short which helps dogs stay focussed on what it’s being asked of them, bearing in mind that the more intelligent a dog is, the faster they get bored. They do not answer well to harsh correction or any sort of heavy handed training methods, but they do respond extremely well to positive reinforcement which always brings the best out of these intelligent and quick-witted dogs, especially when there are high value rewards involved, making sure not to give too many food rewards because they are prone to putting on weight far too easily which could have a serious impact on their overall health and wellbeing. Lapphunds excel at many canine sports which includes activities like agility, obedience, flyball, canicross and heal work to music.
Like all puppies, Lapphunds are incredibly cute when young and it is all too easy to spoil them when they first arrive in new homes. As soon as a puppy is nicely settled owners must start out as they mean to go on by laying down ground rules and boundaries so that a puppy understands what is expected of them. It helps establish a pecking order and who the alpha dog is in the household. The first commands a puppy should be taught are as follows:
Swedish Lapphunds are known to be very good around children thanks to their gentle, placid natures. However, any interaction between toddlers and a dog should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure playtime does not get too boisterous which could end up with someone being knocked over and hurt, especially when dogs are still young.
When dogs have been well socialised from a young enough age, they generally get on well with other dogs they meet and if they have grown up with a family cat in a household, they usually get on well together. However, a Lapp might decide to chase off any other cats they encounter in their travels. Care should be taken when they are around any smaller animals and pets just to be on the safe side.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Swedish Lapphund is between 9 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
The Lapp is known to be a robust and healthy breed, although because there are so few dogs in the country more time is needed to find out if they suffer from any genetic and hereditary health disorders. With this said, in their native Sweden, there have been reports of some Lapps suffering from the following conditions which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these charming dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
Swedish Lapphund puppies would have been given their initial vaccinations before being sold, but it is up to their new owners to make sure they have their follow-up shots in a timely manner with the vaccination schedule for puppies being as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets these days recommend waiting until dogs are slightly older before spaying and neutering them which means they are more mature before undergoing the procedures. As such they advise neutering males and spaying females when they are between the ages of 6 to 9 months old and sometimes even when a dog is 12 months old.
Other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old, but never any earlier unless for medical reasons. With this said, many breeds are different, and it is always advisable to discuss things with a vet and then follow their advice on when a dog should be spayed or neutered.
As with other breeds, some Swedish Lapphunds gain weight after they have been spayed or neutered and it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline just in case they do. If a dog starts to put on weight, it's important to adjust their daily calorie intake and to up the amount of exercise they are given. Older dogs too are more prone to gaining weight and again it's essential they be fed and exercised accordingly because obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years. The reason being that it puts a lot of extra strain on a dog's internal organs including the heart which could prove fatal.
Swedish Lapphunds are not known to suffer from allergies but it's important for a dog to see a vet sooner rather than later if one flares up. Allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers can be challenging. With this said, a vet would be able to make a dog with an allergy more comfortable while they try to find out the triggers which could include the following:
All responsible Swedish Lapphund breeders would ensure that their stud dogs are tested for known hereditary and congenital health issues known to affect the breed by using the following schemes:
Apart from the standard breeding restrictions that are in place for all Kennel Club registered breeds, there are no other breed specific breeding restrictions in place for the Swedish Lapphund.
Apart from the standard breeding advice and restrictions for all recognised Kennel Club breeds, there are no other KC Assured Breeder requirements for the Swedish Lapphund.
As with any other breed, Lapps need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Swedish Lapphund puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing, confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said, any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to pick a puppy up when people are going to be around for the first week or, so which is the time needed for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping. It's also a good idea to keep "playtime" nice and calm inside the house and to have a more active "playtime" outside in the garden which means puppies quickly learn to be less boisterous when they are inside.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Swedish Lapphund puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out making them withdrawn, timid and shy.
As previously mentioned, Swedish Lapphund puppies would have been given their first vaccinations by the breeders, but they must have their follow up shots which is up to their new owners to organise. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be fully up to date.
Older Swedish Lapphunds need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a dog's muzzle may start to go grey, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Living with a Swedish Lapphund in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include looking at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older dogs need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older dogs is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older Swedish Lapphunds don't need the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
The Swedish Lapphund boasts having a short, close lying coat and as such they are low maintenance on the grooming front. However, they do need to be brushed a few times a week because they shed steadily throughout the year. With this said, like most other breeds the tend to shed the most during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent grooming is usually necessary to stay on top of things and to remove dead and shed hair from a dog's coat.
It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax builds up, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure with ear infections.
The Swedish Lapphund is an energetic, intelligent dog and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. They need at least 2 hour's exercise a day and more if possible with as much off the lead time in a safe environment. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, a Lapp would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving any stress they are feeling and not necessarily because they are being naughty.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must with as much off the lead time as possible. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing must be extremely secure to keep these active, high-energy dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape and could get into all sorts of trouble.
With this said, puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.
If you get a Swedish Lapphund puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be given a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, a Swedish Lapphund puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 12 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature, an adult Swedish Lapphund should be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult dog can be fed the following amounts every day:
If you are looking to buy a Swedish Lapphund, you would need to register your interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because very few puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything from £400 to £550 for a well-bred KC registered pedigree puppy.
The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Swedish Lapphund in northern England would be £30.54 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £85.12 a month (quote as of June 2018). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £20 - £30 a month. On top of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Lapp and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £800 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Swedish Lapphund would be between £60 to £120 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a healthy, well-bred Kennel Club registered pedigree Swedish Lapphund puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
Finding well-bred Lapphund puppies can prove very challenging because few are bred and registered with the Kennel Club every year which means that puppies can often command a lot of money. As such, with Swedish Lapphunds there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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