Lapponian Herder

Canis lupus

Last updated: October 1, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff

This breed is also known as the Lapp Reindeer Dog and the Lapsk Vallhund.


Lapponian Herder Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Canis lupus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Lapponian Herder Conservation Status

Lapponian Herder Locations

Lapponian Herder Locations

Lapponian Herder Facts

Name Of Young
Fun Fact
This breed is also known as the Lapp Reindeer Dog and the Lapsk Vallhund.
Distinctive Feature
long, muscular dog
Litter Size
5-8 puppies

Lapponian Herder Physical Characteristics

  • Brown
  • Grey
  • Black
Skin Type
10-14 years

Lapponian Herder as a Pet:

General Health
Energy Level
Tendency to Chew
Family and kid friendliness
Yappiness / Barking
Separation Anxiety
Preferred Temperature
Cold climate
Exercise Needs
Friendly With Other Dogs
Pure bred cost to own
Dog group
Male weight
- lbs
Female weight
- lbs

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Until 1966, the Lapponian Herder was still considered to be the same breed as the Finnish Lapphund.

Perfectly adapted for the frigid environment of northern Scandinavia, the Lapponian Herder is an important working breed developed by the Lapps (also known as the Sami), whose ancient customs date back many centuries. The dog’s original purpose was to guard and herd the semi-domesticated reindeer, which provided an important source of meat, skin, and even mobility for the Sami people. Since 2017, the breed has been a member of the American Kennel Club’s Foundation Stock Service, which nurtures and provides support for up and coming breeds.

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As a working breed, the Lapponian Herder’s appearance was much less important than its temperament. It did not have a fixed appearance until standards were finally established by modern breeders in the 20th century. Today this breed is characterized by an athletic body, a long and feathered tail, and erect ears. Its dense double coat of fur is usually black, gray, or dark brown with white or gray on the head, chest, and stomach.

3 pros and cons of owning a Lapponian Herder

Friendly and Affable: The Lapponian Herder loves to interact with people.Strong Herding Instinct: This breed may try to herd people and pets.
Great Intelligence and Trainability: This breed is relatively easy to train.Likes to Bark: This breed tends to vocalize often.
Energetic and Hard-working: This breed thrives best when it has a job to do.Needs Lots of Activity: The Lapponian Herder is a high-maintenance dog.
This herding breed is very vocal and hard-working.


Size and Weight

The Lapponian Herder is a fairly large dog with an athletic frame and decent height. Males tend to be slightly larger than females.

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Weight (Male:)60-70 pounds
Weight (Female): 55-65 pounds
Height (Male):19-21 inches
Height (Female):17-19 inches

Common Health Issues

The Lapponian Herder is a remarkable picture of good health. As a “primitive” breed, it suffers from few of the inheritable conditions that can plague dogs with lots of “artificial” development. However, they do tend to suffer from ear infections, skin allergies, bloating, and hip problems. Cancer and heart disease are leading causes of death in just about any dog breed. With a bit of luck, however, it can have a good lifespan of 10 to 14 years. The dog’s health prospects can be improved by working with a trustworthy breeder who regularly tests their stock for known issues. Regular appointments at the vet should be maintained to catch health problems early.

In summation, these are the most common health issues with the Lapponian Herder:

Health and Entertainment for your Lapponian Herder

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  • Ear infections
  • Skin allergies
  • Bloating
  • Cancer


The Lapponian Herder should prove to be a great companion and close member of the family. While a little reserved around strangers, this dog is very affectionate and friendly once it has gotten to know you. Owners should also keep in mind that it has an exceptionally energetic and driven personality. If it’s left alone for too many hours without anything to do, it might try to entertain itself with annoying and destructive behavior. As long as it receives enough exercise and activity, it should adapt well to different living arrangements, including apartments.

How to Take Care of the Lapponian Herder

Because the Lapponian Herder is a high-maintenance dog, it’s probably not a great choice for inexperienced owners unless you are certain to devote the necessary time and effort into this breed’s care. It will need plenty of exercise, training, and a good amount of grooming.

The Best Dog Food for Lapponian Herders

The Lapponian Herder will probably need around three cups of high-quality dog food per day. The exact amount will depend on the dog’s size and activity level. If your dog suffers from bloating, then you should divide the meals into at least two meals per day.

A-Z Animals thinks the best dog food for Lapponian Herders is Canidae Pure Limited Ingredient Adult Dry Dog Food, Wholesome Grains.

This is a clean nutritious kibble made from beef and chicken. Importantly, it also includes wholesome grains for fiber, with additional probiotics for no-worries digestion. By nourishing your Lapponian Herder’s tummy and bringing antioxidants into its diet, this food also supports immune system function, so the occasional ear infection isn’t a big deal. Also, the vitamin E and omegas soothe the skin for a vibrant coat.

Canidae Pure Limited Ingredient Wholesome Grains dog food is available on Chewy and Amazon.

Best with Natural Ingredients
Canidae Pure Limited Ingredient Adult Dry Dog Food, Wholesome Grains
  • Real angus beef and barley recipe for adult dogs
  • Recipe uses 8 ingredients for dogs with sensitivities
  • Antioxidants and probiotics for healthy digestion and immune system
  • Blend of vitamins and minerals to support healthy joints, skin and coat
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Maintenance and Grooming

The Lapponian Herder has a thick double coat that sheds excessively twice a year in the spring and fall. It may require daily brushing in the shedding season, and perhaps weekly brushing throughout the rest of the year, to remove loose hair and debris. Fortunately, the coat is good at remaining free of tangles on its own. You will also need to trim the nails regularly to prevent them from cracking and splitting. Check the ears for signs of infection or debris and then clean them appropriately. Finally, you should brush the teeth with an oral plan approved by your vet.


The Lapponian Herder is a very compliant and calm breed. With its great intelligence, it should be a pleasant companion throughout the entire training process. Positive reinforcement methods work best to motivate your dog. There should be no need to raise your voice or treat it in a disciplinary fashion.


The Lapponian Herder will need around an hour or more of exercise every day. Long walks will not be enough. It will also need more vigorous exercise such as running and hiking. It might be a good idea to take advantage of the breed’s great agility and speed as well.

Rally, nose work, barn hunts, dock diving, obedience, and search and rescue are all suitable activities. Because of its herding instincts, it’s a good idea to have a fenced yard to let it run around in.


Owners will need to set aside plenty of time early on, especially within the first six to seven months of the dog’s life, for training and socialization. While this breed is naturally friendly and sociable, it should still be introduced to as many different people and situations as possible. Training should also focus somewhat on dissuading it from the instinct of herding people and other pets. Crate training can help with housebreaking and anxiety issues; not just as a puppy, but throughout the dog’s entire life.

If you need to get your dog vaccinated, spayed or neutered, or micro-chipped, then you should talk with your vet.

Proper training will help to alleviate this breed’s tendency to nip at a child’s heels.

©Christian Ustvedt Kavli/

The Lapponian Herder and Children

The Lapponian Herder is fairly good with children of all ages. It’s highly social, playful, loyal, and protective. However, this breed does tend to herd small children and nip at their heels. While the child is in no actual danger, some kids may not like it. Fortunately, this behavior can be dissuaded with proper training.

Dogs Similar to the Lapponian Herder

  • Finnish Lapphund: Intelligent, active, and curious, the Finnish Lapphund is a medium-sized breed with a muscular body and relatively short legs, and like all Spitz dogs, it has a very dense double coat of fur. Black, cream, white, brown, and gray colors predominate. This breed has traditionally been used to herd reindeer in northern Scandinavia.
  • Swedish Vallhund: This short-legged herding dog looks a bit like a Corgi (with whom it actually shares some ancestry). It has short legs and a dense coat of fur. With its great intelligence and energy, the Swedish Vallhund was originally bred to be a herding dog.
  • Norwegian Buhund: This all-purpose farm dog, bred as a herder, watch dog, and companion, is highly spirited and active. The dense coat of fur primarily comes in wheaten and black.

If you’re still unsure about what to call your new dog, then you might want to pick from one of the following suggestions:

  • Elle
  • Flora
  • Bella
  • Pepper
  • Duke
  • Mickey
  • Buddy
  • Misty
  • Jesse
  • Riley

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What's the right dog for you?

Dogs are our best friends but which breed is your perfect match?


If you have kids or existing dogs select:

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Should they be Hypoallergenic?

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The lower energy the better.
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About average energy.
I want a dog that I have to chase after constantly!
All energy levels are great -- I just love dogs!
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AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

Lapponian Herder FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is a Lapponian Herder?

The Lapponian Herder is a fairly large, energetic, and friendly breed. It originated from the Lapland area of northern Scandinavia, where it excelled at herding and guarding reindeer, an important domesticated animal. Keep in mind, however, this breed often needs a job to do so it can feel fully satisfying.

Is a Lapponian Herder rare?

The Lapponian Herder is a rare breed; it might be difficult to find one in the United States. It’s more common in its native Finland and Sweden.

Are Lapponian Herders good dogs?

This breed is very friendly and even-tempered, though a little reserved around strangers. Sometimes its herding instincts may get the best of it, and it may try to herd people.

How much does a Lapponian Herder cost?

The price of a new puppy will probably be somewhere in the range of $1,000 to $2,000, perhaps more for a dog with an excellent pedigree. Trustworthy breeders, while generally more expensive, are always worth it; they tend to breed from the best stock that conforms to breed standards. Dogs from low-quality breeders and puppy mills, which are offered at a more appealing price, may nevertheless come with more health and behavioral issues. If the price seems unaffordable, then you might want to consider a rescue as an alternative. There are plenty of adult dogs in need of loving homes.

Do Lapponian Herders shed?

The Lapponian Herder sheds a moderate amount. It might need to be brushed every day in the shedding season, weekly otherwise.

Do Lapponian Herders bark a lot?

Yes, this breed will vocalize often to express itself or alert its owner. If you are sensitive to noisy dogs, then it could be a problem.

How long do Lapponian Herders live?

The Lapponian Herder has a typical lifespan of 10 to 14 years, though it is capable of living longer in the right circumstances. Diet and exercise are important, as well as good breeding, but some of it comes down to luck.

Where can I buy a Lapponian Herder?

To find a trusted breeder or rescue in your area, you should probably get in touch with the American Kennel Club, the Lapponian Herder Club of America, or other national or local organizations. Unfortunately, because of their rarity, adoption is a very unlikely option outside of some bred-specific channels.

How was the Lapponian Herder created?

This breed was created so long ago that there’s no documented evidence for it. Based on genetic analysis, it appears to be closely related to other northern Scandinavian breeds. It may have also descended from a wolf hybridization event thousands of years ago. Since then, this breed has been shaped by the Sami for the purpose of guarding and herding reindeers. Until it was standardized by modern breeders, the dog’s appearance was less important than its function.

What are some common Lapponian mixed dogs?

Because of the strict control exercised over its breeding (as well as its rarity), the Lapponian Herder is not used to produce many mixed dogs, at least by design. Don’t expect to find many mixed dogs up for sale.

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  1. American Kennel Club, Available here:

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