Breed Standard

The ‘Breed Standard’ is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. 

Breeders and judges should avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed. 

From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Kennel Club website for details of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure.

Kennel Club Breed Standard

The breed standard was last updated in the UK in September 2016. This contained a change to the colour description to include “except merle”. The Royal Kennel Club have included this into the standard of many breeds to protect against ‘designer’ or ‘colour’ breeders. 

The Finnish Lapphund is a member of  the Pastoral Group of breeds in the UK.

General appearance

Strongly built dog, smaller than medium size. Body slightly longer than height at withers. Coat long and profuse.


Tendency to herd.


Intelligent, brave, calm, faithful. Suitable as companion and watch dog.

Head and skull

Strong featured, comparatively broad, bitches more refined, forehead slightly rounded; stop clearly defined. Muzzle shorter than skull, straight and slightly tapering when viewed from both above and side. Nose and eye rims as dark as compatible with coat colour.


Oval shaped, dark brown or harmonising with coat colour. Expression soft and friendly.


Erect or semi-erect. Medium size, set well apart, broad at base and very mobile.


Jaws strong with perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaw. Lips tight.


Medium long, strong, covered with thick hair.


Shoulder and upper arm of approximately equal length. Shoulder moderately laid back and forming a rather open angle with upper arm. Legs well boned, strong, straight and parallel. Elbow placed slightly lower than the lower edge of brisket. Pasterns of medium length, flexible and slightly sloping.


Firm. Back strong, straight and broad. Moderate spring of rib. Brisket deep and long almost reaching the level of the elbow. Depth of body slightly less than half the height at withers. Forechest clearly defined, of moderate width. Loin short and muscular. Slight tuck up. Croup medium length, well defined and slightly sloping. The body, measured from point of shoulder to point of buttock, slightly longer than height at withers.


Strong boned, powerful, straight and parallel when viewed from behind. Moderate angulation. Muscular thighs. Hocks relatively low set.


Well arched, oval, covered with thick hair.


Medium length, high set, covered with profuse, long hair. Carried curved over the back or side when the dog is moving. May hang when the dog is at rest. Tip of tail may have a ‘J’ formed hook.


Effortless, brisk, agile and straight. Medium length of stride, changing easily from trot to gallop.


Profuse. Outer coat long, coarse and straight. Shorter on the head and front of legs. Undercoat soft and dense. Males should have a more abundant mane.


All colours allowed except merle. Main colour must dominate. Markings differing from the main colour are permitted on head, neck, chest, legs, tail and underside of body.


Ideal height at withers, dogs 49cm (19¼ ins); bitches 44cm (17½ ins), with an allowance of 3cm (1¼ ins) either way. Type is more important than size.


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.


Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

*Note for prospective puppy buyers

Size – The Kennel Club breed standard is a guide and description of the ideal for the breed; the size as described does not imply that a dog will match the measurements given (height or weight). A dog might be larger or smaller than the size measurements stated in the breed standard.

September 2016 – Colours updated

Last updated here September 2016, Copyright The Kennel Club. Reproduced with their kind permission. 


FCI Breed Standard

The FCI Breed Standard is used internationally, including Finland. In December 2016 the breeds official name changed from Finnish Lapphund to Finnish Lapponian Dog, currently at this time the UK has no plans to update the breed name here. 

Finnish Lapphunds are classified by the FCI as Group 5: Spitz and Primitive types, Section 3: Nordic Watchdogs and Herders. You can download the FCI standard here.