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JUDGING THE FINNISH LAPPHUND
By Toni Jackson
T he Finnish Lapphund is both and old and new breed—old in that examples of rough coated Spitz dogs herd- ing livestock can be found on early cave paintings of the Saame people and new in that the Finnish Lap- phund (Suomenlapinkoira) only became recognised by the Finnish Club fully in the 1950s and then from 1967 the breed was separated from the smooth-coated variety, the Lapinporokoira. When judging the breed, one should really look at the overall impression—this is a natural breed that exhibits charac- teristics of both Scandinavian Spitz and herding breeds. It is a somewhat primitive
breed that should be admired in a natu- ral and unpolished state. Whilst accepting that we are judging at a beauty show we should not expect a highly coi ff ured, neat dog, heavily shaped or trimmed. A natural look is to be sought after, as a rough coat is essential for the breed to cope with the Lapland climate. It should demonstrate strength for its size but should never be coarse or heavy, just su ffi cient substance to deal with the large elk and reindeer that it herds in native Lapland. Given its heavy coat, judges must get up close to the breed and use their hands to examine the structure of the dog under the thick double-layered coat, as clev- erly groomed dogs can fool a judge who admires from afar. Another important fea-
ture of the breed is the temperament—as one suited to working and living with the Saame people, it is a friendly breed and poor temperament towards people, either as aggression or nervousness is alien and should be penalized in the ring. When judging the breed, start at the head: this should be strong and well-bal- anced to the body size. What is key is a soft expression, created from a broad, slightly rounded skull, defined cheek bones and defined stop. Th e muzzle length should be slightly less than that of the skull and whilst it tapers slightly, it should never be sharp and pointed; a weak underjaw is undesirable. Good strength to muzzle, tight lips and dark pigment (harmonising with coat colour) create a smiley face.
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Th e expression is created by the gentle lines of the head and correct dark almond- shaped eyes. Th e correct soft expression can only be seen when the eye color is as dark as possible for the coat color and a piercing eye caused by incorrect pale eyes and/or round eyes should be penalized. Yes a brown-pigmented dog will never have as dark an eye as a black-pigmented dog, but they should still be brown, not yellow. Correctly placed medium-sized ears also add to the softness of the expression, they should be set wide on the head, too close and they give too harsh an expression. Th e ears can be fully erect or semi-erect, and even one of each! Th ere is no preference— but drop ears like that of a Leonberger should be penalized. Th e body proportions are just o ff square, with the length being about 10% longer than height at withers (measured from point of shoulder to point of buttock). When considering height, it is important to note that the depth of the body should not be lower than the level of the elbow, as a breed designed to cover heavy snow covered ground the legs must give su ffi - cient ground coverage or the breed would soon tire in deep snow. Th e neck should be medium length and angulation should be moderate and balanced—a combination of both gives a more relaxed head carriage
and we should not be looking for upright animals with ears directly in line with bones of front legs. Th e rib cage is long and well sprung. From a firm straight back you move to a short croup, we do not require the slope of the normal herding breeds, such would give a less defined rump, and a Lapphund has a broad muscular bottom! Moving to the tail (which is very char- acteristic of the breed and something that many judges misunderstand), it should be high set and heavily plumed with long hair, it is not tightly curled, but lies over back or loin in attractive plume. Some dogs have a “J” hook at the end, but any kinks down the length of the tail should be faulted. On the move the tail should be carried over back or loin, but when relaxed and standing the tail may hang behind the dog more like a herding breed and less like Spitz. When standing, this relaxed tail should never be penalized. It is a feature of this gentle-natured breed, but if the dog fails to carry its tail higher on the move, then this is a fault and is likely to highlight poor tail set or nervous character. When assessing movement, you should expect an e ff ortless gait with a good length of stride—a short front reach indicates short upper arm. As with many pastoral breeds, as the breed increases in pace you will see convergence of the legs both com-
ing and going. One important thing to note is the breed naturally tends to gallop in preference to a trot and many will pace, so judges may need to show patience when getting them moving in the ring as they may not trot to demand! Th e double coat of the breed serves a big purpose: protecting from the extreme cold in its country of origin, a thick soft under- coat to insulate and the harsh longer outer coat to be weatherproof. Th e coat should not be so abundant that the outline of the dog cannot be seen. Soft, curly or wavy coats are incorrect. Th e color variation within the breed is one of the aspects that attracts many to the breed, but it is important that judges do not add inappropriate weighting when deciding their winners based on color or markings. Th e color of the breed is unimportant as long as the color is acceptable. Under FCI rules, a saddle, brindle or parti-color dog would be unacceptable and recently they added that dilute colours (i.e. blues) are undesir- able. For other color, all that is required is that there is a main color and other colors may appear on head, neck, chest, underside of the body, on legs and tail. As you can see, there is no emphasis on any color pattern and judges must avoid being biased towards highly-marked dogs, (i.e. large patterns on the face in preference to a darker dog that
“One important thing to note is the breed NATURALLY TENDS TO GALLOP IN PREFERENCE TO A TROT AND MANY WILL PACE”
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may be better constructed). Th e color and patterns are sec- ondary to the overall conformation and type of the dogs. In both sexes there is a 6cm (about 2") variation between the preferred lower and upper size, and an overlap between the genders, the ideal height for males is 49cm (19 ½ ") and for females, 44cm (17 ½ ") with a tolerance of ±3 cm, but it is crucial to remember that type is more important than the size. Also, judges should be wary of measuring dogs in their mind and perceiving that the dog that stands tall- er and smaller in the ring is the wrong one—unless you measure accurately using a calibrated stick, its hard to be accurate, as the size of coat and bone can help create a misleading picture. BIO Toni Jackson has owned Finnish Lapphunds since 1992 and has bred the first two champions in the breed in the UK, she is the only UK breeder/judge to have judged the breed in Finland to award CACs, and has also judged in Norway & Denmark. In the UK she was the first judge to award CCs to the breed at Crufts 2011. In addition she is the author of the Finnish Lapphund ( Comprehensive Owner’s Guide ) handbook. A regular visi- tor to Finland she has imported 6 Finnish dogs to UK and mated 4 bitches abroad. In addition to the Finnish Lap- phund she also awards CCs to three other pastoral breeds in UK. t4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& " 13*-
THE FINNISH LAPPHUND A BREEDER’S PERSPECTIVE
By Cathy Pollack
he Finnish Lapphund originated with the nomadic Saami people in Lapland, primar- ily north of the Arctic Circle. Lapland covers
the northern portions of Finland, Sweden and Russia. Th e Saami people relied upon reindeer as a source of food and clothing. Th ey kept their own herds, and followed them from grazing area to grazing area, with the Finnish Lapphund serving as a medium-sized herder as well as all-around working dog around their camps. Th e Samoyed also originated in the same area with the same people. Reindeer are domesticated in Lap- land, where they do not fear the dog and a Lappy that approaches too closely may be kicked or scooped with the antlers. With those challenges, the Finnish Lapphund breed was bred to bark and then bounce up and down to get the herd moving. Lap- pies competing in the Reindeer Trials in Finland are disqualified if they don’t bark. Unlike most domestic dogs of today that descended from the Asian wolf, recent research in Scandinavia has proven that over 80% of the Finnish Lapphund’s mito- chondrial DNA actually comes from the Arctic Wolf. Th e most recent crosses with the Arctic Wolf could have been as recent as 400-1000 years ago In the US, some of the first documented Finnish Lapphunds were imported in 1987 with the first litter born around 1988.
AKC Ch Yutori’s Winter in the Heart, “Talvi”—a black & tan male at 17 months old.
“...over 80% of the Finnish Lapphund’s mitochondrial DNA ACTUALLY COMES FROM THE ARCTIC WOLF.”
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The Look Finnish Lapphunds are a northern breed, classified as working/herding Spitz. Th eir looks are characteristic of most northern breeds from ears to tail, with that distinctive silhouette including the tail over the back, etc. Similar to the Samoyed, but shorter in stature and with a slightly longer back, the Lappy comes in a rainbow of colors includ- ing black, brown, shades of cream from o ff -white to golden, as well as wolfsable and domino. Tan points may be present on face and legs or only on the legs. Many dogs have spectacles either with or without the tan pattern markings. Solid colors are also allowed. Th e only ‘frowned upon’ colors are brindle, piebald and saddle.
Lappies are longhaired and double coat- ed, and typically shed twice a year. Th ey should have a stocky, sturdy appearance, looking heavier than they actually are. Th eir profuse stando ff coat and comparatively heavy bone give them this look. Physically though, the Lappy should be quick and mobile, able to turn on a dime and change speed or direction in an instant. Finnish Lapphunds succeeded as rein- deer herders by dropping quickly to the ground in a reflexive response to a reindeer’s kick or turn and scoop. Consequently, the height of a Finnish Lapphund, as stipulated in the breed standard, is a ‘working height’ that would allow the dog to drop beneath the hooves or antlers of a reindeer. A taller
dog would not be as quick and would not be able to drop as low in an emergency. Natural selection would favor dogs that fit within the height range for this breed of 16"-19" for females and 18"-21" for males with the ideal height of a male at 19 ½ " and a female at 17 ½ ". Typical weight ranges are approximately 30-38 pounds for a female, and 37-45 pounds for a male, give or take a few pounds on either side. Health/Lifespan Th e health of the Finnish Lapphund is generally good with few issues. Th e inci- dence of problems is low; however, dogs used for breeding or companion/perfor- mance events should have OFA certification of Hips, Knees and Elbows. A responsible breeder should also have prospective breed- ing dogs examined by a canine ophthalmolo- gist for cataracts or other anomalies and also confirm the PRA gene status of prospective parents via the gene test available. With the PRA gene test, there is no excuse for produc- ing an a ff ected puppy. Finnish Lapphunds should easily live 12-15 years or a bit more. Personality/Temperament Th is breed is gentle, a ff ectionate, non- aggressive and very accepting of human domination. Th ey are described as sub- missive, which means that they are not inclined to challenge humans—it does not mean timid. Th ey are more into pleasing their owners than challenging them. Th ey do not have the same stubbornness asso- ciated with many Spitz breeds. Th e breed also is not inclined to dog aggression. In fact they seek out and enjoy the compan- ionship of other dogs, especially their own breed. Th e temperament of this breed is beyond reproach. Two males might clash briefly over a female in season but that is not common and the breed simply does not have a propensity for serious quarrels. Lappies are very interactive in their play. Th ey love to share toys, whether it is a stu ff ed toy or a stick in the backyard. We frequently see two, three, four or more Lappies all carrying the same large stick, trotting along in unison as they carry it. Th ey will actually stop, turn and o ff er the stick to another dog and slow so that it can catch up with them.
Left to right: Black & tan female “Quinn”, cream male “Lumi”, brown female “Suffeli” and black & tan female “Liika”—all are AKC Champions and “Liika” is an AKC Grand Champion.
“Dancer”—a 7-year-old wolfsable male imported from Finland.
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Lappy with a Versatility title. Th eir abilities to learn and succeed seem limited only by what their owners want to do with them. Th is breed is SO intelligent that they frequently learn commands by watching another dog, in class or ringside, getting a treat for a behavior and suddenly the Lappy is o ff ering that behavior too. Lap- pies are masters at observational learning and they learn things from each other so quickly that you can literally see their minds at work. When they figure some- thing out, they act excited about it. Th ey are enthusiastic learners. Because of the Lappy’s intelligence, they should be trained to do something--it can be anything. Th ey can become bored and they may look for something ‘interesting to do’, so structure and training can teach them behaviors that are useful to their owners. Some Lappies do have a retrieving instinct and some do not. Th ey are very quick to learn a trick for a reward and love to earn treats by demonstrating their new tricks. Why I Chose This Breed Many breeders of large breeds who show their own dogs, will tell you that after decades of showing and training dogs and whelping litters, they decide to look for a smaller breed. After breeding and showing Akitas for 17 years, and an auto accident that ruptured several disks in my back, I needed to seek out a smaller, yet athletic breed. I wanted a northern breed that was smaller, easy enough to pick up if I had to, but athletic and agile with overall long life and good health. Additionally I wanted a consistent very sweet temperament that was not dog aggressive, yet intelligent and will- ing to please. With my preference for the northern, Spitz-type look, this was a tall order. Fortunately, I found the Finnish Lap- phund and never looked back. What To Know About Finnish Lapphunds Finnish Lapphunds make wonder- ful watchdogs because they will bark at
strangers or strange things going on. Th ere is a continuum within the breed and it varies from individual to individual. One should be aware of this if they live in an area where barking can draw complaints. Th e breed is trainable, and can learn not to bark if told. However they may not be suited to an apartment setting. A very sweet and trusting breed, Finn- ish Lapphunds love other dogs and crave canine companionship. As a northern breed, with the independence that comes with the territory, Lappies do best with a securely fenced yard, or on a leash. Whether you enjoy outdoors activity, participate in dog sports from conforma- tion to tracking, OR you just want to have a quiet evening at home, this breed can do it and makes a wonderful companion.
AKC Ch Yutori’s Winter Solstice, “Celie”—a dark wolfsable and tan female at 19 months old.
Finnish Lapphunds are a very kind, warmhearted breed. Th eir gentleness is legendary. Lappies recognize the needs or abilities of the people around them and adjust their energy to that. A Lappy will become calm and slow moving around a baby or someone with a disability. A vigor- ous person would see a higher energy level from the same dog. Th ese dogs love children and show an intuitive ability to adapt to a toddler’s needs. Th ey will sit, or drop down low, even laying down, so that they do not appear threaten- ing to a young child. Th is is an automatic response to a child they have not met before. Even young Lappies will do this. Adaptability/Trainability Finnish Lapphunds are extremely intel- ligent, highly adaptable and have been used for everything from herding to agil- ity, tracking, obedience, conformation, and therapy work and even (in Europe) as guide dogs for the blind. Th ey are bright, quick to learn and willing to please. Finnish Lapphunds in the US have earned Agility titles including a MACH, Obedience titles, Herding Instinct Certificates, Th erapy Dog certification and even one Tracking titled
BIO Cathy Pollack is a long time dog fan- cier, having shown in AKC since 1985 and breeding/show- ing Akitas for 17 years. She obtained a Finnish Lapphund in 2005 and has bred
10 litters with her co-breeder/owner Lynn Drumm, finishing 9 AKC Champion and 2 Grand Champion Finnish Lapphunds to date. Th eir Yutori-bred dogs have earned two FLCA National Specialties (2009 and 2012), a BOS FLCA National Specialty win (2012), WD at that same National Specialty (2012) and BOB at the 2012 Canadian Finnish Lapphund National Specialty (FLCC). In 2013, Yutori Finnish Lapphunds swept the breed at Westminster by going BOB and BOS. Ms Pollack is cur- rently President of the Finnish Lapphund Club of America, having served on their Board of Directors since 2006. Yutori website: www.afinnishlapp- hund.com. Parent Club: Finnish Lap- phund Club of America (FLCA) http:// www.finnishlapphundclubofamerica.org.
“This breed is SO intelligent that THEY FREQUENTLY LEARN COMMANDS BY WATCHING ANOTHER DOG...” t4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& " 13*-
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