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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