Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Exotic Dog Breed of the Month

Did you know there are reindeer herding dogs that come from Scandinavia and Russia? This month, I want to highlight the Lapland Herder, a dog from Finland. Note: this is not the same breed as the somewhat more popular Finnish Lapphund or Swedish Lapphund.

I think this is a pretty good looking dog! More information can also be found here: http://koti.mbnet.fi/tuulen/poro21.htm

Here is the information...

Also called the Lapinporokoira, the Lapland Reindeer Dog, the Lapland Sheepdog, the Lapponian Herder, the Lapponian Shepherd, the Lapponian Vallhund or the Lapsk Vallhund, this breed is known colloquially as the Lappy.

This is an "improved" reindeer-herder, created in southern Finland by deliberate crossings to combine the hardiness of the northern, cold-country spitz breeds with the highly developed herding abilities of European sheepdog breeds. This was achieved by arranging matings between the Finnish Lapphund, the German Shepherd Dog and working Collies, creating a "Nordic herder" capable of working in freezing conditions, but with the advanced manoeuvring skills of the typical sheepdog. It is said to be capable of covering 60 miles in a day, and it is often claimed that 'one of these dogs is worth five men'.

This carefully planned breed has the erect, pricked ears of its spitz ancestor, but the less stocky body, the longer legs and head, and the uncurled tail of its sheepdog ancestor. Its low-hanging tail, in particular, sets it apart from the other northen dogs.

The introduction of the motorized snowmobile in the 20th century resulted in a sudden modernatization of reindeer-herding techniques and rendered the Lapland Herder almost obsolete. Its numbers fell rapidly and there was a serious risk of it becoming extinct, but in the 1960's the chairan of the Finnish Kennel Club began a salvage operation and in 1966 it was given an official breed standard. By the end of the 1960's, the population of these dogs had risen to five times the figure for the start of that decade.

An interesting breeding system was devised for the working dogs. In the north the stockworkers kept only males. In the south, the breeders kept females. Each year the best males would be brought south to mate and the best male puppies would then be taken north again for future reindeer duties. Surplus puppies would be sold off as pets.

Color forms include white with dark shading; black body with tan extremities, and black.

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