In general terms, the Finnish Lapphund is a very robust and healthy breed with an expected life-span of 10-15 years. Here follows some information about health issues that particularly relate to Finnish Lapphunds. Although these conditions are known to occur in the breed, they are not common. If you have questions about other dog health problems, you should always ask your vet. Some further (non breed specific) information is available here : Information Guide – Health Screening and the Kennel Club

What the Kennel Club does for dog health – update from KC

Sensitivity To Wormers and other drugs

Some breeds (esp. collies) are known to display a sensitivity to a family of anti-parasitic drugs known as ivermectin and it appears that a similar reaction is seen in Finnish Lapphunds. Before worming your dogs it is worth mentioning this fact to your vet and to read the information available and familiarise yourself with the drugs involved, it is possible to avoid this family of wormers altogether.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

This is an inherited eye defect where the retina degenerates over time. Reputable breeders test their animals regularly to reduce the chances of passing on the condition. It usually only becomes apparent in mature dogs of over 5.

An American research company called Optigen have identified the gene responsible as the prcd-PRA (progressive rod cone degeneration) already known in several other breeds. If you are interested in getting your dog tested for this condition, there are clinics available. Ask us for details on how you can participate.

For those who are considering or waiting for an FL puppy, you should talk to your breeder who will know the status of the parents and can make you aware of the risk in advance.

Hip Dysplasia

A condition common amongst many breeds, where the ball and socket joint of the hip is not properly formed, leading to pain and difficulty walking. The Kennel Club/BVA operate a scheme whereby dogs are x-rayed and scored for the degree of displasia of the joint, the lower the score the better. The breed average for each breed of dog will vary, and at the time of writing the breed average for the FL is 12. The Kennel Club advises breeding from dogs with lower than the breed average. However it should be noted that HD is not a simple inherited condition, other factors such as feeding, exercise and unknown damage may play a part in the development of the condition.

Hereditary Cataracts

Another problem common among many breeds, cataracts affect the opacity of the eye’s lens. Dogs are subject to many forms of cataract, some of which are hereditary. Cataract appears as a whiteness or greyness of the lens, visible through the pupil, making it look cloudy. It appears that the hereditary cataract, which is seen in the FL, occurs after the dog is one year of age, and is not believed to be progressive. The way the condition is inherited is not proven, but reputable breeders will have their breeding stock checked regularly.

Gene Test investigation

Work is under way to identify the gene(s) responsible for cataracts in our breed – please see if you can help.

Pompes Disease

Pompe’s Disease has been reported in three litters in Finland, it is a severe storage disease –  see below which usually results in early euthanasia of an affected animal. Following quick action in Finland and a genetic investigation the genes responsible have been identified and a diagnostic test is now available, requiring a simple buccal (mouth) swab.

Whilst the condition is not yet widespread in the breed, we are fortunate to be able to “halt” it, by simply testing all breeding stock prior to mating. You can see from below that as the condition is a simple recessive (like prcd-1 PRA) it is easy to identify risk matings based on the generic results of individuals, and thus ensure we do not produce any affected puppies in future.

The condition has not been seen (to our knowledge in UK) but our dogs share a number of the common lines where carriers and affected animals have been reported in Finland, therefore, and given that we have a gene test accessible, it is to be recommended that any dogs to be used for breeding should be tested for this disease.  The SFLS have negotiated a special member rate for testing with Laboklin, please request a copy of the test booking form


The following detail is taken from the Genoscoper site:

Glycogen storage disease type II is also known as acid maltase deficiency or generalized glycogenosis type II. Glycogen storage disease type II is a disorder of glycogen metabolism that affects Finnish Lapphund, Swedish Lapphund and Lapponian herder. The disease can manifest as vomiting, muscle weakness with exercise intolerance, and poor growth. Hannes Lohi’s research group at Helsinki University and FolkhŠlsan has identified the mutation causing Pompe’s disease. The disease shows autosomal recessive inheritance.

Glycogen storage diseases (GSD) are disorders of glycogen metabolism. GSD type II (GSD II) is a form of the disorders that affects Lapland Dogs and Lapland Reindeer Dogs. In GSD II, there is a deficit in breakdown of glycogen due to lack of the acid alpha-glucosidase enzyme. The result is cellular glycogen accumulation, and altered glucose homeostasis in tissues such as cardiac, skeletal, and smooth muscle. Signs of GSD II include poor growth, recurrent vomiting and regurgitation due a dilated esophagus (food pipe), progressive muscle weakness leading to exercise intolerance, frequent panting, and heart abnormalities. First symptoms are typically observable at 7 month of age, and affected dogs usually die or are euthanized before 2 years of age as long-term management of the disease is currently ineffective.

The genetic test results are reported as follows:

Normal: The dog carries two normal copies of the gene and has no or reduced likelihood of developing the disease during its life.

Carrier: The dog carries the mutation in one of its chromosomes and transfers it to approximately 50% of its offspring. If a carrier must* (sic) be mated, it should only be with a genetically tested healthy non-carrier.

Affected: The dog carries two copies of the mutation and is at high risk of developing GSD II during its life. An affected animal, even if not yet showing symptoms, will pass on the mutation to all its offspring, and its use in breeding is not recommended.

References:Walvoort, HC., Dormans, JA., van den Ingh, TS. Comparative pathology of the canine model of glycogen storage disease type II (Pompe’s disease). J Inherit Metab Dis 8:38-46, 1985. Pubmed: 3921759.Walvoort, HC., Slee, RG., Sluis, KJ., Koster, JF., Reuser, AJ. Biochemical genetics of the Lapland dog model of glycogen storage disease type II (acid alpha-glucosidase deficiency). Am J Med Genet 19:589-98, 1984. Pubmed: 6391168.