Cockhill’s Finnish Lapphund

It wouldn’t be the first time that one breed got supplanted or absorbed by a close relative, that’s why today, we don’t have a Cockhill’s Finnish Lapphund.

The roots of this breed were found in Lappland dogs brought to the south of Finland in the 1930s. Whether by design or accidentally-on-purpose, the dogs bred (or were bred) with Karelian Bear Dogs, and for a time, the breed flourished through the Kukonharjun Kennel which specialized in breeding them. This is how the breed got one of its name, Kukonharjunkoira (literally “Cockhill’s Dog”), later referred to by some authors as “Cockhill’s Finnish Lapphund.”

In 1945, it was officially registered by the Finnish Kennel Club as the Lapponian Shepherd (not to be confused with the Lapponian Herder which is presently an FSS breed with the AKC), but from our vantage point in 2021, the Lapponian Shepherd was actually three distinct herding breeds, and they would eventually be recognized as such: The Swedish Lapphund, the Lapponian Shepherd, and the Finnish Lapphund. The first breed standard accepted by the Finnish Kennel Club designated all them under that umbrella term: Lapponian Shepherd Dogs.

There were two coat types at the time, a short and long coated version, and in 1967, the Finnish Kennel Club split the Lapponian Shepherd breed into two separate breeds, the longer coated Finnish Lapphund, and the shorter haired Lapponian Shepherd. The club didn’t consider the Cockhill’s Finnish Lapphund (which was described as resembling a Belgium Shepherd) possibly because they felt it was redundant to the Finnish Lapphund, but that is conjecture on our part. By the start of the 1980s, Cockhill’s Finnish Lapphund had vanished as a stand-alone breed. The Finnish Lapphund had become far more popular, and the Cockhill hadn’t been used in many breeding programs. One source says it’s rarely seen in the pedigrees of current dogs, while another maintains that yes, while it’s extinct, it can still be found behind the bloodlines of some Finnish Lapphunds today. We defer to the breed experts on this aspect of it.

Image: Finnish Lapphund by Sandra Miller Studio is available as a print here

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