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Swedish Ch Gieris

Registration: S19921/93

DOB:               10/4/1991
Sire:                Unknown
Dam:               Unknown

Hip Score:      Not tested
Elbows:          Not tested

Eyes:              Not tested
prcd-PRA:      Not tested
Bred by:        Unknown
Owned by:    
Fjällfarmens Kennel

© Winnie Holmström

Gieris is the Orical Wish litters grandfathers grandmother. She was bred by the Sami people in Lapland and acquired by Winnie and Ola Holmström of Fjällfarmens Kennel's in 1992. To this day, Finland and Sweden have an 'open breed register', where native Lapphunds can undergo a stringent procedure to be identified as a Finnish Lapphund and placed on the breed register.

The vast majority of Finnish Lapphunds today originate from dogs who came from the Sami in the 1960's and 1970's; where as Gieris was registered in 1993.  It fascinates me that Annika and Mushka are so closely related to dogs that lived in their native surroundings; in Lapland under the northern lights with their Sami farmer owners. And I hold precious these lines which are considerably rare. In Australia we only have 3 entire dogs and 1 bitch from these lines;  they are Annika, Mushka, their sire Levi and their cousin Finn (Magpieplane Shooting Star). In Finland these lines are also quite rare and whilst existing in Sweden, they are not common. 

Over time I have been fortunate to gather further information regarding Gieris through translating previously published information on Gieris, written by Winnie Holmström and speaking to Winnie directly. I thought this was such a special story, I would record the information here in English, for history's sake.

The story of Gieris actually starts long before her and is intertwined with Winnie's family history. Winnie was born in Kiuna, an old mine town rich in iron ore situated in Lapland, north of Sweden. Her grandfather was a trapper who hunted and fished with Sami friends and dealt reindeer skins from the local area down south. Through her grandfather, a young Winnie got to know the Sami dogs and so began a life long commitment to this special breed. As an adult, by then living in Sweden,  she went on to breed Finnish Lapphunds. In 1992 Winnie and her husband Ola travelled north to Lapland, to the Kiuna area, with the objective to acquire a Sami dog, precious bloodlines, to take back to Sweden with them. This is the beginning of the story of Gieris....


This article was written by Winnie Holmström and published in the Lapphund Club of Sweden's magazine, Lapphunden in 1993 when Gieris was registered as a Finnish Lapphund. Originally written in Swedish, translated by 'Stephanie M' and translation approved by Winnie Holmström. 

Gieris – Finnish female dog from Lappland and newly enrolled in the breed

Well, it has now been almost one year, since we picked up Gieris from the Sami people in the Arctic. We took off in our old bus, with 7 full-grown dogs and 5 unsold puppies, in a heat wave, which will always be remembered. Oh well, we had fans which handled the heat, but everything else that happened, -no, you wont believe it. It was a tedious trip, but it was also very nice.

There is so much to share about Gieris, this remarkable northern girl, who has entirely won my heart over (and others), it can only be partially expressed. Gieris means tender, or loving in the Lapp-language, and that is exactly how she is. What is remarkable, is just her way of being, to convey herself, her steady psyche, this remarkable calm, a worthy “wondering” calm. She is lovable and good-natured, with an almost childish kindness and affection, but is still very playful sometimes.

We saw many dogs, but when I from a distance laid my eyes on Gieris, I held my breath, hoping it was true. I saw her come running down the hillside, with the fur whirling around and all of these colours! I couldn’t take my eyes of her.

She came running straight towards me, straight into my arms and into my heart, and I just knew, that I had to have her, what ever it took!

We soon came to realise that she had a 10-week-old puppy, who we became very fond of, a rough male-pup, grey and white and fluffy, a handsome puppy! We tried in every possible way to purchase him, but were not able to. I was still happy that they “let go” of Gieris.

I have not been able to forget about that puppy! But as a consolation, I have now seen what type of puppies she breeds. Maybe someday she will give me one like that.

Gieris raced into the bus and right up in my bed and ran around my pillow a couple of times, then she laid flatly down on it and sighed with content and gazed at me when I sat down just next to her. She laid there for the rest of the vacation and the trip home – yes, day and night. I sat and watched her. She was the actual fruit of our laborious trip –a stable, well-built one-year-old, with a very beautiful expression and with big dark eyes. I had high expectations.

That “fruit”, guarded the food bag and I. When the other dogs were on their way to their boxes and needed to pass by the food bag, she would quickly jump down from the bed, press herself against the bag and put her head on it, as she wanted to hide it. She was funny, robustious men, were not able to get close to me and people with eyeglasses, got their eyeglasses intrusively and thoroughly inspected, but this behavior disappeared after a while. But even today, she “picks out” people. If she doesn’t want to greet someone, she wont, and the once she likes, she faithfully crawls up to, and sits right next to.

(Text under image) Gieris – not in good coat here, but still pretty.



We had 3 puppy litters this spring (not from Gieris yet), but for every litter the other females had, she got milk and called after the puppies and she is the one that raises the puppies we decide to keep. She is a real “mum” and in amazement, I observe her way, behaviour and signals, her way of acting in the group, and I realise that she is “closer to nature” and has inherited stronger behaviours than any of my other female dogs.

So now, she is newly registered in the breed. Three evaluations were required for that and not just any evaluation. Everything was brought up. It was extremely nerve-racking, - horrible! And of course all of these thoughts came to me, what all of this was costing, both in time, work and in plain cash. The judges evaluated individually, one by one, unaware of each other’s decisions. What you have to hope for in this type of evaluation is at least 2nd place, because that is enough for the registration.

Gieris got first place with honors! And three delightful critique notes, everything that you can receive from this type of evaluation. We were so happy! What a day! Yeah, that was really one of those nice moments life sometimes has to offer and which always feels good to look back to. So happiness around here, has gone through the roof, you better believe it.

So the objective to establish this awaited new blood as a breed has been completed. What makes me the most happy, is the critique from the judges, that she was evaluated to be so breed-typical, therefore, to me that confirms, that the old Sami dogs’ “look” remains. Many Sami dogs, still look the same as I remember them from when I was young and they looked exactly as on the ancient photos I’ve been shown from the past, yeah, all the way back to the turn of the century.

So we do have a reason to praise this ancient heritage, that it has remained the same throughout time, which it is still preserved. So let us take care of this Sami bloodline, nature worked hard for, as a gift, a gift of grace from the far north.

(text under picture) Gieris – here “in fur” lying down and philosophising.



Saike- Gieris half sister

Saike is Gieris half sister. Saike also originated from the Sami people

and was acquired by Winnie and Ola Holmström of Fjällfarmens

Kennel's in Sweden in 1994.




This article was written by Winnie Holmström and published in the Lapphund Club of Sweden's magazine, Lapphunden. Originally written in Swedish, translated by 'Stephanie M' and translation approved by Winnie Holmström.

Saike, the Sami dame, who became a Finnish Lapphund dog

One December day in 1993, we received a message from Sami-land about a beautiful ¨ Sami Maid ¨.  We were told that she was Gieris half-sister (same mother) and that she had a litter and   ¨had done her job”. Sami only want to have males in the deer -woods and they could not keep her, but thought she was good enough to give her and us a chance.

They said her name was Saike and that that means soft in a dignified way. The Sami language has so many words (shades) to describe something. I am baffled by how minimal the Swedish language is.

A cold day in January

And so she came, on a cold January day. My heart seemed to stand still of excitement when we met up with the semi-truck, who had transferred her through the country. Out jumped a bright ruddy female, longhaired and shaggy, with a wild bright colored undercoat, black tops and Polar markings in blue-gray, cream and white.

It was like seeing a stronger Gieris, though she was lighter in color. This blue tone fascinated me. Yes, she was as beautiful as I had been told, such a joyful day! She exceeded my expectations.

We were told that dogs from this area recognize each other, each other’s behavioral patterns, that they find and cling on to each other even if they have not met before. We were asked to think about that, now that Saike would meet Gieris.
I did not put much thought to that and probably just forgot about it...

Found each other

Saike and Gieris hit it off right away, even though at the time we had six other girls.
I soon realized that they really possessed the same type of language. They had the same signals or ways to communicate and the same body language. As that was what they are familiar with. They are so incredibly happy with each other, which could not be mistaken. They prefer to sleep next to each other. They have a different closeness than our other girls. They are very concerned about the family. If someone feels bad, they becomes “guarded” by them. They have a safeguarding behavior and lay down closely pressed against the ill, shoving, comforting like they wanted to say: I'm here!


Saike was registered in October 1994. We want to say thank you for the fantastic support we have received from breeders and the Kennel Club. It is this support that has encouraged us to continue when it felt tough. Yes, we have also had resistance, stiff resistance, where both lies and slander were part of the weapons some used.
We probably knew before we started such a large project, when registering new dogs to the breeds Finnish Lapphund and Lapponian Herder, it would evoke emotions of different kinds and that they were both good and bad.

Out of the ordinary

But we also knew that this effort to seek breed-typical dogs in the Arctic, and then try to get them registered, was really something out of the ordinary, something really amazing and something that would amaze people!

The joy that this work, our Sami friends and these dogs have given us, is a gift of grace.

Imagine that Mary Stephens searched for dogs in the Arctic! She was one of the breeders who actually developed the Swedish Lapphund breed. In order to preserve the breed in the 40s, she went up to the Sami people, to look for breed-typical dogs. She realized that the breeding base was too small to continue to breed on. She sourced her dogs and several of them were registered.

Need new blood

That could be necessary to do today as well. We have seen several beautiful breed-typical examples, but the breeding committee believes that Swedish Lapphund does not need any new blood. We do not understand that?

Again and again - throughout time - it's been all of these registered Sami dogs who had to save the Swedish Lapphund breed, Finnish Lapphund breed, and the Lapponian herder breed. Time and again throughout the breeding development process, the registration continued. Continuously up until today, registrations were made and are still made almost every new year, but only in Finland and only on the Finnish and the Lapponian breed.

Tapping paw

I know that this will raise many thoughts with you. That is exactly what I want it to do. But now I am restraining my thoughts. It is two o'clock at night and Saike is lying here on the couch and tapping the note pad with her paw. She does not think I care about her ...

Gieris, Aika, and Jolin gave up hope on getting my attention a long time ago and are stretched out by my feet. I look at them and thoughts go to Sami-land and I feel happy and grateful for all that tedious hardship of work that Mary Stephens and many more pioneers did for the breed. To keep it healthy, all of these long and difficult research trips and all the tedious paperwork, which still saved these nature-lived Sami dogs to the breed.

Thank you to everyone who wanted so much! Thanks to all those positive people who today support this work. It gives me faith that in the future these types of wonderful dogs will still exist.

Text under image 1 page 1
Saike, the Sami dame, who became a Finnish Lapphund dog

Text under image 2 page 1
Couch-vandals Saike and Gieris

Text under image page 2
A fully coated Saike is posing on a lovely winter day


© Winnie Holmström

Saike Gallery

Additional Information

Through researching Gieris, I was extremely fortunate to receive additional information from Winnie, regarding her background and how Ola and Winnie's lives came to be so entwined with the Finnish Lapphund breed. With Winnie's permission, I happily share this information with you....

Why Lapphund dogs?

We often receive this question.  We want to tell you a little bit about why we are specifically working with Lapphund dogs and why we have all three breeds. It's probably engraved in us from the beginning. These unique dogs with their Sami origin have fascinated me since childhood. They have always been around me and they are originally north of the neighborhood where I grew up. I was born in Jukkasjärvi, a little north of Kiruna.

My Grandfather was a "trapper", a wilderness man and adventurer. Occasionally he lived with the Sami people and traded leather, hunted and went fishing with them, sometimes quarterly - for the sake of supply and adventure, but perhaps mostly for the sake of supply.

Grandma got to be very lonely, but they always had food, even during the war. When Grandpa brought home the winter harvest from the Sami people, happiness filled the house, and she forgot the entire lonesome struggle with children and work on the farm. Her salary was whitefish and char, reindeer and grouse and they could even share all the goodness with the neighbors. They often gave food to the large families who struggled. People were different in the past, because they were allowed to share and often did trades.

Rickets disease visited Kiruna and the TB had a severe affect on all of the farms - people died in almost every farm. Those years were filled with sorrow and great sadness. Everyone had lost someone, many families lost several children.

Lapphund dogs
In the early summer, I went with Grandpa on short visits up to reindeer country's northern settlements up in the Lapp villages Kummavuopio and Nikkaluokta. We were driving down the early winter's harvest of fish and meat and skins to Kiruna, but what I remember the most from the Lapp villages, was their tousled, friendly dogs! If I only knew then, what they would mean to me later in life! This is where it started!

I remember how my grandfather told me about the first job they had, transporting everything down to the Sami villages, about these journeys with loaded sleds on a trailer during strong winds, sometimes with sled dogs, but mostly by their own strength on skis. There were many dangerous places and unsafe waters. He spoke eagerly and with lots of emotion about his trips across the open spaces, of a wide-eyed hussy who loved him unconditionally. In suspense, I listened with a trembling heart, to the grandeur of these wilderness adventures.

Children believe fairy tales are true, subsequently they understand that they were only stories, but for me it all had to remain true - a real true story! Everything he told me were true portrayals of the hardship on his travels - a little "altered" though probably!   : o)

I remember how his face lit up when he was speaking, and young as I was, I could feel his humility towards the grandeur of the Fjäll-mountains, this beloved, beautiful and sullen nature which offered him the most breathtaking outdoor experiences, many dangerous situations, but also the absolute best moments in life during the wonderful spring days. He spoke gratefully with longing in his eyes about everything he had learned by the Sami people, - about exciting fishing, to trap grouse and other animals, but also about strenuous hard work, about many miles of ski-ing with cargo on a trailer in the elusive Fjäll-weather. He never complained, he just told me how it was. He never sugar-coded the worst, but I felt the unspoken words in his thoughts, about the stiffness in the freezing cold, about the aching shoulders and legs, about chafed feet and feelings of hopelessness.

But he also spoke wistfully about the episodes, which were so typical for the tough nature people, especially about the Sami family who became his friends for life, about Petter who taught him how to read the shifting Fjäll-environment and the ability to see everything as a whole - from further distance - that patience and perseverance always pays off in the end. But that is also what he was to nature, but he probably got his good nature perfected by the Sami people!

The first snowmobile

It is said that my grandfather was the first to build hydro-copter (or predecessor to the snowmobile). I remember being greatly amazed by this monster with its deafening, hissing sound and breathtaking rampage. It looked like a big sled without runners or like a giant sledge, with a flat bottom and a terribly big swirly fan in the back, contained in a round mesh. I was terrified of it! When you sat on the "sleigh" you had the mess behind your back. I got to ride for a little bit on one of the later models he made. I think it was at the Torne-swamp. That lake is elongated and he got up to a terrible speed. Grandpa was like a boy when he "played" with his machines. He was a happy man!

He also built several arks were we went fishing at the Torne-swamp. An ark is a small "Masonite house", about 2 x 1.5 meters. There were two holes in the floor. We were lying on reindeer skins, staring for hours into the black overseers and at the caught char.

Ola and the Lapphund

Ola (my husband) is also a northerner. His family had Lapphund dogs throughout his upbringing. He especially remembers a small Lapphund girl, who was completely white! Her name was Tussi. In 1951, his sister got her as a little pup. Tussi got distemper and everybody was sad. We did not think she would survive. Tussi was a Swedish Lapphund and lived for 16 years!

Ola's interest in the Lapphund dog and its history, is as intense as mine. Our common interest in preserving the Lapphund and the Vallhund dog brings joy to our life. The dogs keep us going and give us the happiness and quality of life we so desperately need. Ola has been on disability pension for 30 years. I greatly appreciate having him by my side with this interest to preserve these original breeds through kennel work.

Ola and Grandpa

To my great joy, Ola got to know Grandpa before he died. For nine years, even Ola was able to be part of his warmth as a human being and his love for his beloved Sami-land. Grandpa has influenced me since I was a kid - and he probably managed to leave a mark in Ola as well!


How we developed the breeds

Throughout the years, I have developed the Finnish Lapphund and Lapponian herder breeds.
In planned long-term breeding, every combination has to be thoroughly calculated to secure the breeding in terms of the breed’s future, especially since these breeds are numerically very small (amount of individuals) especially the Lapponian Herder. It almost went extinct when the snowmobile was introduced and increasingly took over their duties. During the turn of the century and far in to the 20th century, both Sweden and Norway made several attempts to save, restore and breed the Lapponian Herder, but it was only in Finland during the 40s, where one was able to save this northern cultural treasure! Breeders started to restore the remnant of the Lapponian Herder and were therefore successful in preserving their original breed characteristics.

The Sami people had essentially produced two types of dogs, a compact guard and the Swedish Vallhund (who worked on the farm and in the neighboring tame -reindeer areas) and a long-distance-walker, an elongated trotter for long-distance herding, which is the ancestor to the Lapponian herder today and which is often still just called the Renhund by the Sami people.

Registration of Sami dog breeds
The Renhund dogs were evaluated and registered as Lapponian herder dogs. Later on, they even began to restore the Swedish Vallhund dogs and develop them in to the Finnish Lapphund.
In Northern Finland, new breed evaluations are still made almost every year of the Sami dogs and those who are found to be breed-typical enough, will be registered to the breed to help the breeding process forward. Keep in mind, however, that we have our own indigenous people to get new unrelated blood from, to such numerically small breeds! It is to these registered males (or their sons) we went and paired our females, which meant long journeys, often up to Northern Finland.

Breeding goals
Over the years, I have been off and on in the Committee of Breeding and I often asked myself and the other breeders - this precious inheritance of original features - how do we deal with it in the breeding? – Can we? And how do we try to continue to preserve it today? Are we going for preserving it? The Sami people managed to largely create two types of herding dogs for different uses and tried by breeding goals to separate the breeds. Are we trying to achieve and maintain the breeding objectives, in which the breed descriptions prescribe through targeted breeding? The legacy that has been in our hands gives us a responsibility.

It has primarily been my breeding goal to preserve these breeds. We have had many dogs at home during the development phase of the breeds, but now we have come down in the number of dogs and I even have valuable girls in foster care, so that important parts of an earlier breeding effort will not get lost.

LAPPONIAN HERDER     - we are registering a new breed in Sweden

This is especially true for Lapponian herder dog, which is a very small breed numerically and therefore a "difficult" breed to manage breeding wise. It is Ola and I (amazingly enough, in retrospect) that have introduced the breed in Sweden (1993), with all that this entails in terms of time, travel, and not the least money and all the paperwork! If you have not registered a new breed in hassle-Sweden, you can never imagine how adverse it can be!

We were the first in Sweden to sign in and register the Sami dogs to the Lapponian herder breed and the Finnish Lapphund breed, and as pioneers in a new field, you will of course get resistance. We probably knew before we started such a large project, that it would raise both "good and bad blood." We received really stiff resistance from our own breed club (Swedish Lapphund Club), who did not want to bring in two new breeds and who did not understand the importance of helping them to posterity. But the breeder and the Kennel Club’s geneticists and judges cheered us on. They were the once who encouraged us to continue when it felt too hard.

But we also knew that this work of searching for specific dog breeds in the Arctic, and then trying to get them registered, was really something extraordinary, something really amazing and will make people astonished. The joy this work, our Sami friends and those dogs have given us, is a gift of grace.

Again and again - throughout time - it's been all of these registered Sami dogs who had to save the Swedish Lapphund breed, Finnish Lapphund breed, and the Lapponian herder breed. Time and again throughout the breeding development process, the registration continued. Continuously up until today, registrations were made and are still made almost every new year, but only in Finland and only on the Finnish and the Lapponian breed.

My thoughts go to Sami-land and I feel happy and grateful for all of the tedious and strenuous work earlier pioneers and us did on the breeds, all of these long and difficult research trips and all that boring paperwork, which eventually saved these naturally altered Sami dogs for breeding. This was especially important to the Lapponian herder breed.

The Sami herder dog is the Sami-people's ancient Renhund and is numerically one of the world's smallest breeds - perhaps the smallest! It has the world's toughest dog profession as a long-distance herder. Initially, we turned to the farm-people so that the breed would show its properties and it has been successful. It feels very nice and rewarding that we have succeeded "all the way" - from the humblest beginning (to find and register their dogs from Sami) to a currently estimated own Nordic breed among farm people – and all that in only 17 years!

I now have access to more "accessible" bloodlines for the future and have thus been able to reduce the breeding process. We are now in the final stages of the actual development of the breeding base. The breed feels "secured" in Sweden and even in Norway and Denmark, because of a handful of kennels started and continued to develop our breeding lines.

Our Priorities 

Regardless of strenuous work and expenses in which this resulted in, the main breeding process idea with this original breed has been to preserve the breed - by adding new genetic material.

With this, I wanted to also show what is required to maintain an out-of-breed. Our litters do not come to this world just to "have puppies", but require a completely different kind of breeding planning for a future purpose, in which we must fight for the breed's survival. We are aggressively looking for new unrelated lines to broaden the breeding base with. There is no "sensible" view of money here, instead we travel for the "puppy money" we have for the moment. Sometimes we can go, sometimes not. But I've also had a wonderful sponsor - my father! He was really excited for our Lapphund dogs. This is a way of life, which brought us joy and a quality of life.

For a long time, we thought of applying for EU grants and really should have done it, but it never happened, because we didn't really think we would get anything. It feels a bit surreal and foolish that we did not, because today we know that the EU approved many other projects, which were preserving different native species with narrow breeding base - even dogs.

- Winnie

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