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8 Unique Facts About the Swedish Lapphund

You probably haven’t heard of the rare Swedish Lapphund, but you’ll be glad to get acquainted. With pointed ears and a fox-like face, it’s hard not to fall in love. But be warned—these dogs are hard to come by. 

1. THEY COME FROM NORTHERN SCANDINAVIA.

Like most other breeds with geographical names, the Swedish Lapphund’s name gives some indication of its origin. Lappies come from northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland in an area called Lapland. Lapphunds are dogs that hail from that region; the Swedish Lapphund is very similar to the Finnish Lapphund, and is even considered by some to be the same breed. (The American Kennel Club disagrees with this classification, and recognizes them as two separate breeds.) Regardless, both are fluffy, fox-like herders from Lapland.

2. THEY WERE USED TO HERD REINDEER.

The Sami people, indigenous to northern Scandinavia, were the first to breed Swedish Lapphunds. They used the dogs to herd reindeer, which were their primary food source. The semi-nomadic people would follow the reindeer on foot or wooden skis as the animals searched for grass to graze on. Lappies were used to corral the animals and keep them safe from harm. Today, some Sami people still herd reindeer, although the process has been thoroughly modernized. Herders are assigned specific pieces of territory at certain times of the year, and fences and ATVs have been incorporated. Lappies are still sometimes used to help with herding efforts, but they've largely been phased out in favor of Border collies and Lapponian herders.

3. THEIR BARK IS UNUSUAL. 

Lappies have been bred to have an unusually high-pitched bark. They achieve this noise by rapidly pushing air through their diaphragms while restricting their vocal cords. The result is a squeakier bark that’s loud, but unthreatening, which actually helps them be more effective at their jobs. The high bark lets reindeer know it’s time to move, but doesn’t scare them into thinking there's a predator around. Lapphund pups are often raised alongside reindeer calves, so the species are accustomed to working together from an early age.  

4. THEY’RE PART OF THE SPITZ FAMILY.

As you might have guessed from their pointy ears and furry coats, these canines are closely related to wolves. Lappies are a spitz breed, or a type of dog that has several wolf-like characteristics (such as a long snout, pointed ears, and, on some dogs, curled tails). A wide variety of other dogs fall under the spitz umbrella, including the shiba inu, the Alaskan malamute, and the Pomeranian. 

5. THE BREED HAS BEEN AROUND A WHILE. 

Like most spitz breeds, the Swedish Lapphund has an impressive history. Scientists recently uncovered a dog skeleton resembling the Lappie, which dates back more than 7000 years

6. THEIR DARK FUR SERVES A PURPOSE.

The Lapphund's thick, furry coats means it's well-equipped to handle frigid temperatures. Its coat generally comes in two colors: black and liver. The dark coat has the added benefit of helping the dog stand out in the snow, which is, of course, pretty common in northern Scandinavia. 

7. THEY’RE VERY RARE …

Swedish Lapphunds are hard to come by. They’re not a registered AKC breed, although in 2009, they were granted the ability to compete in companion events. It’s believed there are only 1200 of the dogs in the world, most of which are in Sweden. Their cousin the Finnish Lapphund is significantly more popular—in 2000, the dog was the eighth most common breed in Finland. 

8. … BUT ARE MAKING A COMEBACK. 

Today, the Swedish Lapphund is making a reappearance in the dog world thanks to its good looks and charming disposition. While it’s not likely you’ll come across one of these rare dogs in the United States, one woman did find one sitting on the side of the road in Connecticut in 1999. The rescued dog didn't know a lick of English, but did respond to Swedish commands. 

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holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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Animals
If You Want Your Cat to Poop Out More Hairballs, Try Feeding It Beets
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Have you ever wondered if there’s a way to get your cat to poop out its hairballs instead of hacking them up? If so, you’re likely a seasoned cat owner whose tolerance for gross stuff has reached the point of no return. Luckily, there may be an easy way to get your cat to dispose of hairballs in the litter box instead of on your carpet, according to one study.

The paper, published in the Journal of Physiology and Animal Nutrition, followed the diets of 18 mixed-breed short-haired cats over a month. Some cats were fed straight kibble, while others were given helpings of beet pulp along with their regular meals. The researchers suspected that beets, a good source of fiber, would help move any ingested hair through the cats’ digestive systems, thus preventing it from coming back up the way it went in. Following the experiment, they found that the cats with the beet diet did indeed poop more.

The scientists didn’t measure how many hairballs the cats were coughing up during this period, so it's possible that pooping out more of them didn’t stop cats from puking them up at the same rate. But considering hairballs are a matter of digestive health, more regular bowel movements likely reduced the chance that cats would barf them up. The cat body is equipped to process large amounts of hair: According to experts, healthy cats should only be hacking hairballs once or twice a year.

If you find them around your home more frequently than that, it's a good idea to up your cat's fiber intake. Raw beet pulp is just one way to introduce fiber into your pet's diet; certain supplements for cats work just as well and actually contain beet pulp as a fiber source. Stephanie Liff, a veterinarian at Pure Paws Veterinary Care in New York, recommends psyllium powder to her patients. Another option for dealing with hairballs is the vegetable-oil based digestive lubricant Laxatone: According to Dr. Liff, this can "help to move hairballs in the correct direction."

[h/t Discover]

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