AKC Dog Breeds: Norwegian Lundehund

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Miscellaneous Class
Height: 12-15 inches   Weight: 12-16 pounds  Color: white, reddish brown, gray, black, yellow, sable and white

The Norwegian Lundehund (Norsk Lundehund) is a small breed of dog of Spitz type, originating in Norway. Lunde means puffin and hund means dog; the dogs were originally used for hunting puffins. The breed has a long history. As far back as 1600 it was used for hunting puffins along the Norwegian coast. Its flexibility and extra toes were ideal for hunting the birds in their inaccessible nesting locations on cliffs and in caves. Interest for the breed declined when new methods for hunting puffins were invented and a dog tax was created. Around 1900, they were only found in the isolated village of Mostad, Lofoten. The breed was nearly extinct around World War II when canine distemper struck Værøy and the surrounding islands. In 1963, the population was further decimated by distemper again. This time, only 6 dogs survived, creating a population bottleneck. Due to careful breeding with strict guidelines, there are now an estimated 1500-2000 dogs in the world, with around 1100 of the population in Norway and  nearly 350 in the United States. The Norwegian Lundehund breed is considered to be one of the world's rarest dogs.

General Appearance

The Norwegian Lundehund is a small, rectangular Spitz type dog. The Lundehund has a great range of motion in its joints, allowing it to fit into narrow passages. The head can be bent backwards along the dog's own spine, and the forelegs can turn to the side at a 90-degree angle to its body, much like human arms. Its pricked, upright ears can be sealed nearly shut by folding them forward or backward. The Norwegian Lundehund is polydactyl: instead of the normal four toes a foot, the Lundehund has six toes, all fully formed, jointed and muscled. The legs are strong. The tail is carried ring-shaped or slightly rolled over the top line, or hanging. It has a short, rough, stand-off coat. It's dense topcoat lies flat against the body. The coat can be reddish-brown to fallow with more or less black hair tips, or black, or grey, all with white markings, or white with dark markings. The full-grown dog usually has got more distinct black in the outer coat than the young dog. The Lundehund is adapted to climb narrow cliff paths where it natively would have hunted puffins.


Norwegian Lundehund's are lively, friendly, and playful. A primitive breed, the Norwegian Lundehund is protective of their family and home. They are alert, watchful, suspicious, and quick to bark at every new sight and sound. They do well with children and dogs they have been raised with. Lundehunds are friendly and love people. They are not aggressive and will snuggle with people or other dogs for hours. They love to play and will enjoy long sessions of it. Curious, they are ready to explore the world. This breed is intelligent and can be trained for agility. Because of the Lundehunds very unique characteristics, it makes an exceptional hunter. They do not do well if bored and will become destructive. This exceptional breed is cheerful, affectionate, and makes a wonderful companion. However, Norwegian Lundehund are not recommended for first time dog owners. The Lundehund is somewhat primitive and can be extremely difficult to housebreak. Some owners say they never do get their Norwegian Lundehunds housebroken.

Weekly brushing to remove loose and dead hair is recommended. Special attention should be given to the coat during their seasonal shedding. Their coat is self-cleaning and bathing is only required when necessary.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy
Lundehund gastroenteropathy is a set of digestive disorders that can lead to an overgrowth of digestive bacteria, and a loss of ability to absorb nutrients from food.  In extreme cases the dog can starve due to its inability to derive nutrients and protein from food, regardless of food intake. All Lundehunds have the genetics to have this illness, though not every Lundehund is severely afflicted and some are symptom free. There is no cure, though the disease can be managed. This unique syndrome renders the lifespan of a particular dog almost unpredictable. This Syndrome is under research. If you do not have the money to pay for potential extensive vet bills, this breed is not for you.

Activity Level
The Norwegian Lundehund breed is not recommended for apartment living. The Norwegian Lundehund requires a large securely fenced yard or rural setting where they are able to run, play, and receive family interaction.


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