History of the Norwegian Lundehund

A Norwegian Treasure

History of the Norwegian Lundehund blog NewDoggy.com

What has six toes on each foot, is an amazing climber, and is great at stealing eggs? It’s the Norwegian Lundehund, also called the Puffin dog, an incredible dog breed from Norway. This ancient breed is truly rare and unique, with a rich history that is worth exploring.

A Viking’s Best Friend

Far to the North, up in the Arctic Circle, are the Lofoten Islands. This archipelago is the homeland of the Lundehund. No one is certain how old the breed is, but archaeological evidence suggests that they developed in the early part of the second millennium. Research also points to the Norwegian Lundehund being a descent of a primeval dog species.

The Norwegian Lundehund was an important part of life on the Lofoten Islands. These Spitz-type dogs were very important working animals. The name “Lundehund” means Puffin dog; the breed gained this name due to their ability to hunt and retrieve Puffins. The dogs’ unique anatomy, such as their extra toes, meant that they could scale cliffs or crawl into caves to the Puffins’ nest. Here they could snatch birds or eggs to bring back to their masters.

Puffins and Plagues

Puffins were an important source of food and down (which could be used for bedding or warm clothing) on the islands, and were also important items for trade. This meant that most households would have a dozen Lundehunds, each of which was more valuable than a cow. There was a roaring Puffin trade in and from the Lofoten Islands, which began in the Viking Age and lasted well through the 17th century.

Unfortunately the government began to levy taxes on the Lundehund, making them expensive to keep. Gradually the breed’s popularity declined as alternative methods of hunting Puffins were developed. Once the Puffin was declared an endangered species, the Lundehund was out of a job. By the 1900s, the breed could only be found in the village of Måstad. Things got worse for the Norwegian Lundehund during the Second World War, as the islands were hit by Canine Distemper. This disease nearly drove the breed to extinction when it struck again in 1963, leaving only six surviving dogs: one in Værøy, the rest in southern Norway.

Back from the brink

Despite all the odds, dedicated breeders were able to rebuild the population of Norwegian Lundehunds. The sheer rarity of the dogs made it very difficult, especially since five of the dogs had the same mother, which created a genetic bottleneck. Thanks to strict breeding guidelines devised by a Swedish geneticist, and the dedication of breeders such as Eleanor Christie and Christen Lang, the breed began to recover.

Today there are approximately 1400 Norwegian Lundehunds worldwide, with the majority living in Norway. The breed is even regaining its old role of hunting birds, as Norwegian Air Traffic and Airport Management are experimenting with using Lundehunds to manage the bird population around Tromsø airport, in an effort to reduce airplane bird strikes.

Polydactyl Pups

The Norwegian Lundehund is a Spitz-type dog, with a curled tail and foxy little ear. They are quite small, only weighing six or seven kilos, and measuring up to 40cm in height. They have a thick, rough outer coat, with a much softer inner coat for warmth. They are typically red-brown or fawn, with black-tipped hairs, though they can also be white with dark markings.

Unlike other Spitz-type breeds, the Lundehund has some unique features. They are polydactyl, meaning that they have extra toes. Each foot has six toes, including two large dewclaws. These toes are fully formed, with all the normal muscles and joints.

The Norwegian Lundehund is also amazingly flexible. Their joints have a huge range of motion, allowing the dog to bend their heads backwards along their spine, and to move their forelegs away from their body at a 90 degree angle! Lundehunds can also close their ears to keep out dust and dirt. All of these features are handy for a Puffin hunting dog that would typically scale cliffs and crawl through caves in pursuit of prey. They are ridiculously good at climbing and squirming through tight spaces . . . though oddly enough the AKC classifies this breed as Non-Sporting!

A Curious Character

The Norwegian Lundehund is not a dog for everyone. They are absolutely charming, very sweet, but also exceptionally mischievous! You’ll need to keep an eye (or both eyes!) on your Norwegian Lundehund to keep them out of trouble. Those flexible joints and extra toes really help the Norwegian Lundehund to escape from right under your nose – usually straight into mischief. Most Lundehunds can easily climb walls or scale fences in the garden. They are also difficult to house train, and love to dig and bark. The Lundehund also likes to hide food (occasionally stolen) and shiny objects (almost always stolen).

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The following is needed to bring a puppy into Dubai:


  1. All dogs entering Dubai from a low-risk country at least 15 weeks old, and those entering from a high-risk country must be at least 27 weeks old.
  2. Microchip – All dogs entering and residing in Dubai must be equipped with either a 9 or 15 digit microchip.
  3. Import Permit – All dogs entering Dubai must be equipped with a Special Permit from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. Valid for 30 days.
  4. Vaccinations* – Depending on the country of origin, your pet might need a rabies shot on top of all the age appropriate vaccinations. Dubai specific vaccinations: Canine Distemper Virus, Canine Parvo Virus, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Rabies.
  5. Rabies Titer Test * – All dogs entering Dubai must be tested for rabies no later than 14 days before the planned travel date. ( Only from specific
  6. Parasite check - All pets travelling to Dubai must receive preventive treatments against internal and external parasites in the 14 days before travel by an authorised and competent vet.
  7. Health Check – A Health Check by a veterinarian is mandatory in order to obtain permissions to enter Dubai.
  8. Pet Passport – This document verifies that the puppy is fully healthy and up-to-date on their vaccinations.


* The United Arab Emirates classifies all countries into two rabies categories:
  • Low-risk countries: Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Falkland Island, Fiji, Finland, French Polynesia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Montenegro, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Palau, Portugal, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, UK, and Vanuatu.
  • High-risk countries: All other countries are considered high-risk countries.
** Only for puppies from high-risk countries
Travel Requirements

The following is needed to bring a puppy into Abu Dhabi:


  1. All dogs entering Abu Dhabi from a low-risk country at least 15 weeks old, and those entering from a high-risk country must be at least 27 weeks old.
  2. Microchip – All dogs entering and residing in Abu Dhabi must be equipped with either a 9 or 15 digit microchip.
  3. Import Permit – All dogs entering Abu Dhabi must be equipped with a Special Permit from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. Valid for 30 days.
  4. Vaccinations* – Depending on the country of origin, your pet might need a rabies shot on top of all the age appropriate vaccinations. Abu Dhabi specific vaccinations: Canine Distemper Virus, Canine Parvo Virus, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Rabies.
  5. Rabies Titer Test * – All dogs entering Abu Dhabi must be tested for rabies no later than 14 days before the planned travel date. ( Only from specific
  6. Parasite check - All pets travelling to Abu Dhabi must receive preventive treatments against internal and external parasites in the 14 days before travel by an authorised and competent vet.
  7. Health Check – A Health Check by a veterinarian is mandatory in order to obtain permissions to enter Abu Dhabi.
  8. Pet Passport – This document verifies that the puppy is fully healthy and up-to-date on their vaccinations.


* The United Arab Emirates classifies all countries into two rabies categories:
  • Low-risk countries: Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Falkland Island, Fiji, Finland, French Polynesia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Montenegro, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Palau, Portugal, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, UK, and Vanuatu.
  • High-risk countries: All other countries are considered high-risk countries.
** Only for puppies from high-risk countries
Travel Requirements

The following is needed to bring a puppy into Hong Kong:


  1. All dogs entering Hong Kong must be at least 3 months old.
  2. Microchip – All dogs entering and residing in Hong Kong must be equipped with either a 9 or 15-digit microchip.
  3. Import Permit – All dogs entering Hong Kong must be equipped with a Special Permit from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. Valid for up to 6 months.
  4. Vaccinations* – Depending on the country of origin, your pet might need a rabies shot on top of all the age appropriate vaccinations. Hong Kong specific vaccinations: Canine distemper, infectious canine hepatitis, canine parvovirus and rabies.
  5. Health Check – A Health Check by a veterinarian is mandatory in order to obtain permissions to enter Hong Kong.
  6. Pet Passport – This document verifies that the puppy is fully healthy and up-to-date on their vaccinations.
  7. Captain’s Affidavit – Document to be provided by the airline personnel confirming that your dog has not left its crate or interacted with other pets at any point during the journey.


* Hong Kong classifies countries into 3 groups. Vaccinations against rabies are only required from Groups 2 & 3.
  • Group 1: Rabies-free countries (at least 6 months of residency) Australia, Fiji, Hawaii, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Bailiwick of Jersey.
  • Group 2: Rabies-controlled (at least 4 months of residency) Austria, Bahrain, Bermuda, Canada, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Guam, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Vanuatu, Bahamas, Belgium, Brunei, Cayman Island, Denmark, France, Gibraltar, Iceland, Jamaica, Maldives, Mauritius, New Caledonia, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands, USA (Continental), Virgin Islands.
  • Group 3: All other countries.
** Only for puppies from high-risk countries
Travel Requirements

The following is needed to bring a puppy into Switzerland:


  1. All pets entering Switzerland must be equipped with a 15-digit microchip that is compliant with ISO 11784/11785.
  2. Dogs must be vaccinated against distemper.
  3. Rabies vaccinations are mandatory. Dogs must receive their first rabies vaccine at least 21 days before entering the country.*
  4. The state veterinarian of the origin country must equip the dog with a valid Health Certificate.
  5. Import Permit – all dogs entering from a 3rd level rabies country must carry an import permit issued at least three weeks in advance. Entry points through Basel, Geneva, Zurich.
  6. Different regulations depending on whether it is a commercial purchase or individual and where the dog is coming from.


* Specifications differ for booster shots. ** Switzerland categorises countries by level of risk of rabies in three levels.
  • Level 1: All EU Member States and Andorra, Switzerland, Faeroe Islands, Gibraltar, Greenland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Northern Ireland, Norway, San Marino, Vatican City State.
  • Level 2 (Low Risk of Rabies): Ascension Island, United Arab Emirates, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Aruba, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Barbados, Bahrain, Bermuda,Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, Belarus, Canada, Chile, Curaçao, Fiji, Falkland Islands, Great Britain (including Crown dependencies), Hong Kong, Jamaica, Japan, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Cayman Islands, Saint Lucia, North Macedonia, Montserrat, Mauritius, Mexico, Malaysia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, French Polynesia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Russia, Singapore, Saint Helena, Sint Marteen, Trinidad and Tobago, Taiwan, United States of America, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, British Virgin Islands, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna.
  • Level 3: All other countries are considered as having a high risk of rabies.
Travel Requirements