Norwegian Dog BreedsLiz Mallia
Land of dark forests and high peaks, lit by the glow of the flickering Aurora, Norway is certainly one of the world’s most beautiful places. Norway also has the pride of having some of world’s most beautiful and unique dog breeds. From the polydactyl Lundehund to the sleek Hygen Hound, Norway offers some of the world’s most unique dog breeds.
This Spitz-type breed is a variant of the Grey Norwegian Elkhound. As the name suggests, they have thick black fur, with a double coat to keep them warm in the chill of the northern winter. Black Norwegian Elkhounds have the typical compact build of a Spitz-type dog, with upright ears and a curly tail. The Black Norwegian Elkhound is a tough dog that can cope well in the cold and wet. They are excellent hunters, and were originally bred to hunt elk, moose, and bears. They aren’t just great working dogs; the Black Norwegian Elkhound is also a loving and loyal pet.
The Dunker, or Norwegian Hound, is a medium sized dog breed that is descended from the Russian Harlequin Hound and Norwegian scent-hounds. The breed is named for its creator, Wilhelm Dunker, who wished to breed a scent-hound to hunt hares. This friendly, relaxed breed is very energetic, but if you’ve got the time to provide proper exercise, you will love the Dunker (though they have yet to gain popularity outside of Norway). The Dunker is of medium size, with floppy ears, a long head, and a somewhat sleek build. Their short but dense coat is typically blue or black, marbled with light fawn and white markings.
Strictly speaking, the Eurohound is not a breed but a type of dog. The Eurohound was created by crossing Alaskan Huskies with Pointers. This sleek dog looks like a Pointer but was actually bred for dog sled racing. By crossbreeding such different breeds, breeders hope to create a dog with hybrid vigour, inheriting the best traits from both of its parents. A first generation Eurohound is an ideal dog for sprint races.
Since Eurohound is a dog type rather than a dog breed, there is no uniform look for the dog. They tend to be medium sized dogs, often with half-dropped ears and patched markings.
Named for its city of origin, the Halden Hound is a scent-hound from southern Norway. The breed was created by crossing local scent-hounds with Beagles and English Foxhounds. The Halden Hound was nearly destroyed due to an outbreak of Parvo and the Second World War, but was fortunately preserved by some breed enthusiasts.
These medium sized dogs are friendly and calm, and are excellent hunters. They resemble the American Foxhound, with their floppy ears and strong backs, but are much smaller, with white coats and darker patches.
The Hygen Hound is named after Hans Fredrik Hygen, who developed the breed in the 19th century. The goal was to create a dog with excellent endurance that could trudge tirelessly across the arctic terrain. Hygen’s sons then continued to breed these dogs. The Hygen Hound began as an offshoot of the Norwegian Hound, but eventually the two became separate breeds in 1902.
The Hygen Hound is a medium sized dog. Their shiny, short coat is typically red, but may also be chestnut or black with chestnut. White markings are common. The Hygen is a typical hound, with floppy ears , a broad skull, and a compact body. The breed has an independent but sweet temperament, and is both a good hunter and a gentle family dog.
Also called the Norwegian Sheepdog, this fuzzy dog is the descendant of the Vikings’ dogs. The Buhund was kept by homesteaders to herd livestock and as a watchdog. These hardy Spitz-type dogs could curl up in the barn to sleep, no matter the weather, and be back to work the next day. The Norwegian Buhund nearly went extinct in the early 1900s, but fortunately enthusiasts were able to save the breed. Although their numbers are still small, they may yet make a comeback and become popular outside of Norway.
The Norwegian Buhund is a medium sized dog with a square build, deep chest, and the typical Spitz-type curly tail and pointed ears. They are usually black or wheaten (ranging from orange to pale cream), often with a dark mask. The Norwegian Buhund is typically energetic and clever, and needs plenty of exercise to avoid destructive behaviours.
Sometimes called the Grey Norwegian Elkhound (or Norsk Elghund in Norwegian), this ancient breed was bred to hunt elk and moose, though it could also turn its paw to bear and wolf hunting. The Norwegian Elkhound a very versatile breed, as it has been used over the centuries for hunting, guarding, tracking, herding, and defending. The breed excels at cornering or driving prey until the hunter arrives to shoot it, and as such, they are courageous, clever, and exceptionally tough.
The Norwegian Elkhound is a large, typical Spitz-type dog. They have the characteristic curly tail and triangular ears, combined with a luxurious double coat. Their fur is a mixture of grey, white, and black fur, giving the Elkhound a wolfish appearance.
Far to the North, up in the Arctic Circle, are the Lofoten Islands: home of Norway’s most unique dog, the Lundehund. The Lundehund, or Puffin Dog, was bred to hunt Puffins. The dogs’ unique anatomy, such as their extra toes, meant that they could scale cliffs or crawl into caves to the Puffins’ nest. Although the breed nearly died out by the 1960s, the Lundehund was saved by supporters and breeders, who worked tirelessly to bring the breed back from the brink. Its amazing history can be read about here.
The Norwegian Lundehund is a medium sized Spitz-type dog, with a curled tail and foxy little ears. They are typically red-brown or fawn, with black-tipped hairs, though they can also be white with dark markings. Their most unique features are their multiple toes (polydactylism), and incredible flexibility. These dogs are crafty and cunning; while very clever, they can be difficult to train, and tend to be mischievous.
For dog breeds from a neighboring country, you can read this article on Swedish Dog Breeds.