Dog breeds originating in Norway

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Norwegian Elkhound profile shot with forest in background
Norwegian Elkhound Profile Shot With Forest In Background

Some of the breeds that originate in Norway are spitz-type breeds. These are dogs that have been developed to live and work in harsh, cold weather conditions. They commonly have thick, weather-proof coats and pointed ears. Not all Norwegian breeds have these characteristics, though. Most of the others are classed as Hare Hounds.

Learn more about the six breeds that originated in this Scandinavian country and find a little bit more about their temperament and care requirements. Most of the dogs on this list are considered to be rare, even in their native Norway.

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  • 01 of 05

    Norwegian Lundehund

    Norwegian Lundehund standing o grass
    Norwegian Lundehund Standing O Grass

    The Norwegian Lundehund isn't a dog you'll often find outside of its native country. Even in Norway, a Lundehund will be hard to come by. This unique little spitz-type dog was used to hunt for puffins and their eggs on the remote Islands off the coast of Norway. The Norwegian word for puffin is 'Lunde'.

    The Lunde has some very unusual physical characteristics. For starters, they have two fewer teeth than your average dog. This means they likely have a very ancient heritage as there was a 5,000-year-old fossil of the Russian Varanger Dog found with the same dental structure.

    Secondly, the breed is incredibly flexible. Their neck can tip back to touch their back, and this will help them when they're squeezing into small spaces to find puffins and their nests on rugged cliffs. Lundes can also manipulate their shoulder joints to a ninety-degree angle. This helps them get traction on slippery and steep surfaces.

    They really need a lot of stimulation around the home too. They're smart problem solvers, and they'll find their own entertainment if you neglect this aspect. Lundes are prolific diggers, and it may be a good idea to give them a dedicated sandpit to allow them to satisfy this natural urge.

    The breed is also a natural hunter. You'll need to be aware of this if you're walking in areas where there's a lot of wildlife, and it may not be a good idea to introduce small furry pets to a Lundehunds home. While the breed is generally healthy, they're known for having potentially complex gastrointestinal sensitivities.

    Breed Overview


    12 to 15 inches


    20 to 30 pounds

    Physical Characteristics:

    Six toes on every paw, they can tip their head back to touch their back and their shoulder joints are incredibly flexible; harsh short topcoat and a dense, soft undercoat; colors range from fallow, to tan, to a reddish-brown; black hair tips that darken with age and can also have white, white with red, or dark markings

  • 02 of 05

    Norwegian Elkhound

    Norwegian Elkhound standing with a bowtie on in front of a grey background
    Norwegian Elkhound Standing With A Bowtie On In Front Of A Grey Background

    The Norwegian Elkhound is the most well-known and common of all the Norwegian breeds. The breed also has an ancient history and can even be found referenced in Norse history and mythology.

    They traveled on ships with the Vikings, and they also acted as herders and protectors of livestock on remote farms in rural Norway where the weather could be harsh. Their very thick double-coat offered them protection from the cold weather conditions.

    Elkhounds are best suited to a very active home that can allow them to expend the great amounts of energy and stamina they have. Because of their thick coat, they wouldn't be comfortable living in a very hot climate either.

    An Elkhound isn't a velcro dog. They're steadfastly loyal to their family but are still independent, and if you want a dog that loves to lie with you on the sofa all day, this won't be the breed for you. They can also be a little aloof with strangers, and early and appropriate socialization is important to prevent them from becoming too reserved.

    Living with an Elkhound means you'll have to get used to regular brushing sessions to keep their hair at bay. They're prolific shedders, especially when their coat is having its biannual blow. A good vacuum cleaner would be recommended too.

    Breed Overview


    around 20 inches


    48 to 55 pounds

    Physical Characteristics:

    Medium-sized Spitz-type dog that is sturdy, square and has a broad head and curled tail; thick, smooth double coat that comes in shades of silver

  • 03 of 05

    Hygen Hound

    Norwegian Hygenhound standing on grass in a field
    Norwegian Hygenhound Standing On Grass In A Field

    The Hygen Hound was developed in the 19th century as a hunting dog that would be able to withstand the rigors of tracking across harsh arctic terrain without tiring too quickly. You'll need to be ready to give a Hygen plenty of exercise.

    Because of their hunting background and strong sense of smell, this breed is one that likes to roam. A lot of work may be required to get a reliable recall, and they may not live well alongside small furry pets.

    Their strong scenting and tracking skills mean they would likely excel at scent work trials and other nose work exercises.

    Hygens tend to be amiable and friendly with their family, but they can sometimes exhibit territorial guarding traits. Looking out for the early signs of resource guarding behavior will be important so that you can work on extinguishing this through positive training methods if needed.

    The breed is incredibly rare, even in their home country of Norway so it would be unusual to find one of these dogs in North America. If you're attracted to the characteristics of the breed, there are lots of other Hounds with similar traits that you could consider.

    Breed Overview


    18 to 22 inches


    45 to 55 pounds

    Physical Characteristics:

    Medium-sized, athletic-looking dog; short, straight and glossy coat; come in a red-brown or a yellow-red with black shading and sometimes with white markings; be found in black and tan, or white with red-brown and yellow-red markings

  • 04 of 05

    Norwegian Buhund

    Norwegian Buhund standing in a forest with some snow patches in the background
    Norwegian Buhund Standing In A Forest With Some Snow Patches In The Background

    The Norwegian Buhund looks a little like the slightly smaller Lundehund, but they have a denser coat and a curly tail that gives them a more traditional spitz appearance.

    They're also a little more common, and some of these dogs can be found in North America, unlike some of the rarer Norwegian breeds.

    Like the Elkhound, the Buhund, was first thought to have been introduced after coming over on the Viking ships. They were then developed as adaptable little farm dogs that proved valuable when it came to guarding and herding livestock.

    With lots of energy and stamina, you won't be able to get away with just giving a Buhund a quick walk around the block. These dogs need lots of exercise, and they're also very smart, so lots of enrichment around the home will also be needed to keep them stimulated.

    Like a lot of the spitz-type dogs, Buhunds can be strong-minded and independent. While they're loyal, friendly and playful with their family, things are often done on their own terms. Patience and lots of rewards work best when it comes to training.

    Breed Overview


    16 to 18 inches


    25 to 40 pounds

    Physical Characteristics:

    Medium-sized spitz-type with a wide skull, pricked ears and curled tail; thick, short, coarse topcoat and come in black or wheaten coloring

  • 05 of 05

    Halden Hound

    halden hound
    Halden Hound

    The Halden Hound is another dog from the Norwegian scenting dog group, like the Dunker and the Hygen. They're all similar in size and appearance and the Halden is also known for being even-tempered, confident and eager to please.

    Like the other scent hounds featured here, you may have to work hard on achieving a reliable recall as Haldens have a strong hunting instinct and a very keen sense of smell. The Halden, with their short, smooth coat, is another breed that you won't have to worry about spending lots of time grooming.

    The Halden is the rarest of all the Norwegian breeds, and it's unlikely you'll find one of these dogs outside of their native homeland. Even in Norway, their numbers are incredibly low, making them a vulnerable breed at risk of extinction.

    Breed Overview


    19.5 to 23.5 inches


    40 to 55 pounds

    Physical Characteristics:

    Coarse, dense, straight and short double-coated dog; coat comes in white with black patches; tan shadings on head and legs, and sometimes between the white and the black patches

While the number of breeds that are native to Norway isn't large, these dogs all possess their own unique charms and characteristics.

Apart from the Elkhound and the Buhund, however, it would be unusual to find these breeds anywhere other than their native country given their rarity.