Norwegian Lundehund

Table of Contents

norwegian lundehund portrait
Get ready to be amazed by the captivating Norwegian Lundehund, a dog breed that stands out from the pack! With their extraordinary acrobatic abilities, unmatched flexibility, and a truly unique feature – six toes on each paw – these enchanting canines are sure to pique your interest.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Norwegian Lundehund is best suited for individuals and families who appreciate a unique, energetic, and intelligent canine companion. Known for their agility and acrobatic skills, these dogs thrive in active households where they can exercise both their bodies and minds.

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMENorwegian Lundehund
OTHER NAMESLundehund, Norsk Lundehund, Norwegian Puffin Dog
ORIGINNorway
BREED GROUPNon-Sporting Group
BREED SIZESmall
HEIGHT12-15 inches
WEIGHT12-18 lbs
LIFESPAN12-15 years
LIVING SPACESmall
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERModerate
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSModerate
EXERCISE NEEDSHigh
TRAINABILITYModerate
BARKING TENDENCYModerate
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELModerate
POPULARITY RANK198th
norwegian lundehund standing in a lawn
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Appearance

The Norwegian Lundehund is a small yet robust dog breed, boasting a truly distinctive appearance that sets it apart from other canines. With a height ranging from 12 to 15 inches and a weight of approximately 12 to 18 pounds, these dogs exhibit a compact, well-proportioned body structure that highlights their agility and strength.

One of the most striking features of the Lundehund is its unique polydactyl paws, each having six toes – two dewclaws and four regular toes. This physical trait, along with their flexible joints, enables them to maneuver effortlessly on steep and rocky landscapes. The breed’s legs are strong and muscular, with the hind legs appearing slightly longer than the front legs.

The Lundehund’s tail is another intriguing characteristic, as it is carried in a ring shape or slightly curved over the back when the dog is active. When at rest, the tail hangs down naturally. The base of the tail is broad and robust, while the tip is more slender, creating an elegant appearance.

The head of the Norwegian Lundehund is wedge-shaped, with a moderately broad skull and a relatively flat forehead. The muzzle is of medium length and tapers gently towards the nose, which is usually black or dark brown in color. Their strong jaws house a complete set of teeth that meet in a scissor bite.

Lundehunds have striking, almond-shaped eyes that come in various shades of brown, sometimes with a touch of amber. Their alert and intelligent expression speaks to their curious and playful nature. The breed’s medium-sized ears are triangular and stand erect, with a slight tilt forward, adding to their attentive appearance.

The coat of the Norwegian Lundehund consists of a double layer: a dense, soft undercoat and a harsh, water-resistant outer coat. This combination provides excellent insulation against cold and wet weather. The coat comes in various colors, including red, sable, black, gray, and fawn, often with white markings on the face, chest, legs, and tail tip. Some Lundehunds may also exhibit a black mask or white collar.

norwegian lundehund walking in a park
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Temperament

The Norwegian Lundehund is a fascinating and extraordinary canine companion with a personality as unique as the breathtaking landscapes of Norway. Picture a free-spirited explorer, with a heart as boundless as the vast Nordic wilderness. With a sense of adventure and a touch of quirkiness, the Norwegian Lundehund is a breed that will capture your imagination and leave you spellbound with their captivating charm.

Imagine having a friend who’s as agile and flexible as an acrobat, ready to conquer any obstacle that comes their way. The Norwegian Lundehund is that daredevil playmate, always eager to push the boundaries and explore new heights, just like a fearless adventurer seeking thrilling challenges.

But beneath their adventurous exterior, the Norwegian Lundehund is also known for their deep sense of independence. Think of them as free-spirited artists, cherishing moments of solitude to connect with their inner selves. They’ll teach you the value of introspection and self-discovery, just like that wise friend who always offers profound insights.

With their keen intelligence and problem-solving skills, the Norwegian Lundehund is like a master puzzle solver, always seeking innovative solutions to life’s mysteries. They’ll keep you on your toes with their cleverness, just like that brilliant friend who’s a never-ending source of fascination.

The Norwegian Lundehund is a true socialite, just like that charming friend who effortlessly wins hearts wherever they go. They possess a magnetic charm that draws people in, making them the life of the party and the heart of any gathering. Their warm and friendly nature creates an instant connection, leaving a trail of smiles wherever they roam.

Loyalty runs deep within the Norwegian Lundehund’s heart, much like that steadfast confidante who’ll never let you down. They’re devoted to their loved ones and will fiercely protect those they hold dear, just like a faithful guardian watching over their cherished treasures.

Despite their adventurous spirit, the Norwegian Lundehund can also be delightfully quirky. Picture them as the fun-loving jester, always ready to bring laughter and joy to your day. Their playful antics and comical expressions will lift your spirits, just like that humorous friend who’s the master of turning frowns upside down.

With their unique physical traits, including extra toes and extreme flexibility, the Norwegian Lundehund is truly a marvel of nature. Just like that awe-inspiring friend who stands out in a crowd, they’ll leave you in awe of their extraordinary abilities and make you appreciate the wonders of life.

norwegian lundehund standing in a forest
Photo: slowmotiongli/Getty Images

Ideal Environment

The ideal environment for a Norwegian Lundehund is one that caters to their unique physical and emotional needs, ensuring they thrive in every aspect of life. These adaptable dogs can adjust to various living situations, including city apartments or rural homes, as long as they receive adequate exercise, mental stimulation, and companionship.

Physical Environment

The physical environment for a Lundehund should provide ample space for them to exercise and explore safely. A securely fenced yard is an excellent addition, as it allows them to indulge in their natural curiosity and play freely.

However, even without a yard, daily walks and outdoor activities will keep them physically and mentally satisfied. Since Lundehunds are agile and love to climb, providing them with climbing opportunities and engaging toys can help channel their energy and hone their skills.

Climate Adaptability

Regarding climate adaptability, Norwegian Lundehunds are well-equipped to handle cold weather, thanks to their dense double coat. In colder climates, they can enjoy outdoor activities without much concern, provided they have a warm and cozy place to retreat indoors.

However, in hot climates, extra precautions must be taken to prevent overheating. Make sure to provide them with plenty of shade, fresh water, and avoid exercising during the hottest part of the day. Regular grooming can also help maintain their coat in optimal condition, ensuring they stay comfortable regardless of the weather.

Ideal Owner

When considering the ideal pet parent for a Norwegian Lundehund, someone who is active, patient, and dedicated to providing consistent training and socialization would be a great match. Lundehunds form deep bonds with their families and enjoy being involved in daily activities, so a household where they are treated as valued members of the family would be perfect for them.

Other Pets

In terms of other pets, Norwegian Lundehunds generally get along well with other dogs, especially if they have been socialized from a young age. However, due to their strong prey drive, they may not be suitable for homes with small pets such as rodents, birds, or cats. Introducing them to other pets should be done carefully and gradually, always monitoring their interactions to ensure a harmonious coexistence.

norwegian lundehund in a park
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Grooming

The Norwegian Lundehund’s grooming needs are moderate, requiring regular attention to keep their coat healthy and looking its best. With a dense double coat consisting of a soft undercoat and a harsh, water-resistant outer coat, these dogs need proper care to maintain their coat’s protective qualities and ensure their comfort.

Coat Care

Basic grooming for a Lundehund includes brushing their coat at least once or twice a week, using a slicker brush or a pin brush. This helps remove loose hair, dirt, and debris, preventing mats and tangles from forming. During shedding seasons, which typically occur in the spring and fall, daily brushing may be necessary to manage the increased shedding and keep the coat in good condition.

In addition to brushing, periodic baths are essential for maintaining a clean and healthy coat. Bathing your Lundehund every two to three months, or as needed, is generally sufficient. Be sure to use a gentle, high-quality dog shampoo that won’t strip the natural oils from their coat. After bathing, it’s crucial to dry your Lundehund thoroughly, paying special attention to the areas where the coat is thickest.

Dental Care

Dental care is another important aspect of grooming for any dog breed, including the Norwegian Lundehund. Regular teeth brushing with canine toothpaste, ideally two to three times a week, will help prevent plaque buildup, tartar, gum disease, and bad breath. Additionally, providing dental chews or toys can assist in maintaining good oral hygiene.

Nail Trimming

Nail care is also essential for the Lundehund, as long nails can cause discomfort and affect their ability to walk properly. Typically, trimming their nails every three to four weeks is adequate, depending on the individual dog’s nail growth rate. If you’re unsure about trimming your dog’s nails, consult with a professional groomer or veterinarian for guidance.

Ear Care

Ear care should not be overlooked when grooming your Norwegian Lundehund. Check their ears weekly for signs of redness, irritation, or a foul smell, which could indicate an infection. Gently clean the outer ear with a cotton ball or soft cloth dampened with a canine ear cleaner, avoiding inserting anything into the ear canal. Keeping your Lundehund’s ears clean and dry can help prevent ear infections.

norwegian lundehund in an agility trial
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Exercise

The Norwegian Lundehund is an energetic and agile breed that requires regular exercise to maintain their physical health and mental well-being. Meeting their exercise needs is crucial for preventing boredom, which can lead to undesirable behaviors such as excessive barking, digging, or destructiveness.

Exercise Amount & Types

When it comes to exercise, expect to spend at least 45 minutes to an hour per day engaging your Lundehund in physical activities. This can include daily walks, hikes, or play sessions in a securely fenced area.

Since these dogs are natural-born climbers with remarkable agility, incorporating activities that challenge their climbing skills, such as navigating obstacle courses or exploring hilly terrain, can be both enjoyable and beneficial for them.

In addition to physical exercise, the Norwegian Lundehund also requires mental stimulation to keep their intelligent minds engaged. Interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and training sessions can provide an excellent outlet for their curiosity and problem-solving abilities. Teaching your Lundehund new tricks or commands will not only help strengthen your bond but also keep them mentally sharp.

Dog Sports

Norwegian Lundehunds can excel in various dog sports and competitions, thanks to their agility, intelligence, and enthusiasm. Activities such as agility trials, flyball, or obedience trials can be a great way for your Lundehund to showcase their talents while providing them with the physical and mental challenges they crave.

Participating in dog sports can also help deepen your connection with your canine companion and improve their overall behavior and socialization skills.

Exercise Precautions

When planning exercise routines for your Lundehund, remember to consider factors such as their age, health, and individual preferences. Some dogs may enjoy more vigorous activities, while others may prefer a more leisurely pace. Always monitor your dog during exercise to ensure their safety and well-being.

norwegian lundehund's face up close
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Training

Training a Norwegian Lundehund can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, but it also presents some challenges due to their independent nature and strong will. While these intelligent dogs are capable of learning quickly, their stubborn streak may require extra patience and persistence on the part of their owner.

Positive Reinforcement

When embarking on training your Lundehund, it’s essential to establish a positive and consistent approach. These dogs respond best to training methods that involve positive reinforcement, such as praise, treats, or toys. Harsh corrections or punishment can be counterproductive and may damage the trusting relationship between you and your dog.

Socialization

One of the key aspects of training a Norwegian Lundehund is early socialization. Exposing them to various people, animals, and environments at a young age will help them develop into well-adjusted, confident adults. This process should begin as soon as you bring your puppy home and continue throughout their life.

Basic Obedience

Obedience training is another crucial component of raising a well-behaved Lundehund. Teaching basic commands such as “sit,” “stay,” “come,” and “down” will not only improve their manners but also help ensure their safety in various situations. Regular training sessions, even as short as 10-15 minutes per day, can make a significant difference in your dog’s behavior and responsiveness.

Advanced Training

Due to their agility and intelligence, Norwegian Lundehunds can excel in various dog sports, such as agility trials, flyball, or obedience competitions. Engaging them in these activities can provide additional training opportunities and mental stimulation, further strengthening the bond between you and your dog.

It’s important to remember that each Lundehund is an individual, and their trainability may vary depending on factors such as genetics, temperament, and previous experiences. Patience, consistency, and a positive attitude are essential when working with these spirited dogs.

norwegian lundehund and his owner in a park
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Diet & Nutrition 

The diet and nutrition of the Norwegian Lundehund play a vital role in maintaining their overall health and well-being. Providing a balanced and high-quality diet will ensure they receive all the essential nutrients to support their growth, energy levels, and longevity.

What to Feed & How Much

When selecting food for your Lundehund, consider high-quality dry food, wet food, or raw food options that follow the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) guidelines. These guidelines ensure that the food meets the necessary nutritional requirements for your dog’s specific life stage.

Consulting with your veterinarian is always recommended when choosing a suitable diet plan, as they can provide guidance based on your dog’s age, weight, activity level, and any special dietary needs.

The amount and frequency of feeding your Norwegian Lundehund will depend on their age and activity level. Puppies generally require more frequent meals, typically three to four times a day, to support their rapid growth and development.

As they transition into adulthood, the number of meals can be reduced to two times a day. It’s essential to follow the feeding guidelines provided on your chosen dog food packaging and adjust accordingly to your dog’s individual needs.

Active Lundehunds may require slightly more food to meet their energy demands, while less active or older dogs may need fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight. Be sure to monitor your dog’s weight and body condition regularly, adjusting their food intake as needed to prevent obesity or undernourishment.

Treats

Treats can be a valuable tool for training and rewarding your Lundehund but should be given in moderation, as excessive treats can contribute to weight gain and an unbalanced diet. Opt for healthy treat options, such as lean meats, fruits, and vegetables that are safe for dogs, and avoid feeding table scraps or foods that are high in fat, salt, or sugar.

Water

Fresh water should be available to your Norwegian Lundehund at all times. Make sure to provide a clean water bowl and refill it regularly to encourage proper hydration.

Health

The Norwegian Lundehund is generally a healthy breed, with a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. However, like all dog breeds, they can be predisposed to certain health issues. It’s essential to be aware of these potential concerns and work closely with your veterinarian to maintain your Lundehund’s overall health and well-being.

Here are common health issues associated with the Norwegian Lundehund:

Lundehund Syndrome (Intestinal Lymphangiectasia): This is a hereditary gastrointestinal disorder specific to this breed. It involves the malfunctioning of the lymphatic system within the intestines, leading to protein-losing enteropathy, malnutrition, and diarrhea. Management of this condition typically involves a specialized diet and medication under the supervision of a veterinarian.

Hip Dysplasia: As with many breeds, Norwegian Lundehunds can be prone to hip dysplasia, a genetic condition where the hip joint doesn’t fit correctly into the hip socket. This can lead to arthritis, pain, and mobility issues over time. Regular check-ups, maintaining a healthy weight, and providing appropriate exercise can help manage this condition.

Patellar Luxation: This condition occurs when the kneecap (patella) slips out of its normal position, causing discomfort and limping. Patellar luxation can range from mild to severe and may require surgical intervention in some cases.

Eye Issues: Some Lundehunds may experience eye problems such as cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), or retinal dysplasia. Regular eye exams and early detection can help manage these conditions and prevent further complications.

Allergies: Norwegian Lundehunds can be prone to allergies, which can manifest as skin irritations, itching, or gastrointestinal symptoms. Identifying the cause of the allergy, whether it’s environmental, food-related, or a contact allergen, is crucial for proper management and treatment.

To ensure the long-term health of your Norwegian Lundehund, regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, appropriate exercise, and monitoring for any signs of illness are essential. By staying proactive in your dog’s health care, you can help them enjoy a happy and healthy life alongside you.

norwegian lundehund sitting on grass
Photo: slowmotiongli/Getty Images

History

The Norwegian Lundehund, also known as the Norwegian Puffin Dog, has a fascinating history dating back centuries. This ancient breed is believed to have originated on the remote islands off the coast of Norway, where they were specifically bred for their unique ability to hunt puffins and collect their eggs from the steep cliffs and narrow crevices.

The Lundehund’s remarkable physical features, such as their six toes on each foot, flexible joints, and extraordinary neck flexibility, enabled them to navigate the treacherous terrain with ease and perform their hunting tasks efficiently. These agile dogs would scale the cliffs and burrow into the puffin nests, retrieving the birds and eggs without damaging them.

The Norwegian Lundehund’s hunting prowess was highly valued by the local communities that relied on puffins as a source of meat, feathers, and down. The breed’s popularity continued until the mid-20th century when the invention of nets led to a decline in the demand for puffin-hunting dogs. As a result, the number of Lundehunds significantly decreased, and the breed faced the threat of extinction.

Efforts were made to save the Norwegian Lundehund from disappearing. In the 1960s, a small group of dedicated breed enthusiasts, led by Eleanor Christie and Christen Lang in Norway, started a breeding program to revive the population.

They gathered the remaining Lundehunds they could find and began the painstaking process of rebuilding the breed. Their efforts were successful, and the breed gradually increased in numbers, although it remains relatively rare today.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) first recognized the Norwegian Lundehund as a member of the Foundation Stock Service in 2008, a program that maintains records for rare breeds not yet fully recognized by the AKC. The breed was officially added to the AKC’s Non-Sporting Group on July 1, 2010, making it eligible to participate in all AKC-affiliated events and competitions.

In popular culture, the Norwegian Lundehund is often celebrated for its unique physical traits and remarkable agility. These dogs have been featured in various articles, documentaries, and television programs highlighting their extraordinary abilities and intriguing history.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Norwegian Lundehund in the United States is the Norwegian Lundehund Association of America (NLAA). The NLAA was founded in 1993 to preserve, protect, and promote the interests of the breed in the US.

The organization provides valuable resources and support to Lundehund owners, breeders, and enthusiasts while promoting responsible breeding practices and breed education. Visit their official website to learn more about the Norwegian Lundehund Association of America.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. 

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check out the Norwegian Lundehund’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Acquiring

Thinking about welcoming a Norwegian Lundehund into your life? Start by preparing a warm bed, quality food, stimulating toys, grooming essentials for their dense coat, and finding a good vet.

If you’re considering buying, remember to opt for a reputable breeder to ensure your new friend is healthy and happy. But have you thought about rescue? Many Norwegian Lundehunds are in shelters, waiting for a loving home. The American Kennel Club and the Norwegian Lundehund Association of America can guide you through this rewarding journey.

Whether you adopt or buy, you’re gaining more than a pet. You’re inviting a playful, agile companion into your life. With a Norwegian Lundehund, every day is an adventure filled with fun, love, and plenty of unique antics!

FAQs

What is special about the Norwegian Lundehund dog breed?

The Norwegian Lundehund is an ancient breed known for its unique physical features, including six toes on each foot, extraordinary neck flexibility, and highly flexible joints. These traits allowed them to excel in their original purpose of hunting puffins and collecting eggs on the rugged cliffs of Norway.

Why do Norwegian Lundehunds have six toes?

The extra toe on each foot provides the Lundehund with exceptional grip and stability, which was essential for navigating the steep cliffs and narrow crevices while hunting puffins. This adaptation is a result of centuries of selective breeding to enhance their climbing abilities.

Are Norwegian Lundehunds the rarest dog breed?

While not the rarest dog breed, Norwegian Lundehunds are considered relatively rare due to their low population numbers. The breed faced near extinction in the mid-20th century, but dedicated breed enthusiasts have worked diligently to revive and maintain the breed.

Are Norwegian Lundehunds good pets?

Yes, Norwegian Lundehunds can make excellent pets for the right family. They are intelligent, agile, and affectionate dogs that form strong bonds with their owners. However, they may require extra patience during training due to their independent nature and stubborn streak. Proper socialization, training, and exercise are essential for a well-behaved Lundehund.

Are Norwegian Lundehunds good with children and other pets?

Generally, Lundehunds are friendly and gentle with children and other pets, especially when properly socialized from a young age. However, it’s important to remember that every dog is an individual, and interactions should always be supervised to ensure the safety and well-being of both the dog and the child or other pets.

How much grooming do Norwegian Lundehunds require?

Lundehunds have a double coat that requires regular grooming to maintain its health and appearance. Weekly brushing is recommended to remove loose hair and prevent matting. Additionally, routine nail trimming, ear cleaning, and dental care are important for maintaining overall hygiene and health.

Are Norwegian Lundehunds suitable for apartment living?

While the Lundehund’s small size makes them adaptable to apartment living, their high energy levels and exercise needs should be considered. As long as they receive adequate daily exercise and mental stimulation, they can adapt well to living in an apartment or smaller living spaces.

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