Norwegian Lundehund

Norwegian Lundehund Standing in Grass

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

Norwegian Lundehund Standing Outdoors

Eva Maria Kramer, Animal Photography

Two Norwegian Lundehund Dogs

Sally Anne Thompson, Animal Photography

  • Breed Group: Non-Sporting
  • Height: 12 to 15 inches at the shoulder
  • Weight: 13 to 16 pounds
  • Life Span: 6 to 8 years

This odd bird, er, dog is an energetic contortionist with a complex personality. He has the look of a typical Spitz breed — prick ears, wedge-shaped head and furry tail that curves over his back. His double coat ranges from beige to tan to reddish brown with black hair tips and white markings or white with red or dark markings.

Breed Characteristics

Adaptability
How easily a dog deals with change.
4 stars Dog Friendly
Tendency to enjoy or tolerate other dogs.
3 stars Shedding Level
Amount and frequency of dog hair shedding.
3 stars
Affection Level
Amount of warmth or friendliness displayed.
3 stars Exercise Needs
Level of daily activity needed.
5 stars Social Needs
Preferred amount of interaction with other pets and humans.
4 stars
Apartment Friendly
Factors such as dog size and his tendency to make noise.
1 star Grooming
Amount of bathing, brushing, even professional grooming needed.
3 stars Stranger Friendly
Tendency to be welcoming to new people.
2 stars
Barking Tendencies
Breed's level of vocalization.
2 stars Health Issues
Level of health issues a breed tends to have.
3 stars Territorial
A dog's inclination to be protective of his home, yard or even car.
3 stars
Cat Friendly
Tendency toward a tolerance for cats and a lower prey drive.
2 stars Intelligence
A dog's thinking and problem-solving ability (not trainability).
5 stars Trainability
Level of ease in learning something new and a willingness to try new things.
3 stars
Child Friendly
Dogs that tend to be more sturdy, playful and easygoing around children and more tolerant of children's behavior.
3 stars Playfulness
How lighthearted and spirited a dog tends to be.
4 stars Watchdog Ability
A breed that is likely to alert you to the presence of strangers.
4 stars
  1. Adaptability
    How easily a dog deals with change.
    4 stars
  2. Affection Level
    Amount of warmth or friendliness displayed.
    3 stars
  3. Apartment Friendly
    Factors such as dog size and his tendency to make noise.
    1 star
  4. Barking Tendencies
    Breed's level of vocalization.
    2 stars
  5. Cat Friendly
    Tendency toward a tolerance for cats and a lower prey drive.
    2 stars
  6. Child Friendly
    Dogs that tend to be more sturdy, playful and easygoing around children and more tolerant of children's behavior.
    3 stars
  7. Dog Friendly
    Tendency to enjoy or tolerate other dogs.
    3 stars
  8. Exercise Needs
    Level of daily activity needed.
    5 stars
  9. Grooming
    Amount of bathing, brushing, even professional grooming needed.
    3 stars
  10. Health Issues
    Level of health issues a breed tends to have.
    3 stars
  11. Intelligence
    A dog's thinking and problem-solving ability (not trainability).
    5 stars
  12. Playfulness
    How lighthearted and spirited a dog tends to be.
    4 stars
  13. Shedding Level
    Amount and frequency of dog hair shedding.
    3 stars
  14. Social Needs
    Preferred amount of interaction with other pets and humans.
    4 stars
  15. Stranger Friendly
    Tendency to be welcoming to new people.
    2 stars
  16. Territorial
    A dog's inclination to be protective of his home, yard or even car.
    3 stars
  17. Trainability
    Level of ease in learning something new and a willingness to try new things.
    3 stars
  18. Watchdog Ability
    A breed that is likely to alert you to the presence of strangers.
    4 stars

Did You Know?

The Norwegian Lundehund is also known as the Norwegian puffin dog.

Peculiar is a good way to describe the Norwegian Lundehund. Some might even call him freakish. Also known as the “puffin dog” (which is what his name means in Norwegian), he has six toes on each foot, with the toes on the front legs being triple- or double-jointed; his natural stance is east-west, with forelegs that turn outward at a 90-degree angle; and his head bends back so far that he can almost touch his back with it. Flexible shoulders permit his front legs to extend flat to the sides, and his prick ears can close and fold forward or backward.

Why all the weird characteristics? The Lundehund’s original purpose was to climb cliffs on Norwegian islands and retrieve live puffins. His structure allows him to grip, climb, descend and squeeze into small crevices. The Lundehund sounds like a fun and interesting dog, for sure, but he has a complex personality and energy to spare.

Most Lundehunds are fun loving and curious. Their unusual anatomy makes them capable of investigating small and hard-to-reach places that most would not expect a dog to be able to go. It’s important to be hyperaware of where a Lundehund might think to investigate and make sure those places are inaccessible if they could be dangerous.

Don’t be surprised to find your Lundehund contorted into some odd position or making his way through anything that resembles a crevice. Just be sure he can’t climb or jump over or dig beneath your fence. Speaking of digging, Lundehunds are expert excavators. In a matter of minutes, they can dig a hole large enough for them to climb into.

Not surprisingly, this breed tends to be athletic and agile. The Lundehund’s ability to turn on a dime makes him a natural at agility and flyball, and most of them are also good at other dog sports. He’ll need long walks or other forms of active play to satisfy his exercise needs. Give him a minimum of two half-hour walks, one-on-one playtimes or other activity daily.

The Lundehund is best suited to an experienced dog owner who lives in a home with a safely fenced yard — not an electric fence. A consistently exercised Lundehund is less likely to get into trouble at home.

The best thing about living with a Lundehund is his generally happy and agreeable personality. Living with him can require major modifications to your lifestyle and home environment, however, as well as a strong likelihood of frequent veterinary visits and a short life span. Consider carefully before acquiring one of these unusual dogs.

Other Quick Facts

  • The Norwegian Lundehund’s thick coat is fallow (pale brown) to reddish brown to tan with black-tipped hairs and white markings or white with red or dark markings.
  • Lundehund vocalizations include barks, yodels and howls, with the occasional scream thrown in. It can be unsettling until you get used to it.
  • The Lundehund’s unusual anatomy makes him capable of getting into hard-to-reach places that most would not expect a dog to be able to go.
  • Lundehunds often enjoy collecting shiny objects and hiding them.

Next: History ›

The History of Norwegian Lundehunds

The Lundehund is a rare breed with a history that is as interesting as the dog himself. He hails from remote islands off the coast of Norway, where his job was to climb cliffs in search of puffins and bring them back to his owner. The dogs’ unusual physical characteristics helped them scale cliffs, wriggle into or turn around inside narrow crevices and arrest falls, in much the same way rock climbers use pitons or ice axes.

The first Lundehunds in North America arrived in Canada in 1960. Paul Ross imported the first Lundehund to the United States in 1987, and The Norwegian Lundehund Club of America was formed in 1988. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed as a member of the Non-Sporting Group in 2011.

‹ Previous: Overview

Norwegian Lundehund Temperament and Personality

This small Spitz breed is alert, energetic, loyal and protective. With his own family, he is generally outgoing and happy-go-lucky, but he tends to be wary of strangers. Combined with his alert nature, that natural wariness can make him an excellent watchdog, although he is typically not aggressive toward people. Socialize him early and often to help ensure that he doesn’t become shy. He’s usually a good playmate for older, active children, but he may not be the best choice for families with toddlers, because he may be unwilling to put up with having his ears or tail pulled or his head patted hard. In the right home, though, with appropriate supervision, he can generally be a good companion for all ages.

A Lundehund can be a bit of a pack rat: He often enjoys collecting shiny objects and hiding them. He’ll also stash food for late-night snacks. Don’t be surprised to find kibble or other treats beneath your sofa cushions, inside your shoes or under your pillow.

Be aware that the Lundehund is hard — some even say impossible — to housetrain and loves to bark. Both of these characteristics can make him difficult to own. He’s definitely not suited to apartment or condo life unless you will be there all the time to remind him to stay quiet. He usually gets along with other dogs and cats if raised with them, but in general, it’s not a good idea for him to have access to furry pets, small caged animals or pet birds. He can and will break into cages, and he is a fierce hunter outdoors.

The Lundehund is an independent thinker and can be stubborn. Train him with positive reinforcement techniques such as play, praise and food rewards. Lundehunds are responsive to tone of voice, so a firm vocal correction should get his attention. All family members must be consistent in what they ask of the Lundehund. Keep training sessions short and fun so he doesn’t get bored.

No matter when you get him, start training your Lundehund puppy the day you bring him home. He is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like the one for kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until the puppy series of vaccinations (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until his puppy vaccinations are completed.

Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see their puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality.

The perfect Norwegian Lundehund doesn’t spring fully formed from the whelping box. He’s a product of his background and breeding. Look for a puppy whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from an early age.

Last but not least, a people-loving dog like the Lundehund needs to live in the house. It’s an unhappy Lundehund who is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship.

‹ Previous: History
Next: Health ›

What You Need to Know About Norwegian Lundehund Health

All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on her puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

A condition called Lundehund syndrome affects all members of the breed to some degree. Lundehund syndrome is a collective term for a group of intestinal disorders. It is an unpredictable condition, and dogs with it may have few signs of the disease or major problems. In rare cases, it can be managed with diet, but you shouldn’t count on this. Debby Morris, health director for The Norwegian Lundehund Club of America, says owners must be prepared to be health advocates for their dogs. Be sure you understand the potential for problems by discussing this potentially deadly disease with the breeder and your veterinarian. Educating yourself about the disease will help you be informed and participate in decisions about your dog.

Look for a Norwegian Lundehund breeder who participates in the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC), a health database. Before an individual Lundehund can be issued a CHIC number, the breeder or owner must submit a knee clearance and eye test results from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and a blood sample for storage in the OFA/CHIC DNA repository.

Breeders must agree to have all test results, positive or negative, published in the CHIC database. A dog need not receive good or even passing scores on the evaluations to obtain a CHIC number, so CHIC registration alone is not proof of soundness or absence of disease, but all test results are posted on the CHIC website and can be accessed by anyone who wants to check the health of a puppy’s parents.

Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy develops one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in many cases, the dogs can still live good lives. If you’re getting a puppy, ask the breeder about the ages of the dogs in her lines and what they died of.

If a breeder tells you she doesn’t need to do those tests because she’s never had problems in her lines, that her dogs have been vet checked or gives any other excuses for skimping on the genetic testing of dogs, walk away immediately.

Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the more common canine health problems: obesity. Keeping a Lundehund at an appropriate weight is one of the easier ways to extend his life.

‹ Previous: Personality
Next: Grooming ›

The Basics of Norwegian Lundehund Grooming

This is a Northern or Spitz breed with an undercoat that sheds heavily twice a year. He also sheds small amounts daily.

Brush the Lundehund’s double coat once a week to keep it clean and remove loose hair. During spring and fall shedding seasons, daily brushing will help keep hair under control.

The rest is basic care. Trim the nails every 3 to 4 weeks or as needed. You may also want to clip the tufts of hair between the toes, but other than that, the coat needs no trimming. Brush the teeth often — with a vet-approved pet toothpaste — for good overall health and fresh breath, and keep the ears clean.

‹ Previous: Health
Next: Finding ›

Finding a Norwegian Lundehund

Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.

Choosing a Norwegian Lundehund Breeder

Finding a good breeder is a great way to find the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy and will, without question, have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. She is more interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks. Lundehund pups usually sell for $500 to $1,000, although these prices can vary.

Good breeders welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances and what the dogs are like to live with, and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes to avoid those problems.

Run from any breeder who does not volunteer information about Lundehund syndrome or who glosses over the disease, saying that if you watch the dog’s diet, you will be fine. Honest breeders do not minimize the impact of Lundehund syndrome on the breed.

Start your search at the website of the breed clubs: the American Norwegian Lundehund Club (UKC) and The Norwegian Lundehund Club of America (AKC). They can refer you to breeders and provide tips on finding a healthy puppy. Ask to see the clubs’ codes of ethics, too. These should state that reputable breeders do not sell puppies to or through pet stores.

Look for a breeder who is active in her national breed club and a local club, too, if possible. She should regularly participate with her dogs in some form of organized canine activities, such as conformation showing, obedience or other dog sports. She should sell her puppies with written contracts guaranteeing she’ll take the dogs back if at any time during their lives the owners cannot keep them.

Ask the breeder to provide you with documentation that your prospective puppy’s parents were cleared for health problems in the breed and have results registered with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or Canine Health Information Center (CHIC).

Avoid breeders who seem interested only in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from a website that offers to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money and frustration in the long run.

The Lundehund is a rare breed. It’s likely that your pup will have to be shipped to you unless you can travel to the breeder’s home to pick him up. Factor in that expense when you are considering whether to acquire one.

Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Quickie online purchases are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.

Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store or another source, don’t forget the adage “let the buyer beware.” Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100 percent guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the breed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals) and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, breed rescue organization or other reliable source for healthy puppies. 

And before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Lundehund might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams. An adult Lundehund, if one is available, may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health. You can find adult dogs to adopt through breeders or possibly shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home.

If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.

Adopting a Dog From a Norwegian Lundehund Rescue Group or Shelter

The Lundehund is a rare breed and few are available in this country. It is unlikely that you will find one in a shelter or through a rescue group. If you want to search, though, here’s how to get started.

1. Use the Web

Sites like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com can have you searching for a Lundehund in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Lundehunds available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter.org can help you find animal rescue groups in your area.

Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.

2. Reach Out to Local Experts

Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Lundehund. That includes vets, dog walkers and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.

3. Talk to Breed Rescue

Most people who love Lundehunds love all Lundehunds. That’s why breed clubs have rescue organizations devoted to taking care of homeless dogs. The Lundehund is a rare breed, so few dogs are available through rescue, but The Norwegian Lundehund Club of America and American Norwegian Lundehund Club may have rescue groups that work to place dogs when they are in need of new homes.

The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a Lundehund home for a trial to see what the experience is like.

4. Key Questions to Ask

You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a pup. These include:

  • What is his energy level?
  • How is he around other animals?
  • How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors and children?
  • What is his personality like?
  • What is his age?
  • Is he housetrained?
  • Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
  • Are there any known health issues?

Wherever you acquire your Lundehund, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopter’s Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Puppy or adult, breeder purchase or adoption, take your Lundehund to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.

‹ Previous: Grooming

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