Norrbottenspets: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Three Norrbottenspets on leashes outside

Klorinth / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

The Norrbottenspets is a small to medium-size spitz-type dog breed from Sweden with a short, dense double coat that typically comes in white with colored markings. Also known as the Nordic spitz, this dog has a wedge-shaped head with upright ears and almond-shaped eyes. And its tail is carried high, curving over its back. Overall, it is a compact but muscular, well-balanced, and rugged breed that can withstand rough terrain and climates. It once played an integral role in Scandinavia as a hunting and farm dog. But today it’s primarily an active and affectionate companion animal.

Breed Overview

Group: Miscellaneous

Height: 16.5 to 18 inches

Weight: 20 to 30 pounds

Coat: Short double coat

Coat Color: White with/without orange, fawn, or cream markings, red or tan patches, sable, and/or a black mask

Life Span: 14 to 17 years

Temperament: Active, affectionate, fearless

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: Sweden

Characteristics of the Norrbottenspets

The Norrbottenspets generally has an attentive and sweet temperament. It’s loving with its owners but not always tolerant of children. High energy also helps to shape this dog’s personality, and it prefers an active household.

Affection Level High
Friendliness Medium
Kid-Friendly Medium
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness Medium
Energy Level High
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark Medium
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Norrbottenspets

Spitz-type dogs have existed in various forms in Scandinavia for centuries. The Norrbottenspets’ origin is unclear. But its name essentially means spitz from Norrbotten, a Swedish province. Its ancestors likely existed in the region for hundreds if not thousands of years when semi-wild dogs would serve as hunting companions for the people there. 

Hunting for both food and fur was a necessity in this area for a long time. However, the demand for fur dropped after World War II, and the Norrbottenspets breed all but vanished as it was no longer needed for hunting. The remaining purebred dogs were located in Sweden and Finland, and breeding programs ensued to preserve the breed. 

The American Kennel Club admitted the Norrbottenspets into its Foundation Stock Service, which helps to monitor breeding, in 2007. And it is now grouped in the AKC’s miscellaneous class. It still is quite uncommon in Scandinavia and very rare elsewhere. 

Norrbottenspets Care

Plan to spend a good amount of time each day exercising your Norrbottenspets. Grooming needs for this dog are fairly straightforward. And it generally takes well to training.


Aim for at least an hour or two of exercise for this bright and energetic dog every day. Brisk walks, jogging, hiking, swimming, and vigorous games of fetch all are ideal activities. Plus, dog sports, such as agility and rally, can help to challenge your dog mentally as well as physically. If it doesn’t receive enough mental stimulation and physical activity, the Norrbottenspets might become destructive, engaging in unwanted chewing or other disruptive behaviors. 

Furthermore, always keep your dog on a leash or in a securely fenced area when outdoors. Otherwise, this breed’s prey drive might cause it to run off chasing small animals or other perceived prey.


Brush your dog weekly to remove loose fur and any dirt. And expect periods of higher shedding, often when the weather changes in the spring and fall. You’ll likely have to brush at least a few times per week to keep up with the loose fur during these times. 

Bathe your dog roughly once a month, depending on how dirty it gets. This breed is known for a clean coat with minimal odor. Check your dog’s ears at least weekly to see whether they need cleaning. Trim its nails every month or so. And try to brush its teeth every day.


Start training and socialization from as young of an age as possible to instill good manners and prevent bad habits. The intelligent Norrbottenspets generally does very well with positive-reinforcement training methods; avoid using harsh corrections. Also, try to make training sessions fun and varied to hold your dog’s attention. 

This breed can be somewhat reserved around strangers. So aim to expose it to different people and other dogs from an early age. Having lots of positive experiences can help to curb some of its wariness.

white Norrbottenspets with orange patches standing outside
Klorinth / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Young Norrbottenspets sitting outside off leash in an orange harness
 Yhelfman / iStock / Getty Images
Close-up of head of a Norrbottenspets
 Paul Bellah / EyeEm / Getty Images

Common Health Problems

Little is documented regarding the health of the Norrbottenspets. But with such a small population breeding is tightly controlled. As a result, the breed is overall very healthy with no known hereditary health issues. Still, these dogs can experience age-related health issues just like any dog.

Diet and Nutrition

Always have fresh water accessible for your Norrbottenspets. And feed it a quality canine diet with balanced nutrition, typically via two measured meals per day. Discuss both the type of food and the amount with your vet to make sure you’re meeting your dog’s individual needs. Nutritional requirements can vary based on age, activity level, and other factors. Moreover, use good judgment when it comes to treats and other extra food; don’t be talked into overfeeding by a persistent beggar.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Norrbottenspets

Finding a Norrbottenspets will likely be a tough task. This breed was once on the brink of extinction, and its numbers are still limited. Even so, it’s worth checking local animal shelters and rescue groups and getting your name on a breed wait list if possible. Responsible breeders also are generally few and far between. For a puppy from a reputable breeder, expect to pay around $2,000 to $3,000 on average and to wait some time for a puppy to become available.

For further information to help you find a Norrbottenspets, check out:

Norrbottenspets Overview

  • Typically affectionate with family

  • Generally very healthy

  • Good for active owners

  • Very rare and thus can be difficult to find

  • Needs ample exercise and mental stimulation

  • Can have a high prey drive

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

As with any breed, do thorough research before bringing home a Norrbottenspets to make sure it’s right for your lifestyle. Talk to breed owners, rescue organizations, reputable breeders, and veterinary professionals to learn more.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

  • Are Norrbottenspets rare?

    The Norrbottenspets is rare, especially outside of Scandinavia. The breed nearly went extinct during the 1900s, but its numbers are slowly climbing back up.

  • Are Norrbottenspets good family dogs?

    The Norrbottenspets can be a good dog for families with respectful older children. However, it's not always tolerant of young children.

  • Are Norrbottenspets aggressive?

    The Norrbottenspets is moderately reserved around strangers and other dogs. However, with proper training and socialization, it is generally not an aggressive dog.

The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Norrbottenspets. American Kennel Club.

  2. Norrbottenspets. Dog Breeds List.