Norwegian Buhund: Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

norwegian buhund dog

By Anonymous - Own work, Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

The Norwegian Buhund is a hardy, medium-sized, Nordic spitz breed that hails from Scandinavia. “Spitz” breeds, also called Northern breeds, are a type of dog indigenous to mostly cold and snowy regions. Like most spitz breeds, Norwegian Buhunds have thick double coats, wedged-shaped heads, upright triangular ears, and long tails that curl up and over the back. They come in two colors: wheaten (a wide range of tan hues) and black.

Norwegian Buhunds are gentle, cheery and very affectionate. The breed is loving and devoted to their families, including respectful children and other pets when raised together. Breed fanciers report that the breed is fun and full of character. Norwegian Buhunds tend to “sound the alarm” by barking if they hear or sense anything strange afoot, making them good watch dogs, although neighbors might not love this.

Breed Overview

Group: Herding
Height: 16 to 18.5 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight: 26 to 40 pounds
Coat and Color: A thick, hard and smooth-lying outercoat, with a soft and dense undercoat. The coat is longer on the neck, chest and back of the thighs. The two colors are wheaten (ranges from pale cream to bright orange) or black.

Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Characteristics of the Norwegian Buhund

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

History of the Norwegian Buhund

The Norwegian Buhund is an ancient breed that has been around since before the time of the Vikings, and it’s likely that Norwegian Buhunds were even kept by Vikings. According to the Norwegian Buhund Club of America, during the Gokstad Viking ship excavation in Norway, skeletons from six dogs resembling modern-day Norwegian Buhunds were found.

Norwegian Buhunds were used as versatile farm dogs, herding sheep and cattle, and guarding their families, flocks and homes. In fact, the name “Buhund” translates to “farm dog” in Norwegian. Although ancestors the Norwegian Buhund were around for many centuries, the breed as it appears today was cultivated in the western coastland area of Norway. The first Norwegian Buhund dog show took place in Norway in 1920, and the Norsk Buhund Club formed in 1939. Today in Norway, the breed is still used for its original purpose as a working farm dog. 

Norwegian Buhund Care

The Norwegian Buhund’s natural, easy-care coat is sheds moderately. The coat naturally repels dirt, so it stays clean and relatively odorless, making the breed a wonderful house pet. The Norwegian Buhund’s coat requires no trimming, but thorough brushing several times a week helps cut down on shedding. Once or twice a year your Norwegian Buhund will “blow coat”—a term used to describe the heavy seasonal shedding periods where the dog drops much of the undercoat. During these times, brush daily to remove as much loose undercoat as you can. Trim your Norwegian Buhund's nails weekly and check and clean the ears as needed with a pet-safe ear cleaner. 

The Norwegian Buhund is a medium-sized, sturdy dog with the strength, stamina and energy to work all day long. It is not surprising then that the Norwegian Buhund requires lots of exercise to keep him content and well-mannered in the home. Long walks, jogging, hiking and games of fetch are good exercise options for Norwegian Buhunds. It’s not enough to only exercise the Norwegian Buhund’s body—providing lots of mental stimulation is key. Without both exercise and mental stimulation, a Norwegian Buhund might just find his own ways to have a good time—and you might not like his idea of fun. The active, agile and intelligent Norwegian Buhund will be eager to take it up a notch with competitive dog sports like agility, herding and tracking. At the end of a long and action-packed day, most Norwegian Buhunds love to flop at your feet and relax.

Norwegian Buhunds are intelligent, but they can be challenging to train. Although they do want to please you, they are also independent thinkers and can easily lose focus. Fun, positive methods like clicker training with lots of tasty treats work best. Like all puppies, Norwegian Buhunds benefit from early and frequent training and socialization. The key to bringing out the best in your Norwegian Buhund is lots of consistency showing what you expect of them starting from the day you bring them home.

Common Health Problems

The Norwegian Buhund is a relatively healthy breed for the most part. However, like most purebred dogs, the Norwegian Buhund has certain hereditary health conditions in its background, including hip dysplasia, eye disease and von Willebrand’s disease (a bleeding disorder). Reputable breeders test their adult Norwegian Buhunds for these issues before breeding them to avoid passing on these problems. When buying a Norwegian Buhund puppy from a breeder, ask to see paperwork that shows the results of these tests. 

Diet and Nutrition

Feed your adult Norwegian Buhund measured meals on a morning and evening schedule (puppies should eat three or four small meals per day). Use a measuring cup or scale to ensure you are feeding the correct amounts. Free feeding (leaving food out all day) can cause weight gain, which can contribute to hip dysplasia and other health problems like diabetes. If you’re not sure what kind of food to feed or how much to feed your Norwegian Buhund, talk to your veterinarian or breeder.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

The Norwegian Buhund is a charming family-friendly breed. Norwegian Buhunds want to be with their people, and thrive when provided with ample daily exercise, mental stimulation and attention. The breed is rare, so it can be challenging to find a puppy or even an adult Norwegian Buhund. If you’re wondering where to start looking, the national breed club, the Norwegian Buhund Club of America, maintains a list of approved breeders on its website. If you like the Norwegian Buhund, you might also like these breeds: 

Otherwise, check out all of our other dog breed articles to help you find the perfect dog for you and your family.