Norwegian Lundehund: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

A Norwegian lundehund standing on grass

CaptureLight / Getty Images

The Norwegian lundehund is a small-medium non-sporting dog breed from Norway with a short but dense double coat that’s slightly thicker around the neck and thighs. This rare dog breed has some interesting physical attributes. It features at least six toes per foot, as well as elongated paw pads. Its neck can bend all the way back, so its head touches its spine. Its triangular ears can fold shut to block debris. And its shoulders are flexible enough to allow the legs to stretch out perpendicularly to each side of the body. All of these traits helped the dog do what it was bred for: hunting puffins on rocky cliffs. 

These dogs are typically energetic, happy, and loyal, but they aren't ideal for the novice dog owner. They can be independent, stubborn, and wary of strangers.

Breed Overview

Group: Non-Sporting

Height: 12 to 14 inches (female), 13 to 15 inches (male)

Weight: 20 to 30 pounds

Coat: Short double coat

Coat Color: Black, gray, reddish brown, sable and white, white, or yellow with/without white, gray, and/or black markings and/or black tips

Life Span: 12 to 15 years

Temperament: Active, companionable, alert

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: Norway

Characteristics of the Norwegian Lundehund

The Norwegian lundehund generally has an alert but friendly temperament. It typically doesn’t have an overly affectionate personality. But it does enjoy being active with its owner.

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

History of the Norwegian Lundehund

The Norwegian lundehund’s exact origin is unclear. The breed has been found in Lofoten, an archipelago of Norway, for centuries. These dogs were very important to the residents and local economy, as they could scale the rocky cliffs to catch puffins that were nesting there. (Lunde means puffin in Norwegian, and hund means dog.) 

Households kept multiple lundehunds for hunting purposes. But when bird nets began to replace them, the breed’s numbers declined. Then, around World War II, the canine distemper virus almost caused the breed to go extinct. But people managed to gather the few lundehunds left to preserve the breed.

The Norwegian lundehund is still rare today. It entered the American Kennel Club’s foundation stock service, which helps to preserve breed standards, in 1996. The AKC recognized it as an official breed in 2011.

Norwegian Lundehund Care

Norwegian lundehunds are athletes, but they don't require an excessive amount of daily exercise. Their grooming is also relatively low-maintenance. It's essential, however, that owners put some effort into training and socialization, so they develop into well-mannered dogs.


Plan to give your dog at least one to two hours per day of exercise via walks, jogging, hiking, vigorous play, and more. Puzzle toys can help to provide mental challenges. This breed’s athleticism can make it a good candidate for dog sports, including agility. If a lundehund doesn't get enough exercise and mental stimulation each day, it might engage in problem behaviors, such as unwanted chewing.

Moreover, keep your lundehund on a leash or in a securely fenced area when outdoors. Otherwise, its prey drive might cause it to run off chasing perceived prey, and recall might be difficult.


Brush your dog's coat weekly to remove loose fur and prevent matting. Expect periods of higher shedding often in the spring and fall, as the dog loses its undercoat. Brush more frequently, even up to daily, during these times to keep up with all the loose fur. 

Plan on a bath roughly once a month, depending on how dirty your dog gets. The lundehund’s coat typically stays relatively clean. Be sure to check its ears at least weekly for any debris, wax buildup, and irritation. And see whether it’s due for a nail trim every month or so. Plus, aim to brush its teeth daily.


Begin training and socializing your Norwegian lundehund ideally from a young age to make sure it’s a well-adjusted dog. This breed typically does well with positive-reinforcement training methods, such as treats and praise. However, it can be especially sensitive to harsh corrections, shutting down and refusing to learn. In addition, lundehunds tend to be very smart problem-solvers, but they can have an independent and stubborn streak. So it’s important to keep training sessions fun and varied to hold their interest. 

Furthermore, aim to expose your lundehund to other people and dogs from an early age. This breed can be wary of strangers. But having lots of positive experiences should help to boost its comfort and confidence. 

Norwegian lundehund sitting with its mouth open
GlobalP / Getty Images

Common Health Problems

The Norwegian lundehund is a generally healthy breed, but it is prone to some hereditary health issues, including:

Diet and Nutrition

Always have fresh water accessible for your dog. Feed it a quality canine diet with balanced nutrition, typically via two measured meals per day. Because this breed can have a sensitive stomach, you might have to provide a special diet. But you should always consult a vet about any diet changes. 

Where to Adopt or Buy a Norwegian Lundehund

The Norwegian lundehund is a rare breed, so it’s not typical that you would find one available for adoption. But it’s still worth checking animal shelters and rescue groups near you and seeing whether you can get your name on a breed wait list. Likewise, breeders might be difficult to come by, depending on where you live. If you’re looking for a puppy from a responsible breeder, expect to pay around $2,000 to $3,000 on average.

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

Norwegian Lundehund Overview

  • Unique physical features

  • Suited to an owner with an active lifestyle

  • Basic grooming needs

  • Prone to stomach problems

  • Rare and difficult to come by

  • Can be standoffish around strangers

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

As with any dog breed, do thorough research before bringing home a Norwegian lundehund to make sure the breed is right for your lifestyle. Talk to Norwegian lundehund owners, rescue groups, reputable breeders, and veterinary professionals. 

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 Norwegian lundehunds rare?

    The Norwegian lundehund is a rare dog breed around the world. It almost went extinct around the time of World War II, and breeders are still working on rebounding from that.

  • Are Norwegian lundehunds good family dogs?

    In general, well-trained and socialized Norwegian lundehunds are moderately good around kids. They can do well in a household with respectful older children, but they might not be gentle or calm enough for young children.

  • Are Norwegian lundehunds aggressive?

    Norwegian lundehunds can be standoffish around strangers, and they might bark at perceived dangers. But as long as they've had proper training and socialization, this typically does not turn into aggression.

Article Sources
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  1. Norwegian Lundehund. American Kennel Club.

  2. Health and Husbandry. Norwegian Lundehund Association of America.

  3. Norwegian Lundehund. Dog Breeds List.