Norwegian Lundehund

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Norwegian Lundehund
A Norwegian Lundehund
Other names
  • Norsk Lundehund
  • Norwegian Puffin Dog
Common nicknamesLundehund
Height 30–40 centimetres (12–16 in)
Weight 6–7 kilograms (13–15 lb)
Kennel club standards
FCI standard
Dog (domestic dog)

The Norwegian Lundehund (Norsk lundehund) is a small dog breed of the Spitz type that originates from Norway. Its name is a compound noun composed of the elements lunde, meaning puffin (Norwegian lunde, "puffin", or lundefugl, "puffin bird"), and hund, meaning dog. The breed was originally developed for the hunting of puffins and their eggs on inaccessible nesting places on cliffs and in caves.


The Lundehund has six toes

The Norwegian Lundehund is a small, rectangular Spitz type dog. The Lundehund has a great range of motion in its joints, allowing it to fit into and extricate itself from narrow passages. Dogs of this breed are able to bend their head backwards along their own spine and turn their forelegs to the side at a 90-degree horizontal angle to their body, much like human arms. Their pricked, upright ears can be folded shut to form a near-tight seal by folding forward or backward.

The Norwegian Lundehund is a polydactyl: instead of the normal four toes per foot, the Lundehund normally has six toes, all fully formed, jointed and muscled. Some specimens may on occasion have more or fewer than six toes per foot, but this is then outside the breed standard.

The outercoat is dense and rough with a soft undercoat. The Lundehund is adapted to climb narrow cliff paths in Værøy where it originally would have hunted puffins. Some general information can be found on the Norwegian Lundehund Association webpages [1]


The Lundehund was a valuable working animal, essential in hunting puffin birds along the Norwegian coast for food as well as the commercial export of puffin down from the Viking Age through the 16th and 17th centuries. Its flexibility and extra toes were ideal for hunting the birds in their inaccessible nesting locations on cliffs and in caves. Interest for the breed declined when new methods for hunting puffins were incorporated and a dog tax was created. Around 1900, they were only found in the isolated village of Mostad (spelled Måstad in Norwegian), Lofoten. The breed was nearly extinct around World War II when canine distemper struck Værøy and the surrounding islands. In 1963, the population was further decimated by another outbreak of distemper. This time, only six dogs survived, one on Værøy and five in southern Norway, Hamar. The latter five were from the same mother. This created a population bottleneck. Due to careful breeding with strict guidelines, there are now an estimated 1400 dogs in the world (2010), with around 600 of the population in Norway and ~350 in the United States.

The breed is being tested in Tromsø airport by the Norwegian Air Traffic and Airport Management as a solution to airplane bird strikes. The dog is used to search for bird eggs around the airport for disposal.

Height: 30–40 centimetres (12–16 in). Weight: 6–7 kilograms (13–15 lb); there is no weight range in the American Kennel Club breed standard. The Norwegian Lundehund Association of America, Inc. is recognized by the AKC as the Breed Parent Club for the USA.[2]


A minor issue with the Lundehund is gastroenteropathy which is a set of digestive disorders, and a loss of ability to absorb nutrients from food.[3] In extreme cases the dog can starve due to its inability to derive nutrients and protein from food, regardless of food intake. It is uncertain if genetics play a role in this illness, since not every Lundehund is severely afflicted and some are symptom free. There is no cure, though the disease can be managed.[4] There are indications that for the Lundehund to go on a low fat and higher protein diet has very positive effects on the health with respect to digestive problems.

Primarily the breed suffers from a very high level of inbreeding. This leads to low fertility, short lifespans, and high puppy mortality. The breed was threatened by extinction and is now undergoing a crossbreeding program spearheaded by the Norwegian Lundehund club with assistance from a group of geneticists. The program aims to employ a strategy of breeding the Norwegian Lundehund with various other Nordic dog breeds in order to reduce deleterious recessive genetic disorders[5].

AKC recognition[edit]

The Norwegian Lundehund was approved into the American Kennel Club's Non-Sporting Group on July 1, 2008, after a unanimous vote by the AKC Board of Directors on November 13, 2007.[6] The Lundehund made its AKC conformation debut at the Roaring Fork Kennel Club show in Eagle, Colorado on July 12, 2008.[7] It made its introductory premier at a major US event at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in Long Beach, California, on December 13 and 14, 2008.

On February 12, 2010, the Board of Directors of the American Kennel Club voted to accept the Norwegian Lundehund into the AKC stud book on December 1, 2010. On January 1, 2011, it became a part of the Non-Sporting Group.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "General Brochure in English on Lundehund.pdf" (PDF).
  2. ^ "NLAAINC introduction page". Norwegian Lundehund Association of America, Inc.
  3. ^ "Microsoft Word - 454D7379-0C1F-28660E.doc" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 24, 2011. Retrieved April 13, 2011.
  4. ^ "health". Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved April 13, 2011.
  5. ^ Beuchat, Carol. "Saving the Norwegian Lundehund: an update from Milo". Institute of Canine Biology. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Norwegian Lundehund: Did You Know". American Kennel Club. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  7. ^ "Jack Onofrio Dog Shows – Breed Counts". July 12, 2008. Retrieved April 13, 2011.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]