Norway's Top 6 Dog Breeds

Norwegian Elkhound profile shot with forest in background

Spitz-type breeds make up half of the Norwegian breeds. These are canines that have been bred to survive and work in the extreme cold found in the Arctic Circle. They usually wear heavy, weather-resistant jackets. Hare make up the other half of the Norwegian dogs. With the exception of the elkhound and the buhund, these breeds are rarely seen outside of their original country. Even in Norway, they are difficult to come by.

Consider whether a certain breed is appropriate to your home climate while choosing the ideal dog for you. Heavy-coated dogs can adapt to tropical life, but they will need air conditioning breaks, plenty of water, and shade. You should also expect a lot of shedding. A thin-coated, little dog may also thrive in cold locations, but you'll have to budget for cold-weather clothing and shorter outside walks.

Breed Characteristics

Spitzes are canines that have adapted to the colder temperatures of the Arctic. Their fur is double-coated, and their ears and muzzles are pointed. They are thought to resemble wolves or foxes. Their tail coils or droops often. They shed twice a year, sometimes in bunches. Scent hounds are hunting canines that hunt by following a scent rather than sight. These canines are known for having some of the most sensitive noses among dog breeds. Pendulous ears, which drop low to the ground to sweep odors to the nose, are common.

Here are the top dogs from the Scandinavian country of Norway.

  • 01 of 06

    Norwegian Lundehund standing o grass

    Outside of Norway or the dog show circuit, you'll seldom see a Norwegian lundehund. Even in Norway, finding a lundehund is difficult. On the lonely islands off Norway's coast, this peculiar small spitz-type dog chased puffins ("lunde" in Norwegian) and their eggs. They're high-energy diggers with an acute sense of hunting and prey drive.

    The lunde has two less teeth than the normal dog, indicating that it has a long history. It seems comparable to a 5,000-year-old Russian Varanger dog fossil discovered with the same tooth configuration. The puffin's neck may tilt back to touch its back, allowing it to slip into tight areas to discover puffins and their nests on rocky cliffs. Lundes can also bend their shoulder joints to a 90-degree angle. This adaptability aids them in gaining grip on slick and hilly surfaces.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Non-sporting (AKC)

    Height: 12 to 15 inches

    Weight: 20 to 30 pounds

    Coat and Color: Harsh, short topcoat and dense, soft undercoat; colors range from fallow, tan, and reddish-brown; black hair tips that darken with age and can also have white, white with red, or dark markings; black hair tips that darken with age and can also have white, white with red, or dark markings

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 02 of 06

    The elkhound is the most well-known and well-known of the Norwegian breeds. The breed has a long history, with references to it in Norse mythology and history. They were shepherds and defenders of animals on distant farms in rural, harsh-climate Norway, traveling aboard Viking ships and protected by their thick double-coat.

    Elkhounds thrive in an active household setting where they may burn off a lot of energy. Elkhounds are not velcro dogs. They are devoted to their family yet are autonomous and reserved with outsiders. Preventing children from being too reserved requires early and proper socializing. This breed sheds heavily twice a year, loosing its winter coat (everywhere).

    Breed Overview

    Group: Hound (AKC)

    Height: around 20 inches

    Weight: 48 to 55 pounds

    Coat and Color: Thick, smooth double coat that comes in shades of silver and black

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • 03 of 06

    Hygen Hound

    Hans Fredrik Hygen created the Hygen hound in the 1930s as a high-energy hunting dog that could survive the rigors of arctic terrain without becoming exhausted. This breed likes to roam and may take a lot of training to acquire a dependable recall due to its hunting heritage, tracking ability, and keen sense of smell. This breed may not get along with little fuzzy pets because to its intense prey drive. Hygens are generally affable and sociable with their family, however they might have territorial guarding tendencies. Positive training strategies might help you catch early indicators of resource guarding.

    Even in Norway, the breed is uncommon, therefore finding one in North America would be remarkable. If you appreciate the breed's features, it has a lot in common with other hounds like foxhounds.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Scenthound (UKC), not an AKC-recognized breed

    Height: 18 to 22 inches

    Weight: 45 to 55 pounds

    Short, straight, glossy coat; red-brown or yellow-red with black shading and occasionally white markings; also available in black and tan, white with red-brown, and yellow-red patterns.

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • 04 of 06

    The Norwegian buhund resembles a smaller lundehund, but they have a thicker coat and a curled tail, giving them a more classic spitz appearance. They're also a little more common than lundehunds, and North American breeders may have them.

    The buhund, like the elkhound, arrived on Viking ships as tiny, versatile farm dogs who guarded and herded animals. For daily exercise and mental stimulation, these clever, high-energy, high-stamina canines require more than a stroll through the park. Buhunds may be strong-willed and self-sufficient. They are loyal, sociable, and lively, although they may be bossy and stubborn at times.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Herding (AKC)

    Height: 16 to 18 inches

    Weight: 25 to 40 pounds

    Coat and Color: Thick, short, coarse topcoat; comes in black or wheaten coloring

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Halden Hound

    The Halden hound, like the Hygen hound, is a Norwegian scent dog. They are comparable in size and look to humans and are recognized for being calm, confident, and willing to please. You may have to train hard, like other scent hounds, to develop a solid recall. Haldens have a strong hunting drive and a sharp sense of smell, and they frequently go off on their own. The Halden's short, silky coat does not require as much maintenance as spitz-type Norwegian dogs.

    The Halden, named after a village in southeastern Norway, is the rarest of all Norwegian breeds. Their numbers are extremely low even in Norway, making them a fragile breed on the verge of extinction.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Scenthound (UKC), not an AKC-recognized breed

    Height: 19.5 to 23.5 inches

    Weight: 40 to 55 pounds

    Coat and Color: Double-coated dog with a coarse, thick, straight, and short coat; white with black patches; tan shadings on head and legs, and sometimes between the white and black patches.

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • 06 of 06

    Dunker (Norwegian Hound)

    A Dunker, also known as the Norwegian hound, is a medium-sized scenthound developed by Wilhelm Dunker for rabbit hunting in the early nineteenth century. A Russian harlequin hound was crossed with trustworthy Norwegian scent dogs to create this scenthound. Outside of Norway, it is a rare breed.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Scenthound (UKC); not an AKC-recognized breed

    Height: 18.5 to 21.5 inches

    Weight: 25 to 39 pounds

    Coat and Color: Straight, hard, dense, and not too short, commonly black or blue marbled with pale fawn and white markings

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

Breeds to Avoid

The most important aspect for dogs adapted to living in Norway is the climate. The average temperature is below freezing in the winter and around 65 degrees in the summer. A spitz or a scenthound are good choices for a Norwegian-style dog. Both breeds are hunting and working dogs. Companion lap warmers like Maltese or pugs, thin-coated or hairless hot-weather dogs like Chihuahuas or Xolos, and like French bulldogs or are all non-native to Norway.