For centuries Lundehunds were bred on Vaeroy, a remote and rocky island off the Norwegian coast. Puffins nest in crevices in the island’s cliff walls. Islanders depended on pickled puffin meat to sustain them through long Arctic winters, and the strong, flexible Lundehund was the only way to reach them.
These compact puffin dogs would climb the sheer rock walls, worm their way into tiny passages, and snatch the birds. Then they’d skid down the cliffs, with the squawking, flapping prize in their mouth. With puffins now a protected species, today’s Lundehund is a friendly, athletic companion.
Norwegian Lundehund Appearance
Norwegian Lundehunds are 12 to 15 inches tall and weigh 20 to 30 pounds. They are a spitz-type dog with triangular ears, curving tail, and a dense double coat. They have feet with at least six fully functioning toes and extra paw pads, an “elastic neck” that can crane back so the head touches the spine, and finally, the ears close and fold forward or backward to protect from debris.
The Norwegian Lundehund has a low-maintenance double coat, with a harsh outer coat and a dense, soft undercoat. The coat is short on the head and front of the legs, longer and thicker around the neck and back of thighs. Their coloring includes pale brown to reddish brown to tan with black hair tips and white markings or white with red or dark markings. A weekly brushing helps remove dirt and loose hair and keeps the dog looking his best.
Norwegian Lundehunds’ life expectancy is 12 to 15 years. A Lundehund is alert, very energetic, loyal and protective. He can be wary of strangers but never aggressive toward people. Cheerful, inquisitive, and mischievous, this is a dog who needs close supervision to keep him out of trouble. He’s a primitive breed who’s difficult to housetrain and loves to bark and dig. Provide him with plenty of early socialization to prevent shyness and noise sensitivity.
With his own family, he is generally outgoing and happy-go-lucky, but he tends to be wary of strangers. Combined with his alert nature, that natural wariness can make him an excellent watchdog, although he is typically not aggressive toward people.
He’s usually a good playmate for older, active children, but he may not be the best choice for families with toddlers, because he may be unwilling to put up with having his ears or tail pulled or his head patted hard. He usually gets along with other dogs and cats if raised with them, but in general, it’s not a good idea for him to have access to furry pets, small caged animals or pet birds. He can and will break into cages, and he is a fierce hunter outdoors.
A Lundehund can be a bit of a pack rat. He often enjoys collecting shiny objects and hiding them. He’ll also stash food for late-night snacks. Don’t be surprised to find kibble or other treats beneath your sofa cushions, inside your shoes or under your pillow.
Caring for a Norwegian Lundehund
Next, we’ll go into how you should care for a Norwegian Lundehund.
The Norwegian Lundehund should do well on high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to becoming overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
The Norwegian Lundehund has a medium to high energy level and is happiest when he has the opportunity to engage in some form of physical exercise on a daily basis. The Lundehund’s ability to turn on a dime makes him a natural at agility and flyball, and most of them are also good at other dog sports. He’ll need long walks or other forms of active play to satisfy his exercise needs. Give him a minimum of two 30 minute walks, one-on-one playtimes or other activity daily. A consistently exercised Lundehund is less likely to get into trouble at home.
The Lundehund is an independent thinker and can be stubborn. They are also very sensitive and can develop trust issues, so harsh training methods should never be used. Train him with positive reinforcement techniques such as play, praise and food rewards. They are responsive to tone of voice, so a firm vocal correction should get his attention. Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended and help to ensure that the dog grows into a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion. All family members must be consistent in what they ask of the Lundehund. Keep training sessions short and fun so he doesn’t get bored.
A condition called Lundehund syndrome affects all members of the Norwegian Lundehunds to some degree. Lundehund syndrome is a collective term for a group of intestinal disorders. It is an unpredictable condition, and dogs with it may have few signs of the disease or major problems. In rare cases, it can be managed with diet, but you shouldn’t count on this. Keeping a Lundehund at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life.
The teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs. Cleaning the dog’s teeth regularly is very important to avoid dental disease. It starts with tartar build-up on the teeth and progresses to infection of the gums and roots of the teeth. If you don’t prevent or treat dental disease, the dog loses teeth and can be in danger of damaging her kidneys, liver, heart, and joints.
The ears should be regularly inspected and cleaned if needed with a soft rag or cotton balls. Never use cotton swabs as they may damage the ear canal. The nails should be trimmed often if not worn down naturally, as overly long nails can cause the dog discomfort and problems walking and running.
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Norwegian Lundehund Association of America