Norwegian Lundehund

Temperament: Loyal, Energetic, Alert

  • Height: 13-15 inches (male), 12-14 inches (female)
  • Weight: 20-30 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
  • Group: Non-Sporting Group 

From Norway’s rocky island of Vaeroy, the uniquely constructed Norwegian Lundehund is the only dog breed created for the job of puffin hunting. With puffins now a protected species, today’s Lundehund is a friendly, athletic companion.


The Norwegian Lundehund is a small rectangular and agile Spitz breed with unique characteristics not found in any other breed. Originating on remote islands of arctic Norway, the dog was used to wrestle and retrieve live puffin birds from the crevices of steep vertical cliffs. To enable the dog to climb, descend, and brake on these cliffs, unique structural characteristics have evolved and must be present as they define this breed: a minimum of six toes on each foot and elongated rear foot pads; an elastic neck that allows the head to bend backward to touch the spine, letting the dog turn around in narrow puffin bird caves; and shoulders flexible enough to allow the front legs to extend flat to the side in order to hug the cliffs. This shoulder structure produces a peculiar rotary movement. Finally, the ears close and fold forward or backward to protect from debris. The temperament is alert but not expected to be outgoing toward strangers.

About the Norwegian Lundehund

At a glance, Lundehunds seem a typical northern breed: A Spitz type with triangular ears, curving tail, and a dense double coat. But a closer look reveals several unique traits. 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, ears that fold shut, and flexible shoulders that allow forelegs to extend to the side, perpendicular to the body. This last anomaly produces the breed’s distinctive “rotary” gait.

NUTRITION The Norwegian Lundehund should do well on a 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 getting 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.

GROOMING The Norwegian Lundehund has a low-maintenance double coat, with a harsh outer coat and a dense, soft undercoat. A weekly brushing will help to remove dirt and loose hair and keep the dog looking his best. The ears should be regularly inspected and cleaned if needed. 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.

EXERCISE 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. He will enjoy a brisk, 30-minute walk or a couple of ball-chasing sessions with his owner every day.

TRAINING The Lundehund is very sensitive and can develop trust issues, and harsh training methods should never be used. Early socialisation and puppy training classes are recommended and help to ensure that the dog grows into a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion. The breed is incredibly clever, affectionate, and fun-loving, and they are very smart and are problem-solvers of the first order.

HEALTH The Lundehund is generally a healthy breed, and responsible breeders test their stock for health conditions such as patellar luxation and eye disorders. The teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs. Regular visits to the vet for checkups and parasite control help to ensure the dog a long, healthy life.

Recommended Health Test from the National Breed Club:

  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Patella Evaluation

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