The densely coated Nowegian Buhund, a Nordic spitz-type closely associated with the Vikings, is a medium-sized cold-weather worker adept at herding and guarding. As family dogs, Buhunds are smart, affectionate, and steadfastly devoted. The Buhund, a prototypical spitz, provides a good opportunity to explain the term. Spitz are cold-weather breeds characterized by a dense coat, a tail curved tightly over the back, a wedge-shaped head, and erect, pointed ears (‘spitz’ mean ‘pointed’ in ancient German). They can be pint-sized like Pomeranians, mighty like Malamutes, or mid-sized like the lithe but sturdy Buhund. Males can stand 18.5 inches high and weight up to 40 pounds. Coat colors are wheaten or black.
There’s truth to the romantic tales of Buhunds who sailed with those Nordic invaders, the Vikings, whose lightning raids tized Europe some 1,200 years ago. And though Buhunds might’ve enjoyed looting and pillaging their way across the continent alongside Vikings (Buhunds enjoy any activity they can do with their owners!), they are, at heart, homebodies. In fact, their name derives from the Norwegian word “bu,” meaning “homestead” or “farm.” For centuries Buhunds served as herders, guardians of flock and family, and all-purpose farmhands.
Temperament: confident / smart / perceptive
Height: 16 to 18.5 inches
Weight: 26 to 40 pounds
Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years
In general, Norwegian Buhunds tend to be healthy and hardy. Responsible breeders screen their breeding stock for health conditions such as hip dysplasia, von Willebrand’s disease, and eye disease. Potential puppy buyers are always advised to confirm the health screening of the sire and dam.
Compared to other breeds, Norwegian Buhunds do not need extensive grooming. They are naturally clean and basically odorless dogs, even when wet. The Buhund has a double coat: an outer coat that is thick, rich, hard, and smooth lying, and a soft, dense, and woolly undercoat. The coat sheds most foreign substances with ease, and dries itself after a bath. Buhunds do need to be brushed two to three times a week, and more often during the shedding season’ like other double-coated dogs, Buhunds blow their undercoats once or twice a year. As with all breeds, the nails should be trimmed regularly.
Buhunds have been bred to work and herd for hours at a time. This can result in very energetic dogs who need vigorous exercise (that allows them to run fast) twice a day for optimum physical and mental health. These dogs love to run with a bicycle, retrieve balls, or go for long, all-day hikes. The breed can also exercise mind and body by participating in obedience, tracking, agility, and other activities that dog and owner can enjoy together.
Compared to other Spitz and Northern breeds, Norwegian Buhunds are easier to train, but they still retain the independent characteristics of such breeds. Buhunds do have a desire to please, but their independence is often stronger, which makes it challenging to maintain their focus and convince them to continue training. Fortunately most Buhunds are highly food-motivated, therefore positive-training techniques such as clicker training work well. At the same time, most Buhunds are extremely sensitive to their environment, which makes them challenging in the dog-show ring.
The Norwegian Buhund 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.