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.
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.
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.
Temperament: alert / loyal / energetic
Height: 12-15 inches
Weight: 20-30 pounds
Life expectancy: 12-15 years
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 Tests From the National Breed Club:
- Patella Evaluation
- Ophthalmologist Evaluation
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.
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.
The Lundehund is very sensitive and can develop trust issues, and harsh training methods should never be used. Early socialization 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.
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.