Meet The Norwegian Lundehund: The Unique Puffin Dog Of Norway

The Norwegian Lundehund

Meet The Norwegian Lundehund: The Unique Puffin Dog Of Norway


The Norwegian Lundehund is a small dog breed known for its unique characteristics and incredible history.

Originating from the Arctic Circle’s remote islands in Norway, these dogs have a storied past dating back hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

Lundehunds, or Puffin Dogs as they are commonly known, were bred for their agility and hunting abilities, specifically for puffin birds, which was a delicacy in their homeland.

The Origin of the Norwegian Lundehund: A Historic Background

The origins of the Norwegian Lundehund are as unique as the breed itself. The history of this special breed takes us back to the rugged and isolated islands off the northern Norwegian coast.

The term Lundehund translates to Puffin Dog in Norwegian, reflecting its role as an excellent puffin bird hunter.

The Puffin Hunting Legacy

Historically, Lundehunds were utilized to hunt and retrieve puffin birds from their nests on steep cliffs and in hidden crevices. Lundehunds have specific physical adaptations that made them ideally suited for this purpose.

Their flexible joints, elongated bodies, and ability to squeeze through tight spaces set them apart from other dog breeds and allowed them to excel in their tasks.

Surviving Near Extinction

Like many specialized breeds, the Norwegian Lundehund faced the threat of extinction when their skills were no longer in high demand. With the introduction of nets for bird-catching, the Lundehund’s unique abilities were no longer as necessary.

However, the breed’s enthusiasts recognized their historical importance and unique traits and worked to ensure their survival.

Understanding the Norwegian Lundehund: Physical Characteristics

The Norwegian Lundehund is not your average dog breed. They are small, agile dogs with unique physical characteristics that differentiate them from other breeds.

This breed’s physical characteristics set it apart, making it one of the most distinctive and fascinating breeds in the canine world.

A Body Built for Hunting

The most striking physical trait of the Lundehund is its extreme flexibility. Unlike most breeds, Lundehunds have a flexible skeletal structure, allowing them to turn their heads 180 degrees, much like an owl.

Their forelegs can extend flat to the side, aiding in their maneuverability in tight spaces. One of the most distinct features of the Lundehund is their feet.

They have six fully formed toes on each foot, two of which are ‘dewclaws,’ providing extra grip when climbing steep and rocky cliffs. Their ears are also remarkably flexible and can close both forwards and backward to protect from debris when burrowing into puffin nests.

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Size and Coat

Norwegian Lundehunds are small but sturdy dogs, typically weighing between 13 to 20 pounds and standing about 12 to 15 inches tall at the shoulder.

They have a double coat – a protective outer layer and a dense undercoat, designed to keep them warm in the harsh Nordic climate. Their coat colors range from fallow to reddish-brown to tan, often with black hair tips and white markings, or vice versa.

The Unusual Paws

One of the defining features of the Norwegian Lundehund is its paws. These dogs have a surprising six toes on each foot, including two dewclaws.

This anatomical peculiarity isn’t just for show – it’s a practical adaptation that served them well in their cliff-climbing days, providing extra grip on the precarious surfaces of the Norwegian coast.

Flexible Joints

Another fascinating feature is their exceptionally flexible joints. Lundehunds can bend their head backward to touch their spine, and their shoulders are flexible enough to extend flat, parallel with the body.

This flexibility, much like their extra toes, was crucial for maneuvering through tight and treacherous bird nesting locations.

Ears That Control Sound and Water Intake

Even the Lundehund’s ears are unique. They have the ability to close both their ear canals and their eyes partially, which helped protect them from dirt and water as they wriggled through narrow passages.

Their ears can be manipulated to face forwards, sideways, or closed completely.

A Strong and Agile Body

Beyond these unique features, the Lundehund boasts a small but robust body, built for agility and endurance. They’re coated in a double layer of fur to protect them from harsh weather, and their tail curls over their back in a graceful arc.

These physical traits all contribute to a dog that’s hardy, adaptable, and unlike any other breed you’ll encounter. The Norwegian Lundehund’s physical characteristics are a testament to the breed’s remarkable adaptation to a specific way of life.

This dog breed is an impressive demonstration of evolution in action, a perfectly adapted specialist who has transitioned into a beloved pet.

The Personality and Temperament of the Norwegian Lundehund

While the Norwegian Lundehund’s physical characteristics are intriguing, their personality and temperament are equally captivating. These dogs are known for their intelligence, energy, and playful nature.

An Intelligent and Curious Breed

Lundehunds are incredibly intelligent and curious, traits that were essential for their survival as hunters in a harsh environment.

They are quick learners and problem solvers but can also be independent and somewhat stubborn, a remnant of their need to work alone while hunting.

A Playful and Affectionate Companion

At home, Lundehunds are known for being friendly, affectionate, and good with families. They are playful and energetic and require regular exercise to keep them happy and healthy.

While they are generally good with children and other pets, their strong prey drive may not make them suitable for homes with small pets like birds or hamsters.

Caring for Your Norwegian Lundehund

Proper care for a Norwegian Lundehund involves meeting their unique physical and mental needs. As a breed that was bred to hunt and survive in challenging environments, Lundehunds require a balanced diet, regular exercise, mental stimulation, and regular health check-ups.

Feeding and Exercise

Lundehunds are active dogs and require a diet high in quality protein to support their energy levels. They should be fed high-quality dog food suitable for their size and activity level.

Regular exercise is crucial for this breed. This doesn’t just mean walks – Lundehunds enjoy a variety of activities, including hiking, agility training, and more.

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Keep in mind, however, that their extra toes can make them prone to foot injuries, so always check their feet after outdoor adventures.

Mental Stimulation and Training

Due to their intelligence, Lundehunds also require plenty of mental stimulation. This can be provided through puzzle toys, training sessions, and even ‘jobs’ around the house.

Training Lundehund can be both rewarding and challenging due to their intelligent yet independent nature.

Health Considerations

Like all breeds, Norwegian Lundehunds can be prone to specific health issues. The most significant health concern for this breed is Lundehund Syndrome, a series of gastrointestinal disorders.

Regular vet check-ups and awareness of this condition are crucial for maintaining your Lundehund’s health.

Lundehund Syndrome

Perhaps the most significant health issue to be aware of is Lundehund Syndrome, also known as Intestinal Lymphangiectasia.

This is a set of gastrointestinal disorders which can lead to protein-losing enteropathy, a condition where the dog cannot properly absorb proteins from their food. Signs of this disorder include weight loss, diarrhoea, and variable appetite.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s essential to consult with a vet immediately.

Joint and Bone Health

Given the Norwegian Lundehund’s extreme flexibility and active nature, joint health is an area to watch. Regular vet check-ups can ensure that any early signs of joint conditions such as arthritis are caught early, and appropriate treatment or management can be implemented.

Eye Health

Eye issues are not uncommon in this breed. Regular eye checks are recommended to identify and manage conditions such as cataracts or Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), a group of diseases that cause the retina to degenerate slowly over time.

Routine Care

Routine care for a Norwegian Lundehund includes regular exercise to keep them physically fit and mentally stimulated, a balanced diet to maintain their overall health, and regular grooming to keep their unique double coat in good condition.

Regular vet check-ups, vaccinations, and preventative care for parasites are also essential.

The health of a Norwegian Lundehund can be well managed with regular veterinary care and an understanding of the breed-specific health issues that these dogs may face.

With this knowledge, owners can provide the best possible care for their unique and lovable pets.

Adopting a Norwegian Lundehund: Factors to Consider

If you’re considering adopting a Norwegian Lundehund, you’re in for a unique and rewarding experience. These fascinating dogs have captivating qualities that set them apart from other breeds.

However, their unique characteristics also mean they have specific needs you should consider.

Living Environment and Exercise

The Norwegian Lundehund is an active and agile dog, and they thrive in an environment that allows for regular exercise. If you have a spacious backyard for them to run around and play, that would be ideal.

If you live in an apartment, be prepared for daily walks and play sessions to keep your Lundehund healthy and happy.

Training and Socialization

Norwegian Lundehunds are intelligent and quick to learn, but they also have a stubborn streak. Early and consistent training is crucial to develop good behaviors. Also, start socializing your Lundehund from a young age to ensure they grow up to be well-adjusted, confident dogs.


With their double coat, Lundehunds require regular brushing to keep their fur healthy and reduce shedding. They’re not high-maintenance in terms of grooming, but consistent care is required.


Being a rare breed, the Norwegian Lundehund has specific health issues you should be aware of. Regular vet check-ups, a balanced diet, and monitoring their health closely will be part of your responsibility as a Lundehund owner.


A Norwegian Lundehund can live up to 12-14 years. This is a long-term commitment, and before you adopt, it’s crucial to ensure you’re prepared to provide a loving and stable environment for your Lundehund for their entire life.

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Adopting a Norwegian Lundehund is not a decision to be made lightly. However, once you understand the unique needs and characteristics of this breed, you’ll find them to be an incredibly rewarding addition to your family.

Their loyalty, companionship, and resilience are just some of the qualities that make the Norwegian Lundehund a truly special breed.

Finding a Responsible Breeder or Rescue Organization

Bringing a Norwegian Lundehund into your life is a significant commitment, and it’s essential to do your homework when selecting a breeder or rescue organization.

Responsible Breeders

Look for breeders who have a deep understanding of the Norwegian Lundehund breed and are committed to breeding healthy, temperamentally sound puppies.

Responsible breeders will be able to provide health clearances for both of the puppy’s parents and should willingly answer any questions you have about the breed and their breeding program.

They should also let you visit and meet the puppies’ parents, observe the conditions the dogs are living in, and provide guidance on caring for a Norwegian Lundehund throughout its lifetime.

A breeder should be just as interested in learning about you to ensure their puppies are going to suitable homes. The Norwegian Lundehund Association of America, a member of the American Kennel Club, is a great resource for finding responsible breeders.

Rescue Organizations

Adopting a Norwegian Lundehund from a rescue organization can be an incredibly rewarding experience. While it may take a little more time and patience to find a Norwegian Lundehund through rescue, the joy of giving a dog a second chance at a happy life is immeasurable.

Start your search with local animal shelters and breed-specific rescues. The Norwegian Lundehund Association of America may also have information about Lundehunds in need of homes.

Remember, adopting a rescue dog requires patience and understanding as they may need extra time and training to adjust to their new home.

Whether you choose to buy from a responsible breeder or adopt from a rescue organization, the key is to be patient and thorough in your search.

This will ensure that when you do bring your Norwegian Lundehund home, you can be confident that they’re a healthy, happy addition to your family.

In Conclusion: The Fascinating World of the Norwegian Lundehund

With their rich history, unique physical attributes, and captivating personality, the Norwegian Lundehund truly is a one-of-a-kind breed.

Whether you are an owner, a prospective owner, or simply an admirer of this fascinating breed, it’s easy to appreciate the Lundehund’s unique place in the canine world.

They are a testament to the incredible diversity and adaptability of dogs as a species and a shining example of the extraordinary bond between humans and our four-legged friends.

Questions People Also Ask: (FAQs)


What does Lundehund mean?

Lundehund translates to ‘Puffin Dog’ in Norwegian. This name reflects the breed’s original purpose – to hunt puffin birds in Norway.


What makes the Norwegian Lundehund unique?

The Norwegian Lundehund has several unique physical traits, including extraordinary flexibility, the ability to close its ears, and most notably, having six toes on each foot – more than any other dog breed.


Are Norwegian Lundehunds good family pets?

Yes, Norwegian Lundehunds can make excellent family pets. They are known for being friendly, affectionate, and good with children. However, their strong prey drive may not make them suitable for homes with small pets.


What were Norwegian Lundehunds bred for?

Norwegian Lundehunds were bred for hunting puffins. Their unique physical characteristics enabled them to navigate the steep cliffs and narrow crevices where puffins nested.


How big do Norwegian Lundehunds get?

The Norwegian Lundehund is a small breed. Adults typically weigh between 13 to 20 pounds and stand about 12 to 15 inches tall at the shoulder.


Are Norwegian Lundehunds rare?

Yes, the Norwegian Lundehund is considered a rare breed. They were nearly extinct after World War II, and efforts to revive the breed have been successful but their numbers are still relatively low.


What health problems do Norwegian Lundehunds have?

The most significant health concern for Norwegian Lundehunds is Lundehund Syndrome, a series of gastrointestinal disorders that can affect their ability to digest food properly. Regular vet check-ups are important for early detection and management of this condition.

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