Norwegian Lundehunden

Peculiar is a good way to describe the Norwegian Lundehund. Some might even call him freakish. Also known as the puffin dog (which is what his name means in Norwegian), he has six toes on each foot, with the toes on the front legs being triple- and double-jointed; his natural stance is “east-west,” with forelegs that turn outward at a 90-degree angle; and his head bends back so far that he can almost touch his back with it. Flexible shoulders permit his front legs to extend flat to the side, and his prick ears can close and fold forward or backward.

Why all the weird characteristics? The Lundehund’s original purpose was to climb cliffs on Norwegian islands and retrieve live puffins. His structure allows him to grip, climb, descend, and squeeze into small crevices. The Lundehund sounds like a fun and interesting dog, for sure, but he has a complex personality and energy to spare. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering bringing a Lundehund into your home.

Is the Norwegian Lundehund the Right Dog for You?

This small Spitz breed is alert, energetic, loyal and protective. With his own family, he is outgoing and happy-go-lucky, but he tends to be wary of strangers. Combined with his alert nature, that natural wariness makes him an excellent watchdog, although he should never be aggressive toward people. Socialize him early and often to ensure that he doesn’t become shy. He’s a good playmate for older, active children, but may not be the best choice for families with toddlers as he may be unwilling to put up with having his ears or tailed pulled or his head patted hard.

He can be a bit of a packrat in the sense that he enjoys collecting shiny objects and hiding them. He’ll also stash food for late-night snacks.

Not surprisingly, he’s athletic and agile. His ability to turn on a dime makes him a natural at agility and flyball, and he’s also good at many other dog sports. He’ll need long walks or other forms of active play to satisfy his exercise needs.

Don’t be surprised to find your Lundehund contorted into some odd position or making his way through anything that resembles a crevice. Just be sure he can’t climb or jump over or dig beneath your fence.

Be aware that the Lundehund is hard to housetrain and loves to bark. Both of these characteristics can make him difficult to own. He’s definitely not suited to apartment or condo life unless you will be there all the time to remind him to use his “indoor” voice. He has been known to get along with 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.

The Lundehund is an independent thinker and can be stubborn. Train him with positive reinforcement techniques such as play, praise and food rewards. Lundehunden are responsive to tone of voice, so a firm vocal correction will get his attention. Keep training sessions short and fun so he doesn’t get bored.

The Lundehund has a double coat that should be brushed once a week to keep it clean and remove dead hair. During spring and fall shedding seasons, daily brushing will help to keep excess hair under control. In addition, trim all those nails as needed, brush his teeth, and keep the ears clean to prevent infections.

Last but not least, it should go without saying that a people-loving dog like the Lundehund needs to live in the house. It’s an unhappy Lundehund that is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship.

5 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Norwegian Lundehund Puppy

  1. Don’t ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You’re more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to housetrain puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.
  2. Find a good breeder who will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. To find breeder recommendations, visit the websites of the American Norwegian Lundehund Club (UKC) or the Norwegian Lundehund Association of America (AKC).
  3. Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health problems in Lundehunden aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. In addition, Lundehunden can live 10 to 13 years, so an adult dog will still be a part of your family for a long time to come.
  4. Puppy or adult, take your Lundehund to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
  5. Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Health Issues Common to Norwegian Lundehunden

All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

That said, Lundehunden are a pretty healthy breed in general. However, a condition called Lundehund Syndrome is common in the breed. Lundehund Syndrome is a collective term for a group of intestinal disorders that affect the breed. It is an unpredictable condition, and dogs with it may have few signs of the disease or major problems. In some cases, it can be managed with diet. Be sure you understand the potential for problems by discussing the disease with the breeder and with your veterinarian.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Lundehunden Syndrome
Medium N/A
Estimates based on claims paid by Embrace Pet Insurance


Pet Insurance for Norwegian Lundehunden

Pet insurance for Lundehunden costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Lundehunden are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace pet insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Lundehunden are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Lundehund is when he’s a healthy puppy. You can’t predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can’t get when you need it the most.