All of today’s dog breeds are the result of deliberate breeding. That is, they’re all mixes of breeds that came before them. Some breeds are more headstrong than others, or have a longer history than most ― both of these things apply to the Norwegian Buhund.
Dog of the vikings
The Norwegian Buhund is a spitz-type dog, and remains of them have been found on the oldest archeological sites in the North. The breed is considered to be a direct descendant of the dogs used by the first settlers in Norway, and the breed’s name comes from the old Norwegian term “bu”. The term means things like “farm” and “livestock”, and basically encompasses anything a farm- and herding-dog would have had to do with, back in the day. The Norwegian Buhund was used for herding not only livestock and cattle, but pigs and reindeer, as well. Many farms around the country, in some areas in particular, had a Buhund of their own. The Buhund, being a resilient working dog, likely slept in the barn, among the animals it was tasked with herding.
Once imported international breeds started gaining popularity, in the early 20th century, the Norwegian Buhund population drastically declined. Breeders made sure to not let the breed fade away, however, and it has since nicely recovered. It doesn’t hurt that the breed has become more popular again, over the years.
Appearance and size of the Norwegian Buhund
The Norwegian Buhund is small, but don’t be fooled by its size and cheerful disposition. Like many smaller breeds, this dog is simply a big dog in disguise; sharp and strong, energetic and happy to work. The breed is classified as slightly below medium size ― 17″ to 18.5″ for males, 16″ to 18″ for females ― squarely built, with a dense, short coat. The tail is curled over the back, and the ears are pointed and erect. Like all spitz-breeds, its face is friendly and a little fox-like.
In terms of color, the Norwegian Buhund comes in either wheaten or black. A clean color is preferred, but wheaten Buhunds can be anything from light to yellowish-red, sometimes with dark-tipped hairs. Black Buhunds are mostly entirely black, but white blazes, collars, chest-spots or paws isn’t unusual.
Uses of the breed
Traditionally a herding dog, the Norwegian Buhund is ideal for herding sheep. The breed is also adept at hunting, for instance elk. But thanks to its sharp intelligence and willingness to work, the Buhund is nowadays used for a whole other bunch of different things. Many compete in agility and obedience competitions, others sniff for drugs or act as guide dogs. Some are kept simply as pets, as they’re excellent family dogs. All this only goes to show what a versatile breed this is.
Like all dogs, however, the Norwegian Buhund needs plenty of exercise and stimulation. And like all sharper, more active dogs in particular, a lot of mental stimulation is needed, as well. If a dog is bored, they’ll get annoyed, in some cases even aggressive. The Norwegian Buhund, like other smaller breeds, can be underestimated in its need for challenging tasks and to be taken seriously. Pull this off, though, and you’ll end up with a satisfied, calm, and devoted dog.
The Norwegian Buhund is no doubt a friendly, happy dog, but can still be wary of strangers. They don’t do well being left alone for long periods of time, as they’re very attached to their family and like to be at the center of it. They therefore tend to be a little protective. This means they’ll bark at the very suggestion of an intruder or suspicious sound, and if not managed properly, this barking can easily get out of control. On the bright side, this makes them reliable alarm dogs; you won’t be caught by surprise with a Norwegian Buhund in the family. They’ll also usually get along just fine with other pets, if they’ve been raised with them.
The Norwegian Buhund can be quite headstrong; like other spitz-breeds, it has a mind of its own, and will happily outsmart you if given the chance. It’s important to know where the line is drawn, who exactly is in charge, and what you will and will not let your dog get away with. For someone who knows what they’re doing, the Norwegian Buhund is highly trainable, and will do its best to work with you. Since it was bred for herding and hunting, it needs to do some hard work every now and then, in order to stay satisfied and happy. In other words, a daily walk isn’t going to cut it.
Things to consider
Like any breed, the Norwegian Buhund has its pros and cons. While this dog is family-oriented, intelligent, and loves to work, they can become difficult when not having their needs met in terms of stimulation. They need things to do, need to be physically active, or else you might end up with chewed-up shoes and loud barking. Leaving them outside isn’t a great idea either, given how vocal they can be ― you’ll be annoying at least a neighbor or two.
The Norwegian Buhund is also kind of standoffish by nature, which makes it a little harder for them to easily get along with other dogs, and even people. They need consistent exposure to these things early on, lest their cautious predisposition become suspiciousness. In terms of shedding, you could say these dogs shed quite a bit. Like all spitz-breeds, they have a thick double-coat, so you’ll need to be okay with hair-covered clothes and furniture. Although, brushing regularly certainly helps.
The Norwegian Buhund certainly isn’t for everyone ― in the US, they can also be hard to find, and therefore quite expensive. If you feel that you can’t fit all of the aspects of this breed into your lifestyle, maybe reconsider if this dog is for you. But if you’re all about the joys and challenges mentioned here, the Norwegian Buhund might just be the dog you’re looking for.