Working dogs with Viking origins, Norwegian buhunds — also known as Norsk buhunds or Norwegian sheepdogs — are cheery, high-energy dogs. The Norwegian buhund's herding history makes them a breed that thrives in active, lively homes.
Simply called buhunds for short, the Bu part of their name comes from the Norwegian word for farm or homestead (hund, as you might have guessed, means "hound" or "dog"). True to their name, Norwegian buhunds are devoted family dogs who often appoint themselves the protector of the home.
Characteristics of a Norwegian Buhund
Norwegian buhunds are a spitz breed, bred for living in cold climates. Spitz, the German word for "pointed," refers to their triangular, wolf-like ears. Spitz breeds like buhunds also have feathery tails that curl over the back and thick double coats that protect them when temperatures drop. Norwegian buhund colors are wheaten or black.
Norwegian Buhund Size
Norwegian buhunds are medium dogs, averaging 16 to 18.5 inches in height and 26 to 40 pounds in weight.
Norwegian Buhund Temperament
Norwegian buhunds are people-oriented dogs eager to please and less stubborn than some of their spitz breed cousins. Buhunds are high-energy dogs who enjoy active play with their human families and are known for their cheery disposition.
The Norwegian buhund is:
Norwegian Buhund Personality
Buhunds are highly intelligent, love to work, and are easily bored without responsibilities or mental stimulation. They make excellent service dogs and are currently used as hearing assistance dogs.
Norwegian buhunds are very vocal dogs and have an intense, high-pitch bark. Buhunds will bark at anything that moves, including birds and cars and may not be the best choice for a sound-sensitive or apartment-dwelling family.
Caring for a Norwegian Buhund
Norwegian Buhund Grooming
Grooming a Norwegian buhund is relatively simple. Buhunds are naturally clean dogs that don't tend to smell bad, even when wet. While buhunds have a shedding season once or twice a year, they still shed a bit during the rest of the year, though their coat doesn't get matted or tangled as it sheds. It would be best to brush your buhund once or twice a week and more often during shedding seasons.
Double-coated dogs like Norwegian buhunds shouldn't be over-bathed. A bath every four to six weeks is likely sufficient. You should wash your Norwegian buhund with a shampoo formulated for dogs. Shampoo formulated for shedding can help avoid stripping too many oils from your buhund's skin.
Never shave a double-coated dog like a Norwegian buhund. A buhund's double coat protects their skin and helps them to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Shaving a buhund's coat makes them more susceptible to heat stroke, sunburn, and even skin cancer.
Like all breeds, a buhund needs regular nail trims. You should trim your Norwegian buhund's nails every few weeks with dog-friendly clippers or grinders. Otherwise, long nails can injure your dog's foot over time.
Check your Norwegian buhund's coat and skin for ticks regularly, especially after being outside. You should give your buhund a regular tick and flea preventative. Tick and flea preventative products are available in chewables, sprays, topical treatments, powders, and flea prevention collars, both over-the-counter and by prescription. Your veterinarian can help you choose the right flea and tick prevention for your Norwegian buhund.
Norwegian buhunds need regular dental care, like all dogs. It would be best to brush your buhund's teeth daily with a toothpaste formulated for dogs.
Norwegian Buhund Feeding
Norwegian buhunds typically do well on any high-quality dog food.
You should only give homemade dog food under your veterinarian's supervision.
Ask your veterinarian if you have questions about what to feed your buhund.
Norwegian Buhund Exercise
Norwegian buhunds were initially bred as working herding dogs, and they still have a lot of energy and a high need for exercise and stimulation. Buhunds need vigorous exercise at least twice daily. It's best if you can provide your buhund with time to run freely every day, either in a securely fenced yard or at a dog park.
Social and playful, Norwegian buhunds love to exercise with their owners. Buhunds typically love to play fetch, and they also make an excellent running and hiking companion. Norwegian buhunds enjoy canine sports such as obedience, agility, and tracking that challenge them physically and mentally.
Norwegian Buhund Training
Buhunds are widely considered the easiest spitz breed to train. However, Norwegian buhunds still have the independent streak common to spitz breeds.
While they're eager to please, keeping your buhund's focus on training can be challenging. However, Norwegian buhunds are highly food-motivated and respond well to positive-reinforcement techniques.
Norwegian Buhund Medical Care
Like all dog breeds, Norwegian buhunds must visit the veterinarian every 3 to 4 weeks as puppies and annually after their first year.
Norwegian buhunds need standard core vaccines, and some will need non-core vaccines. Your vet may give non-core vaccines if your dog has a higher exposure risk. Talk to your vet to decide if your Norwegian buhund needs any non-core vaccines.
Core vaccines include:
Non-core vaccines include:
- Bordetella bronchiseptica
- Borrelia burgdorferi
- Leptospira bacteria
Your Norwegian buhund should also take a heartworm prevention medication regularly to prevent heartworms, a potentially deadly parasitic infection that's spread through mosquito bites. Puppies are started on a heartworm preventative by eight weeks of age. Heartworm preventatives are prescription medications that come in oral or topical forms. Your veterinarian can help you choose which prescription is right for your Norwegian buhund.
Norwegian Buhund Health Issues
The average Norwegian buhund lifespan is 12 to 15 years. Buhunds are generally a healthy breed with few breed-specific health problems.
Cataracts are a common eye problem in Norwegian buhunds.
Cataracts appear as a cloudy, white film over the eye and can lead to vision loss and blindness. Talk to your veterinarian if you have concerns about cataracts in your Norwegian buhund.
Norwegian Buhund: Special Considerations
Norwegian buhunds are loud. Buhunds are known for their barking, which is loud enough to scare off a bear. This loud bark was beneficial when buhunds were herding dogs, defending a flock from predators, but it can be an issue for families who prefer the quiet.
Norwegian buhunds shed. While buhunds typically only shed during the shedding season once or twice a year, they shed profusely during those seasons. Prepare for your Norwegian buhund to shed handfuls of fur when shedding their undercoat.
Norwegian Buhund History
Norwegian buhunds are an ancient breed and were buried with Viking warriors to accompany them to Valhalla. While buhunds likely sailed on Viking ships over 1,000 years ago, they've since shed their adventurous past to become a Norwegian symbol of the homestead.
Working on Norwegian farms for centuries, buhunds had a wide variety of jobs, from fierce protectors of sheep to gentle nannies for children.
The first buhund show was held in Norway in 1920, and the Norsk Buhund Club was founded in 1939. Norwegian buhunds were first registered with the American Kennel Club in 2009.