Norwegian Lundehund

Introduction | History & Health | Temperament & Personality | Breed Standard

Norwegian Lundehund

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Introduction

The Norwegian Lundehund, also known as the Puffin Dog, the Norsk Lundehund, the Lundehund or simply the Lundie, is one of the world's rarest domestic dog breeds. The Lundehund gets its name from the lunde, or Puffin bird (Fratercula arctica). This compact, ancient breed was developed on desolate arctic islands to hunt young Puffins on high rocky cliffs. The traits that enabled Lundehunds to perform this treacherous task still exist in the breed today, even though their Puffin-hunting days are over. These characteristics include courage, tenacity, focus, stability, self-confidence, sturdiness, sure-footedness, tracking talent and remarkable agility. Lundehunds are friendly, playful little brown-and-white dogs that are described by their owners as being loyal, lively, clever, charming and affectionate. They make agreeable family companions. Lundehunds are increasingly competitive in the conformation, obedience, agility and utility show rings. The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Norwegian Lundehund in 2011, as a member of its Non-Sporting Group.

History & Health

History

Lundehunds were developed in the 1500s on remote islands off the northern and western coasts of Norway. They were specifically bred to scale steep, rocky cliffs and enter narrow, often treacherous subterranean tunnels in search of fledgling Puffins. Also known as "sea-parrots," Puffins resemble Penguins, except that they can fly. Puffins breed in large colonies in seaside caves and hidden passageways on these rocky cliffs. Adult Puffins are fiercely protective of their young chicks. They have powerful necks, strong beaks and sharp talons, which makes them poor targets for small hunting dogs. However, when Puffins reach about 40 days of age, the parents lose their protective instincts, and the chicks must start fending for themselves. In a good year (for the hunters), the young birds are so fat by that time that they cannot easily leave their nests. After a few days without food or parental attention, the fledglings usually slim down and can wriggle out. However, they cannot yet fly and must be pushed ("puffed") or carried by adult birds across the mountainside to the sea. Plump young Puffins are especially vulnerable to predators during this dangerous journey.
The Norwegian Lundehund Club was founded in 1962. The club had an excellent foundation on which to build. Most of the dogs were concentrated in one of two places: either with Mikalsen or with Christie. This enabled club members to start from scratch, with full knowledge of each dog's pedigree. In 1963, Mikalsen lost the last of his own dogs, and not a single purebred Lundehund was left on Vaeroy. Once again, Ms. Christie came to the rescue and sent her friend two purebred puppies by air. They arrived on Mikalsen's 75th birthday, much to his delight.
By the end of the 20th century, there were about 350 Lundehunds in Norway and somewhere between 700 and 800 worldwide. Authorities now say with some confidence that the Lundehund has been saved from extinction. Today's Lundies no longer collect fledgling Puffins, as that practice has been banned. Instead, they are beloved family companions and increasingly formidable competitors in the conformation and performance rings.

Health Predispositions

The average life span of Norwegian Lundehunds is about 12 years. Breed health concerns may include primary congenital lymphangiectasia and a condition called Lundehund Syndrome. Dogs with Lundehund Syndrome typically live about 7 or 8 years. Lundehund Syndrome is a general term for a group of poorly-understood gastrointestinal disorders that cause abnormally large amounts of protein and other nutrients to be lost from or unabsorbed by the dogs' intestines. Basically, the digestive tract of dogs with Lundehund Syndrome cannot properly absorb, retain and process essential dietary nutrients. Lundehund Syndrome is pervasive in this breed. According to some reports, every Lundehund is affected by this condition, even though some never develop observable symptoms. Lundehunds that do develop clinical disease usually start showing signs before they reach one year of age. Affected dogs have recurring bouts of diarrhea and vomiting. They also have problems gaining weight normally as they mature. In severe cases, Lundehunds can develop gastrointestinal cancer, which can be fatal.
Blood and fecal samples can be tested to diagnose Lundehund Syndrome. Because it progresses unpredictably, this disease can be extremely frustrating for Lundehund owners and veterinarians. There is no known cure for Lundehund Syndrome. Management techniques include feeding a low-fat, high-protein diet and providing appropriate vitamin supplements. Antibiotics, steroids, anti-nausea drugs and anti-diarrheal medications can be helpful to control flare-ups.

Temperament & Personality

Temperament

Lundehunds are cheerful, alert, inquisitive, watchful and sometimes stubborn little dogs that make wonderful companions when placed into the right homes. Long-time Lundie owners treasure the breed's intelligence and playfulness. These are free-thinking dogs that can be quite independent. Some Lundehunds are wary of strangers, although they are not known to be aggressive even when challenged. Generally, they are fun and easy to live with. Lundehunds get along quite well with children and other animals, especially when they are well-socialized from puppyhood.

Early and extensive socialization is important for this breed. Lundehund puppies should be exposed to loud noises, unfamiliar people, animals of all ages and types, unusual environments, cars, motorcycles, new and potentially scary situations and as many other stimuli as possible starting at a young age. Lundehunds that are not well-socialized tend to become shy, hypersensitive to sounds and easily stressed by unfamiliar situations. It can be difficult to undo these traits once they become ingrained.

Activity Requirements

Lundehunds are high-energy animals that love to participate in almost any outdoor activity. Lundehunds are especially happy when they can play and explore outside, with plenty of opportunities to find and proudly retrieve unusual treasures for their owners. They enjoy taking long walks and trips in the car. They like romping in the park and strolling along sandy beaches. They love to explore new terrain. Lundehunds are athletic, active and extremely agile, making them excellent hiking and backpacking partners. They excel at canine sports that require speed, intelligence, discipline and precision. Lundies can be escape artists, which makes a safe, secure, well-fenced yard an absolute requirement for owners of this breed. Regular exercise and a loving home environment are important for the Lundehund's long-term physical and mental well-being.

Trainability

Training Lundehunds can be challenging. These are smart animals that usually understand what their owners want them to do. However, they often choose to do something entirely different. It takes a great deal of patience, an arsenal of tasty treats and a good sense of humor to work with this breed. Lundehunds do not respond well to rough treatment, loud commands, harsh corrections or unrealistic demands. Their training should emphasize consistent, kind but firm positive reinforcement rather than punishment. Lundies have long memories and can hold a grudge. In many ways, they are more like cats than dogs and lack the normal canine "eagerness to please." They are much more likely to be obedient if there is something in it for them, like a moist morsel of cheese, chicken, steak or other human food. Bribery works well with this breed.
Lundehund owners should keep training sessions short, realistic and fun. The same lesson should be repeated until the dog "gets it." While a well-trained Lundehund usually will come when called, the owner may have to recall it several times and be willing to accept a number of unexpected detours as it makes its way back. The good news is that with patience, praise and a positive attitude on the part of owners, Lundies can and will learn the manners and basic obedience commands necessary to make them reliable family members.

Behavioral Traits

The Norwegian Lundehund is a primitive breed that still shares some behaviors with wild canines like the fox and the wolf. For example, Lundie's will collect and stash food in different places, as if preparing for winter. Because of their agility and unique anatomical features, there are few things that Lundehunds cannot reach, on kitchen counters or elsewhere. They have a strong pack instinct and thrive in groups - especially with other Lundies - as long as their owners allow them to sort out their own pecking order. Lundehunds have a strong prey drive and are inclined to pursue and pounce on anything moving and small.
Lundehunds are tuned-in to whatever is going on around them and tend to react to changes in their surroundings. They will bark at almost anything, and often at nothing at all. Lundies are protective of their homes and people, although they usually rely on barking rather than aggression to make themselves noticed. Some Lundehunds are apprehensive of strangers and unfamiliar animals. Early socialization can help temper this behavior. When raised with children, Lundehunds usually get along with them just fine. However, they can be intolerant of rough treatment. Children should be supervised when they are around Lundehunds or any other dogs.
This breed loves to dig, likes playing with toys and especially enjoys carrying things in its mouth. These busy dogs do best in homes with lots of different things going on, so that their active minds stay stimulated. A bored Lundehund will find his own ways to amuse himself, usually at the expense of his owner's possessions and property.

Breed Standard

General Appearance
The Norwegian Lundehund is a small rectangular and agile Spitz breed with unique characteristics not found in any other breed. Originating on remote islands of arctic Norway, the dog was used to wrestle and retrieve live puffin birds from the crevices of steep vertical cliffs. To enable the dog to climb, descend, and brake on these cliffs, unique structural characteristics have evolved and must be present as they define this breed: a minimum of six toes on each foot and elongated rear foot pads; an elastic neck that allows the head to bend backward to touch the spine, letting the dog turn around in narrow puffin bird caves; and shoulders flexible enough to allow the front legs to extend flat to the side in order to hug the cliffs. This shoulder structure produces a peculiar rotary movement. Finally, the ears close and fold forward or backward to protect from debris. The temperament is alert but not expected to be outgoing toward strangers.

Size, Proportion, Substance
Size: The desired height for adult males is between 13-15 inches and 12-14 inches for adult females. Size consideration should not outweigh that of type, proportion, movement and other functional attributes. Proportion: length of body is slightly longer than height at the withers. Depth of chest is approximately one half the height. Substance: The Lundehund should be athletic and agile, never coarse or heavy. Bitches are distinctly feminine but without weakness.

Head
The head is wedge-shaped, of medium width and clean. The skull is slightly rounded with prominent brows. There is a pronounced but not deep stop, and the bridge of the nose has a slight arch. The muzzle is of medium length and width, tapering gradually to the end of the muzzle. Length of the muzzle is approximately two-thirds the length of the skull. Nose and lips are black. Teeth: Scissors bite is preferred, but level and reverse scissors bite are permitted. Missing premolars on both sides of the upper and lower jaws are common and allowed. Eyes: almond-shaped, yellow-brown to brown with a brown ring around the pupil. Light eyes are preferred. Eye rims are dark and complete. Ears: medium-size, triangular, broad at the base, carried erect and very mobile. The ear leather can be folded and turned up, backward or at right angles so that the ear openings are clamped shut.

Neck
The neck is clean, of medium length and strong without being thick. NOTE: The judge should never ask the handler to demonstrate the characteristic flexibility in the ring, as the dog can not relax sufficiently at a dog show.

Body
Level back, short loin and slightly sloping croup, slight tuck up. Ribs are carried well back, well-sprung but not barrel-shaped.

Tail
High-set, medium length with a dense coat. When the dog is moving, the tail may be carried trailing or in a graceful arch over the back with the tip touching the back. A tightly curled tail or one that falls too far to either side is undesirable. When at rest, the tail hangs with a slight curve.

Forequarters
Moderate angulation with very elastic shoulders so that the front legs can extend out to the side. The legs are straight with slightly outward-turned feet. The feet are oval with at least six fully developed toes, five of which should reach the ground. Eight pads on each foot. The additional toes consist of one three jointed toe, like a thumb, and one two-jointed toe along with corresponding tendons and muscles that give the foot a strong appearance.

Hindquarters
Moderate angulation in balance with the forequarters. Strong muscular upper and lower thighs. Feet: Oval, slightly outward turned with a minimum of six toes, of which four support the dog's weight. There are seven pads with the center pad elongated. When viewed from behind, the rear legs are close but parallel.

Coat
Double coat with a harsh outer coat and a dense, soft undercoat. The coat is short on the head and front of the legs, longer and thicker around the neck and back of thighs. It is dense on the tail with little feathering. The male typically has a thicker ruff around the neck. The Lundehund is presented naturally with no trimming.

Color
Fallow to reddish brown to tan with black hair tips and white markings or white with red or dark markings. More black hair tips with maturity. Dogs with a completely white head or with 50 percent of the head white should have complete dark eye rims and lashes.

Gait
Light and elastic. As the Lundehund is designed to climb steep cliffs and work into narrow crevices, the front assembly must be flexible and wide. This produces an elastic gait with a unique rotary front movement. He moves close but parallel in the rear.

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