How many of you have heard of the Dunker dog? Probably not too many, as they are definitely one of the more unheard-of purebred dogs out there. How they got their name, however, is pretty simple.
18 – 22 inches
25 – 39 pounds
12 – 14 years
Black or blue with fawn and white
Active families and single people, house with a yard, experienced owners
Gentle, placid, social, affectionate, independent, energetic
Norwegian author and officer, Captain Wilhelm Dunker, bred these dogs in the efbarly part of the 1800s, looking for an excellent hunting dog that could also thrive in the frigid winters of Norway. He crossed the Russian Harlequin Hound with a variety of Scandinavian scent hounds, which created a striking-looking scent hound that is also very hardy.
The Dunker is also called the Norwegian Hound and is medium in size with long, floppy hound ears. They tend to be a light fawn color with white markings and a very distinctive black or blue saddle with harlequin markings.
Dunker Dog Characteristics
The Dunker has high energy and is relatively healthy with some of the usual health issues found in purebred dogs, and they have a good lifespan for a dog their size. They tend to get along with most people they meet, so they don’t make great watchdogs, and training can be a challenge as they are independent and stubborn.
Temperament & Intelligence of the Dunker Dog
Dunkers are very affectionate dogs that form strong bonds with their families—adults and children alike. They are also quite gentle and easygoing and quite relaxed when they aren’t exercising or working. Dunkers get along with everyone they meet, so they really aren’t effective guard dogs, but their instincts to bark make them great watchdogs.
Dunkers are intelligent, but like all hound dogs, they are incredibly stubborn when they catch a scent, which also gives them a high prey drive.
Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪
The Dunker does make an excellent family pet. They are very patient and gentle with children, but like with any dog, there should always be supervision around young children. Also, be sure to teach your children to respect all dogs, especially the family pet. No matter how young your children are (including babies), they should not be pulling on ears or tails and not riding your dog like a horse.
Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?
Dunkers are pack animals, so they tend to get along with other dogs very well. However, their high prey drive does make their behavior around smaller pets much more uncertain. Lots of socialization around the cat, while they are puppies, will help with the family pets, but their instincts could still kick in, particularly outside the home, when they see a small animal running.
Things to Know When Owning a Dunker Dog:
Food & Diet Requirements 🦴
Dunkers are high-energy, medium-sized dogs, so you need to find the right dog food that will meet their particular nutritional needs. Look for high-quality dog food for your Dunker’s current age and energy level. Always have fresh and clean water available for your dog, including when you take him out for a long walk. Speak to your veterinarian if you ever have concerns about your pup’s health and weight.
Dunkers, as already discussed, are very high-energy dogs and will therefore require quite a bit of exercise to keep up with their needs. You’re looking at a minimum of 45 to 60 minutes of vigorous exercise every day. These are hunting dogs and therefore have high endurance, so lots of long walks and playtime (throwing balls and frisbees) and joining you on a run will all go a long way in meeting the Dunker’s activity needs.
Training Dunkers can be a challenge as while they are devoted to their owners and are quite smart, they also have that famous hound stubbornness. When they get wind of a scent, they become single-minded on following that scent, so everything else becomes secondary. Dunkers are best with an experienced owner who is persistent and firm but loving.
Grooming isn’t difficult with the Dunker. They have short coats that only need brushing with a bristle brush or hound glove two or three times a week and be prepared for a ton of shedding in the fall and spring.
They aren’t a particularly smelly breed, so they should only be given a bath (with a good dog shampoo) when necessary (usually no more than every 4-6 weeks).
Trim your Dunker’s nails every three to four weeks, brush his teeth two to three times a week and check and clean his ears every week.
Health and Conditions 🏥
The Dunker is a healthy breed, but like with most purebreds, some conditions might occur. Because Dunkers are quite rare, there is a much smaller gene pool, so this can increase the likelihood of these dogs inheriting genetic health problems.
The veterinarian will check the Dunker’s skin, ears, and eyes and will help to monitor the dog’s weight. The vet will also check the Dunker’s hips and ears. Unfortunately, Dunker dogs are quite prone to hereditary deafness, particularly if one or both of their eyes are blue.
Male vs Female
Dunker females tend to be slightly smaller than males. These dogs weigh 25 to 39 pounds, and females are typically 18 to 21 inches in height, whereas the males are 19 to 22 inches tall.
Spaying and neutering your dog is where we see the next difference. Surgery for your dog depends on the sex. Female dogs are spayed, which is a more complex surgery. This entails a longer recovery time and, consequently, is more expensive than neutering the male.
And finally, some believe that male and female dogs can differ in temperament. It has been said that male dogs can be more aggressive and less loving than females, but this is not accurate. How a dog has been socialized, trained, and just handled while growing up is the real testament to a dog’s personality.
3 Little-Known Facts About the Dunker Dog
1. The Dunker Does Well In Cold Weather
Even though Dunkers are short-haired dogs, they were bred to withstand the cold weather of Norway. This makes them a very hardy dog that can cope with freezing conditions.
2. The Dunker Is a Working Dog
While these dogs do make fantastic pets, their need for being outside and their high energy levels makes them a better working dog. In fact, in rural communities in their home country, the Dunker is rarely kept as a pet.
3. The Dunker Loves to Bark
With the combination of their need for lots of exercise as well as their barking instincts (thanks to their scent hound blood), Dunkers will need, at the very least, a house with a large, fenced yard and does best in a rural setting.
As we’ve already outlined, finding a Dunker dog will be quite the challenge. Approach Kennel Clubs and post your intent on finding one of these dogs on social media, and hopefully, one will turn up.
If you’re an experienced dog owner who’s looking for an excuse to get outside and get some vigorous exercise and are looking for a companion, look no further than the Dunker. Gentle, loving, energetic, and an excellent tracking dog, Dunkers might be hard to find, but if you do manage to bring one home, you’ll be one lucky dog owner.
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