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Norwegian Buhund

Nicole Cosgrove

The Norwegian Buhund is a medium sized purebred from Norway also called Norsk Buhund, Norwegian Sheepdog and Nordiske Sitz-hunde. It is a Spitz type of dog and is close in relation to other dogs like the Jamthund and Icelandic Sheepdog. Hund in Norwegian means dog and bu means mountain hut, farm or homestead. It was bred to be a herding dog and working farm dog, to be a watchdog a companion. Today it is successful in show event like competitive obedience and agility trials and is also used as a police dog and a service dog.

The Norwegian Buhund at A Glance
Name Norwegian Buhund
Other names Norsk Buhund, Norwegian Sheepdog, Nordiske Sitz-hunde
Nicknames Buhund
Origin Norway
Average size Medium
Average weight 26 to 40 pounds
Average height 16 to 18 inches
Life span 13 to 15 years
Coat type Rough, harsh
Hypoallergenic No
Color White, black, tan
Popularity Not popular – ranked 174th by the AKC
Intelligence Above average – fairly smart dog
Tolerance to heat Moderate – not good in any kind of weather that is very warm or hot
Tolerance to cold Excellent – can live in even extremely cold climates
Shedding Heavy and then even heavier during seasonal times – will be a lot of hair around the home
Drooling Low – not a breed prone to slobber or drool
Obesity Average – could gain weight if overfed but not especially prone to it
Grooming/brushing Low to moderate – brush regularly to keep up with the loose hair
Barking Frequent – will need to train it to stop on command
Exercise needs Quite active – will need daily physical exercise
Trainability Moderately easy – can have its stubborn moments
Friendliness Very good with socialization
Good first dog Good – best with experienced owners though
Good family pet Excellent with socialization
Good with children Excellent with socialization
Good with other dogs Good but needs socialization
Good with other pets Good with socialization
Good with strangers Good but wary and needs socialization
Good apartment dog Good but better in a larger home with a yard
Handles alone time well Very good – can be left alone for short periods
Health issues Quite healthy – a few issues can include eye problems and hip dysplasia
Medical expenses $460 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $140 a year for treats and a good quality dry dog food
Miscellaneous expenses $210 a year for license, basic training, toys and miscellaneous items
Average annual expenses $810 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1,200
Rescue organizations Several including Hundehaven Norwegian Buhunds and Norwegian Buhund Rescue
Biting Statistics None reported

The Norwegian Buhund’s Beginnings

The Norwegian Buhund appears to date back over a thousand years. In a Viking dig in Norway remains were found of dogs that are the ancestors of the Buhund. Vikings would have their possessions buried with them including their dogs who worked for them in life and then in the afterlife also. Vikings were believed to greatly cherish their dogs and in fact would even travel with them, by land and by sea. They were used to herd sheep and work on farms and homesteads and were especially common on the western side of Norway.

Until 1920 the Buhund was not a breed known to anyone other than those who lived in Norway. Then a politician and Buhund fan called John Saeland started to promote them. In the mid 1930s the Norsk Buhund Club was formed, in Norwegian called the Norsk Buhundklubb. The first president of the club was Toralf Raanaas and together these two men were key in the Norwegian Buhund’s development. They created selective breeding programs choosing just the best animals. The arrival of the second world war may have slowed down its recognition around the rest of Europe.

New Lease on Life

After the end of World War II the breed came to England and were recognized by the Kennel Club in 1968. It was also sent to other countries including Australia, the US and France. It was recognized by the AKC in 2009. It is a great companion, it does well in dog shows, it works with the hearing impaired, the police and as a farm dog still. It is ranked 174th in popularity by the AKC.

The Dog You See Today

The Norwegian Buhund is a medium-sized dog weighing 26 to 40 pounds and standing 16 to 18 inches tall. It has a square profile, a deep chest and their topline is level. The high set tail is tightly curled and is held over its back. It has small and oval shaped webbed feet. It has a double coat, the under is wooly, dense and soft and the outer is harsh and smooth. Common colors are wheaten, biscuit, yellows, reds, wolf sable and cream and some black or white markings. Around the front of the legs and the head the coat is shorter than elsewhere. It is very weather-resistant.

The head is wedge shaped and it has a muzzle that is the same length as its skull and a black nose. The eyes have black eye rims and are themselves oval shaped and dark. Its ears are medium sized and erect and move around a lot. When its is being affectionate or when it is relaxed those ears can tilt back.

The Inner Norwegian Buhund


The Norwegian Buhund is an alert and vigilant breed and makes a good watch dog who will let you know if there is an intruder trying to get in. It has a cheerful nature and is attentive, hard working and active. It is also a very affectionate dog who will love to snuggle and will give you lots of kisses. It needs plenty of physical and mental challenge and an owner who can offer it lots of attention but still be firm and in control. It is not aggressive though it can be vocal, it would only snap if it was provoked. Its barking is high pitched and rapid which can annoy some people.

The Buhund loves to be around people and is very loving and loyal to its family. It likes being the center of attention and does not like it when its family is spread out and not all close by. It may try to herd them together with circling and nipping. It can be a good breed for new owners who are prepared to learn on the job. It is eager to please in general but can have an independent side. It likes having jobs to do and being kept busy. It can be a frequent barker though so that will need training to stop it on command. It is somewhat sensitive so is best not in homes where there are always raised voices and lots of tension. Around strangers some are polite and some more wary. It can be left alone for short periods without developing separation anxiety.

Living with a Norwegian Buhund

What will training look like?

The Buhund is moderately easy to train as it is eager to please, it tends to like the process, it likes being close to you, making you happy and being occupied. Some may even train quickly and need less repetition than some other breeds. It is important you make it clear that you are the boss at all times, be firm and consistent about the rules but you can also be positive, use treats and praise and encourage it. It can be stubborn and headstrong so be prepared for it trying to get its own way but compared to other Spitz type dogs this one is more willing to train. Make sure that as well as having at least basic training you also give it early socialization. By exposing it to different places, people, animals, sounds and so on it can grow into a more confident dog and one that you can trust more.

How active is the Norwegian Buhund?

This is an active breed and without activity and mental stimulation it bores easily and will act out. It needs owners who are happy to be active with it every day. It can join you for long brisk walks, jogging playing games in the park, and should be given time off leash where it can run free as well as be taken for two 30 to 45 minutes walks a day. It can adapt to apartment living but it does best in a home with a yard it can play in and play lots of games with you too. Make sure it is on a leash when out walking. It is a breed that can work all day so it will need multiple different opportunities throughout the day.

Caring for the Norwegian Buhund

Grooming needs

The Norwegian Buhund has a short to medium length coat that is easy to look after and does not tangle much. It should still get regular brushing though to keep up with loose hair as this breed does shed and it sheds even heavier in seasonal times when it blows its coat twice a year and big clumps come out. During these times there will be a lot of hair around the home and your clothing. It is often shocking to new owners who are not prepared for just how much hair is around. Give it a bath just when it needs one to avoid drying out its coat and skin. Use a proper dog shampoo and nothing else.

Its ears should be checked for sings of infection once a week. These might include swelling, wax build up, discharge, irritation or redness. They should also be cleaned weekly using a dog ear cleanser and cotton balls or a warm damp cloth. Only clean the areas you can reach never insert anything actually into the ear. This can do a lot of damage and really hurt them. The nails will need to be clipped when they get too long, if it is not wearing them down naturally with its activity. Use proper dog nail clippers and take care not to cut into the quick of the nail where there are blood vessels and nerves. This would hurt the dog, cause bleeding and likely make clipping in the future difficult. If you are not confident about this have the vet or professional groomer do it for you. Finally there are its teeth. They need to be brushed regularly, 2 to 3 times a week at least.

Feeding Time

A dog of this size will need to eat 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals. How much exactly can vary depending on its metabolism, level of activity, age, health and size.

How is the Norwegian Buhund with children and other animals?

The Buhund does get on very well with children with socialization and especially when raised with them. It is playful, energetic, loving and joyful with them. Their level of energy means it is a good idea to supervise them around small children in case they get knocked over when being a little rambunctious. Always teach children how to touch and play with dogs appropriately. When raised with them they can get along fine with other family pets but may be less accepting of strange small animals that pop into its yard. Socialization and training also mean it can get on fine with other dogs but there can be dominance issues with dogs of the same sex if they have not been fixed.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The life span of 13 to 15 years means you get a dog around for a nice amount of time. It is quite a healthy dog too. There are a couple of issues it is prone to, hip dysplasia and eye problems, but apart from that there are not a lot of health problems to prepare for compared to a lot of other breeds.

Biting Statistics

When looking at reports of dogs attacking people in the US and Canada and doing bodily harm over the last 35 years, the Norwegian Buhund is not mentioned. It is not a dog that is prone to being aggressive to people but any dog can have a bad day, or perhaps be teased or provoked. Dogs who are well socialized and trained, cared for and given the right level of activity and mental stimulation are less likely to have those off days.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The Norwegian Buhund puppy will cost around $1200 from a trustworthy breeder of decent pet quality dogs. If you want to get a puppy from a top show breeder this is going to cost a lot more, and be warned you are likely to be put onto a waiting list, this is not a common dog. However getting one from an experienced breeder is the far better option, you should not be tempted to use backyard breeders, puppy mills or pet stores. Quality of animals is questionable, often the dogs are not well look after and in many cases they are very badly mistreated. Rescues and shelters are another option when looking for a new dog. You are not likely to find a purebred Buhund in them, but you may find a mixed dog you fall for. Adoption fees range from $50 to $400 and the initial medical needs are dealt with too.

When you have a dog or puppy you will need to get it some items like collar and leash, crate and carrier and bowls. These will come to around $200. It will also need to go to a vet as soon as possible for some tests and such. For around $270 you will get its blood tests done, dewormed, have a physical exam done, shots, micro chipping done and spaying or neutering.

The yearly costs are another factor to pet ownership. There will be an annual cost of $460 for basic health care like flea and tick prevention, shots and check ups and pet insurance. $140 a year will get you dog treats and a good quality dry dog food. Also there will be costs like a license, miscellaneous items, toys and basic training for another $210. This makes a total annual starting figure of $810.


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The Norwegian Buhund is a sturdy, athletic, happy and hard working dog. It loves to play, it is very affectionate and very loyal. It must get enough mental and physical activity or it can become hard to control, loud and destructive. It needs owners who can be strong minded and confident in taking charge.

Featured Image Credit: Lenka Molcanyiova, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.