It’s a puzzlement to us that some of our oldest breeds are among the last to get recognized by major registries. It’s not hard to visualize a Norwegian Buhund sitting in the prow of a Viking knörr, sea salt spitting into his coat, or ducking the oars of the sixteen rowers known to propel warships forward. The Buhund is that old. Despite that, the breed wasn’t officially recognized by the United Kennel Club until 1996, not by the Federation Cynologique Internationale until 1999, and not by the AKC until 2009.
“Bu” in Norwegian means homestead or mountain hut, and “hund” means “dog,” so “Buhund” was the name that early Scandinavian settlers gave to the dogs they used to haul their freight and herd their reindeer. The environment in which they settled their homes called for a dog that could stand up to harsh climate while still performing the job for which it was created.
They created a dog with a heavy double coat that included a soft and dense undercoat that kept the dog extra warm in the cold, and a thick and hard water resistant outer coat that helped keep him dry, so much so that he could roll around in the snow and simply shake it off when he gets up. His thickly-furred tail curled over his back which he could wrap around his body to stay warm when sleeping, even covering his nose with it. Meanwhile, his fur covered prick ears were “built” to be medium sized which prevented heat loss, but with a shape that afforded the dog the ability to swivel his ears when listening to sounds off in the distance. The dogs are a high energy breed which they needed for their many roles as all purpose farm dog, herder and watch dog, all in demanding climate. These days, you’ll find Buhunds doing search and rescue work, acting as assistance dogs, and performing sentry work. They can still be found on Norwegian homesteads.
The Buhund. A stellar example of a purpose built dog.
Norwegian Buhund in Pastel by Sally Logue. Find it here