Norwegian Language Blog

Norwegian Puffin Dog Posted by on Jul 11, 2011 in Uncategorized


Have you ever seen a norsk lundehund?  I don´t believe I have ever seen one as I wasn´t aware of their existence until I read the latest issue of Viking.  I´m not usually very interested in small dogs, but this dog seems pretty cool.

Besides it´s nice looking coat and adorable face, the lundehund has several very unique features.  While most dogs have 4 toes, this little dog has 6!    In addition to it´s increased gripping abilities, it can crane it´s neck 180 degrees backwards and rest it on it´s back.  I have a weimaraner who can do this too-it looks so uncomfortable!  Craning it´s neck isn´t the only joint related rarity the lundehund boasts.  It can turn it´s forelegs to the side at a 90 degree angle perpendicular to it´s body.  That means it can lay completely flat on the ground with it´s 4 legs spread straight out.  The lundehund also has ears that are normally upright, but can be closed completely to protect from dirt and moisture.

The word lundehund comes from the Norwegian word lundefugl, which means puffin bird.  This breed has been in Norway since the 1600s and was used primarily to hunt along the coasts for puffins and their eggs.  Because of the lundehund´s flexibility and super traction paws, these dogs were at an advantage for hunting puffins in the nooks and crannies of cliffs and caves on the coast.  The Lofoten Islands are home to many puffins and coincidentally where the lundehund traces it´s earliest roots to.  The isolation of a small fishing village called Måstad (on the island of Værøy, one of Lofoten´s islands) and consequent poor communication with the outside world is arguably the only reason the lundehund exists today.  In every other area the lundehund inhabited, it is extinct.

While there are about 2,000 of these dogs worldwide (350 in the U.S. and most of the rest in Norway) today, there was a time when there were only 6.  Canine Distemper struck this breed 2 separate times-once around World War II eliminating many of them and then again in the early 1960s.  Through careful breeding, the lundehund was able to survive as a species and is no longer considered endangered.

This awesome little dog might be on my wish list in the future to join my lovely Weimaraner.

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About the Author: kari

I attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where I majored in Norwegian and History. During college, I spent almost a year living in Oslo, Norway, where I attended the University of Oslo and completed an internship at the United States Embassy. I have worked for Concordia Language Villages as a pre-K Norwegian teacher and have taught an adult Norwegian language class. Right now, I keep up by writing this Norwegian blog for Transparent Language. Please read and share your thoughts! I will be continuing this blog from my future residence in the Norwegian arctic!