The Norwegian Lundehund (Norsk Lundehund) is a small dog breed of the Spitz type that originates from Norway. Its name is a compound noun composed of the elements Lunde, meaning puffin (Norwegian lunde "puffin" or lundefugl "puffin bird"), and hund, meaning dog. The breed was originally developed for the hunting of puffins and their eggs.
The Norwegian Lundehund is a small, rectangular Spitz type dog. The Lundehund has a great range of motion in its joints, allowing it to fit into and extricate itself from narrow passages. Dogs of this breed are able to bend their head backwards along their own spine and turn their forelegs to the side at a 90-degree horizontal angle to their body, much like human arms. Their pricked, upright ears can be folded shut to form a near-tight seal by folding forward or backward. The Norwegian Lundehund is a polydactyl: instead of the normal four toes per foot, the Lundehund normally has six toes, all fully formed, jointed and muscled. Some specimens may on occasion have more or fewer than six toes per foot. The outercoat is dense and rough with a soft undercoat. The Lundehund is adapted to climb narrow cliff paths in Røst where it originally would have hunted puffins.
The breed has a long history. As far back as 1600 it was used for hunting puffins along the Norwegian coast. Its flexibility and extra toes were ideal for hunting the birds in their inaccessible nesting locations on cliffs and in caves. Interest for the breed declined when new methods for hunting puffins were invented and a dog tax was created. Around 1900, they were only found in the isolated village of Mostad (spelled Måstad in Norwegian), Lofoten. The breed was nearly extinct around World War II when canine distemper struck Værøy and the surrounding islands. In 1963, the population was further decimated by another outbreak of distemper. This time, only six dogs survived, one on Værøy and five in southern Norway, Hamar. The latter five were from the same mother. This created a population bottleneck. Due to careful breeding with strict guidelines, there are now an estimated 1,500–2,000 dogs in the world, with around 1,100 of the population in Norway and ~350 in the United States.
The breed is being tested in Tromsø airport by the Norwegian Air Traffic and Airport Management as a solution to airplane bird strikes. The dog is used to search for bird eggs around the airport for disposal.
Height: 30–40 centimetres (12–16 in). Weight: 6–7 kilograms (13.2–15.4 lb); there is no weight range in the American Kennel Club breed standard. The Norwegian Lundehund Association of America, Inc. is recognized by the AKC as the Breed Parent Club for the USA.
Lundehund gastroenteropathy is a set of digestive disorders that can lead to an overgrowth of digestive bacteria, and a loss of ability to absorb nutrients from food. In extreme cases the dog can starve due to its inability to derive nutrients and protein from food, regardless of food intake. All Lundehunds have the genetics to have this illness, though not every Lundehund is severely afflicted and some are symptom free. There is no cure, though the disease can be managed.
On February 12, 2010, the Board of Directors of the American Kennel Club voted to accept the Norwegian Lundehund into the AKC stud book on December 1, 2010. On January 1, 2011, it became a part of the Non-Sporting Group.