The Norrbottenspets (affectionately called Nobs or Norrbottens), is a hardy, fearless, tree-barking dog that happily (and sometimes loudly!) works to help hunters track game. They are recognizable in Sweden and Finland (about 1,600 and 1,300 respectively), but in the US, owners expect to answer, “What breed is that?” any time they leave the house. At this point, there are around 300 Norrbottenspets in the US, but that number is growing as the breed continues to make fans. While the breed’s primary job is hunting, they also do well in other pursuits, including Lure Coursing, Barn Hunt, Agility, Rally, and more.
As hunters, the Norrbottenspets can work a variety of game, but primarily work large birds (black grouse being the most common) or small climbing mammals (hunters in the US have had luck with them working squirrels). In Sweden and Finland, the dogs are known almost exclusively as hunting dogs and are valuable to hunters for their ability to track game through dense forests. Once a Norrbottenspets has flushed and treed its target, it will stay at the base of the tree, alerting the hunter to its location with a clear, rhythmic bark. Before the days of GPS, this bark was essential to draw the hunters to the location. These days, many hunters do use a GPS collar on the dogs as a backup, but the breed’s hallmark bark remains a reliable indicator.
While hunting may be their strength, these dogs also have an agreeable temperament at home that makes them great pets as well. The Breed Standard describes this well: “ To navigate the rough terrain and climate of Scandinavian forests and hold large dangerous game, like moose, Norrbottenspets are extremely agile, rugged, and weatherproof with a fearless attitude, while at the same time kind and affectionate companions at fireside and home.” Their adaptability has allowed them to fit into a variety of home environments while growing the population in the US. Though we may be few and far between, the Norrbottenspets’ humans work to be as friendly as the dogs. If you see a Norrbottenspets at a show, feel free to say “hi” and ask to meet them—that’s what we’re there for.
Visually, the dogs are rather consistent and easy to spot. A medium-sized spitz, they are white piebald with a varying number and size of spots. Generally, the color patches range from a deep red to a lighter cream color, all of which are acceptable. They should be recognizable as a spitz with their pricked ears and curly tails.
Females are 15.5-17.5 inches and males are somewhat larger at 17-18.5 inches. Generally, females weigh about 20-25 pounds with males 30-35 pounds, though variations in weight and size do exist; a good dog should not be discarded because it is slightly larger or smaller than the ideal.
The Norrbottenspets should not be timid or fearful and should present itself with “a self-confident and daring demeanor.” These dogs demand attention and will make their presence known. Excited vocalization in the ring should not be penalized.
The American Norrbottenspets Association is mindfully working toward full recognition, at which point the breed will be in the Hound Group. The club does have a social media presence and encourages questions and interaction from anyone interested in learning about the breed. You can find us on Facebook and on our website.