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Overview of the Norwegian Buhund

Norwegian Buhund standing on grass.


Overview of the Norwegian Buhund

Buhund History

Norwegian Buhunds, like other Nordic herding types, are believed to have accompanied Vikings in their colonization journeys. In one ancient excavation in Norway, a Viking grave that dates back to about year 900 was excavated and skeletons of six dogs were found. These skeletons are believed to be representative of present-day Buhunds. It is the custom of Vikings to be buried with their most valued possessions. The dogs that helped the Vikings care for their animals and protect their homes were expected to perform the same services and duties in the afterlife.

The 900 AD to 1300 AD Icelandic Sagas documented how the Norwegian people brought the breed to Iceland. These dogs were primarily used to herd sheep. Later on, they became all-purpose farm dogs as they were given the tasks of herding reindeer, sled pulling, and hunting. Today, these dogs are the invaluable helpers of shepherds who move the herds from one pasture to another in the Scandinavian mountains. The impressive and more refined appearance of the present-day Norwegian Buhund was developed in Norway’s western coastland. During the 1920s, John Saeland, a state counsel of Norway, initiated the first Buhund show that was held in Jaeren. In 1939, the Norsk Buhundklubb was organized. In 1940, the breed was first imported in Britain, and in the late 1980s, in America.

Norwegian Buhund


Many of these dogs worked in the homestead, thus, gaining the name “buhund” from the word “bu”, which means homestead, and “hund” which means dog.

During ancient times, the Norwegian Buhund was utilized in hunting bear and wolf. Now this extremely versatile breed accomplishes many tasks. The Buhund is expert at aiding handicapped people, performing well in Agility, Coursing, Barn Hunt, Rally, and Obedience Trials, and being utilized by law enforcement in Search and Rescue operations as well as in Narcotics Detection. And most of all, the breed has developed into a well-loved family companion.

Aud-Marie Ferstad Maroni founded the Norwegian Buhund Club of America in 1983 as a Specialty Club. The first Specialty as a Non-AKC club was held in 1990, and the club’s registry was accepted into the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service in 1996. The Norwegian Buhund was accepted into AKC’s Miscellaneous Class in 2006 and into the Herding Group in 2009. NBCA’s first AKC Specialty was held in 2010 in Springfield, Massachusetts.

AKC Breed Standard

General Appearance: The Norwegian Buhund is a herding dog. It is a typical Northern breed, a little under medium size and squarely built, with a tightly curled tail carried over the back. The head is wedge-shaped and not too heavy, with prick ears. As it is extremely intelligent by nature, consistent training is needed from early puppyhood. The Buhund has a lot of energy, strength, and stamina. This self-appointed watchdog is also content lying at your feet at the end of the day. Broken teeth and honorable scars incurred in the line of herding duty are acceptable.

Size, Proportion, Substance
  • Size – Height at the highest point of the shoulder blade in dogs, 17 to 18 ½ inches; in bitches, 16 to 17 ½ inches.
  • Disqualifying Faults – More than a ½ inch under or 1 inch over the height at the highest point of the shoulder blade.
  • Weight – For dogs 31 to 40 pounds; for bitches, 26 to 35 pounds.
  • Proportion – Square in profile. The height, measured vertically from the ground to the highest point of the shoulder blade, equals the length, measured horizontally from the prosternum to the rear projection of the upper thigh.
  • Substance – Substance and bone are in proportion to the overall dog. Robust without being “heavy” or coarse; athletic without being finely drawn or “stringy.”
  • The size of the head should be in proportion to the body and not too heavy. The skull is wedge-shaped, almost flat, and parallel with the bridge of the nose. The muzzle is about the same length as the skull, with a stop that is well defined but not too pronounced. The nasal bridge is straight and well filled out under the eyes. The lips should be black and tightly closed. The teeth should meet in a scissors bite, with complete dentition.
  • Disqualifying Fault – Overshot or undershot mouth.
  • Eyes – Oval-shaped, color as dark as possible, black eye rims.
  • Ears – Medium-sized, prick ears with pointed tips, carried strongly erect yet very mobile. When relaxed or showing affection, the ears go back and the dog should not be penalized for doing this during the judge’s examination.
  • Nose – Black.
Neck, Topline, Body
  • Neck – Of medium length, well set on, with no loose skin on the throat.
  • Topline – The back is level; croup with as little slope as possible.
  • Body – Chest deep, ribs well sprung; tail set high, tightly curled, and carried over the centerline of the back.

Norwegian Buhund

Important Buhund Traits

Size & Proportion
  • Square profile;
  • Substance in proportion to overall dog;
  • Disqualifications for height.
  • Up when alert;
  • May be down or back if happy, relaxed, or stressed;
  • Quick changes in direction when focused;
  • Constantly pointing to side and floppy are incorrect.
  • Tails should be well curled, carried high. Looser curls are very common and are not as serious a fault as a sloping croup with a low tail set.
  • Tails of a Buhund should follow the “3 T’s”: Tight, Tidy, and relatively Thick.
  • There should be plenty of butt behind the tail, with the tail curled tightly over the centerline of the back.
  • The coat should be of medium length; the harsh outer coat lying relatively flat to keep the soft, dense undercoat dry. The coat should never appear to be fluffy or open.
  • The coat on the head and front of the legs is comparatively short. The coat on the neck, chest, and back of the thighs is longer.
Carriage and Movement
  • Good Buhunds are confident and extremely self-possessed; they conduct themselves with purpose, and move in a way that shows no hesitancy.
  • This breed MUST be judged in working condition; judges would do well to penalize a soft, flabby, or out of shape specimen.
  • Breed-appropriate speed is a swift, brisk trot.
  • He must NEVER be strung up; as his rate of travel increases, the Buhund will often lower his head slightly.
  • Shoulders moderately sloping, elbows well set, turned neither in nor out; legs substantial but not coarse in bone, legs seen from the front appear straight and parallel; pastern seen from the side moderately sloping; feet oval in shape with tightly closed toes, feet turned neither in nor out.
  • Moderate angulation at stifle and hock, upper thigh powerful, well-muscled; lower thigh well-muscled; seen from behind, legs are straight and strong; feet same as above.
  • Outer coat is thick and hard, but rather smooth lying. The undercoat is soft and dense. The coat on the head and front of the legs is comparatively short. The coat on the neck, chest, and back of thighs is longer.
  • Wheaten – Any shade from pale cream to bright orange, with or without dark-tipped hairs; as little white as possible; black mask acceptable.
  • Black – Preferably without too much bronzing; with as little white as possible. Areas where white is permissible: a narrow white ring around the neck, a narrow blaze on the face, a small patch of white hairs on the chest, white feet, and tip
    of tail.
  • The action is free and effortless. The topline remains level while moving. Sound movement is essential for working ability. “Side movement is a big focus in the breed, truly great propulsion, PRIDE and carriage, perfect coordination with one engine as opposed to one motor in each leg. We would rather give something on coming and going than sacrifice the side gait and balance” (Espen Engh). Movement should be clean coming and going, and converging towards the center. This is a single-tracking dog, and wide double-tracking, though common, should be faulted.
  • Buhunds are self-confident, alert, lively, and very affectionate with people.
  • Faults: The foregoing description is that of the ideal Norwegian Buhund. Any deviation from the above described dog is to be penalized to the extent of the deviation.
  • Disqualifying Faults: More than ½ inch under or 1 inch over the height at the highest point of the shoulder blade. Overshot or undershot mouth.

Buhunds are self-confident, alert, lively, and very affectionate with people.

  • Buhunds are affectionate, self-confident, alert, and lively.
  • Buhunds want to be with people; known as the “Friendly Spitz.”
  • Skittish, wary temperament is undesirable, but please make some exception for bitches in season.
  • Norwegian Buhunds are vocal and brave, but not aggressive. They are excellent watchdogs.
  • Buhunds are highly trainable.
  • The Norwegian Buhund is an ancient but very rare breed and has been declared in danger of extinction by the Norwegian Kennel Club (NKK).
  • Buhunds can be shown on the ground or a ramp, but never on a table.