Scandinavian Dog Breeds

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Scandinavia comprises the countries of Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland. These countries are in northern Europe, where weather conditions can be cold and harsh. The dog breeds that originate from this area tend to be hardy types with effective winter coats. Some of the breeds are old and can be traced back to the time of the Vikings.


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Norwegian Buhund

The Norwegian Buhund is a medium-sized dog. It grows to 18 inches at the shoulder and weighs up to 40 lbs. The dog's ancestors sailed with the Vikings and date back to at least the year 900. It has a thick coat with a curled tail. It is a working dog breed suitable for herding, guarding and used as an assistant to the hearing impaired.

Norwegian Elkhound

The Norwegian Elkhound is a medium-sized dog breed growing up to 20 inches at the shoulder and weighing up to 55 lbs. It's an old breed, which was used for hunting and guarding by the Vikings. The dogs track and encircle large game such as bear and moose until hunters arrive. It is energetic and highly protective of its family.


Finnish Spitz

The Finnish Spitz is a medium-sized dog breed, growing to over 20 inches at the shoulder. It has a thick coat and resembles, to a degree, the red fox. It is Finland's national dog breed and was almost crossbred to extinction in the late-1800s. It's a hunting dog and tracks game, alerting the hunter with a distinctive yodeling bark and pointing with its muzzle.

Finnish Lapphund

The Finnish Lapphund is a medium-sized breed, growing to over 21 inches at the shoulder. It has a long, thick coat designed for working outside in far northern Scandinavia. A nomadic tribe from Lapland, who later settled to be reindeer farmers, first bred the dogs for hunting. The dogs are herding animals today, although the introduction of snowmobiles means they are not used for this job much anymore.


Icelandic Sheepdog

The Icelandic Sheepdog grows up to18 inches tall at the shoulder. The breed comes in long and shorthair varieties, both having curled tails. The Vikings brought the breed to Iceland where it became indispensable as a herding animal. It's Iceland's only native dog and is not a common breed.

Swedish Vallhund

The Swedish Vallhund is a small dog breed, growing to 13 inches tall at the shoulder. This dog has short legs, a thick medium-length coat and can have a curled, stub or no tail, depending on breeding. It is an old breed, dating back to the Vikings, and was either taken to or brought from Wales due to the species similarity to the Welsh Corgi. It's a tracking, herding and obedience competition dog.


By Nancy Hayden


American Kennel Club: Norwegian Buhund
American Kennel Club: Norwegian Elkhound
American Kennel Club: Finnish Spitz
American Kennel Club: Finnish Lapphund
American Kennel Club: Icelandic Sheepdog
American Kennel Club: Swedish Vallhund

About the Author
Nancy Hayden has been a professional writer since 1994. She began her career in theater as an actor and designer before becoming an improviser and sketch writer at The Second City Theater. Hayden uses her experience in improvisation to write about team-building skills for corporate groups.