10 Scandinavian Dog Breeds for Cool Climate Living

Strictly speaking, the term Scandanavia refers to a subset of Nordic countries—Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. However, it’s often synonymous with all the Nordic countries, including Finland, Iceland, and its territories. The Nordic Kennel Union officially recognizes 29 native breeds. They were primarily used for hunting or livestock management. These hardy, tenacious Scandanavian dog breeds adapted well to cold weather conditions and harsh terrain.

Here are 10 of the most well-known Nordic dogs.

1. Finnish Lapphund

Although most people still refer to this breed as the Finnish Lapphund, in 2015, the name was officially changed to the Finnish Lapponian Dog. They’re one of the most popular breeds from this country and probably the most well-known in the U.S. The semi-nomadic, indigenous Sami people have been using these dogs for hundreds of years to guard and herd reindeer. For a herding breed, these dogs are surprisingly calm. Lappies are also loyal, sociable, and smart. They can be strong-willed and tend to bark. Their long, dense, weatherproof double coats kept them warm in the harsh climates; thus, they are not as well suited to living in hotter climates. Lappies shed a lot and need regular brushing.

2. Broholmer

One of five breeds native to Denmark, the large mastiff-type Broholmer has been around for hundreds of years. Its size and strength meant it was a popular guard dog for large manors and estates. The Broholmer is known for being a docile and affectionate giant. Although they’re watchful and powerful, they make a great family pet with proper training and socialization. After World War II, the Broholmer faced extinction, but a dedicated group of breed enthusiasts worked to save the breed. Although rarely seen outside of Denmark, Broholmer numbers are growing.

3. Finnish Spitz

The Finnish spitz might not be as well known as the Lapphund, but these little dogs are full of character nonetheless. Hunters traditionally used them to sound the location of birds hidden in trees. If you’re looking for a quiet breed, then strike Finkies from your list. They’re often champion barkers. They have strong hunting instincts, which also makes recall difficult. They have a strong prey drive, so they are not suitable to have around other small pets. Smart, independent, energetic, and fun-loving, Finkies often make enthusiastic running or hiking partners.

4. Icelandic Sheepdog

The Icelandic sheepdog is the island country’s only native breed. Their descendants were brought to Iceland by Viking settlers. Farmers used these hardy, intelligent dogs to herd and protect livestock roaming the harsh, sparsely populated landscapes. The breed is fun-loving, affectionate, and highly trainable. These dogs drip stamina, drive, and athleticism and are best suited for an active home that can offer them plenty of physical and mental enrichment. As a family dog, its herding instincts have to be managed, and the breed can be rather vocal.

5. Karelian Bear Dog

The Karelian bear dog, an ancient breed traditionally used for big game hunting, is well-known in its native Finland. Although they’re pretty rare in the U.S., wildlife agencies use these intelligent, courageous dogs in national parks to minimize human and bear conflict. While Karelians are intensely loyal and protective, they can be territorial and wary of strangers. They’re not always suited to living in multi-dog homes; carefully manage introductions with new dogs. Another active breed, a Karelian will not thrive in a sedentary household.

6. Norwegian Elkhound

The Norwegian elkhound is the most well-known breed originating from Norway. It has an ancient history, believed to be a Viking dog. It also resembles dogs in Norse mythology. They get their name from the big game they used to hunt. Elkhounds also guard and herd the livestock of remote Norwegian farms. They have great endurance and energy and aren’t suited to apartment living with inactive owners. Loyal and friendly to their family, this breed still has an independent spirit and can be wary of strangers. Their thick, shedding coat also needs regular brushing.

7. Norwegian Lundehund

This rare and unusual dog hails from the remote Islands off the coast of Norway. The Norwegian word for puffin is “lunde.” These dogs were traditionally used for hunting for these little birds and their eggs. The lundehund has impressive flexibility to squeeze into small cliff-side nests. The dog can fold its neck back to touch its back, and its shoulder joints can be manipulated to 90-degree angles. Lundes also have six toes on every paw, which helps them navigate slippery slopes. This breed is intelligent, problem-solving, agile, and energetic. If it doesn’t get enough physical exercise and at-home enrichment, it can be destructive. Lundes also love to dig, so provide a dig spot if you can. In an active home, a Lunde can thrive and make a playful and loyal companion.

8. Norwegian Buhund

Another dog with Viking heritage, the spitz-type Norweigian buhund was an adaptable and reliable little farm dog. This fun-loving, affectionate, and sweet-tempered breed is a devoted family companion. Another smart and energetic dog, it won’t be satisfied with a quick walk around the neighborhood. It needs lots of in-home entertainment and exercise. You’ll need to stay on your toes when it comes to training, too. Buhunds are smart, but they can also be independent and stubborn. Keep them motivated with tasty treats and short, fun sessions.

9. Swedish Vallhund

The short-legged, long-bodied, bobtailed Swedish vallhund may be related to the similar-looking Welsh Corgi. It also herds cattle. However, it’s unclear which came first. This breed also descended from the Vikings. This tough little dog’s working instincts may sometimes translate into a desire to nip at the heels of running children or chase after bikes and cars. They can also be prolific barkers. Vallhunds are intelligent, loyal, and trainable. Motivate them with fun, reward-based methods. Like many spitz-type dogs, the vallhund is a heavy shedder.

10. Samoyed

You may be surprised to see the Samoyed on this list. Admittedly, the breed originated in Siberia. In the late 1960s, the breed standard was assigned to the Nordic Kennel Union and added to the Nordic breeds list. The Samoyed’s beautiful thick coat, smiling expression, and gentle temperament are famous the world over. This breed hasn’t deviated much from its origins as a hunter, herder, and sled dog for the semi-nomadic Siberian people. Sammies have a thick, heavy shedding coat and can withstand the coldest temperatures. They’re also known for being pack dogs and form strong bonds with their family. This breed is best suited for a household with people home most of the day because they are prone to separation anxiety.

Breeds to Avoid

A lot of the Nordic breeds are very rare, even within their native countries. They may not be so easy to come across in North America. However, if you’re looking for a dog like the active Scandinavian canines, steer clear of dogs that prefer to be couch potatoes. These lower-energy breeds include mastiffs, Pekingese, and bulldogs.

Published On: May 26th, 2023Categories: Dog News