Norwegian Buhund

Breed Notes 28th May 2021 Margaret Deuchar


It is hard to believe that we are almost at the end of May, where is the year going, it is only just over 3 weeks before the longest day of the year. The weather of course is not helping, hopefully by the time you read this the rain will have stopped and the sun will have made an appearance again.

As I said last week many thanks to ‘Our Dogs’ who have been running their 6th One Line Show with 2000 entries from home and abroad, keeping us going until the time when actual shows will hopefully again be a regular event. BOB in the Buhunds was Addrienne Frost-Treadwell, Kerry and Fritz Frost and Jacqui Walmsley’s Maggit (aka Ir/Int Ch Trelowen Aviator At Frostisen), bred by Sue Sercombe he is by Ch Trelowen Conar Tun x Trelowen Lola and was born on 8th October 2017.BV in breed was Jenny & Isacc Shorer-Wheeler and Kirsty Gillies Mo (aka Ch Arnscroft Di Na Mo Farrah of Koromandel JW ShCM) he is by Ch/Am Ch Visions of Dino of Trollheimen x Arnscroft Di Sing On Ice, bred by Di Stirling he was born on 29/07/12.

There has been a lot of interest in the breed lately not just in the UK but from around the world. In the UK, we have not been able to have Discover Dogs for over a year, so I thought it might be good time to write about the history of the breed. Hopefully, some of those interested read these notes.

It has always been well documented that the breed had its origins right back in Viking times, as skeletons of the breed have been found in Norway in the graves from the Viking era dating back 2,000 years. Julie Curl who is an ‘Archaeological Bone and Finds specialist’ and lives in Norwich, joined the Buhund forum in December 2017.She said that ancient dogs with short, curled tails were probably the ancestors of the Buhund, and that new analyses reveal a history of humans living with dogs for more than 10,000 years. Julie then posted a picture of what she called her ‘Buhund’.It was a painted cut out on board of a dog which was found in Norfolk in the Roman period. This was based on her analysis of bones discovered and research into ancient breeds. She produced the cut out for talks and displays of the ‘Aylsham Roman Project’, whose aim is to explore and preserve the history of a recently uncovered Roman settlement. The picture then appeared on the front cover of the Annual of the ‘Aylsham Roman Project’ and I think it took us all by surprise, as the drawing might have been taken from our breed standard. Which also showed how the breed has remained the same over the years. Julie also said that there were paw marks on ceramic tiles from Roman archaeologic sites which may well have been made by a Buhund type dog. The interesting thing about all this is that the Romans were in Great Britain around in 700-1100AD 1,500years before the Vikings, and as the Romans avoided the Scandinavian countries, did the Vikings find Buhunds in Great Britain and take them back to Norway? We will probably never know the answer to this question. We have always connected the breed with the Vikings because as I said earlier bones of the breed have been found in Viking graves, but if you watch history programmes or read history books you will know that what we think we know about history is not always what actually happened.

In Norway, the breed was used to work cattle and sheep and as a guard dog, but before the first world war it looked as if the breed would become extinct. Then in 1913 the Norwegian Agricultural Dept gave permission for Buhunds to be exhibited at sheep and goat shows. Mr Jon Saeland knew the value of the breed and with a group of enthusiasts they set about finding a good dog for the breeding programme. In 1925 Saeland found the dog he was looking for at a farm in Gjesdal, the dog was Flink, he was a very good-looking dog and was also very good at herding. He was used extensively to produce sound dogs with typical Buhund features and sired puppies up to the age of 14yrs. The breed then became very popular and a Buhund show was held in1925 but Flink was the only dog to be awarded a first prize. After the second world war there were very few Buhunds left in Norway, but happily many had been taken to Sweden to save the breed. The Buhund Klubben Norway held its first show in May 1965 and had 17entries, in 1966 just a year later 28 Buhunds attended an International show in Denmark.

Mrs Gerd Berbon and Mrs Powys Lybbe bought the breed to the UK in 1946.They imported Ryfjelds Truls and a year-old bitch called Terit in whelp to Ryfjelds Ring. There were seven puppies and the descendants from these dogs are in the pedigree of some Buhunds today. The Norwegian Buhund Club was formed in 1967, it is now known as the Norwegian Buhund Club of the UK.

The breed became popular being of medium size and with a very easy coat that even when wet does not smell doggy, but sadly in the late 80s Hereditary Cataract was found in the breed, when the eyes of a dog that was going to be a Hearing Dog had a routine check, and many breeders gave up. In fact, in 1992 I had on of the last puppies born for a couple of years. The numbers in the breed have never really picked up to pre HC level which is sad, as HC does not cause the dog to go blind, in fact I knew a 14yr old bitch who was shown to have HC as a puppy, but she never had any problem in seeing things all her life. All dogs must be eye tested before mating and no dog with HC can be bred from (Our code of Ethics). This can also now be checked on the KC Health Finder, the exact name of the dog must be put in and this shows all the tests a dog has had. It also shows all the dogs that have passed on.

The coming of pet passport helped the gene pool, but we still need is a DNA test for HC, the Animal Health Trust did a work on trying to find one, but it seems the Buhund HC is not the same as for other Nordic Breeds. With the closing of the Animal Health Trust the DNA testing has been taken over by the KC, so you never know one day we may have a DNA test.

The breed has been kept going by a dedicated group of breeders, but one of things that has never helped is the fact the breed tends to have quite small litters 1-5 being the usual, which means that people on a waiting list can be disappointed, especially as people often want to have a puppy when it will fit in with any plans they may have. We now have a saying ‘A Norwegian Buhund Is Worth Waiting For.’ There are several litters planned for this year, so hopefully when shows start up again the puppy classes will again have entries, and those who have been on waiting lists for some time will be able to have a puppy.

Stay safe everyone.

Margaret Deuchar

The views expressed in Margaret’s Breed Notes are hers and hers alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Norwegian Buhund Club of the UK.