The Norwegian Lundehund (Puffin Dog) was found in the Lofoten Islands, an archipelago north of the Arctic Circle. No one is certain when the breed first appeared but references and pictures/drawings date to early in the second millennia. It seems quite possible that the Lundehund as speculated by a number of scientists is one and the same as the “ur” hund since the area surrounding the Lofoten islands of Værøy and Røst remained ice-free during the Last Ice Age.

Lundehunds were very important for the economy in the northern coastal areas of Norway. With their many physical anomalies the Lundehund was able to climb the steep cliffs and retrieve Puffins from their nests, providing a valuable meal for the local inhabitants and the luxury crop of down. As a result most households had anywhere from two to twelve Lundehunds, which were individually considered more valuable than a cow. Government taxes were levied on each dog, making it economically unrealistic to keep them so that when Puffin hunting with nets became a viable alternative the Norwegian Lundehund population began to decline. Finally, the Puffin was declared an endangered species and the Lundehund no longer had a job. If not for the seclusion offered by Værøy and Lovunden, the Lundehund might have disappeared long before a few key people became aware of them.

Eleanor Christie got her first Lundehunds after becoming intrigued with the breed through a magazine article written by Sigurd Skaun. She and her husband were experienced breeders of English Setters.  They became interested in the Lundehund and decided to try to re-establish the breed which had become alarming few in number. Their work resulted in a kennel named Luxor which boasted more than sixty Lundehunds.

The lack of distemper vaccine during the Second World War posed a great threat to the entire Lundehund population in Norway. The disease eradicated all the dogs on Værøy, though with the valuable help from author Carl Shöyen Mrs. Christie managed to send Lundehunds from her kennel back to Monrad Mikalsen, a long time Lundehund breeder and resident of Måstad.

After losing her husband Eleanor Christie, at nearly seventy years of age, decided once more to breed Lundehunds. Her decision proved to be a very timely one because on Værøy there were only a few Lundehunds left. In 1960, it was learned that there were but six purebred Lundehunds, five on the island of Værøy and one on the island of Lovunden. Some years later, Christen Lang enlisted the help of a Swedish geneticist to devise a strict breeding plan. This plan, which calls for the inclusion of all viable males to produce a restricted number of progeny (this number grows as the population grows) was adopted by the Norsk Lundehund Klubb Breeding Council to help bring the Lundehund population back to greater numbers. Norwegian breeders have now been following these guidelines for more than two decades.

Photos courtesy of:
Anneli Rosenberg
Eriksro Kennels

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