As you might expect, Scandinavian dog breeds are mostly heavy coated breeds which are well-suited for the cold Nordic regions of Europe. The breeds from this region are mostly hunting and working breeds which were developed to contribute to the everyday lives of locals in hunting and herding activities.
The national dog of Norway, the Norwegian Elkhound is an ancient Spitz-type breed which was originally used for hunting, herding, and guarding. It is especially adept at tracking moose, and other large game. It is a mid-sized dog, with a friendly demeanor, but has a sharp and loud bark which makes them great watchdogs.
The Lundehund is a small Spitz-type breed which was originally bred for hunting puffins and their eggs. The name of the breed is based on the purpose of the breed—the Norwegian word for puffin is ‘lunde’, and ‘hund’ is the word for dog. The ‘puffin dog’ is the most ancient Nordic dog breed, and can be traced back to the last Ice Age, which ended about 12,000 years ago.
Another hunting dog, the Hamilton Hound (Hamiltonstovar), and is a recent breed which was developed by the founder of the Swedish Kennel Club, Count Adolf Hamilton. Also known as the Swedish Foxhound, the Hamiltonstovar has a clam and friendly demeanor, and is at the same time a tireless and hardworking hunting dog.
The Greenland Dog, as the name suggests, hails from Greenland (which is a Danish territory) is also known as the Greenland Husky. It is a large breed husky-type dog which was developed for use as a sled dog as well as for hunting seals and polar bears. The Greenland Dog is mainly a working dog, and has a reserved personality, and requires an experienced and firm owner/trainer in order to be suitable as a companion animal.
The Icelandic Sheepdog is a Spitz-type dog which traces its ancestry to dogs brought to Iceland by Vikings. The Icelandic Sheepdog is, unsurprisingly, primarily used as a herding dog, and also competes in a variety of agility and obedience competitions. Despite its heritage as a herding dog, Icelandic Sheepdogs make great guard dogs.
A medium-sized Spitz, the Finnish Lapphund has a calm demeanor. It was traditionally used to herd reindeer. It is a very popular breed in Finland; however, it has not gained a wide following outside of its native land. A highly active and intelligent breed the Lapphund is, nowadays, mostly used as a companion animal and a watchdog.
The name of the breed means ‘herding dog’ in Swedish, and is of course apt as the Vallhund is a herding dog which has its origins pegged at over one thousand years ago. Also known as the Swedish cow dog, the Vallhund is a medium-sized dog with a double-layered coat which is ideal for cold climates but can be suitable for warmer regions as long as properly cared for.