What you need to know about the Swedish Norrbottenspets – a native Swedish dog breed

Spitz puppyPhoto: Unsplash

The Norrbottenspets is a native Swedish breed from North Bothnia. These dogs are descendants of hunting dogs that existed for millennia and survived under natural selection – only the strongest and most effective remained. 


The Norrbottenspets has a close resemblance to the Finish Spitz and is quite similar in origin. According to the Swedish Kennel Club and Norsk Spesialklubb for Finsk Spets og Norrbottenspets (Norwegian Special Club for Finnish Spitz and Norrbottenspets), the Norrbottenspets has most likely evolved from the Laikas, a smaller hunting spitz once used by hunting tribes during the prehistoric times in the North Cape. 

These dogs previously inhabited the northernmost parts of Finland and Sweden and were primarily used for fur hunting, especially forest bird hunting. 

In the late 1800s, Finland began to incorporate the solid red color for Finnish spitz in order to remove any other colors. Although the dogs around the north of Finland and Sweden were varicolored, there was an effort to make the single color the basis for the Norrbottenspets of today.

Nordkapp port. Source: Peter Rüdiger / Pixabay

In the early 1900s, the dogs were celebrated by the cynologists of those days. All spitz breeds rostered in the Swedish kennel club were categorized as “Nordic Spitzes” before 1906. 

The documentation about the Norrbottenspets as initiated by Lieutenant Kantzov in 1907 led to the proposal of the first official breed standard in 1911. 

By 1912, the Swedish Kennel Club made some efforts to propagate the breed. However, these were limited, in part because of the similarity of its breed standard with the Finnish Spitz. Other than that, there were insufficient contacts between people who owned the dogs.

After WWII, interest in the breed declined since fur was no longer of value. The last known registration was in 1936. The Swedish kennel club deregistered the Norrbottenspets in 1947, and a year later declared the breed extinct.

Fortunately, in the late 1950s, many of the dogs still existed around in the hinterland of Norrbotten. This was discovered by Stig Onnerfeldt who searched for Norrbottenspets in the area and pushed for the breed to be approved by the Swedish Kennel Club. He eventually restored the breed’s numbers. He visited various shows with his Norrbottenspets named Blondi of Bjerkefall to garner more interest and understanding of the breed.

Around the 1960s, the population of Norrbottenspets was in a warranted condition. In 1967, 36 of these dogs attended the first exhibition in Öjebyn, and the breed was finally reintroduced to the Swedish kennel club as well as its standard being authorized. 

Norrbottenspets characteristics

According to the standards in Swedish Kennel Club, the Norrbottenspets is a small and well-poised spitz. It is has a strong, compact, robust, and slightly rectangular build. These dogs have a relatively long neck, high-set arched but loosely lifted tail, dark brown almond-shaped eyes, and high-set ears with hard leather and quite rounded tips. The ideal size for males is 45 cm, as for females 42 cm.

They have a double coat: varying lengths of topcoat, and short, fine, and rich undercoat. They have a solid white color with finely distinctive and clearly distributed broad patterns of red and yellow in all shades around the sides of the head and ears. 

Although these dogs show a calm and curious expression, they are noted for being kind, outgoing, and lively, as well for their remarkable agility, fearless and watchful character; but they are not aggressive. Furthermore, they are not the nervous or shy type of breed, and are fond of getting attention and being around with the family.

Grouse in the forest. Source: Dennis Buchner / Unsplash

The dogs are highly valued for hunting large forest grouse, but they are also taken for small game hunting trips and are adept in baying elks. 

During search and hunts, they can independently scout for prey. The dogs operate by keeping contact with the hunter in the span of 5-15 minutes, and by barking at the birds to signal the hunters. 

According to the recommendation of the American Kennel Club, other than grooming them each week and trimming their nails, having their ears checked frequently will help avoid slight issues. In general, they are clean and only require bathing or toothbrushing if necessary. As for exercise, they can do well with activities that match their engaging and vibrant character, such as any forms of play or new tricks and dog sports.

Moreover, the Norrbottenspets is a pretty healthy breed, although certain health concerns occur such as cataracts, epilepsy, and patella luxation.

Source: #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayTravel

Do you have a news tip for Norway Today? We want to hear it. Get in touch at info@norwaytoday.no


Be the first to comment on "What you need to know about the Swedish Norrbottenspets – a native Swedish dog breed"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.