The Viking dog breeds that still exist today

If you are familiar with the Viking sagas, you can certainly recognize how highly valued and respected the dog was to Viking society.

The Scandinavians believed that dogs were the guardians of the underworld and therefore traditionally buried them alongside their owners.

It was their belief that the dog will be a guide to the afterlife.

There have been many archaeological findings of Vikings being buried next to their dog companions along with other treasured possessions.

Dogs were very important during the Viking age as they provided companionship, protection, helped farmers move their livestock around, and assisted in hunting.

The Viking dogs can be split into two separate categories. Herding dogs and hunting dogs.

Here are the dog breeds that once fought, hunted, and worked alongside the Vikings and that are still bred today.

Herding dogs

Finish Lapphund

Finish Lapphund By

The Finnish Lapphund’s DNA can be traced to being half-wolf, half dog. This dog is alert, friendly, intelligent, eager to learn, and agile. He is medium-sized and while looking very much like a northern breed, he has the temperament of a herding dog. These dogs were originally bred by the Sami, the semi-nomadic people of Scandinavia, for reindeer herding.

They are very good family dogs and are also said to be good with children. Given this dog’s history, they are clearly very happy when outdoors and have a good amount of energy to spend.

Lapponian Herder

Lapponian Herder

The Lapponian Herder has also been used by the Sami people of the Lapland in Scandinavia, therefore just as with the Finish Lapphund, their original purpose was to herd deer as well. These dogs can get bored easily and need to be kept busy.

They are independent and highly vocal. They are also good with children but as with any herding breed, they need to be socialized from a young age as they will attempt to “herd” everyone.


This is a dog breed originating in Sweden, and can be traced back to the Viking settlements of England in the 8th and 9th century. They were used as guard dogs and herding dogs.

This dog has a unique vocalization and generally has a happy demeanor. They are long and low with a dense coat suitable for cold weather.

Icelandic Sheepdog

As history goes, the Norwegian Vikings set sail and colonized Iceland in the 8th century. They brought their dog companions with them. Since very few dogs have been imported to Iceland since then, the sheepdog stayed relatively pure since the time of the Vikings. This is Iceland’s only native dog breed. A dog who is devoted to his human, friendly, and charming.

Norwegian Buhund

These dogs were used to hunt bears and wolves, making them invaluable companions to the Vikings. They are one of the oldest breeds and are also thought to be related to the arctic wolf. This is a good family dog, devoted and affectionate.

Hunting Dogs

Norwegian Lundehund

This dog was an indispensable companion to the Vikings who utilized them to hunt the local puffin birds. The meat and feathers were very valuable to the Vikings, Their extra toes and flexibility allowed them to reach the Puffin nest in very inaccessible places. They also had the ability to gently bring back the prey without damaging the feathers.

Finnish Spitz

The Finish Spitz AKA bird dog, was originally bred to track small animals and game such as polar bears. The dog would then bark in order to attract the prey’s attention thus allowing the hunter to get closer without being detected. A perfect hunting partner. They are known to be barkers as this is what they were originally bred to do.

Karelian Bear

Archaeological records show that dogs very similar to the Karelian Bear Dog have existed for 12000 years.

Their resilience is unmatched as they have been the dog of choice for hunting aggressive and dangerous game such as moose, bears, and wild boars.

This is a dog that can be difficult to handle as he has a strong fighting spirit and loves a challenge.

Norwegian Elkhound

The Norwegian Elkhounds originated in 5000 BC. They not only sailed with the Vikings but were also found buried with their owners. A true testament to their importance to the Nordic culture. They have been hunting Bears and moose for thousands of years.


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