Norrbottenspets: The Ancient Spitz

Emily Young
Written by Emily Young

Are you highly active and need a companion to take runs with you? Are you an outdoor enthusiast? If so, you just found your dog. You may not be able to pronounce this breed’s name, but this doesn’t mean you should overlook them. If this is your first time hearing about the Norrbottenspets, we totally understand. However, it’s a breed that you shouldn’t miss.

Their origins are slightly mysterious. However, they’ve been documented in Sweden and Finland since the 17th century. The Norrbottenspets is an intelligent, loving, and social breed that is a huge fan of their family. They love being surrounded by groups of people and get the most joy when their family is around them. If you’re home a lot and have the time to exercise with them, they’ll be perfect for you.

The Norrbottenspets is a rare breed. However, they’re full of personality and love. Now, you may be curious to learn more about this breed. If so, well, keep on reading because we’re going to show you everything there is to know about the Norrbottenspets. After this article, you’ll be able to see the full picture of this breed and whether or not they’re the right breed for you.

Breed Characteristics

Norrbottenspets standing in the wood

  • Adaptability: High

  • Trainability: Low

  • Health and Grooming: Low

  • All Around Friendliness: Moderate

  • Exercise Needs: Moderate

Dog Breed GroupSpitz
Height16 – 18 inches
Weight20 - 30 lbs
Lifespan12 - 14 years

The Norrbottenspets is a medium-sized Spitz-type dog that was formerly used as a hunting companion. Of course, they’re still used as hunting companions; however, nowadays, they’re more commonly used as companion dogs.

They originated in Sweden and Finland and have been documented as early as the 17th century.

They make excellent family dogs due to their easy-going personalities. They’re not overly possessive or aggressive and get along with children and other pets as well. Though they’re family dogs, they’re also highly active and love to run, fetch, and be physically challenged. Thus, they’re ideal for a family that’s always out in nature.

They’re somewhat independent dogs and love making their own decisions. However, you can easily train them through reward-based training. They’re highly intelligent and will do whatever is necessary to make their owners happy and proud of them.

As an owner, you need to meet them halfway and make sure that they’re being taken care of. Daily exercise is an absolute must. If not, they can become bored and create their own entertainment, which usually means chewing and digging up things.

See Also: Dog Agility Equipment DIY

Main Highlights

Norrbottenspets dog's face

  • The Norrbottenspets has moderate energy levels and requires minimal grooming.

  • The Norrbottenspets originated from Sweden and Finland.

  • The Norrbottenspets is a highly versatile dog that can be a great family dog as well as a hunter.

  • The Norrbottenspets is a highly loyal dog and has many skills that can be developed, specifically for hunting.

  • The Norrbottenspets is also known as a Norbbie, Nordic spitz, pohjanpystkorva, and Norrbottenspitz.

  • The average lifespan of the Norrbottenspets is 14 to 18 years.

Breed History

Norrbottenspets puppy sitting

The Norrbottenspets originated from Norrbotten, Sweden, and Lappland, Finland. They’ve been documented as early as the 17th century. Naturally, both Sweden and Finland dispute the origins of the Norrbottenspets, as each state believes that the Norrbottenspets came from them; however, it’s clear that they have a long history in both countries.

The Norrbottenspets were mainly used as hunting companions. However, after World War I, the Norrbottenspets breed was almost extinct. In 1948, Sweden closed its studbook due to the small numbers. However, some of the dogs were preserved in a non-Swedish speaking area as farm and companion dogs.

Fans of the Norrbottenspets brought together the remaining dogs and were able to start a breeding program for the Norrbottenspets in the 1950s and 1960s. It was successful, and the FCI confirmed the new breed standard in 1966 with its official name being the “Norrbottenspets.”

The breed was accepted in both Sweden and Finland; however, in Finland, they’re called Pohjanpystykorva. Farmers gave the Norrbottenspets a new, longer name: Norbottens-skollandehund. In Finland, they make sure to keep the health of this breed up to high standards and under strict control. Sweden is focusing on preserving the breed as well.


Norrbottenspets on snow

The Norrbottenspets is Spitz-type dog. This is a medium-sized breed. Though, don’t let their size fool you as they’re a muscular breed designed for endurance. Not weighing more than 20-30 lbs, they’re surprisingly enduring and hard-working dogs.

They have fox-like characteristics especially around the muzzle, the ears, and the bushy curled tail. Their black nose and brown almond-shaped eyes blend in beautifully with their luscious white and red coat.

Personality and Character

Norrbottenspets running in the yard

The Norrbottenspets has a well-known reputation for being a hard-working and trusted dog, specifically around other animals and children. Typically, working breeds tend to be overly protective and suspicious of people and animals around them. However, though the Norrbottenspets is a working breed, their easy-going personality offsets these traits.

If you socialize them from an early age with children and other animals, they get along fine with everyone. They hate being alone and love to be surrounded by their family. Thus, if you work from home or are a stay-at-home parent, they’ll be a great addition to your family.

Since they’re the happiest around groups of people and animals, they’ll use their time to play and exercise. Remember, they are an active breed which needs daily activity. If not, they can become destructive by trying to make their own entertainment.

See Also: DIY Dog Toys

Aside from their need to exercise, the Norrbottenspets are easy going and aren’t bossy or possessive. They love to be treated with respect and respond well to reward-based training. That way, they’re allowed to be independent, however, still understand the importance of listening to their owners.

Health and Potential Problems

Like all breeds, the Norrbottenspets has its own minor health problems. Naturally, some breeds have more problems than others; however, this is something you can avoid by making sure the breeder has proper certification.

With health certifications, you’ll be given verified proof that the parents of your puppy are healthy and fit. But, of course, there are still some health conditions that may occur.

#1: Progressive Early-Onset Cerebellar Ataxia

Cerebellar ataxia is a disorder which occurs when the cerebellum is inflamed or damaged. The cerebellum is responsible for muscle coordination and controlling the gait.

What you’ll notice is your dog being unable to coordinate their limbs, walking almost as if they’re drunk. There is no known treatment for this condition, and your dog’s condition can deteriorate quickly. Make sure your breeder is screening their Norrbottenspets for this condition.

#2: Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

On a regular, healthy dog, their joints are designed so that there’s minimal rubbing between the bones. However, if your dog has hip or elbow dysplasia, this means that their joints are malformed, causing friction and rubbing to occur between joint ends. This causes inflammation and intense pain.

Over a long period of time, with hip or elbow dysplasia, the development of arthritis is possible. Mild cases can be treated with medication; however, if it’s severe, then your Norrbottenspets will need to undergo hip or elbow surgery to replace the joints.

See Also: Best Joint Supplement for Dogs

Again, this condition can be screened by the breeder. Double check if they have the certification verifying that the parents are healthy. If not, though the dog may still be healthy, it can be a slight risk.

Care Features

Norrbottenspets lying on floor

The Norrbottenspets is an energetic breed which isn’t meant to be kept inside. They love being active and exploring their surroundings. Therefore, they need a family that is active and will give them the exercise they need.

They prefer to run off-leash—playing fetch or wrestling and running with other dogs. Of course, before letting them off-leash, have them properly trained to respond to your commands.

Since they’re an intelligent breed, you should also provide them with agility and mind games as they love being challenged.

See Also: Dog IQ Test

It’s important to know that if you’re not actively exercising your Norrbottenspets, they will create their own entertainment. This means they can be somewhat destructive, chewing things around them. Thus, it’s essential that you make sure you have the time to give them for exercising and letting them explore.

Feeding Schedule

Norrbottenspets standing on snow

Like all breeds, the Norrbottenspets needs a high-quality diet. Since they’re an active breed, they’re going to need food which provides them with the essential nutrients.

Naturally, since they’re an active breed, you want to make sure that their diet consists of complex carbs and high-quality protein. They’re going to be eating this food for the rest of their lives, so it’s essential that you make sure their food covers everything they need.

If you’re wondering on the type of food they should be eating, then it’s best you consult your vet as they’ll be able to take into consideration their age, activity level, and health issues.

In addition, aside from the food, you should always make sure that your Norrbottenspets has a fresh, clean bowl of water available throughout the day.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

Norrbottenspets with an owner

These dogs’ coats are often white with red patches which can show on their ears and face.

The Norrbottenspets has a short, double coat which allows them to be low-maintenance when it comes to grooming. Naturally, you’ll still need to give your dog a weekly brushing as that will remove any dead cells from their coat, keeping it nice and shiny. In addition, it’ll make their coat tangle-free.

They do have a shedding period like most breeds, which happens in the spring and autumn. During this period, they go through a full molt, so, you’ll need to brush them more often as there will be heavy shedding. Taking your Norrbottenspets to the groomers during this period can help to reduce the shedding significantly.

See Also: How to Groom a Dog

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Norrbottenspets with a cat

When you have small children, as a parent, you’re concerned about how they’ll interact with a dog. Naturally, you’ll want a breed which has family-friendly characteristics.

The Norrbottenspets make great family dogs because of their easy-going personalities. In addition, they hate being alone, so, if your family is full of people, they’ll love every moment of it.

They’re great with other pets as well, so long as you introduce them to your other pets at a young age. In general, it’s important that you introduce them early on to children and pets so that they adapt quickly as easily. That way, being surrounded by children and other animals won’t come as a huge shock to them.

Wrap Up

Norrbottenspets puppy

When it comes to choosing a dog, everyone struggles with making the right choice. You want a dog that’ll truly blend into your family. That being said, the Norrbottenspets is intelligent, independent, and highly active.

Since they’re not too big in size, they’ll do well in almost any home just as long as you give them enough exercise. Remember, they love running off-leash and playing with other dogs, but daily walks are also a good idea.

The Norrbottenspets does very well with children and other pets, just as long as you introduce them to each other from a young age. That way, they’ll be able to adapt quickly.

Since originally they’re hunting companions, they’re very alert of their surroundings and make great guard dogs as well. It’s easy to see that the Norrbottenspets are well-rounded dogs; all you need to do is make sure you’re able to meet them halfway.

If you’re looking for an active, intelligent, and loving breed, then why not consider bringing home a Norrbottenspets? They have great qualities that would be an ideal addition to any home. Do you think the Norrbottenspets is the right breed for you? Do leave us a comment! If you need a name for your newly adopted Norrbottenspets, check out our list of elegant dog names!

About the author
Emily Young
Emily Young

Emily is originally from China where she graduated from The University of Hong Kong with high distinction learning about fashion and design. During university she opened her own magazine about Dog Fashion as dogs were always in her heart. She was surprised, when she moved to a beautiful British Columbia 10 years ago, to see many great Boutiques with dog's designer clothing and desire of pet owners to make their babies look nice.