Nordic dogs have helped people for centuries to help guard, sled, and hunt in northern Europe's harsh climates. These strong and highly-intelligent pups make affectionate companions that are stunning to look at, making them a popular breed today. We're sharing more about Nordic dog breeds so you can pick the best fit for your home!
Though they share many similar qualities, some dog breeds look like they could be a completely different species from one another.
The first time you see a Nordic dog, you instantly notice that there's something different about them. Nordic dogs have impressively full coats, thick tails, and other unique features. The first time I saw the multicolored eyes of an Alaskan Husky, I was mesmerized.
Their distinctive looks aside, it's easy to see why these dogs are so popular in the cold northern countries of Europe! They're handy workhorses (or work dogs, in this case). They're super intelligent, making them highly trainable, and they're sweet as pie to everyone they meet, but especially to their beloved owner.
If you live in a moderate seasonal climate with warm summers and cold winters, these pups will thrive and make an excellent addition to your home.
Learn more about these unique Scandinavian dog breeds and see if adopting one would be a good fit!
What's a Nordic Dog?
Nordic, or Spitz, are a group of furry dog breeds from a particular region in northern Europe, aptly named the "northern islands." The Nordic countries include Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands.
Historically, every region of the world has had different needs and uses for dogs. The harsh Nordic climates required dogs that could keep warm, protect, hunt, and pull heavy loads on sleds through heavy snow and ice.
Today, selective breeding has made these pups some of the most powerful and beautiful dogs in the world.
While not every dog on our list is from the Nordic region, they're all Spitz breeds – they share many qualities and thrive in cold weather.
Here are a few standard features you'll find in many Nordic dog breeds:
- Two coats. These long-haired dog breeds have their own parka – their double coat of fur can keep them warm on even the coldest winter days, and even possesses some water-proofing qualities.
- Almond-shaped eyes. Arctic dogs have a small, elongated eye shape that makes squinting easier and keeps their eyes from drying out in cold air.
- Furry tails. The poofy tails are adorable and useful. They can curl them around their faces to keep warm while they sleep.
- Thick footpads and furry feet. Both thick footpads and fur help protect their feet while walking on cold snow and ice.
Now, let’s see which of these best Nordic dog breeds you may want to adopt!
The 16 Best Nordic Dog Breeds
#1: Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky, known for its multicolored eyes of greens, icy blues, and almost pure white, looks like a small wolf at a glance.
These dogs technically originate from northeast Asia, but Huskies share many of the same qualities as pups from the Nordic region. A Husky can pull heavy loads for hours; this is the ultimate sleddog.
A Husky is a beautiful pet to own if you can match its high energy with ample amounts of exercise.
The Akita was bred in Japan exclusively for the Japanese Imperial family. In Japanese culture, the Akita is a symbol of happiness, health, and long life.
These are fantastic cold-weather hunting companions that can be stubbornly independent, but still very loving members of any family.
#3: Alaskan Malamute
This is the original Arctic sled dog. The Malamute is the oldest and largest of the Arctic breeds and is incredibly strong, standing out even among other strong breeds.
These doggos are tough as nails on the outside, but soft on the inside. The Alaskan Malamute forms a tight-knit bond to its owner and is an incredibly fierce protector of children.
This Denmark-native breed is quite rare and once faced extinction, but some breeders brought them back from the brink. The Broholmer is a massive animal that's part of the Mastiff family and packs quite a bit of strength.
Broholmer pups are docile and sweet with their family members, but excellent guard dogs – historically, Broholmers were used to guard large estates against potential intruders.
#5: The Finnish Spitz
This bright red pup is an excellent bird finder, making it a beneficial hunting dog to keep around. And like any other hunting dog, you should beware when bringing the Spitz around smaller animals, which they may mistake for prey.
The Finnish Spitz is energetic, spunky, and loves to hear the sound of its own voice. Keeping them well exercised can help control the Spitzes, as they love to bark, and bark... and bark!
#6: Swedish Vallhund
The Swedish Vallhund kind of looks like a Corgi from the North, and many believe these two breeds are related. This dog is short and stout, with a thick double coat of fur.
The Vallhund is a herding dog to keep other animals in line on a farm. These loving companions are on high alert at all times, making excellent watchdogs at home – you will hear the familiar bark long before you know someone new has arrived at your doorstep.
#7: Greenland Dog
This dog is one of the large Nordic dog breeds that hails from – surprise, surprise – the Denmark territory of Greenland!
The Greenland Dog is quite similar to an Alaskan Husky, making an excellent sled dog, useful for hunting for polar bears, seals, and other northern prey.
They're a little more reserved than other breeds and are best-suited for experienced owners that emphasize training.
#8: Norwegian Lundehund
This dog is bred specifically for hunting puffins and eggs – in the Norwegian language, "Lunde" translates to "puffin."
This dog is quite literally ancient. They are the very oldest Nordic breed, tracing back at least 12,000 years ago to the last Ice Age. They're a smaller dog and somewhat resemble a large fox.
The Norwegian Lundehund has big feet with six toes on each of its paws, helping them traverse challenging terrain easily.
#9: Norwegian Elkhound
The Elkhound is the national dog breed of Norway, another ancient breed well-suited for herding and hunting large game such as moose.
This is an easy to handle medium-sized Nordic breed, making perfect watchdogs with a piercing and alarming bark.
#10: Hamilton Hound
Like many other hound breeds, the Hamilton Hound is an adept, hardworking hunter that can sniff out any hidden prey.
They're friendly and calm around others and incredibly loving with their families.
The Samoyed hail from Siberia and are massive, white puffballs that are always full of smiles. While they have playful energy, they have a sweet and gentle nature too.
These dogs are incredibly athletic. They can herd reindeer and pull heavy sled loads!
#12: Shiba Inu
The Shiba Inu has a thick coat that looks super cozy and sticks straight out from the body. These pups are incredibly soft.
They're also confident and full of personality, making them one of the more popular Nordic breeds.
One of the newer and more popular designer dog breeds is the Shiba Inu Husky mix, which has very striking colors, from their signature red-orange Shiba coat to the telltale icy light Husky eyes.
#13: The Karelian Bear
The Karelian Bear has an intimidating name and an intimidating nature too. These dogs are quite territorial and need a solid training regimen and an experienced owner to take the reins.
They don't love to share a home with other pets, but they enjoy being a part of a family with children!
#14: Finnish Lapphund
These might be the most popular of all the Nordic breeds worldwide – their small stature and good nature make them an easier to manage dog for first-time owners than a larger breed, like the bear dog.
Originally bred as herding dogs for reindeer, they grew in popularity because of their sunny temperament.
Finnish Lapphund dogs are super social with their owners, as well as new people and dogs.
#15: Icelandic Sheepdog
This pup holds the title as the only native dog breed from Iceland, brought to the island by Viking settlers and bred to herd livestock amid the harsh weather.
The Icelandic Sheepdog has bundles of energy to burn and needs a high level of exercise daily.
#16: Norwegian Buhund
This Scandinavian doggo is one of the sweetest-tempered Nordic breeds that love to give affection to everyone around them.
They're loving but independent and certainly not lap dogs – they'll need a lot of exercise to keep them happy and well-adjusted.
Final Note: The Best Nordic Dog Breeds
Nordic dogs have a lot to offer any owner, but each breed has its own sets of needs to thrive.
If you live in an often hot and humid climate, a Nordic dog may not be the best option for you; if you're set on one, some breeds moderate their temperature better than others.
You can find Nordic breeds of all sizes, so keep your strength and general fitness level in mind when choosing the breed for you. Some of these dogs are pretty big boys (or girls).
In the end, though, these dogs are whip-smart and generally quite friendly. With the right training and ample exercise, you will find Nordic breed ownership a breeze and an absolute joy!