Unraveling the Canine Saga: Exploring the Resilient Viking Dog Breeds 2024

Venturing back to the age of sail and conquest, we uncover a lesser-known aspect of Viking history: their dogs. Viking dog breeds were not only companions but also integral to Norse life. They were often bred for specific tasks like herding, guarding, and hunting.

These hardy canines braved the harsh Nordic climates alongside their human counterparts, showcasing traits like intelligence, resilience, and versatility that made them invaluable. Today, these breeds offer a living link to our storied past, giving us insight into Viking culture and the significant role dogs played within it.

As we explore these venerable breeds, it becomes clear that they’re more than just pets—they’re part of a lineage that stretches back over a thousand years. Whether you’re an enthusiast of history, an admirer of canines with an ancient legacy, or someone looking for a dog that can keep up with an active lifestyle, understanding Viking dog breeds can offer enriching perspectives.

They are not only symbols of Scandinavian heritage but also emblematic of the enduring bond between humans and dogs.

Key Takeaways

  • Viking dog breeds are historically significant, offering insight into the Viking way of life.
  • These breeds were versatile, fulfilling roles such as herding, guarding, and hunting.
  • Their attributes make them suitable for active homes and an understanding of their heritage enhances the human-canine bond.

Viking Dog Breeds

Norwegian Buhund

Viking Dog Breeds Norwegian Buhund
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Originating from Norway, we find the Norwegian Buhund. Full-grown, they’ll typically weigh around 26-40 pounds, with heights of 16-18.5 inches.

With a friendly disposition, they’re perfect for active families or those engaged in dog sports.

  • Country of Origin: Norway
  • Adult Size: 26-40 pounds, 16-18.5 inches tall
  • Characteristics: Energetic, intelligent, loyal
  • Suitable For: Active families, dog sports enthusiasts

Swedish Vallhund

Viking Dog Breeds Swedish Vallhund
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The Swedish Vallhund, also from the Viking Age, hails from Sweden. Adults stand 11.5-13.75 inches tall and weigh in at 20-35 pounds.

These dogs possess a zest for life and are great herders.

  • Country of Origin: Sweden
  • Adult Size: 20-35 pounds, 11.5-13.75 inches tall
  • Characteristics: Sociable, energetic, alert
  • Suitable For: Families, farm work, herding

Icelandic Sheepdog

Viking Dog Breeds Icelandic Sheepdog
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Iceland’s Icelandic Sheepdog impresses with its agility and friendly nature. An average adult Icelandic Sheepdog weighs 25-30 pounds and reaches a height of 12-16 inches.

  • Country of Origin: Iceland
  • Adult Size: 25-30 pounds, 12-16 inches tall
  • Characteristics: Hardy, agile, affectionate
  • Suitable For: Active households, outdoor environments

Karelian Bear Dog

Viking Dog Breeds Karelian Bear Dog
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The formidable Karelian Bear Dog, from Finland, grows to about 44-50 pounds and 19-24 inches.

They are courageous and make excellent hunting companions.

  • Country of Origin: Finland
  • Adult Size: 44-50 pounds, 19-24 inches tall
  • Characteristics: Independent, courageous, loyal
  • Suitable For: Experienced dog owners, hunting activities

Finnish Spitz

Viking Dog Breeds Finnish Spitz
by Pinterest

From Finland, we have the Finnish Spitz. They mature to 20-33 pounds and 15.5-20 inches tall.

These dogs are lively and alert, making them superb watchdogs.

  • Country of Origin: Finland
  • Adult Size: 20-33 pounds, 15.5-20 inches tall
  • Characteristics: Vocal, lively, alert
  • Suitable For: Active families, those seeking a watchdog

Norwegian Elkhound

Viking Dog Breeds Norwegian Elkhound
by Pinterest

Another Viking Dog Breeds are the Norwegian Elkounds. He is known for his courage, agility, and stamina, making him an excellent hunting dog. They are also friendly and make loyal companions.

  • Country of Origin: Norway
  • Adult Size: 55 pounds, 20-21 inches tall
  • Characteristics: courage, agility, and stamina
  • Suitable For: Active families or individuals who enjoy outdoor adventures

Significance of Dogs for the Vikings

Dogs held profound importance in Viking culture. Viewed as loyal companions, they were integral to daily life and spirituality.

Referred to in various Norse sagas, dogs were both practical assets and symbols in Norse mythology.

Herding and Guarding

Dogs were essential for herding, bearing the title of herding dog for their role in managing livestock. Their keen instincts and ability to navigate rough terrain made them invaluable.

As guard dogs, they protected homesteads, a task highlighted by their representation as guardians in myths, such as Garm, the watchful hound at the gates of the underworld.

Spiritual Companions

In the spiritual realm, dogs were seen as companions in the afterlife. It was believed that they could accompany their masters to Valhalla.

Odin, the chief god, had his own wolves, Geri and Freki, demonstrating the animal’s revered status.

Symbols of Wealth and Sacrifice

Owning certain breeds became a status symbol. High-ranking individuals often had larger and more impressive breeds, signifying wealth and power.

Moreover, dogs were sometimes used in sacrificial rituals, as they were believed to possess courage and spiritual significance.

Norse Deities and their Companions

Mythical dogs were companions to deities such as Frigg and Freyja, symbolizing protection and divinity. Fenrir, a monstrous wolf, was a central figure in the Norse apocalyptic tale, Ragnarok.

Roles of Dogs in Viking Society

In Viking society, dogs were more than just pets; they were essential working animals, playing various roles that contributed significantly to daily life.

The Vikings valued dogs for their abilities in herding, hunting, guarding, and protecting livestock.

  • Herding: Dogs helped manage cattle and sheep, ensuring the animals stayed together and were led to suitable pastures.
  • Hunting: Vikings relied on dogs to track and hunt down game in the dense Nordic forests.
  • Guarding: As guardians, dogs were tasked with protecting the homestead from intruders and wild animals.
  • Working Animals: Their role extended to being active members on Viking farms, or homesteads, due to their versatility.

Dogs facilitated trade, too, as they were often gifted or exchanged among people.

With their sociable nature, dogs were an integral part of the Viking community. Additionally, they found their way into Norse folklore, often symbolizing loyalty and protection.


We, as lovers of history and canines, often find ourselves fascinated by the legendary Viking era and the Viking dog breeds that originated from this period.

We explore how the strength and versatility of these dogs made them invaluable across various facets of daily Norse life. This will help our readers grasp the full extent of these dogs’ significance in Viking society.

Viking Dog Breeds: Our Opinion

We’re enthusiasts of Viking Dog Breeds. They’re such impressive animals, boasting a rich history. Dog breeds like the Icelandic Sheepdog and the Norwegian Lundehund epitomize adaptability and resilience. Thriving alongside their Viking masters for centuries, their historical significance is remarkable, reflecting their roles as versatile working dogs and loyal companions. These breeds demonstrate the enduring bond between humans and animals over the centuries, underscoring the mutual dependency and respect that shaped Viking society.

What kind of dog did the Vikings have?

The Icelandic Sheepdog is considered one of the “viking dog breeds” prized by Norse seafarers and raiders for its hardy nature, herding abilities, and loyalty. These spitz-type dogs with their distinctive pointed ears and thick coats were well-suited to the harsh Scandinavian climate and lifestyle of the Vikings.

What is a Nordic dog?

A “Nordic dog” refers to breeds from the Nordic region, such as the Norwegian Elkhound, which is one of the ancient “viking dog breeds” known for its history with the Vikings as a hunter, guardian, and companion.

What is the oldest Scandinavian dog breed?

The Swedish Vallhund is one of the oldest “viking dog breeds,” dating back over 1,000 years to the time of the Vikings in Sweden, where it was used for herding and guarding.

We hope you enjoyed our article on Viking Dog Breeds. Feel free to let us know in the comments what your thoughts are on these magnificent creatures and if there’s perhaps another breed we overlooked.

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Thorsten Baumgarten
Articles: 42

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