The Dunker Dog Breed: Everything You Need to Know

The Dunker dog breed is a medium-sized dog with a unique coat and floppy ears. Native to Norway, the breed boasts a fascinating history, distinctive features, and a wonderful temperament.

In this comprehensive article, we will go into the details of everything you need to know about the skilled hunting Dunker dog breed, a.k.a the Norwegian Hound.

History and Origin of the Dunker Dog Breed

The Dunker, also known as the Norwegian Hound or Harehound, is one of the seven dog breeds native to Norway. The Dunker is a powerful scenthound capable of hunting in a land of fjords, mountains, and forests.

The Early History of the Breed

The history of the Dunker starts in 1820 with a dog named Hvide Musikk. Hvide was purchased by General Jakob Krefting from homeless travelers and given to Captain Wilhelm Conrad Dunker.

Captain Dunker crossed Hvide with a female Russian Harlequin Hound. Five of the puppies in the litter had merle coats and glassy blue eyes, which are now considered hallmarks of the breed.

Dunker Dogs for Hunting

Captain Dunker’s goal was to create a dog that can hunt rabbits by scent instead of the traditional approach of hunting by sight. The dog was also supposed to adapt well to the rugged terrains of Norway.

The Dunker breed met those expectations and is a highly prized hunting dog even in modern Scandinavia. The breed is primarily used for hunting hares, but it is also successful against other prey like foxes and lynx.

Recognition by Kennel Clubs

The Dunker dog was recognized by the Norwegian Harehundclub in 1902. The breed is also recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale, but it is not very well-known outside Scandinavia.

Physical Characteristics of the Dunker Dog

Apart from its hunting abilities, the Dunker dog is also famous for its unique physical characteristics. Here are some of the physical attributes that set the Dunker dog apart from the rest.

Size and Weight

The Dunker dog is a medium-sized dog that weighs between 25 to 39 pounds. It can grow up to 18.5 to 21.5 inches tall at the shoulders. Breed members have a well-proportioned body that is neither too heavy nor too light.

Dunker dogs have a high energy level and require regular exercise to maintain their physical health. They are known for their endurance and can keep up with their owners during long walks or hikes.

Coat and Colors

Dunker dogs have a dense, smooth, and double coat that provides them with insulation when hunting in harsh weather conditions. The breed comes in two main color options:

  • Black-and-tan
  • Blue merle

The Dunker’s coat is easy to maintain and only requires occasional brushing to keep it clean and healthy. Dunker dogs shed moderately over the year and more intensely during shedding seasons.

Distinctive Features

The unique coat and blue eyes are the main hallmarks of the Dunker dog breed. The breed also has long and floppy ears, which are essential for picking up scents from the ground.

The Dunker’s head is broad and strong, with a long snout and powerful jaws. The tail is long and straight, and overall, the body is muscular and quite robust despite its medium size.

Personality and Temperament

The Dunker dog is not only physically attractive but also has a wonderful temperament. Here are some of the personality traits that make the Dunker dog lovable.

General Disposition

Dunker dogs are friendly with a loyal and affectionate personality. They have an innate ability to sense their owners’ moods and respond accordingly. They thrive on attention and love to be close to their owners.

The breed adores people and gets along well with kids and other larger pets. Dunker dogs are also avid outdoor enthusiasts and excel at hiking and other outdoor activities with their owners.

Interaction with Children and Other Pets

The Dunker dog is a great family dog. They like being around children, and their lively and playful temperament makes them perfect companions for kids. Dunker dogs are gentle and patient, and they enjoy playing fetch and other games.

They also get along well with other pets, including cats and other dogs, especially if socialized properly. The friendly and outgoing nature makes them the perfect addition to any household.

Intelligence and Trainability

Dunker dogs are highly intelligent and easy to train. They are quick learners and respond well to positive reinforcement. The breed’s hunting instincts may cause them to chase small animals, but early socialization prevents this behavior.

Dunker dogs are also highly adaptable and can easily adjust to new environments and routines. They thrive on mental stimulation and enjoy learning new tricks and commands.

Health and Lifespan

Common Health Issues

The Dunker breed is prone to several health conditions, such as:

  • Hip Dysplasia: An orthopedic malformation in which the bones forming the hip do not grow at equal rates causing joint laxity, pain, and mobility issues
  • Ear Infections: The anatomy of the ears (long and curvy ear canal) makes the breed prone to ear infections which are painful and annoying to manage

Preventative Care and Regular Checkups

Preventative care is essential for the health and well-being of your Dunker dog. Proper nutrition, regular exercise, and routine veterinary checkups can keep your dog healthy and disease-free.

Expected Lifespan

The expected lifespan of the Dunker dog is between 10 to 12 years, making it a great long-term companion. With the right care, your Dunker dog can be a loyal friend for many years to come.


Overall, the Dunker is a friendly, strong, and good-looking breed that makes a great companion for individuals and families. Breed members are also known for their excellent sense of smell, which makes them ideal for hunting and tracking.

Dunker dogs are intelligent and trainable, and they excel in obedience and agility competitions. With proper care and attention, you can expect many years of loyal companionship and friendship from your Dunker dog.

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