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Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Norwegian Schmuuhund: Breed History Part One

So many people have asked me what kind of dog Elke is. Here is Part One of the breed and its history.


The Norwegian Schmuuhund (pronounced Schmooo-hund) is an ancient and extremely rare breed.

Many modern breeds such as the Alaskan Klee-Klee, the Keeshond, The Norwegian Elkhound and Buhund (new to the AKC this year, btw) and several Swedish breeds (such as the Lapphund and Vallhund) trace their lineage directly to the Schmuuhund. Most, if not all the Nordic/Scandanavian breeds come from the ancient Norwegian Schmuuhund.

You will find The NS in the Belgian Shepherd breeds, most especially the Malinois. A typical NS has the dark muzzle and black-tipped ears now commonly seen on a Malinois. This is also seen in German Shepherds Dogs, who get their guarding and herding instincts from their ancient ancestor, the NS.

The Spitz type dogs get their distinctive curled tail from the NS. Over the years, the tail has become a tighter curl in these dogs, such as the Malamute and Siberian Husky.

Over 4,000 years ago, travelers from Scandia made their way to what was then called the Northern China Silk Route. Evidence of these tall, blonde travelers was found (see the Talka Makan Mummies) near and in Qizilchoqa. We do know (from Norse artifacts found all over Northern Europe and the British Isles) that the Norsemen traveled with their faithful dogs, the ancient NS.

It is reasonable to assume that these far-flung travelers took their faithful, small guard dogs on this lengthy and perilous journey to China although no archeological evidence has been found to date (Summer 2009). It is surmised, from structural evidence found in today's Chow, Shar-pei and Pug dogs that their ancestor too, was the ancient NS. The NS gave the Pug their distinctive cobby build and curled tail. Canine structural studies indicate the Shar-pei and Chows' characteristic neck rolls are most likely from the NS. Certainly their guarding proclivatities are from the NS.

As the development of breeds throughout Northern Europe and China, the ancient NS fell "out of favor" so to speak, and was thought extinct. Its nearest relative would be what is now the modern Norwegian Buhund.

Modern History of the Norwegian Schmuuhund:

In 1902, Lady Eloise Burleigh-Smythe of Northumbria, UK, (through a bizarre twist of fate) met and married the Swedish explorer and amateur biologist, botanist, and collector of water closet chain pulls, Sven Horst Wortenberg-Belsen-Svorsvenson.

Eloise, an eager student of Viking history in the British Isles, had seen artifacts showing the Nordic canines. Ever curious and a dog-lover herself, she wondered if there were any of these brave dogs left in the world. While trekking through the upper reaches of Scandanavia with her husband and children (Sven the Younger, Freya and little Elke) the party became stranded in unmapped upper Lappland. Fearing the worst and with winter setting in, Eloise wondered if starting this expedition in November might not have been one of her husband's better ideas. The family found a snow cave and hopefully took shelter.

Two days into their horrific ordeal, Eloise, thought she heard scratching at the ice covering the cave entrance. The scratching turned out to be a small Nordic-type dog accompanied by two native Northern Lapplanders. The kind little dog took to cuddling with the children, thus keeping them warm and saving their lives.

Modern Breed History Continues
Breed Type


  1. you must post a picture of this elusive shmuuhund... that is if any exist...

  2. She's so adorable, I just want smoosh her... I'm not sure what smooshing even is, but it sounds cute.

  3. Ok, I'm not sure where my brain is today, smooshing is a word... I meant schmoosh... yeah, that's cute.