Dunker (Norwegian Hound)

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black or blue marbled (dappled) with pale fawn and white markings
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Pros Cons

  • excellent hunter

  • good with other dogs

  • friendly

  • independent and stubborn

  • chases other animals

  • vocal

  • requires sufficient amount daily exercises

  • not for a city dweller


The Dunker (Norwegian Hound) is a breed of a hunting dog with its homeland in Norway. It’s endowed with excellent sense of smell and is characterised with an unparalleled persistence and relentlessness in tracking the quarry. The most prominent features of this Scent Hound are its distinctive dappled coat and well-developed prey drive. It can be rightfully ascribed to a very rare breed with only between 130 and 180 Dunker puppies being registered annually.

Photo: © Dunker-ringen


The honour of creation the Dunker belongs to the Norwegian writer and military officer Captain Wilhelm Conrad Dunker who was also an avid hunter. In the beginning of the XX century he set himself a goal to develop a new breed of a Scent Hound, which would be capable of operating in the tough conditions of his native country. Norway is well-known for its severe climate and cliffy uncivilised terrain so it posed a major challenge for the dog to work under such conditions.

Captain Dunker set his choice on the Russian Harlequin Hound (Russian Piebald Hound) to serve as a foundation for his breeding experiments. This hound appeared to be the most suitable candidate for this role because of its supreme scenting ability and high resistance to an extremely cold weather. The Captain crossed above-mentioned breed with various types of Scent Hounds and a few Spitzen. His breeding efforts eventually led to the creation of a sturdy and adaptable scent trailing dog with exceptional tolerance to tough climate and treacherous terrains of Norway.

Throughout the XIX century the Dunker kept acquiring more and more following among Norwegian hunters. The breed was an acknowledged expert in hunting rabbits, although it has also been utilised to hunt other small mammals. In the early XX it was given official recognition of the Norwegian Kennel Club (NKK) and shortly afterwards the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) formally accepted it as a unique breed. The number of the Dunker fell sharply in the wake of the Second World War but it was affected in much lesser extent than many other European breeds.

Prior to the 70s of the XX it its population steadily grew due to revived interest in native breeds. Then several foreign hunting dogs were brought to Norway. They gradually became incredibly popular among Norwegian hunters who greatly abandoned the breeding of the Dunker. By the 80s of the XX century the dog was driven to the brink of extinction. To save the breed its enthusiasts had to resort to outcrossing to bring some genetic diversity to its gene pool. As the result of their efforts today the Dunker is no longer under the threat of immediate disappearance but it’s still exceedingly rare.

In 1996 the dog was granted the full recognition of the United Kennel Club (UKC). Most of modern Dunkers are owned for hunting purposes and very few are kept solely for companionship.


The Dunker is first and foremost a hunting dog, which is very rarely kept as a companion animal. Although it’s hard to make any general conclusions as to its behaviour in a home environment it’s save to suggest that a well-socialised specimen can become a true member of a human family. The breed is quite alright with children provided it got used to their presence since an early age.

The Dunker was developed to be accepting of unfamiliar hunters and trainers. Being a typical Scent Hound, the breed has tendency of being friendly with strangers especially if it has been properly socialised. Thanks to its keen senses and developed power of observation it can be turned into a quite decent watchdog. On the other hand it won’t make a good guard dog because it’s deprived of essential aggressiveness.

The Dunker has to operate in concert with several other dogs during a hunt so it’s usually also polite with them outside of a field. In most cases the dog will be content to live in the company of other canines on a constant basis. Non-canine animals are another story as this dog was specifically bred to track and kill small species of animals and therefore it displays noticeable aggressiveness towards all small pets. Some individual specimens will never be able to put up with the presence of a household cat even if they have co-existed together all their lives.

Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include:

· canine hip dysplasia;

· elbow dysplasia;

· eye problems;

· ear problems;

· demodex mange;

· heat intolerance;

· obesity;

· rapid weight gain.


The Dunker needs very moderate amount of grooming. Its owner will never have to take it to a professional groomer. However the dogs’ coat requires thorough brushing on a weekly basis. The breed is an exceptionally heavy shedder and loses its hair all the year around. That’s why it’s ill-suited for people who prefer their houses to be meticulously clean as well as for allergy sufferers.

The owners of the Dunker should devote especially intent attention to the regular cleaning of the dog’s ears. They are prone to attract dirt and debris, which can lead to irritation and infection if not timely removed.


The training of the Dunker is usually associated with very serious difficulties. The dog was developed to be determined and self-assured hunter, which is inclined to rely on its own decisions rather than follow somebody’s orders. Thanks to these features it excels in its primary duty but the very same traits makes it very hard to train. Its handler should have substantial amount of patience and good humour to approach the training of this dog in a proper way.

Remember that the Dunker can be easily distracted by some enticing smell so nothing would able to draw its attention back to training. Yelling or other types of harsh treatment will only worsen the dogs’ tendency to stubbornness so it’s better to stimulate it to work exclusively with reward-based training techniques.


The Dunker is capable of traversing highly challenging terrains of its native Norway for hours on end. So it’s rather obvious that it has very considerable exercise requirements. The breed should be provided with minimum of 45 minutes of intensive physical activity every single day. It usually becomes a willing and hardy jogging companion but it wants nothing more than to roam and play freely in a securely fenced territory.

The dog tends to be really vocal, which can greatly disturb your neighbours. This nasty habit can be corrected with training but it’s impossible to eliminate it completely. Dunkers, which don’t receive enough physical outlets, commonly demonstrate serious behavioural issues, including on-going barking, nervousness, destructiveness and hyperactivity.