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Important points:

·        Buhunds are generally a very healthy breed.

·        To stay fit they need very little food & plenty of exercise.

·        The main hereditary conditions present in the breed are HC & HD

·        All dogs should be tested for HC & HD before being bred from.


The Buhund is lucky to be a generally very healthy breed, usually living well into their teens. It is not unusual for a Buhund to be living a relatively active life at 15 or 16yrs old. Apart from the odd mishap, a Buhund usually only makes routine visits to the Vets. Part of the reason for the Buhunds good health is the fact that the breed has maintained its natural hardiness and is free from exaggeration in its makeup, being a typical Spitz breed, neither overlarge nor very small.  However, like many other breeds, the Buhund does have a few inherited conditions that responsible breeders are trying to eliminate by taking part in screening programs before breeding. The 2 main concerns for breeders are Hereditary Cataract and Hip Dysplasia. All prospective puppy owners should be able to see current (issued within the last 12 months) clear eye certificates and hip score certificates from the KC/BVA scheme for both parents of the puppies.


One of the main diseases encountered in the breed is obesity! Contrary to what a Buhund will try to insist, Buhunds do not need a great deal of food. It is reasonably easy to keep a Buhund trim by moderating the amount of food she is given and making sure she has plenty of exercise. Buhunds who have been neutered are more likely to suffer from middle-aged spread.


 A few cases of epilepsy have been reported in the past and one case of haemophilia but these have not been proved hereditary and none of the affected animals was used for breeding. There have also been a few Buhunds who have suffered from thyroid imbalance or pancreatic insufficiency, conditions that are also quite common in many other breeds. One or two Buhunds have also been diagnosed with Patella Luxation (slipping stifles).


Hereditary Cataract:
This condition was discovered, almost by accident, in the breed in the mid 1980’s and since then the Norwegian Buhund Club has worked to eliminate it from the breed. Unfortunately, because it is inherited by a recessive gene the condition will be present in the breed for some time to come and no breeder can guarantee that any puppy will definitely be free of the condition. Fortunately, the form of cataract found in Buhunds can often present as a very small opacity in the eye and very rarely causes blindness. The vast majority of Buhunds who have the condition do not show any signs of the condition but as it is possible that a Buhund with very small cataract will produce offspring who are much more severely affected, dogs with the condition should never be used for breeding. Dogs bought purely as pets should not worry unduly about the condition as it is only the owners of dogs intended for breeding who are likely to be affected by having future breeding plans disrupted.  Hereditary Cataract should not be confused with the common senile cataract found in most breeds in older dogs.


There are a number of different types of cataract found in the breed but in the UK, the type most usually found is a post polar cataract, seen on the back of the lens of the eye. Puppies are not born with the condition but may go on to develop it, usually before the dog is 3 yrs old. Puppies can be tested for cataract at about 6 weeks old but these tests have not been found to be very useful as they can give misleading results. Puppies tested at this age have been tested clear and 3 months later have been diagnosed as having the condition. Similarly, puppies have failed the test at 6 weeks only to be passed as free from the condition a year later. For this reason most breeders test their stock at around one year and two years old. Any dogs used for breeding should be tested clear within a year of being used for breeding, as the certificates are only valid for 12 months. The British Veterinary Association has a panel of ophthalmic specialists, spread throughout the country and it is only these vets who can issue certificates. Many people wonder how a dog can have an eye test, since dogs don’t read! The test involves putting eye drops into both eyes to dilate the pupils. The eyes are then thoroughly examined by a number of different methods and with the use of a bright light source. Dogs are usually surprising well behaved during the examination; although putting the eye drops in initially can be quite a challenge.


Mode of inheritance:


Affected    X         Affected =    100%  Affected

Affected    X         Carrier    =    50%  Affected     50% Carrier

Carrier       X          Carrier    =  25% Affected    50% Carrier    25% Clear

Carrier       X          Clear       =  50% Carrier      50% Clear

Clear          X          Clear       =  100%      Clear


Two affected dogs can only produce puppies affected by cataracts, but only one affected parent can also produce the condition if the other parent carries the condition. Both parents may be examined and be found to be clear of HC and yet still produce affected puppies. This is because both parents are carriers of the disease. If both parents are free of the disease, all their puppies will also be free. The main difficulty in trying to eliminate a condition caused by a recessive gene is that of identifying which dogs actually carry the gene producing the condition. There is no way of proving that a dog is free of the gene, but it can be definitely proved that a dog is carrier when he produces affected offspring. At present there is no DNA test available, but hopefully one will be so in the not too distance future.  

Hip Dysplasia:
This is a developmental condition in which there is an excessive looseness in the hip joints. Unlike Hereditary Cataract, it is not the result of the action of a single gene, but is influenced, not only by a number of different genes but also by other factors such as nutrition and exercise.

In common with many breeds, Norwegian Buhunds have recently been discovered to have an incidence of this condition within the breed. It is only since the late 1990s that it has been accepted that all Buhunds should be screened for hip dysplasia before being used for breeding. This screening involved the dog’s hips been x-rayed and the plates being sent for scrutiny by a panel of specialist veterinary surgeons who score the hips on a number of different points on the hip joint. The highest score that can be given is 104 (52 for each hip). The higher the score, the worse the hips are. A record is kept of the scores for each breed and from these a breed average can be calculated.  The breed average for Buhunds is currently around a total of 16, so it can be seen that the breed does not have a great problem. However, the range of scores is between 3 and 76. It is not usually possible to ascertain a dog’s hip status by simple observation, particularly in a smaller breed like the Buhund so in order to ensure that dogs with very high scores are not used for breeding purposes it is important that they are x-rayed and the plates sent off to the KC/BVA scheme. This x-raying cannot be carried out until the dog has reached the age of 12 months, but only needs to be carried out once in the dog’s lifetime.


Old Age:

If kept in good condition, Buhunds cannot really be described as old until they are into their teenage years. Some develop arthritis, which can often be controlled with painkillers and anti-inflammatories. They still need regular exercise, but this should be more regulated than in their youth. Deafness in old age is not uncommon – this is genuine deafness not the “convenient” deafness that all Buhunds suffer from time to time. Most dogs develop old age cataracts but cope with them very well as sight loss is very gradual and the dogs hardly seem to notice the deterioration as they depend so much more on their sense of smell.

As they become older, Buhunds become more eccentric, more demanding and more set in their ways - and even more loveable.