Dog Breed Group: Hunting Dog
Life Span: 10-12 years
Weight: Male: 13-18, Female: 11-16
Height: Male: 20-22, Female: 19-21
Origin of Name: Dunker, also known as the Norwegian Hound, is a medium-sized breed of dog from Norway.
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The dunker is a relatively recently formed breed, and we know more about its progeny than it is in the case of many dogs. As is the case with breeds such as the German Shepherd Dog and Doberman Pinscher, the dunker is largely the result of a man's breeding efforts. In the early 1800s, Norwegian writer and military officer Captain Wilhelm Conrad Dunker sought to develop a new breed of scunthound, which would be able to work under the harsh conditions of his homeland. Norway is one of the most challenging places for dog hunting in the world. The area is very rocky and some of the least developed in Western Europe. More importantly, Norway is one of the coldest countries on earth, and many breeds are quickly operating there.
Captain Dunker chose the Russian Harlequin Hound as the basis of his race. The Russian Harlequin Hound was developed by Russian nobles by crossing English foxheads with Russian hounds and other Russian breeds. Captain Dunker considered the Russian Harlequin Hound an ideal breed to begin its work as it was an excellent scent trailer and was able to thrive in cold temperatures. Captain Dunker began crossing his Russian Harlequin Hounds with other breeds. No one is quite certain which breed Dunker uses, but it is believed that other Scoundrel breeds, and possibly some Spitzen, played a major role. The end result of Dunker's breeding was a highly gifted scented trailing dog capable of working in the rough terrain of Norway and adapting to its cold climate. The breed also exhibited a unique coloration. Many dunkers had dappled or marbled coats similar to cutthroat leopard dogs and some bussarones. The dunker became most famous as a rabbit dog, although it has also been used to hunt a variety of small animal species.
Dunker continued to gain popularity with Norwegian hunters throughout the 19th century. For many years, the breed was closely associated with Hygenhund, a Norwegian scoundrel breed developed by HF Hygne. In 1902, a ""Special Club for Norwegian Hare Dogs"" was established, representing both Dunker and Heisenhand. However, the two breeds were formally separated in the same year. The Norwegian Kennel Club (NKK) gave formal recognition to Dunker, which was followed by F.C.I. The population of Dunker continued to grow until World War II. Despite its attempt to maintain neutrality, Norway was occupied by the German army. However the Nazi occupation did not prove to be as disastrous for Norway as for most of the occupied countries, the nation was heavily affected. Dog breeding was greatly reduced as a result of the war, and many dogs died as a result of conflict or lack of care due to the changing circumstances of their owners. The Dunker's population declined rapidly during World War II, but the breed did not experience catastrophic losses or total extinction that many other European breeds did. After the war ended, interest in Dunker again increased rapidly and remained very strong until the 1970s. Many foreign hunting breeds were imported to Norway in 1970, which greatly reduced the breed's popularity. Norwegian hunters began to prefer these exotic breeds and abandoned the dunker. By the 1980s, the dunker was a very rare breed and had become very heavy. In 1987, dunker breeders petitioned NKK and FCI to cross their dunker with other dogs to widen the breed's gene pool. Initially, this application was rejected but limited permission to do so was granted only after two years. In later years a very small number of outbreaks were made for other scunthound breeds. These outcrosses have proven to be very successful, greatly increasing Dunker's genetic diversity and health without compromising its appearance, temperament, conformity, or ability to function.
In recent years, the dunker has grown somewhat in popularity, but it is still a very rare breed. For the past several years, an average of 130 to 180 dunker puppies have been registered every year. Although this breed is now in much better shape than in the 1980s, the dunker is still a rare and dangerous breed. Currently, dunker is found almost exclusively in Norway, although some breed members have been exported to other Scandinavian countries. It is not clear whether any of the dunkers have been exported to the United States, but it is a very small number of individuals, if any. Despite this rarity, the United Kennel Club (UKC) became the only major English-language kennel club in 1996 to give full recognition to Dunker. Unlike most modern breeds, the dunker is kept almost exclusively as a Working Dog. The majority of modern dunkers are either working or retired odor tracking dogs, and few, if any, are primarily kept as companions. The breed is currently regarded as an R abbit hunting specialist, and is almost exclusive to hunting rabbits and rabbits. Although the breed is currently stabilized in Norway, the dunker is essentially unknown where it is very rare. Many fans want to see the population and annual registration of this breed grow substantially, though only if it can be done safely and responsibly.