Herding buhundThe original use for Norwegian buhund is a general farmdog, helping with all kinds of things; herding, guarding (alerting guard) etc. The herding instincts have mostly lasted to the present and there are people who still use buhunds to their original purpose of herding cattle. There are also some breeders who pay more attention to the working ability and whose puppies often go to working puposes.
Buhund style to herd was independent. It guarded the herd all day and at the evening it brought the herd home. So working with a human, following precise commands is not how buhund traditionally works. Mostly buhund is a sheep and reindeer herder that can keep together even biggest herds. Buhund works with eagerness and desire with or without the shepherd. Norwegians jokingly have said that you can leave a buhund to take care of the sheep while you yourself go to have a coffee. Buhund does everything without help.
An English breeder Lorraine Smart has written this of the Norwegian buhund herders:
“In the spring the sheep are driven onto the mountains and looked after by just a handful of shepherds and their dogs. In the autumn when it is time to bring them down to the lower pastures all of the owners with their Buhunds congregate at a given point. They then send the dogs up the mountains (the dogs now work on their own initiative), to gather in and drive the sheep down to the large open space set aside.
Time and again the dogs will go out and bring in, sometimes just one or two, sometimes twenty or thirty, sheep at a time. Now you can imagine, conditions are not conducive to sheep spotting; outcrops of rock, fallen boulders and hard springy gorse all combine to hide the sheep from the dog. So what does the dog do? He barks. This disturbs the sheep so that they move and are therefore very easily spotted and rounded up. During shearing the Buhund can and does work in the same way as the Kelpie. He walks over the backs of the sheep.
The Buhund also guards his flock. When brought down from the moutain, the sheep are not enclosed by fences, it is up to the Buhund to ensure than no sheep get out (day and night) and more importantly no marauders get into the flock. This guarding instinct can be very strong.”
About 70 years ago Jon Sæland wrote to his book “Ættebok for norsk buhund (sauehund)” about buhund's guarding instinct (loose translation):
"A farmer from eastern Norway was travelling with a big load. The Buhund was following. When they were going back to home it happened so that a bag dropped from the load. The buhund saw the bag and started to guard it. It stayed with the bag at the side of road, not letting anyone come near. If they tried, it showed its teeth and growled.
The Buhund guarded the bag for a day and a half until someone sent a word for its owner and he came to free the Buhund."
So it is possible that a buhund can possibly be a very competent herding dog. Some owners around the world still test their buhunds' herding instincts and buhunds have done very well. In Finland it's rarer, but they do have the same instincts as their foreign siblings and cousins.
At the photo there's one of the grand-uncles of the present buhunds. Rapp was an uncle of a buhund called Flink, and Flink was the very first buhund to get first premier in a show.