The Norrbottenspets is a hunting breed that is primarily used to tree game birds. In its home countries it is used to hunt Black Grouse and Capercaillie and, on occasion, larger game such as elk and bear. It uses a method called barking game. It tracks game independently. When it finds game, it barks at high frequency, over 100 barks per minute. This serves three purposes: to confuse the game; notify the hunter where it is; and to cover the noises made by the approaching hunter. Hunting is critical to the existence of the breed – so important in fact that a dog cannot earn it’s champion conformation title without passing its hunting trials in Nordic countries.
In Canada, the breed is not recognized as a bird dog, and in some provinces it is not allowed to be used to hunt birds. Its method of hunting by treeing or barking game is illegal on large game animals. In some jurisdictions, any dog found barking at a game animal can be shot on sight by anyone, including conservation officers.
There are some Norrbottenspets owners that are working to find ways to get their dogs back in the field. This will take time, and in some cases modifications of the laws.