Norwegian Elkhound – Everything You Need To Know

Norwegian Elkhound Basic Information

  • Name: Norwegian Elkhound
  • Size: Large
  • Height: Males: 19 to 21 inches & Females: 18 to 20 inches
  • Weight: Males: 50 to 60 pounds & Females: 45 to 50 pounds
  • Coat: Double layered, weather resistant
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
  • Color: Combinations of Black, Grey, Silver
  • Energy: High
  • Origin: Norway
  • Activities: Hunting, watchdog, guarding, trailing, sledding, search and rescue, athletics
  • Barking Level: Medium to High
  • Shedding Level: High
  • Litter Size: 5 to 10 puppies
  • Group: Hound Group
  • Other Names: Elkhound
  • Breed’s Original Pastime: Hunting, guarding, herding, trailing, travel companions

Norwegian Elkhound History

Norwegian Elkhound, a spits breed’s history can be traced back to 5000BC. They had travelled with the Vikings on their sea voyages. The Norwegians considered the elkhounds as a valued possession. This evident from the archeological findings of this breed alongside their masters with swords and shields. During 12th Century, in the land of Throndhjem, one of the Norwegian Elkhounds was named, King. This breed is often associated with Norse mythology also.

Norwegian Elkhounds were primarily used for hunting elks. They will chase elks and hold them by barking while the hunters arrive. These dogs had been used in guarding, and herding also. In Scandinavia, Norwegian Elkhound is still used for hunting.

This breed first entered the show of Norwegian Hunters Association in 1877. The popularity of Norwegian Elkhound began in America after the Norwegians gifted the then American president, Herbert Hoover for helping Norway in World War I. Now they are recognized by many clubs around the world. 

Norwegian Elkhound Breed Overview

Norwegian Elkhounds are intelligent, confident, healthy hunting dogs. They are highly energetic and have an independent mind of their own. They can adapt well in any environment and with other pets. They are always alert and make a best guard dog.

They are affectionate towards their owners and make an excellent companion. As they originated in Norway, they prefer and enjoy winter and snow. They love adventure and exploring outdoors. Though they love outdoors, they will also want to snuggle indoors with their family. 

Norwegian Elkhound Pros and Cons

IntelligentExcessive barking
Minimal grooming needsMay be aggressive if not properly trained
HealthyHigh energy

Norwegian Elkhound Highlights

  • The Norwegian Elkhound gets along well with children and strangers but can be aggressive towards other dogs and pets. Therefore, it is essential to socialize Norwegian Elkhounds as early as possible.
  • Training a Norwegian Elkhound can be difficult because of its dominant nature. However, with consistent training, they can learn a lot. 
  • Norwegian Elkhounds need to be stimulated mentally and physically to keep them busy and burn up their energy.
  • Elkhounds are food motivated, so everyday exercise is necessary to avoid obesity.
  • Elkhounds can bark excessively, and so they should be trained the ‘Quiet’ command.

Norwegian Elkhound Personality

Norwegian Elkhound is a highly energetic breed, which are used for hunting elks. An average male Norwegian Elkhound stands as tall as 19 to 21 inches and weighs around 50 to 60 pounds. The females will be 18 to 20 inches tall. Their coat color ranges from black, grey, silver and a combination of these colors. They have the appearance of a typical northern hunting dog and they still retain their hunting stamina. Their profile is close coupled and square shaped.

Friendliness Overview:

Affection Level                           Medium to High
Kid-FriendlyMedium to High
Pet-FriendlyMedium to High
Strangers-FriendlyMedium to High 

Adaptability Overview:

Good for New Pet OwnersMedium to High
Good for Apartment LivingMedium to High
Sensitivity LevelMedium to High
Tolerates being aloneLow to Medium
Cold ToleranceHigh 
Heat ToleranceMedium

Trainability Overview:

Easy to TrainLow to Medium
IntelligenceMedium to High
Prey DriveMedium to High
Tendency to Chew, Nip & Play-biteMedium
Tendency to Bark or HowlMedium to High
Wanderlust AbilityMedium to High
Attention/Social NeedsMedium to High

Norwegian Elkhound Physical Features

Norwegian elkhound has a wedge shaped, strong head, which is broader at the ears. Oval shaped brown eyes are medium sized giving the dog an expression of confidence and alertness. The pointed ears are set high and erect. At the base, the ears are taller than the width with high mobility. When the dog is alert, the orifices will face forward and when the dog is affectionate, the orifices will face back. The back faced orifices will be disqualified in shows. The forehead and back of the skull are arched with the well-defined but not large stop. The evenly tapering muzzle is thick at the base. The muzzle will not appear pointed when seen from the side and from above. The straight bridge of the nose is parallel and of equal length to the skull. They have scissor bite with a tightly closed lip.

The muscularly built neck is of medium length and slightly arched. There will be no loose skin on the throat. 

From a high point at the withers to the root of the tail, the topline is well leveled and strong.

The rib cage accounts for most part of the body’s length. Norwegian Elkhound has a deep, moderately broad chest with well sprung ribs. The brisket is leveled with the points of the elbows with the slightly tucked up, wide, short loins. 

Shoulders and elbows are closely set. The medium length legs are set well under body with substantial but not coarse bones. When viewed from the front, the legs appear straight and parallel with single dewclaws. The oval shaped feet-paws are small with tightly closed toes and thick pads. The strong pasterns are slightly bent so the feet turn neither in nor out. 

Hindquarters are set in moderate angulation at stifle and hock. Thighs are broad, and well-muscled. When viewed from the back, legs are straight, without dewclaws with feet turning neither in nor out.

Norwegian Elkhound’s coat is thick, hard, double layered, and weather resistant. The coat is smooth lying with woolly undercoat under coarse hair. The length of the hair is even and short on the head, ears, front of the legs and longer at the bottom, back of the nail and under the tail. While the trimming of whiskers is optional, the remaining coat need not be altered through any method. Altered coat will be disqualified in shows.

The color of the coat is usually grey and the shade is determined by the length of black tips and guard hairs quantity. Undercoat, legs, stomach, bottom, and under the tail are silver in color. The gray color is darkest on the saddle, lighter on the chest, mane and on the longer guard hair from shoulder to elbow. The ears, tip of the tail, and the muzzle are black with a lighter gray shade on the forehead and skull. 

Yellow or brown shading, white patches, any other markings, any other colors on the lower legs, light circles around the eyes, any other color deviation other than the above mentioned are penalized in shows. 

The gait is standard for an active dog with agility and endurance. At a trot, the stride seems even and effortless with a leveled back. When the trot increases in speed, the front and rear legs get closer to form a straight line toward a centerline beneath the body. This makes the pads appear as if they are moving in a same track. The muscularly-built front and rear quarters are angulated and balanced.

 Norwegian Elkhound Temperament

The Norwegian Elkhound is a courageous, confident, hardy, highly energetic dog with independent thinking. They are excellent hunters and guardians with love and affection towards their owners. Heredity, Training, and socialization can influence a dog’s temperament. If you plan on getting a Norwegian Elkhound, try to meet the parents, siblings or other relatives of the puppy to have an idea on its temperament. While selecting a puppy, always opt for the one with moderate temperament over the aggressive or lazy puppy.

Norwegian Elkhounds can adapt well to apartment living, but their barking habits can be a disadvantage. Fenced backyards are ideal for burning up Elkhounds’ energy outdoors. Crate training is necessary for Elkhounds. Crate not only provides them a place to retreat but also will be using during transmit. Elkhounds are affectionate towards their family and love to be with them. They shouldn’t be left in the crate for more than 3 hours.

Norwegian Elkhound Exercise Needs

As a hunting dog, the Norwegian Elkhound naturally has a high energy. Regular and consistent exercise and training is essential. Being independent thinkers, they will have the instinct to travel and explore. A Norwegian Elkhound should never be left off leash in public places. Swimming should be added as a part of their exercise. Daily long exercise sessions are essential to match their high energy.

They are difficult to train, so the owners should be patient and consistent with the training. They learn quickly but will be bored if same training is repeated. Introducing new games and training will keep them focused. They can be easy to housebreak if done properly. Train them to ‘quiet’ command, as they can bark a lot. Early socialization will avoid any aggressive behavior. It is advisable to enroll them in puppy training classes.

Exercise Needs Overview:

Energy Level                                High
Exercise Needs                           High
Playfulness                                  Medium to High

Norwegian Elkhound Grooming

They require minimal grooming like bathing twice or thrice a year. During the shedding season, they will shed a lot and require brushing in the opposite direction to the hair growth every day for 5 mins. Other than that, they only need daily brushing for a minute or two. Brush their teeth and trim their nails regularly.

Grooming Overview:

Amount of Shedding                  High
Tendency to DroolLow
Easy to GroomMedium

Norwegian Elkhound Health

Norwegian Elkhound is generally a healthy breed with few health conditions that are common for foreign dogs. Regular health checkups and tests can help identify any disease and cure at an early stage. It is essential to test them for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, von Willebrand’s disease, thrombopathia. 

Health Overview:

Basic HealthMedium to High
Weight Gain PossibilitiesMedium to High

Some of the health conditions that affect some Norwegian Elkhounds are,

  • Hypothyroidism: Deficiency in thyroid hormone is hypothyroidism with clearly identified symptoms which are obesity, unusual shedding, rough patchy coat, fall in the energy levels. Hypothyroidism is not life-threatening and can be treated with regular medication throughout the dog’s life. 
  • Fanconi Syndrome: Fanconi Syndrome is a deadly inherent condition affecting the kidneys and the tubules leading to an imbalance in the calcium, phosphate, glucose, amino acids, sodium levels. The symptoms are excessive urination, excessive thirst, weight loss, muscle wasting, muscle pain, lethargy, loss of appetite, and vomiting. If worsens, kidneys will begin to fail and it is fatal. Early identification of the condition and regular medication can keep the dog healthy.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: PRA results in retinal deterioration which begins with night blindness to complete blindness in dogs.  If the environment is same, the dogs can adapt well even after losing their sight.
  • Sebaceous Cysts: Follicular cysts formed under the dog’s skin which can range from small to large will occasionally burst open, expelling a thick, white cheesy mass. The cysts are usually removed through surgery.
  • Dental Disease: It affects 80% of pets by the age of two. It causes tartar build-up on the teeth, infection of the gums and roots, and in extreme cases, loss of teeth and damage to the kidneys.
  • Infections: The Norwegian Elkhounds are prone to certain bacterial and viral infections such as rabies, parvo, and distemper. The viral infection can be prevented by giving a vaccination based on the dog’s age.
  • Parasites: The Norwegian Elkhounds can be infested with worms, bugs, fleas, and ticks that can get into their systems through unclean water, contaminated soil, or bitten by an infected mosquito. It can also be transmitted to you and your family. Symptoms include discomfort, pain, and even death.
  • Obesity: It is a significant health condition in Norwegian Elkhounds. Excess weight can cause joint problems, back pain, digestive disorders, and heart disease. The best way to prevent this lifestyle disease is a healthy diet and regular exercise.
  • Spay or Neuter: In spay, the ovaries or uterus in females is removed, and in the neuter, the testicles of the male dogs are removed. It is done to eliminate the possibility of pregnancy or fathering unwanted puppies and also decreases the likelihood of certain types of cancer.

National Breed Club Recommended Health Tests for Norwegian Elkhounds:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Ocular Examination

Norwegian Elkhound Diet and Nutrition

Provide good quality store bought food or homemade food. Norwegian Elkhounds are not picky eaters and they eat a lot. Track the quantity of the food, as they are prone to obesity. You can find whether your is obese by looking for any motion on the back or sides whenever the dog trots. If the skin behind the end of the ribcage do not sink while the dog is eating, it is obese. Check with the vet for nutrient contents according the dog’s age and size.

Norwegian Elkhound Living Condition

They can adapt well to apartment living with indoor activities as long as they have sufficient exercise and training sessions. The weather resistant coat makes them suitable to live under any weather condition but they prefer cold climate. Norwegian Elkhounds can get along with other dogs and even cats but remember their prey instincts before letting them near cats. 

Did You Know?

  • Norwegian Elkhounds originated in Norway and were used for hunting elks.
  • Norwegian Elkhounds rank 97 out of the 197 breeds registered in AKC.
  • Norwegian Elkhounds are food hounds and loves to eat.
  • Norwegian Elkhounds has been assigned the hound group classification.

Norwegian Elkhound Club Recognition

  • ACA = American Canine Association Inc.
  • ACR = American Canine Registry
  • AKC = American Kennel Club
  • ANKC = Australian National Kennel Club
  • APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
  • CKC = Canadian Kennel Club
  • CKC = Continental Kennel Club
  • DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
  • FCI = Fédération Cynologique Internationale
  • KCGB = Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • NAPR = North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • NKC = National Kennel Club
  • NZKC = New Zealand Kennel Club
  • UKC = United Kennel Club

Adding a Norwegian Elkhound to Your Family

Norwegian Elkhound Rescue Groups: There are countless Norwegian Elkhounds in need of adoption and/or nursing, and there are several breed-specific rescue associations across the country that are listed below:

  1. John Nelson Moosedog Rescue Fund
  2. Norwegian elkhound Association of America
  3. Elkhound Rescue

These groups can provide proper guidance with respect to adoption, and if you aren’t sure which breed is right for you, foster care to test if the breed is a good fit for your home.

To Buy a Norwegian Elkhound Now: Buy a Norwegian Elkhound Pup Online

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