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Norwegian Elkhound

 Photo of Norwegian Elkhound
Photo: courtesy of Barbara Barganska

Norwegian Elkhound Books

Group: Hound - Breed Standard


An ancient breed, the Elkhound was probably originally an all-around farm dog, with varied duties. He probably protected his owner's farm animals from wild predators, acted as a companion and watchdog for the family and pulled loads for his people. The Vikings took some of their dogs to sea with them when they went out on their voyages. In the last several centuries, however, the Elkhound had been bred primarily for his hunting capabilities. He hunted singly using his superior air scenting ability to locate the elk and then hold it by bouncing around in front of the moose to keep it's attention. An independent hunter, he would bark to alert his owner to his whereabouts. He was not supposed to be so aggressive with the elk's attention on himself. Elkhounds are also used to hunt bear in Norway - they are not specialized as hunters and have been used on everything from deer to pheasants.


Ideal height at shoulder: dogs: 52 cms (20½ ins); bitches: 49 cms (19½ ins). Weight approximately 23 kgs (51 lbs) and 20 kgs (44 lbs) respectively.

A spitz type dog with a compact, powerful body. Their abundant coat is water-proof and consists of a dense woolly undercoat that is soft and a coarse straight outer coat. Their colour is a grey of various shades with black tips to the outer coat and lighter on the chest, stomach, legs, underside of tail, buttocks and in a harness mark. Their ears and foreface are dark with a dark line from the eye to the ear. The undercoat is a pure pale grey.


The Elkhound is a breed that loves to be a part of the family, and to join in with everything. Loyal and intelligent.

Breed Health

Generally a healthy breed. Main health problems, but thankfully uncommon, are PRA and Glaucoma. Cases of Familial Renal disease are being investigated by various countries. Hip status is fairly good with average varying between 13 and 14 Breed Mean Score. The breed can suffer from Sebaceous cysts, but these rarely cause any problems. All breeding stock of members of the breed clubs must be Hip Scored and hold a current Eye test Certificate. This is a breed that, if kept at the correct weight, stays active to the end of it's lifespan of 12 to 15 years.

Breed Care

This is a heavy coated dog that will need a good brush and comb through once a week, and daily grooming when moulting. It is an easy care coat, not tangling, as it is weatherproof and close lying, so shrugs off wet and dirt.


Once an adult a Norweigian Elkhound will enjoy as much exercise as you can give them, but as long as they are with you they are happy with a lot less, although one should allow an hour most days.


This is a breed that has over centuries needed to be able to think for itself when hunting. they are independent by nature and very bright. Training, especially recall should start as early as possible before the pup is too confident so that returning to the owner becomes a habit. It will naturally want to range ahead, so care should be taken when and where to allow off lead, as they will tend to range ahead.

They need firm but kind training, and persuading they want to do as you ask, not taking well to bullying tactics, which will give you a sulky resentful dog. If they can see something in it for them then they will happily work for you and some dedicated folk have trained them to a high level in competitive Obedience. This is not their forte though as they become easily bored, but a handler who loves a challenge will have fun training. They can tend to outwit their owners in the most charming way. See our books on training

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Last link added: 12 Mar, 2008