Norwegian Elkhound

The Norwegian Elkhound is one of the oldest breeds around. These noble dogs date back to 5000 B.C.E. It comes as no surprise that this hardy, loyal, and friendly breed has made it so far.

Their natural athletic abilities, dependability, and hunting abilities make them a great dog for both working and companionship alike. If you are looking for a compact, warm, and loving dog, look no further than this breed. Read on to learn more about the Norwegian Elkhound.

Description of the Norwegian Elkhound

With its short-legged body and square profile, the Norwegian Elkhound is a rugged and athletic companion. Able to work long days in the brutal and beautiful landscapes of the Norwegian mountains, this dog is a prized animal in this location, and humans still value its skills today.

The Norwegian Elkhound is actually a type of spitz thanks to their pointed muzzle, but are burlier than most other spitz dogs, and they still belong to the hound group of dogs. Their dense and well-muscled body is both strong and agile, adept at moving over rough terrain and going for hours on end.

This breed originally came to Norway with the Vikings and it is no surprise that the Vikings quickly made use of these trustworthy and brawny dogs. The perfect combination of strength, confidence, and sensitivity make this breed a real gem.

Alert, pointed ears and a bright expression frame the broad and flat heat of this breed. Their thick and weather-resistant coat is as warm as it appears and keeps these dogs toasty on blustery winter days. Their coat comes in varying shades of grey, with black and silver blended in.

Life Expectancy and Size

The Norwegian Elkhound is typically a very healthy breed, but cancer or heart disease may shorten its lifespan of 12 – 15 years. Working with a reputable breeder is the first line of defense in getting a healthy puppy, but regular check-ups are also important in helping catch, treat, or prevent health problems.

These medium sized dogs are the perfect balance of strength and compact size. Males stand 20.5 inches tall and weigh 55 pounds, and females stand 19.5 inches tall and weigh 48 pounds.

Protective Ability

Vigilant watchdogs, the Norwegian Elkhound is always keeping his eyes and ears open. They are very protective of their families, though reserved around strangers until introductions are made. You can expect a loyal and alert companion in this breed.


While very intelligent, the Norwegian Elkhound is an independent breed that requires careful attention when training. They quickly pick things up but want to know what is in it for them. Rewards-based training is the best method for this breed as it gets them motivated and ready to learn.

Treats are a great aid in training. Like many hound, this breed is very food motivated and will give you his full attention when he knows food is on the line. Just be careful to not overfeed as this breed can become overweight.

Keeping training sessions short and engaging is also important for the best success with these dogs. They are easily distracted, and once they pick something up will lose interest in continuing to practice it.

Consistent, patient, and positive training is key for the Norwegian Elkhound. They need gentle guidance so always come to training sessions fresh.

Energy Level

Built for long days hunting over hard terrain, these dogs have plenty of energy and love to spend it with you! Playing games, going for long walks, or hunting are all great ways to get your dog’s energy out.

While they are very close with their family and love to snuggle, don’t think they will make a good companion for sedentary families. These dogs need to move and will become miserable or destructive without outlets for their energy. Give him a job and he will be the happiest dog around.

What Living with a Norwegian Elkhound is Like

This is a dependable and strong breed.

These dogs are sensitive to the needs of their families and make wonderful companions. Their energy and stamina make them a great choice for the outdoor enthusiast or hunter, but they can be a wonderful choice of dog for anyone willing to give them the exercise and attention they need.

You can’t curb the Norwegian Elkhounds’ natural instinct to hunt, so provide them an outlet for their energy, and always keep them fenced in or on leash so they don’t wander off in search of prey.

Care of the Norwegian Elkhound

These dogs are quite adaptable and can do well anywhere as long as they have plenty of opportunities to be outside and get lots of attention from their family.

Environmental Needs

There is no place these dogs are more at home than in the snow. Their weather-resistant coats are built for frigid nights and diving into icy waters. The winter is where these dogs thrive, but they can adapt to warmer climates as well. Just be sure to keep them out of extreme heat as their thick double coat makes them prone to overheating.

Exercise Needs

The Norwegian Elkhound is accustomed to walking many miles over multiple days and can pretty much outperform anyone in terms of endurance. These dogs can motor along at a reasonable pace for what seems like forever.

Be prepared to provide your dog with plenty of daily exercise, at least an hour, for them to be happy and healthy. Keeping things interesting will also help keep your dog mentally stimulated. Long walks, hunting, games, and sports are all great ways to get your dog moving.

The Norwegian Elkhound wants to track prey, regardless of what it is so make sure he can’t wander off.

Shedding and Grooming

While often pretty low-maintenance, the Norwegian Elkhound goes through a significant shed every year that will require more attention. Daily back-brushing during this time will help fend off the clumps of silver undercoat that are sure to plague your house. The rest of the year a quick daily brush is enough to remove the loose hairs and keep your dog’s coat looking healthy.

This breed sheds moderately.

Bathing a few times a year will help them shed old hairs, and be sure to regularly trim their nails.

Ideal Home Environment

These dogs are great with children and are popular family dogs. Their natural protective instinct makes them great watchdogs.

Because of their high energy level, the Norwegian Elkhound needs a home where he will get plenty of daily exercise. These dogs are not couch potatoes and will not take kindly to being cooped up all day. For the sake of your belongings be sure to give your dog plenty of exercise.

This breed can have health issues that may affect his lifespan and be costly to deal with.

Health Concerns

Typically healthy, the Norwegian Elkhound can suffer from cancer and heart disease, both of which may shorten his life. Regular screenings can help prevent or control these issues. Hip dysplasia is another problem that can develop in this breed.

Behavior Problems

These dogs are hardwired to chase after prey, and they won’t think twice about following the trail of some animal. Keep him fenced in, on leash, or train him for hunting to avoid losing your dog to the enticements of the hunt.

Early socialization is a great way to make sure your Norwegian Elkhound grows into an outgoing pup. While naturally reserved around strangers, these dogs should never be timid or scared. Exposing them to many situations can help them from becoming introverted.