Norwegian Elkhound

"Loves Elk, but isn't a Hound"

Photo of Norwegian Elkhound


The Norwegian Elkhound is truly an ancient breed, with some scholars placing his origin as far back as 5000 B.C. Later, he became the cherished companion of the Viking explorers. As time went on, the Norwegian Elkhound proved his mettle not only as a tracker of moose and other big game, but also as a watchdog and guardian. In 1877, the first dog show featuring the Norwegian Elkhound was held. Over the next 50 years, interest in the breed spread to England and the United States. In 2006, the Norwegian Elkhound ranked 92nd among the 154 breeds registered to the American Kennel Club.


The Norwegian Elkhound is a dignified but friendly individual. He bonds tightly to his people. His watchdog and herding background have resulted in his having a protective nature. He's known to be at least a bit of a barker – and when he does bark, everyone in the household will hear him! Although he's known to be an independent thinker, he doesn't relish solitude – this dog, like so many others, wants to be with his human pack as much as possible. Some Norwegian Elkhounds aren't thrilled with having to share their people or possessions with other dogs.


This medium-sized dog is about 20 inches in height and weighs between 50 and 60 pounds. The double coat includes a dense, smooth undercoat that ranges in color from black at the muzzle to silver on the legs, and a top coat that is fringed in black. The ears stand upright and the tail curls tightly over the back.


If you're looking for an eager-to-please obedience whiz, the Norwegian Elkhound is not for you. This dog is an independent thinker, and he will run circles around a trainer who is not confident, decisive, and consistent. Barking and leash-pulling are often the biggest challenges a trainer faces with this breed. Tasty treats can give the dog the incentive he needs to learn basic manners and otherwise do what you ask. This energetic dog also will benefit from vigorous exercise every day.

Grooming & Care

The Norwegian Elkhound sheds a little bit most of the time and a lot during two periods each year. He should be brushed with a pin brush at least once a week – and more during those heavy sheds – to keep dust bunnies under control. Weekly ear cleanings and pedicures and periodic baths also will help him to look and feel his best. This dog is bred to thrive in the cold; if he finds himself in warmer climes, he needs a cool retreat, preferably with access to air conditioning.

Health Concerns

Like all purebred dogs, Norwegian Elkhounds have their share of health issues. The most common are hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, hypothyroidism, and Fanconi's Syndrome (degeneration of the kidney tubes). Dogs intended for breeding should receive OFA and CERF clearances before embarking upon pooch parenthood. Prospective buyers should see these clearances before buying a dog or puppy.

Famous Norwegian Elkhound

Weejie, owned by President Herbert Hoover.

Ideal Owner
Activity Level 4
Schedule 33
Home 9
Children 48
Experience 51
Quick Facts
Grooming 110
Exercise 14
Challenges Barks a lot, needs to spend time outside, can be quarrelsome with other dogs.
Height 19 to 21 inches
Weight 35 to 60 pounds
Life 10 to 12 years
Home Alone 83
With Kids 86
With Strangers 22
Availability 23

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

© Copyright 2014 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.

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