The Norwegian Elkhound Dog Breed: Everything You Need to Know

The Norwegian Elkhound is an ancient, durable, spitz-type of dog with a friendly demeanor hidden behind a regal and dignified appearance. 

In this article, we will delve into the origins, physical characteristics, personality traits, and health considerations of the Norwegian Elkhound.

History and Origins

The Norwegian Elkhound has been around for more than five thousand years and it originated from the Spitz family of dogs which were used as hunting companions by the Vikings, and they hunted a variety of game, including elk, bear, and wolves. 

During the Middle Ages, the Elkhound became popular in Norway and was named “Norske Elghunden,” which means Norwegian moose dog. The breed was highly valued for its hunting skills and was often used by royalty and nobility. 

Ancient Roots and Development 

The Vikings used the Elkhound to hunt large game, such as elk, which was an important source of food and clothing. The Elkhound was also used to hunt wolves, which were a threat to both humans and livestock.

The breed’s ability to track and hold the large game at bay was highly valued by the Vikings, who relied on their hunting skills for survival. The Elkhound’s endurance, stamina, and agility made it ideal for the harsh Nordic terrain.

The Modern Norwegian Elkhound

The Norwegian Elkhound is a national symbol in Norway and has been featured in numerous Norwegian folktales and legends, where it is often portrayed as a brave and loyal companion to its human counterparts.

Today, the Norwegian Elkhound is a popular breed worldwide, known for its friendly and affectionate nature, as well as its hunting skills. The breed is still used for hunting in Norway, but it is also a beloved family pet.

Physical Characteristics and Appearance

Size and Weight

The Norwegian Elkhound is a medium-sized to large dog breed. Males weigh around 55 and stand 20.5 inches tall at the withers, while females weigh around 48 pounds and stand 19.5 inches tall. 

Coat and Color

The Norwegian Elkhound has a thick, double-coat that is weather-resistant and comes in combinations of gray, black, silver, and white. The coat is a unique feature and requires regular grooming to prevent matting.

The outer coat is coarse and long, while the undercoat is soft and woolly. The Norwegian Elkhound’s coat helps the dog stay warm in cold weather and protects it from the elements during outdoor activities.

Distinctive Features

The Norwegian Elkhound has erect ears, a black nose, and dark brown eyes, giving the dog a unique appearance that is both striking and beautiful. It also has a curled tail that rests on its back, which is another distinctive feature of this breed. 

Despite their medium size, the Norwegian Elkhound has a muscular body capable of traversing rough terrain with ease. It has a sturdy and robust frame, which makes it an excellent choice for outdoor activities and adventures.

Personality and Temperament

Intelligence and Trainability

The Norwegian Elkhound is a highly intelligent breed that is easy to train. They have a natural desire to please their owners, which makes them eager to learn new things.

However, it is important to note that the breed does have a strong prey drive and requires early socialization to prevent aggressive behavior towards other animals. 

Loyalty and Affection

The Norwegian Elkhound is a breed that is highly prized for its loyalty and affection towards its owners. They form strong bonds with their families and are protective of their loved ones.

They also thrive on attention and love nothing more than spending time with their families and will often follow them around the house just to be close to them.

Energy Levels and Exercise Needs

The Norwegian Elkhound is an active breed that requires daily exercise. It has a lot of energy and loves to run and play. Breed members are a great choice for active families who enjoy spending time outdoors.

The Norwegian Elkhound thrives on activities such as running, hiking, and regular playtime. If not physically challenged, it gets bored, destructive, and likely to chew, dig, scratch, bark excessively, etc. 

Health and Lifespan

Common Health Issues

Health issues frequently seen in the Norwegian Elkhound include:

  • Hip Dysplasia: A malformation of the hip’s ball-and-socket joint, resulting in early arthritis, pain, and lameness 
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: Shortly PRA is an irreversible degeneration of the retina that impairs the dog’s vision 
  • Falconi Syndrome: A form of kidney disease in which they do not filter blood properly and excrete vital nutrients 
  • Weight Gain: Breed members are prone to weight gain and obesity which increase the risk of health problems 

Preventative Care and Regular Checkups

Preventative care is essential to keeping your Norwegian Elkhound healthy. This includes regular checkups with a veterinarian and keeping up with vaccinations and parasite control.

Average Lifespan

The average lifespan of the Norwegian Elkhound is between 12 and 15 years. In addition to regular checkups and preventative care, providing your dog with a healthy diet and regular exercise can help prolong their life. 


The Norwegian Elkhound is a fascinating breed of dog that has a rich history and unique characteristics. Its loyalty, affection, and hunting capabilities have made it a popular breed.

However, potential owners should consider the breed’s activity levels, exercise needs, and health considerations before bringing a Norwegian Elkhound into their homes.

Scroll to Top