Norwegian Elkhound: The Ultimate Dog Guide


The Norwegian Elkhound is a robust, spitz-type dog, bred for hunting and companionship. Known for their courage, strength, and loyalty, these dogs have an enduring history that stretches back thousands of years. As the name suggests, this breed originates from Norway. They were historically used for hunting large game such as elk, bears, and even wolves. Their keen sense of smell and barking ability made them invaluable to hunters in the dense forests of Scandinavia.

Attribute Details
Breed Type Spitz-type
Origin Norway
Size Medium
Life Span 12-15 years
Weight Range 45-55 pounds (female), 50-60 pounds (male)
Temperament Friendly, Loyal, Independent
Training Difficulty Moderate
Grooming Needs High
Exercise Needs High
Good with Children and other Pets Yes, with early socialization
Common Health Issues Hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, thyroid issues

Characteristics of the Norwegian Elkhound

Physical Characteristics

Norwegian Elkhounds are medium-sized dogs with distinctive grey coats. They have a robust build, pricked ears, and a bushy tail curled tightly over the back.

Personality and Temperament

They are known for their friendly and loyal nature. Though they can be independent and headstrong, they are also very affectionate with their families.

Lifespan and Health Considerations

Generally, the Norwegian Elkhound is a healthy breed with a lifespan of around 12-15 years. Like any breed, they can be prone to specific health conditions, but regular vet checks can help maintain their health.

Understanding the Norwegian Elkhound Breed

Breed Standards

The breed standard for the Norwegian Elkhound includes their distinctive grey coat, a sturdy build, and a tail that curls tightly over their back. They should have a keen expression and show the characteristics of a friendly, reliable, and intelligent dog.

The Norwegian Elkhound as a Hunting Dog

Norwegian Elkhounds have a long history as hunting dogs. Their keen sense of smell and stamina made them excellent for hunting large game. Even today, their tracking skills are impressive.

The Norwegian Elkhound as a Family Pet

Their loyalty and friendly nature make them great family pets. They are good with children and can get along well with other pets if socialized properly.

Training the Norwegian Elkhound

Puppy Training

Training should start early for Norwegian Elkhounds. They are intelligent but can be stubborn, so consistent, positive reinforcement methods work best.

Obedience Training

Obedience training is crucial for this breed. They are smart and quickly learn the rules, but their independent nature means they might decide not to follow them.


Socialization from a young age is critical for Norwegian Elkhounds. Exposure to different environments, people, and animals can help them grow into well-adjusted adults.

Exercise Needs

Norwegian Elkhounds are an active breed. They need daily exercise to keep them healthy and happy.

Feeding and Nutrition

Dietary Needs Across Lifespan

These dogs require a balanced diet that fulfills their nutritional needs at every stage of life.

Special Diet Considerations

Given their activity level, Norwegian Elkhounds may require a diet higher in protein. It’s essential to monitor their weight as they can be prone to obesity.

Feeding Schedules

Regular feeding schedules and portion control are vital. Puppies usually require more frequent feedings compared to adults.

Grooming the Norwegian Elkhound

Coat Care and Shedding

Norwegian Elkhounds have a double coat that sheds heavily, particularly during shedding seasons. Regular brushing is necessary to manage shedding and keep their coat healthy.

Bathing and Nail Care

Bathing is required only as needed. It’s important not to over-bathe as it can strip the coat of its natural oils. Regular nail trims are also necessary.

Dental and Ear Care

Regular teeth brushing and ear checks should be part of your Elkhound’s grooming routine.

Health and Medical Concerns

Common Health Issues in Norwegian Elkhounds

Some of the breed-specific health concerns include hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and thyroid issues.

Genetic Disorders and Screening

There are genetic tests available for many conditions seen in the breed. Prospective owners should look for breeders who perform these tests.

Regular Vet Check-ups and Vaccinations

Like any dog, Norwegian Elkhounds should have regular vet check-ups and stay up-to-date with their vaccinations.

Adopting a Norwegian Elkhound

Considerations Before Adoption

Before adopting a Norwegian Elkhound, consider if you can meet their needs for exercise, training, and grooming.

Finding Reputable Breeders or Adoption Agencies

It’s crucial to find a reputable breeder or adoption agency when looking to bring a Norwegian Elkhound into your home.

The Adoption Process

The process may vary, but it typically involves an application, interview, and home visit.

Living with a Norwegian Elkhound

Adapting Your Home

Norwegian Elkhounds are active and need space. Make sure your home and yard are secure and dog-friendly.

Interaction with Children and Other Pets

Elkhounds are generally good with children and other pets, but early socialization is key.

Daily Care Routines

Daily care routines include feeding, exercise, grooming, and spending quality time with your dog.

Traveling with a Norwegian Elkhound

Preparing Your Norwegian Elkhound for Travel

Preparing your Norwegian Elkhound for travel involves proper training and acclimation to travel crates. Regular short trips can help your pet get used to the idea of traveling, reducing anxiety and discomfort.

Considerations for Air Travel

Air travel can be stressful for any pet. It’s important to check with the airline for specific pet travel guidelines. Always prioritize direct flights to minimize stress and avoid extreme temperatures.

Norwegian Elkhound Participation in Dog Sports

Canine Sports Suitable for Norwegian Elkhound

As an intelligent and active breed, Norwegian Elkhounds can excel in dog sports like obedience, agility, and tracking. Participation in such activities can provide excellent mental and physical stimulation for this breed.

Training Tips for Dog Sports

Training for dog sports should always be fun and rewarding. Patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement methods are key to training your Elkhound for any dog sport.

The Norwegian Elkhound in Popular Culture

Norwegian Elkhounds in Movies and TV

While not as commonly seen as some breeds, the Norwegian Elkhound has made appearances in film and television. They are often portrayed as loyal companions or skilled hunting dogs, reflecting their real-life characteristics.

Senior Care for Norwegian Elkhounds

Caring for a Senior Norwegian Elkhound

Senior Norwegian Elkhounds may face age-related health issues and may require adjustments to their diet, exercise, and overall care. Regular vet checks are crucial at this stage to monitor their health status and adjust care routines as needed.

Deal with Separation Anxiety

Preventing and Managing Separation Anxiety

Norwegian Elkhounds can suffer from separation anxiety. This can be managed by setting a routine, providing plenty of physical and mental stimulation, and gradually acclimating your dog to your absence. Professional help may be required in severe cases.


Owning a Norwegian Elkhound can be a joy and a challenge. Their loyal, friendly nature makes them excellent companions, while their independent streak can make training a bit of a challenge.


Sergey Uhanov, a certified veterinarian, has authored all of the content here. With over 20 years of experience in dog care and breeding three dogs of his own, he has a deep passion for these furry friends. Sergey owns a pet clinic in Israel where he provides care and treatment to dogs. He enjoys sharing his expertise and knowledge to assist others in caring for their dogs.

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