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  • Temperament: Friendly, Confident, Dependable
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 94 of 192
  • Height: 20.5 inches (male), 19.5 inches (female)
  • Weight: 55 pounds (male), 48 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
  • Group: Hound Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Norwegian Elkhound head and neck facing left
Norwegian Elkhound sitting in three-quarter view
Norwegian Elkhound coat detail
Norwegian Elkhound

Find a Puppy: Norwegian Elkhound

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GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Norwegian Elkhound is a hardy gray hunting dog. In appearance, a typical northern dog of medium size and substance, square in profile, close coupled and balanced in proportions. The head is broad with prick ears, and the tail is tightly curled and carried over the back. The distinctive gray coat is dense and smooth lying. As a hunter, the Norwegian Elkhound has the courage, agility and stamina to hold moose and other big game at bay by barking and dodging attack, and the endurance to track for long hours in all weather over rough and varied terrain.

HEAD

Head broad at the ears, wedge shaped, strong and dry (without loose skin). Expression keen, alert, indicating a dog with great courage. Eyes very dark brown, medium in size, oval, not protruding. Ears set high, firm and erect, yet very mobile. Comparatively small; slightly taller than their width at the base with pointed (not rounded) tips. When the dog is alert, the orifices turn forward and the outer edges are vertical. When relaxed or showing affection, the ears go back, and the dog should not be penalized for doing this during the judge’s examination. Viewed from the side, the forehead and back of the skull are only slightly arched; the stop not large, yet clearly defined.

BODY

Neck of medium length, muscular, well set up with a slight arch and with no loose skin on the throat. Topline – The back is straight and strong from its high point at the withers to the root of the tail. The body is short and close-coupled with the rib cage accounting for most of its length. Chest deep and moderately broad; brisket level with points of elbows; and ribs well sprung. Loin short and wide with very little tuck-up. Tail set high, tightly curled, and carried over the centerline of the back. It is thickly and closely haired, without brush, natural and untrimmed.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders sloping with elbows closely set on. Lets well under body and medium in length; substantial, but not coarse, in bone. Seen from the front, the legs appear straight and parallel. Single dewclaws are normally present. Feet-Paws comparatively small, slightly oval with tightly closed toes and thick pads. Pasterns are strong and only slightly bent. Feet turn neither in nor out.

COAT

Thick, hard, weather resisting and smooth lying; made up of soft, dense, woolly undercoat and coarse, straight covering hairs. Short and even on head, ears, and front of legs; longest on back of neck, buttocks and underside of tail. The coat is not altered by trimming, clipping or artificial treatment. Trimming of whiskers is optional. In the show ring, presentation in a natural, unaltered condition is essential.

HINDQUARTERS

Moderate angulation at stifle and hock. Thighs are broad and well muscled. Seen from behind, legs are straight, strong and without dewclaws. Feet as in front.

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About the Norwegian Elkhound

Norwegian Elkhounds are hardy, short-bodied dogs standing about 20 inches at the shoulder. They have a dense silver-gray coat and a tail curling tightly over the back. The deep chest, sturdy legs, and muscular thighs belong to a dog built for an honest day’s work. The eyes are a dark brown and the ears mobile and erect. Overall, an Elkhound is the picture of an alert and steadfast dog of the north.

Elkhounds are famously fine companions and intelligent watchdogs. Agility and herding trials are good outlets for their natural athleticism and eagerness. Reserved until introductions are made, an Elkhound is a trustworthy friend ever after. These strong, confident dogs are truly sensitive souls, with a dash of houndy independence.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Norwegian Elkhound

Find a Puppy: Norwegian Elkhound

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Norwegian Elkhound Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Norwegian Elkhound should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Most Elkhounds are “food hounds,” not picky eaters, and will develop pitiful faces in order to weaken their humans into giving them as many treats as can be mustered! A key to assessing whether the Elkhound is in good weight is to watch them when they eat. The area just behind the end of the ribcage should sink in when they eat.  Another indication of an overweight dog is a rolling motion on the dog’s back or sides when he trots. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

 

GROOMING

The Norwegian Elkhound has a “two-ply” coat, with a top coat and an undercoat. Elkhound breeders warn potential puppy buyers of the inevitable—that during shedding season they will have “tumbleweeds” of silver undercoat rolling around their house. The outer coat will shed as well, but not to the degree that the undercoat will. A slicker brush will help you keep the fur storm under control. Five minutes a day of “back-brushing” (brushing in the opposite direction to which the coat lies) will take care of the problem for most of the year. Daily maintenance of just two minutes a day at other times will keep the coat beautiful, and will give your vacuum a new lease on life! Elkhounds do not have a doggy smell, due to the harshness of the coat. A bath two to three times a year for the family pet is perfect and helps the dead coat to fall out and new, healthy hair to grow in.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Occasional

EXERCISE

These are hunting dogs in their native Norway. They track and follow moose, ranging far ahead of the hunter, and they must be able to trot many miles for several days if necessary. Because they must make their own decisions when hunting, and by virtue of the way they hunt, they are independent and lovers of the woods and their freedom. For that reason, when exercising their Norwegian Elkhounds, owners should resist the temptation to allow them to roam the neighborhood or the park off lead. The instinct to travel and to inspect the world is intrinsic to the breed. Most love swimming (a required moose-trailing activity), and many enjoy agility as well as herding trials.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

This breed does not tend to be a star performer in the obedience ring. The Elkhound learns very quickly, being highly intelligent, but after this learning process it becomes, “Didn’t we already do this 12 times?” The other difficulty in training this breed for activities is their independent nature, inspired by their hunting traits. As far as simple house manners, they are very clean and quickly respond to correctly managed housebreaking.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Agreeable

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Friendly

HEALTH

By and large this is a very healthy breed. The average life span is 12–14 years, with most owners losing their dogs due to cancer or heart issues. Negligible incidences of PRA have been found but can be traced to foreign dogs. hip dysplasia occurs, but by and large dogs that are checked usually get a “good” or “fair” evaluation from OFA, with many rating “excellent.” There have been some bouts of renal (kidney) issues, but this seems to have been put out of the breed’s current state of health.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Patella Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Norwegian Elkhound
Norwegian Elkhound
Norwegian Elkhound
Norwegian Elkhound
Norwegian Elkhound
Norwegian Elkhound

History

Shipmate of the Vikings, guardian of remote farms, herder of flocks and defender from wolves and bear, a sometime hauler and a hunter always, and a companion to restless wandering men, the Norwegian Elkhound has survived more than six millennia with all his Nordic traits intact, a fearless and friendly dog, devoted to humankind.

The Elkhound looms in Norse history and myth. We read of him in the epic sagas of ancient times, we find his remains aside his Viking master along with the Viking’s sword and shield, proof of the high regard in which he was held; and in the Viste Cave at Jaeren, in western Norway, his skeleton was found among the stone tools in stratum dating from 4000 to 5000 b.c. Among the many oft-told tales associated with the breed is one from the 12th century, in which an Elkhound was named king in the land of Throndhjem.

The name Elkhound acknowledges the breed’s age-old quarry, the giant elk, or moose. Elkhounds specialized in following the scent trail of these magnificent and dangerous creatures over a distance and holding them at bay while dodging attack until the trailing huntsmen arrived. Elkhounds look nothing like the droopy-eared, sleek-coated scenthounds developed in warmer climes, but they are classified as hounds by virtue of their job description: trailing and holding warm-blooded quarry.

Did You Know?

The Norwegian Elkhound is a hunting dog that originated in Norway as early as 5000 B.C.
The Norwegian Elkhound is a hunting dog that originated in Norway as early as 5000 B.C.↵The Norwegian Elkhound is used to hunt elk, bear, and other wild animals.
Remnants of Norwegian Elkhounds dating back 5000 years have been found with Viking remains and weapons, a testament to their importance in the Nordic culture.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Norwegian Elkhound is a hardy gray hunting dog. In appearance, a typical northern dog of medium size and substance, square in profile, close coupled and balanced in proportions. The head is broad with prick ears, and the tail is tightly curled and carried over the back. The distinctive gray coat is dense and smooth lying. As a hunter, the Norwegian Elkhound has the courage, agility and stamina to hold moose and other big game at bay by barking and dodging attack, and the endurance to track for long hours in all weather over rough and varied terrain.

HEAD

Head broad at the ears, wedge shaped, strong and dry (without loose skin). Expression keen, alert, indicating a dog with great courage. Eyes very dark brown, medium in size, oval, not protruding. Ears set high, firm and erect, yet very mobile. Comparatively small; slightly taller than their width at the base with pointed (not rounded) tips. When the dog is alert, the orifices turn forward and the outer edges are vertical. When relaxed or showing affection, the ears go back, and the dog should not be penalized for doing this during the judge’s examination. Viewed from the side, the forehead and back of the skull are only slightly arched; the stop not large, yet clearly defined.

BODY

Neck of medium length, muscular, well set up with a slight arch and with no loose skin on the throat. Topline – The back is straight and strong from its high point at the withers to the root of the tail. The body is short and close-coupled with the rib cage accounting for most of its length. Chest deep and moderately broad; brisket level with points of elbows; and ribs well sprung. Loin short and wide with very little tuck-up. Tail set high, tightly curled, and carried over the centerline of the back. It is thickly and closely haired, without brush, natural and untrimmed.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulders sloping with elbows closely set on. Lets well under body and medium in length; substantial, but not coarse, in bone. Seen from the front, the legs appear straight and parallel. Single dewclaws are normally present. Feet-Paws comparatively small, slightly oval with tightly closed toes and thick pads. Pasterns are strong and only slightly bent. Feet turn neither in nor out.

COAT

Thick, hard, weather resisting and smooth lying; made up of soft, dense, woolly undercoat and coarse, straight covering hairs. Short and even on head, ears, and front of legs; longest on back of neck, buttocks and underside of tail. The coat is not altered by trimming, clipping or artificial treatment. Trimming of whiskers is optional. In the show ring, presentation in a natural, unaltered condition is essential.

HINDQUARTERS

Moderate angulation at stifle and hock. Thighs are broad and well muscled. Seen from behind, legs are straight, strong and without dewclaws. Feet as in front.

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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Black & Gray Check Mark For Standard Color 012
Black & Silver Check Mark For Standard Color 016
Black White & Silver Check Mark For Standard Color 033
Gray & Black Check Mark For Standard Color 101
Gray Black & Silver Check Mark For Standard Color 106
Silver & Black Check Mark For Standard Color 177
Silver Gray & Black Check Mark For Standard Color 190

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