The Norwegian Elkhound is captivating with their high level of intelligence and impressive stamina. They're well-known for their hunting abilities, but will gladly stay home and relax with you if their exercise needs are met.
Origin and History
The Norwegian Elkhound was originally developed in Norway to guard and hunt with the Vikings. Scientists believe their lineage could go back even farther, as far back as 5000 B.C., as they have found remains that resemble this breed.
Keen interest in this breed began after the Norwegian Hunters Association had their first dog show in 1877. Shortly after, in 1913, the Norwegian Elkhound was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). Today, they're used in a variety of fields, including herding, search-and-rescue, tracking, agility, guarding, and companionship.
The Norwegian Elkhound is an ancient breed who has long been utilized for their hunting abilities, but is gaining popularity as a family companion.
Norwegian Elkhounds are gray with black-tipped hairs accented with bright silver. The saddle is usually a darker gray color, with black on the ears and tail. They often have a lighter gray chest and mane. The tail curls over the back, like it does in other spitz-type dogs. The ears rise erect above the skull, which is large and wedge-shaped. The eyes are deep brown.
The Norwegian Elkhound is a medium-sized dog, and males have an average height of 20.5 inches at the shoulder, while females stand approximately 20 inches tall at the shoulder. Males weigh 55 pounds on average, whereas females weigh 45 to 50 pounds.
Although Norwegian Elkhounds are reserved at first, they will offer you a lifetime of love and companionship once they start to bond with you. They're generally not an aggressive breed and will adore anyone they get to know. They're always down for an adventure, so a highly active person or family is recommended for this breed. This breed does particularly well with someone who enjoys being outdoors the majority of the time.
The Norwegian Elkhound gets along with other pets, especially if they are raised with them. There's only one area that may be an issue. They tend to be territorial and want to assert dominance, so they may become dog-to-dog aggressive if there is a dog of the same sex in the household. If the other dog is submissive, this may not be an issue, but it's a tidbit to keep in mind if you already have other dogs and are planning to purchase or adopt an adult. If you do have other dogs that are the same sex, you may want to consider a puppy rather than an adult.
They will gladly lounge with you to cuddle once their exercise needs are met, but they do need someone who doesn't live a sedentary lifestyle. They also tend to be somewhat independent, but don't let that make you think they should be alone all the time. Although they are accepting of a couple of hours alone, they still depend on their owner to show them plenty of attention and affection.
This breed was developed to take advantage of their hunting abilities, which encouraged them to be both independent and intelligent. This combination often results in a stubborn streak, making them harder to train than others. They will need firm, consistent training using positive reinforcement methods.
Elkhounds benefit from early socialization and exposure to a variety of people, sights, noises, and experiences. Socialization is important for your Norwegian Elkhound puppy to develop into a well-rounded adult dog.
The Norwegian Elkhound requires 30 to 60 minutes of vigorous daily exercise. They are food-lovers, so exercising is not only good for their mental health, but helps maintain their physical health, as well. This activity could include walking at the local park or playing fun games.
Elkhounds are generally healthy, but they are susceptible to some health issues:
- Fanconi syndrome: This genetic condition affects the kidneys, leading to loss of nutrients and potential kidney failure.
- Hypothyroidism: A disorder associated with the thyroid gland that can generally be managed with medication.
- Sebaceous cysts: These are cysts that form beneath the dog's skin.
The Norwegian Elkhound has an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years.
Norwegian Elkhounds don't shed much for the majority of the time, but every two or three months they will have a shedding period. They require weekly brushing, but don't be afraid to brush them more frequently during shedding seasons. Their coat tends to remain fairly clean, with debris falling off easily. Bathe only when necessary to avoid stripping the coat of natural oils. When they are bathed, use a high-quality dog shampoo to maintain coat health.
Fun Facts About the Breed
The most well-known fact about the Norwegian Elkhound is that they were developed for hunting, but did you know these other interesting tidbits?
- Norwegian Elkhound remains have been found alongside Vikings.
- The national dog of Norway is the Norwegian Elkhound.
- They were originally developed to hunt moose, which is interesting because they are named the Elkhound, but "elk" is commonly used to refer to moose in Europe.
- The Norwegian Elkhound is an incredible service dog for those with disabilities.
Purchasing or Adopting a Norwegian Elkhound
If you're looking for a Norwegian Elkhound puppy, a good place to start is the Norwegian Elkhound Association of America. The club has a breeder directory available as well as helpful tips on how to find responsible breeders with quality dogs. The AKC PuppyFinder page also has a breeder search. Expect to pay around $700 to $1,500, although higher-end show dogs from champion lines can cost as much as $5,000.
If you are more interested in a rescue dog, begin your search on PetFinder and Save-a-Rescue. You can also contact the following breed-specific rescues:
- Norwegian Elkhound Rescue: A nationwide organization searching for forever homes for Norwegian Elkhounds of all ages.
- John Nelson Moosedog Rescue: A nonprofit organization dedicated to finding homes for Norwegian Elkhounds and mixes.
- Four Paws Elkhound Rescue: A rescue dedicated to saving the breed and finding homes for all Norwegian Elkhounds.
Is this the Right Breed for You?
If you are looking for a dog that won't leave fur around the house, this isn't the breed for you. Even though they don't shed an excessive amount compared to other breeds, the likelihood of you finding fur around the house is high. They're also relatively high-energy, so be ready to throw on your shoes and go for a walk or jog each day. If you don't mind a bit of fur and exercise, and are prepared to maintain their needs, take your time looking for the right pup to bring home.