Norwegian Elkhound Grey (Norsk Elghund Grå)

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grey with black tips of the hair
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Pros Cons

  • wonderful family companion

  • great watchdog

  • intelligent

  • easy to groom

  • independent

  • tends to bark a lot

  • excessive exercise requirements

  • heavy shedder

The Norwegian Elkhound (Grey) is a compact and muscular medium sized dog that is very like a Spitz breed in appearance and somewhat like a hound in temperament and hunting ability. The Norwegian Elkhound gives the appearance of an athletic ability, power and intelligence while still being an excellent dog for families.

The Norwegian Elkhound’s homeland is Norway. It’s common knowledge that Vikings have bred it since about 5 000 BC. Today’s dogs look very alike those of the Vikings, especially in skeletal formation, so the breed is reckoned to be one of the oldest dogs for home keeping. It used to be multifunctional, and its usual tasks varied from hunting moose and other big animals to herding and guarding.

At different times the Norwegian Elkhound tried on practically all kind of game. During the Middle Ages, the dog was named «Dyrehund», which translates as animal-dog. Originally the breed was destined solely to hunt moose, which in Norwegian is pronounced «elg» and it has been reflected in its current name.

For a long time the Norwegian Elkhound was considered the oldest of all breeds that had developed from the big grey wolves and tundra wolves of the north. But the latest research showed no substantial proof of that theory, neither fossil nor archaeological. Some also think that the Norwegian Elkhound evolved from the ancient Danish dog known as the «Torvemoshunden», or Swamp Dog, though without providing any solid base of evidence.

The Norwegian Elkhound had usually very little crossing with other breeds, however some blending with Scandinavian dogs might have occurred. Specifically, its prime bird hunting skills make it possible to suggest some relation with Finnish Spitzen imported by Finns fleeing famine in the late XVII century.

Nowadays the Norwegian Elkhound finds its application as a watchdog, guard dog and sled dog. Interestingly, that in its native Norway a law still exists that gives a right to the Minister of Defence to summon all local dogs in case they are needed for transportation purposes in war situation.

The breed was first showed at the exhibition in 1877 when the Norwegian Hunters Association started giving shows. The American Kennel Club (AKC) first acknowledged the Norwegian Elkhound in 1913. In 1923, the Elkhound Club was established and the dog was officially accepted by the British Kennel Club (KC).


The Norwegian Elkhound is brisk, brave, trustworthy and devoted. Like other dogs from the northern region, it has tendency to be fairly autonomous in its conduct but faithfully loves its family. Fast-learning and always physically vigorous, the dog can become great child’s friend.

At the same time it expresses certain level of caution with strangers and may bark at them. As a matter of fact, there is a certain issue with barking, which can become really excessive at times unless the owner trained the dog obedience. Nature granted the Norwegian Elkhound with excellent equalities of a watch but this breed is too friendly to become an efficient guard dog.

It’s been noticed aggressiveness in the Norwegian Elkhound towards other dogs, especially in intact male. Early socialization as well as neutering can fix this problem. Part of the solution is to keep the dog with other one of an opposite sex, which has been neutered or spayed.

The Norwegian Elkhound is a hunter and should be watched closely around small non-canine home pets such as hamsters, pet rats, mice or guinea pigs. Nonetheless, it can be trained to get on well with cats of the family.

Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include:

· fanconi syndrome;

· hypothyroidism;

· progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA);

· sebaceous Cysts.


Rough, hard and dense coat of the Norwegian Elkhound is easy to take care for. Once a week the owner should work on its coat with a rubber brush or a wooden comb with a double row of metal teeth. Two or three times a year it sheds its hair and during that periods the dog should be brushed more often. So if you prefer your house to be meticulously clean, opting for another breed would be better decision.

As it stands with all northern breeds, the Norwegian Elkhound has no or very little doggish odor and requires baths only on occasion.

Other procedures that must be done at least two times a week are teeth brushing and ears checking. Make sure to use cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to cleans dog’s ear from possible infection. Also dog’s nails should be trimmed once or twice a month to avert painful tears and other problems.


The Norwegian Elkhound seems to have a mind of its own and should be trained and socialized as early as possible. It’s sensitive to any harsh methods of training, which actually don’t work with it. The dog tends to remember any unfairness or rough handling.

This breed is one of the types that doesn’t follow commands immediately but prefers to think the situation over and reacts in more intelligent way. The Norwegian Elkhound is really keen on barking so it requires to be taught to only to bark for a short span of time.

You may need one hour of intense exercise before training for your dog to be able to focus more effectively. Remember that training must be also a fun and non-boring since this dog is highly intelligent and responsive to the lessons.


The Norwegian Elkhound is a powerful and strong dog that adores long and arduous walks. Also it likes roaming and jogging on the long distances, so it can be a good idea having your dog running alongside your bike. You should give your pet minimum an hour of exercise a day.

In general, the Norwegian Elkhound will be completely happy with an active family that takes the dogs in its hiking, camping or skiing tours. But try not to over exercise your dog when it’s too hot, as it possesses dense coat that can cause the overheating. Remember also that un under-exercised breed member will become destructive, noisy and unpredictable.