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Norwegian Elkhound: Origin, Temperament, Training, Exercise

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About Norwegian Elkhound

Country of Origin, History of Norwegian Elkhounds

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

The Norwegian Elkhound can scent (smell) game from a distance of several Kilometers. He tracks the quarry and attracts its attention by barking. Then he holds the animal at bay until the hunter arrives to make the kill. Over the centuries, Elkhounds have also successfully hunted badger, lynx, mountain lion, bear, wolf, reindeer, elk and even rabbit. The Elkhound is particularly well-suited to badger hunting since he works better at night than in the daytime. He is also highly prized as a sled dog.

In more recent times, the friendly and reliable character of the Elkhound has helped win him a place in many homes as a cherished family pet. The breed was first exhibited in 1877 when the Norwegian Hunters Association began holding shows.

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.

Norwegian Elkhound Tools

Breed Selector Tool - is the Norwegian Elkhound the right breed for you?

Is the Norwegian Elkhound the right breed for you and your family?

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Are you aware dogs also have a learning style that can greatly affect their ability to housetrain as well as be trained correctly. Evaluate your Norwegian Elkhound's learning style and personality using our free Learning Style tool so that you are better able to provide him with the proper Norwegian Elkhound training methods.

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Norwegian Elkhound Calorie Calculator

Do you know how many calories your Norwegian Elkhound needs every day and how many cups of food you should be giving it every day? Click here to use our Norwegian Elkhound Calorie Calculator.

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A General Appearance of the Dog

The Norwegian Elkhound is a hardy, medium-sized hunting dog, sturdy and squarely built, with the stamina to hunt all day long for days at a time.

The stand-off double coat has a distinctive gray color with a lighter undercoat and undersides. The coat on the legs is very dense. It protected them in the cold winter months of their homeland. The head is broad and wedge-shaped with a strong jaw line. The muzzle, ears and tail tip are black. The Norwegian Elkhounds’ ears are pointed, known as “prick” and are very mobile. The eyes are very dark brown with a keen, friendly expression. The tail is rolled tightly and carried over the back. The breeds’ body is relatively short and appears to be broader than it actually is, due to its dense coat.

Coat Color

The double coat of the Norwegian Elkhound comes in a mix of silver, black and gray.

The body of the breed is light silver at the base, or under coat of the dog, and grows to a darker grey becoming black at the tip of the longer guard hairs. The gray body color is darkest on the saddle, lighter on the chest. The Norwegian Elkhound has a distinctive harness mark (a band of longer guard hairs from shoulder to elbow) adding to its distinctive appearance.

The muzzle, ears and tail tip are black. The black of the muzzle shades to lighter gray over the forehead and skull.

Coat Type

The double coat of the Norwegian Elkhound is indicative of its northern roots and serves to keep this breed protected and insulated.

The shorter undercoat is dense, soft and woolly and contains essential oils that provide insulation against harsh weather.

The longer guard hairs that make up the second part of the coat whisk away snow and other matter, keeping it from lodging in the second coat. These longer guard hairs also give the breed’s coat its distinctive look and should not be trimmed away.


Males: 19-21”
Females: 18-20”


Males: 50-60 Lbs.
Females: 40-50 Lbs.

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Norwegian Elkhound Personality Traits

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The Spanish Water Dog is an extremely intelligent, fearless, ever-active, strong, attentive, happy and well balanced versatile working dog with strong herding, hunting and guardian instincts. It is a devoted companion. It is reserved, not shy, with strangers. They can be protective and territorial.

Are they suited to families with kids?

Most of them are good with children and other animals if properly socialized.

Norwegian Elkhound Activity Level

How Active is the Breed?

The Norwegian Elkhound is a very energetic dog that thrives on strenuous activity. They need to be taken on a daily, long, brisk walk or jog. Elkhounds should have at least an hour of exercise a day. They will enjoy running beside your bike or having a really good run in the woods, but remember that these dogs like to roam, so if he picks up an interesting scent, he may ignore you when you call him.

How Much Exercise Does the Dog Need at every stage of its Life?

Puppies of this breed need the usual catch, fetch and tug-of-war ritual to keep them exercised and happy. Lead training early is also good for their active minds and growing bodies.

An hour of exercise a day is not extreme for this breed as it matures and can be met by walking and jogging. The Norwegian Elkhound makes a good agility dog and if your climate allows it, this can be a great form of exercise year round.


Specific grooming requirements are needed for this double-coated, seasonally shedding breed. It should be brushed regularly, with extra care given while the dog is shedding its dense undercoat. When the dog is shedding, the dead hair clings to the new hair. The dead hair should be removed with a rubber brush or a wooden comb with a double row of metal teeth. Frequent brushing during times when the coat is not shedding are important as well, and a once a month nail clip will keep feet in shape.

Professional care 2 times a year may be needed to remove the dense undercoat.

Because of this coat, they rarely have a doggy order and they repel dirt and water. Over-bathing should be avoided as it removes the protective oils.

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Free Course on Norwegian Elkhound Training & Obedience
Stop All Bad Behavior, Excessive Barking and Biting

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Health and Care

Genetic Problems

Hip dysplasia and certain skin conditions can occur in this breed. Care should be taken to feed your Norwegian Elkhound appropriately as rapid weight gain can be a health threat as well. A consistent exercise program for your pet will help support a good diet and keep his weight in proper proportion.

Breeding the Dog and any Cautions

Your breeder should be consulted on what mate would be a good match for your Norwegian Elkhound.

Life Span: 12-15 Years

National Breed Clubs

National Breed Clubs

British – Norwegian Elkhound Association of Great Britain –
US – Norwegian Elkhound Association of America -


Rescue Link:

Group: Hound Group

AKC Popularity Ranking: 97

Also Known As: Elkhound.

Train Your Norwegian Elkhound To Listen To You

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You'll also learn how to eliminate bad habits like barking, nipping or biting, jumping, or pulling on the leash.Here's just s small fraction of what else you'll learn in the course:

  • How to lead and think like a pack dog - the new psychology.

  • 3 dangerous mistakes that most Elkhound owners make when they are trying to potty train their dogs.

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  • How to obedience train your Norwegian Elkhound to permanently end behavioral problems like Jumping, Aggression, Pulling on Leash.

  • A surprisingly easy way to teach your dog cool new tricks.

  • How to improve your dog's lifespan and keep it from getting overly heavy with a healthy and nutritious diet.

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  • One hidden psychological trigger that all Norwegian Elkhounds have... that practically allows you to "analyze" and "control" your dog's every action.

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Whereas other dog training related web sites and books offer generic information for dogs in general, ours is the ONLY web site that offers Elkhound information specifically, from a renowned panel of experts - because as you probably know, Elkhounds have their own special training requirements that other dogs don't have.

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The Norwegian Elkhound training information you will read here was developed by a panel of renowned dog training experts whose combined wisdom represents nearly 100 years of specialist experience training dogs.

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