Norwegian Elkhounds are medium-sized dogs with silver-gray coats and very distinctive saddle markings. Their coat is hard, thick, and smooth lying and has weather-resistant properties. The undercoat is woolly, soft, and dense, and the ears, muzzle, and tail tip are black. These dogs have prick ears, a tightly curled tail, and dark, medium-sized eyes. Norwegian Elkhounds measure 19.5 to 20.5 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 48 to 55 pounds.
These dogs love affection and attention, and they are protective while remaining welcoming
Friendly, loving, and dignified, Norwegian Elkhounds make great pets for families with older children. These dogs love affection and attention, and they are protective while remaining welcoming. Most do well in a variety of living environments, including city apartments and rural farms.
The Norwegian Elkhound's job consists of tracking bear, elk, moose, and other large game, and then holding the animal in place by barking at it until the hunter is able to arrive. They were developed to bark, and they still bark. Sometimes, they bark too much. This is how the breed communicates.
Norwegian Elkhounds are playful, bold, independent, and boisterous, and most tend to be protective of their human family members. These dogs love adventure and enjoy activity. They are ideally suited to active families with older children, and they get along decently with other pets.
These dogs need daily exercise to remain mentally and physical healthy. Regular activity will also help prevent frustration and potential destructiveness in this breed. Norwegian Elkhounds are prone to excessive barking, but providing plenty of exercise can help diminish this annoying behavior. A long walk, casual jog or hike, and vigorous outdoor play sessions are great forms of exercise for these dogs.
Norwegian Elkhounds do not like to be left outside or alone for long periods. They are very people-oriented and can become depressed if ignored or neglected. They make great playmates for older children and enjoy spending time with their human family members. They should have access to the outdoors, but they need to live inside with their families.
Norwegian Elkhounds are a fairly healthy breed and are not known to suffer from many genetic diseases or serious health concerns. However, this does not guarantee that any individual dog will be healthy or free or genetic illness. Obtaining these dogs from a reputable breeder or adoption agency increases the likelihood of bringing home a healthy dog.
Congenital hip dysplasia, skin cysts, pyotraumatic dermatitis, and hypothyroidism, a hormonal disease, are all known to affect this breed. Additionally, Fanconi syndrome, a condition that affects the kidneys, and several eye disorders, including glaucoma, retinal dysplasia, and progressive retinal atrophy, are seen in these dogs.
When free of serious disease and when provided with routine veterinary care, a healthy diet, and regular exercise, Norwegian Elkhounds generally live up to 12 years.
Intelligent and alert, Norwegian Elkhounds are a highly trainable breed. However, these dogs can be stubborn and resistant to training, especially if there is a lack of fairness or an excess of criticism involved. Praise, play, and food rewards, which are all positive reinforcement techniques, are highly effective when training this breed.
Excessive barking is something that should be dealt with early in life to avoid annoying neighbors. Barking is a trait that these dogs have held onto through many years of breeding; it is a difficult behavior to stop. Short and fun training sessions starting from 8 weeks on are beneficial.
These dogs will never offer unquestioning obedience, so patience is key when working with them. It may take extra time when practicing commands, especially the "heel" command (these dogs are natural pullers), and the impulse to rush through training should be avoided. Norwegian Elkhounds are sensitive dogs; they will shut down if physically punished or harshly scolded.
Norwegian Elkhounds are fairly easy to groom. Their double coat only needs brushing every few days for most of the year, but brushing should be increased to daily during shedding seasons, when hair loss can be significant. It may be beneficial to brush these dogs outdoors during the spring and fall. Anyone easily bothered by hair bunnies floating through the house should reconsider purchasing or adopting one of these dogs.
Regular baths will help control hair, too, but it is important to avoid using soap unless truly necessary. Soap can remove the natural weatherproofing properties of the breed's coat. When soap is necessary, a veterinarian-recommend and pH-balanced product will gently clean the coat without damaging it or causing skin irritation.
The nails should be trimmed every couple of weeks, and the teeth need brushing daily to protect against gum disease and tooth decay. Additionally, weekly ear checks should be performed to look for signs of infection or excess ear wax. Any concerning symptoms, including redness, odor, discharge, pain, or swelling, should be reported to a veterinarian promptly.
Norwegian Elkhounds closely resemble Spitz breeds and were developed to hunt for long periods under grueling conditions. These dogs hunt like hounds and have been placed in the hound group because of this. In addition to the breed's role as a hunting companion, Elkhounds have historically excelled in the jobs of herder, guardian, and defender. Hunting elk is the breed's forte, hence its name.
These dogs date back about 6,000 years and have been carefully bred for several centuries. Still, breeders did not start keeping pedigrees until the late 1800s. Since that time, these dogs have been shown in many Scandinavian dog shows, with their first showing in the Norwegian Hunters' Association show in 1877.
The breed was brought to England and America around this same time. Today, these dogs are primarily kept as companion animals, although they make superior therapy and search and rescue dogs.
The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Norwegian Elkhound in 1913.