Norwegian Elkhound Guide

Hound Dog Breeds

A typical Northern spitz-like breed, the Norwegian elkhound is square-proportioned, close coupled, with substantial bone, broad head, pricked ears and tightly curled tail. It is constructed for agility and endurance, rather than speed, enabling it to trail for hours and then hold big game at bay by barking and dodging attack. Its trot is effortless. It has a thick, smooth-lying coat consisting of straight outer hairs and a wooly undercoat. This combination presents the best protection against cold and snow.

The Norwegian elkhound combines traits of hounds and spitz-like dogs, resulting in a breed that is bold, playful, independent, alert, boisterous and — unlike most hounds — even protective. This is a dog ready for adventure and happiest if that adventure takes place outdoors in cold weather. It needs daily exercise, lest it become frustrated or even destructive. It is friendly with strangers but may quarrel with strange dogs. It tends to pull when on leash unless trained, and it may bark a lot.


FAMILY spitz, Northern (hunting)


DATE OF ORIGIN ancient times

ORIGINAL FUNCTION hunting elk (moose)


AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 20.5 Weight: 55

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 19.5 Weight: 48

OTHER NAME elkhound, Norsk elghund

Energy level High energy

Exercise needs Medium

Playfullness Very playful

Affection level Moderately affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Shy

Friendliness toward other pets Shy

Friendliness toward strangers Friendly

Ease of training Easy to train

Watchdog ability High

Protection ability Very protective

Grooming needs Moderate maintenance

Cold tolerance High tolerance

Heat tolerance Low tolerance

The elkhound was developed to hunt all day under grueling conditions. It needs daily exertion in order to feel satisfied. This can be in the form of a good jog, very long walk or invigorating play session. It can live outdoors in temperate or cool climates, but it is happiest living with its family. Its double coat needs brushing twice a week and daily during main shedding season when it sheds a lot.
• Major concerns: CHD
• Minor concerns: pyotraumatic dermatitis, PRA
• Occasionally seen: Fanconi syndrome
• Suggested tests: hip, eye
• Life span: 10 – 12 years
The elkhound is an unusual hound because its roots lie in the spitz breeds, which it still closely resembles. This breed's placement in the hound group reflects its hunting ability because it hunts like a hound. Still, the elkhound is a breed of many skills. It has served humans as a hunter, guardian, herder and defender at least since the time of the Vikings. In a land of subzero temperatures, deep snow, thick forests and rugged mountains, only the hardiest of breeds could evolve to perform the variety of jobs at which the elkhound excels. Of all its roles, hunting elk (actually, moose) is this breed's forte. Two hunting-style elkhounds are used: The bandhund is attached by a long line to the hunter while trailing the elk, while the loshund runs ahead trailing until it is within striking range. Its goal is to hold the elk at bay, and it will hunt quietly if the animal begins to run away. If the elk stops, the dog begins barking furiously to alert the hunter. Nimbly jumping in and out toward the elk, it deftly avoids the swinging antlers. Either way, the elkhound's job is not to kill the elk, but to locate it and hold it at bay until the hunter can shoot it. Although the breed had been carefully bred for centuries, only since the late 1800s were pedigrees kept and breeding according to standard performed. The breed has been exhibited in Scandinavian dog shows since that time and was brought to England and America shortly thereafter. The AKC recognized the breed around 1930, and it has enjoyed moderate popularity since then. In Scandinavia, the elkhound is still tested by grueling elk hunts that may entail an entire day of trailing.