Norwegian Elkhound – Full Breed Profile

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Could Norwegian Elkhound be your next dog? Read on to discover more on this independent breed - from history to training and grooming needs.
Dog Breed Group:
Hound Dogs
19 to 20 inches tall at the shoulder
Life Span:
12 to 15 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

The Norwegian Elkhound is a hunting dog originally from Norway. This is one of the oldest breeds alive, dating back to 5000 B.C.

The Norwegian Elkhound is one of the Northern Spitz-type breeds of dog and is the National Dog of Norway. Throughout history, this breed served as a hunting dog, guarding dog, and family dog.

However, this breed isn’t for any family. Since they are highly independent these dogs may do better in a family with well-behaved older children than toddlers.

Still, no matter how old the children might be they should be educated on how to behave around dogs.

Norwegian Elkhounds won’t hesitate to defend his people from almost anything. They are great when it comes to tracking and they don’t fear to participate in tracking large animals, such as bears and wolves.

The Norwegian Elkhound has a ‘two-ply’ coat, meaning there is a topcoat and undercoat. They shed a lot, especially during the shedding season.

Every responsible breeder will explain to you that during shedding season they will have ‘tumbleweeds’ of undercoats moving continually around the house.

Due to the harshness of their coat, Elkhounds don’t have a doggy smell.

Quick Facts

Real name: Norwegian Elkhound
Other names: Norsk elghund, Grå norsk elghund, Gray, Norwegian Elkhound, Small Grey Elk Dog, Norwegian Moose Dog , Harmaa norjanhirvikoira
Origin: Norway
Breed type: Hound Dogs
Weight: 44-51 lbs (20–23 kg)
Height: 19 to 20 inches tall at the shoulder
Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
Litter Size: 5 – 6 puppies
Color: Black and white, gray, or silver
Coat: Straight coat with soft undercoat

Norwegian Elkhound History

Norwegian Elkhound is considered to be an ancient breed.

Records show that this breed dates back as long ago as 5000 BC. Back in medieval times, these hard-working dogs were known as a dyrehund, meaning “animal-dog” in Norwegian.

Originally, they were used as hunting dogs who were rarely seen outside the borders of Norway.

At least that was the case until the 19th century when these dogs started appearing in England.

In 1901 The Kennel Club officially recognized the breed. Although they were mostly used as hunting dogs, their services were much richer. That being said, Norwegian Elkhounds also worked as watchdogs, guardians, and sled dogs.

During warfare the Norwegian Defense Minister has the authority to mobilize Norwegian Elkhounds – they can serve in favor of defense efforts.

Norwegian Elkhound Physical Appearance

Norwegian Elkhound is a medium-sized dog that is squarely built.

Males are slightly larger than females. They have 19 to 20 inches and are commonly up to 55 pounds – many would describe them as a fox-size breed.

Their double coat is usually gray with a lighter undercoat. Norwegian Elkhounds do shed, so if you’re not into regular brushing double think if this breed is for you.

It’s common for this breed to have ears, muzzles, and tails of black color. Norwegian Elkhounds are overall well-built and muscular dogs.

Do Norwegian Elkhounds Smell?

Dogs, in general, don’t need frequent bathing. They should be bathed if they get into something really messy, otherwise, they are fine without being washed.

To keep dog odor in balance, you should just provide regular brushing and overall regular grooming care.

Since they don’t need to be bathed often as they don’t have a standard doggy odor, because their coat repels dirt and water. It’s something that is common in breeds with undercoats.

Norwegian Elkhound Personality

Norwegian Elkhounds are energetic and loyal companions, who tend to be reserved around strangers.

They are a great family addition and will easily fit into a family of any size.

As northern-type dogs, Norwegian Elkhounds tend to be independent. This is why they are recommended for experienced dog owners who know their way around active breeds.

These medium-sized dogs are super talented when it comes to watching tasks.

As loyal as they are, Norwegian Elkhounds tend to be territorial which is why dog house rules are a must.

Barking feels normal to them, which is why they will inform you whenever someone approacher your space.

Norwegian Elkhounds will behave nicely in homes with children, although they do better in homes with bit older children.

Children should know how to behave around dogs. They should know not to pull a dog’s ears or tail, as they should know how to respect the dog’s territory and not to disturb them while they are eating, drinking, resting, or sleeping.

On the other hand, dogs should know dog house rules and how to behave around people.

As with any other dog, proper training and early socialization are the two biggest factors when it comes to having a well-behaved dog.

Norwegian Elkhound Training

Training should start as soon as you bring your Norwegian Elkhound home.

Dogs are capable of learning basic commands as of eight weeks of age.

By the time the socialization period ends, your Norwegian Elkhound should know the following:

  • Basic commands such as ‘no’ and ‘come’
  • House dog rules
  • How to walk on a leash
  • Where his place is when it comes to sleeping, resting, and playing
  • Which house areas are forbidden
  • How to interact with house visitors

Puppies should be socialized early and they need firm but gentle hands.

Experienced dog owners know that in training only positive reinforcement should be used, and never any harsh training methods.

No dog should experience any harsh methods or negative handling. If you think that you need help training your dog, think about hiring a professional dog trainer or enroll your puppy in puppy classes.

Don’t forget – dogs need a proper amount of mental and physical stimulation to keep them strong and active. A tired dog is a good dog.

Norwegian Elkhound Exercise

Norwegian Elkhounds are high-energy dogs.

As such, they need a fair amount of exercise or they will get bored. When bored dogs tend to be destructive. That being said, Norwegian Elkhounds need regular walks and additional exercise to keep them mentally active and physically strong.

Plus, exercise is a great way to keep dogs’ joints healthy. Your Norwegian Elkhound will need at least an hour of intense exercise daily.

You can think about participating in dog sports, such as agility.

Norwegian Elkhound Grooming

If you are not a big fan of grooming practice, you are in luck, because this breed needs just a fair amount of grooming.

Regular weekly brushing twice per week should be enough to keep his coat clean and debris-free.

Have the right grooming tools that will make grooming a fast and easy process.

The rest is regular grooming:

  • Trim or grind nails monthly
  • Bathe only when needed
  • Check gums weekly
  • Check eyes daily for any sign of eye discharge
  • Brush weekly

If your veterinarian recommends it, brush his teeth. Just make sure that you use the right products.

Just like with bathing, you should brush your dog’s teeth only using products that are specially designed for dogs.

Now, let’s see where does Norwegian Elkhound stands health-wise.

Norwegian Elkhound Health

When it comes to health, Elkhounds are considered to be healthy dogs.

They are very robust, active, and muscular. As such, as long as they are given high-quality food, proper exercise, and regular veterinarian check-ups, they should reach their senior years without major issues.

Still, you may provide the best care possible, and your Elkhound still may get sick.

That being said, here are some of the health concerns that you might expect to see in your Elkhound:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Autoimmune hypothyroidism
  • Fanconi syndrome
  • Skin cysts

The best way to keep your dog healthy is to provide proper care.

Not only that you should provide proper nutrition, but you should provide regular veterinarian check-ups as well.

In fact, veterinarian check-ups are the most important step when it comes to proper care.

Prevention is the key, both in humans and dogs, when it comes to longevity.

Here is a fast checklist that will keep your Norwegian Elkhound healthy:

  • Provide high-quality food
  • Provide proper veterinarian care
  • Know as much as possible about nutrition
  • Learn how to read pet food labels
  • Provide daily walks and additional exercise
  • Learn which human foods can harm your Fido
  • Always provide an easy access to clean and fresh water
  • Take extra care of your Fido on hot summer days

If you are buying a puppy make sure that you deal only with responsible dog breeders.

They will always screen puppies for the most common health issues in the breed and present you with medical documentation on the puppy.

Plus, they will provide you with direct inputs on dog care, training, and nutrition.

If you choose to adopt, shelter representatives will help you get the best possible dog based on your lifestyle.

Plus, responsible breeders will examine the dog and inform you honestly about the dog’s health and overall temperament.

Once you get a dog make sure that you take him to your vet’s for a full check-up.

Is Norwegian Elkhound For You?

Norwegian Elkhounds are energetic dogs who are friendly and a bit independent.

They are confident dogs with great watching skills. These gray-coated dogs are also very active which is why they are recommended for people who love spending time outdoors.

Since Norwegian Elkhounds have strong hunting and chasing instincts, all walks should be on a leash when outside.

As very vocal dogs they aren’t the best fit for quiet neighbors. This same skill makes them great watchdogs. This breed is for you want a medium-sized dog who is rugged, bold, confident, and polite with strangers.

Popular Norwegian Elkhound Comparisons

Compare Dog Breeds: