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Norwegian Elkhound Dog Breed… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

Here’s a dog you may not be familiar with unless you’re from Norway, where these guys are the national dog.  A title that they have earned for excellent reason!  And one that hopefully we’ll be able to shed some light on after reading our article all about the Norwegian Elkhound Dog breed.  You see, the Norwegian Elkhound, or the Norsk Elghund as he is called in his home country, is an ancient breed that has existed since pre-historic times. He is one of the Spitz Breeds bred mainly for big game hunting.

Which is probably why…

He looks like a “bit” like a wolf.  But don’t let his “wolfish” appearance fool you; this guy is a gentle companion dog loyal to his human family.


He’s not always comfortable around strangers, but that’s okay – you don’t want your watchdog to get too pally around people he doesn’t know.  But that’s probably because, at one point, these guys were bred to be a fearsome hunting breed.

You see…

Hundreds of years ago, when much of Scandinavia was covered by forests, and most people in Norway, Sweden, and other countries lived as hunters and gatherers, the Elkhound was a perfect hunting breed.  He was strong and courageous, relentless in pursuit of the prey, and blessed with great tenacity, speed, and stamina – a must for a hunting breed. He was very good at hunting moose, bears, and wolves.

That plus…

His robust health, thick fur, Spitz-coat, and muscular physique made him an ideal dog for Scandinavian conditions, especially the harsh, cold weather.  Of course, things have changed since then. The Elkhound is today a perfect family pet. Playful and energetic, funny and charming, and great with kids. This is probably because he sometimes acts like a clown and has everyone in splits with some of his hilarious antics.

But don’t confuse…

His playfulness for thinking he is just a “goofball” because he is also a brilliant, fierce, and independent-minded dog. Which means that he can be pretty stubborn at times.  Which could mean that even though we love these guys, it’s entirely possible that they may not be the “right” kind of dog for you.  This is why we wanted to take a moment and discuss what it might be like to own one of these incredible animals so that if you ever have a chance to make one your own, you’ll know for sure if that’s a good idea!

Norwegian Elkhound Fast Facts

Country of Origin: Norway

Original Purpose:  Big game hunting

Height: 19.5 to 20.5 inches at the shoulder

Weight: 48 to 55 pounds

Dog Beed Classification:  Hound group

Life Span: 10 to 12 years

Origin of the Norwegian Elkhound Dog Breed

Like most “ancient” dog breeds, a cloud of mystery hangs over the “true” origins of the Norwegian Elkhound. What is known for sure is that he is one of the Spitz breeds, which are ancient dogs that were domesticated more than 7,000 years ago in Europe.  It is also believed that the Elkhound and other Nordic dogs were cross-bred with wolves to make them fearsome hunting dogs and to fight the real wolves more effectively.

But from there…

Not much is certain, leaving one to theorize and ” hypothesize” all over the place.  All we can say for sure is that as a “Spitz/Wolf” crossbreed, the early Norwegians certainly knew what they wanted and how to get it because the Norwegian Elkhound is quite a magnificent mid-sized animal that was able to both hunt and protect the farm from any invading predators.


Although the Elkhound is more of a family dog, he can hunt just as well as he used to. In Norway, there are two types of Elkhounds:  Bandhund and Loshund.  It should be noted that the Loshund is a more aggressive hunting dog that makes a lot of noise, while the Bandhund is more of a silent hunter that goes about its business without attracting too much attention.


While the Elkhound has been around in Norway for hundreds of years, it was only in 1877 that he was first exhibited in different dog shows. The Norwegian Hunters Association established a breed standard for the Elkhound.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed in 1913.

Physical Characteristics

The Norwegian Elkhound is a mid-sized hunting dog. The adult dog (male) stands at 20.5 inches, and the adult dog (female) stands at 19.5 inches. He should weigh between 48 and 55 pounds.  He is strong, squarely built, fast, and athletic and has a thick, gray double coat that offers sufficient protection against the cold weather in Scandinavia. He has a tightly curled tail, pointed prick ears, a deep chest, and expressive eyes.

His undercoat is soft, dense, and “wooly,” and the outer coat is short and thick.  The skin is covered by gray guard hairs with black tips. The hairs on the chest and mane are light gray.

Temperament and Personality

The Norwegian Elkhound is a friendly dog that could be described as a “bit” hyperactive sometimes.  Which we feel only makes them a better companion dog for families.  He is also a very good-natured dog, for the most part, friendly and sensitive.  He also seems to know exactly what you’re thinking at any point in time. He is easy to train and responsive to your commands. Plus, even though he loves the outdoors, he’s also the sort of dog that is just as comfortable living in an apartment in a city as he is at living in a large estate in the countryside.


If there is one thing he hates, it is being ignored by his owners.  This also reminds us that…

“The Elkhound can and does like to bark!”

It’s hard to stop his barking when he gets started. His loud bark can be heard from a great distance away. Owners of the Elkhound always have neighbors complaining to them about the dog’s constant barking.

“Don’t mind that!”

Don’t worry about his constant barking. It is just Elkhound’s way of communicating. The barking is mostly enthusiastic and peppy. But when the dog senses danger or notices an intruder approaching the house, his bark can get much louder and more agitated.

Potential Health Problems

The Norwegian Elkhound is a reasonably healthy breed with a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years. He is not the sort of dog that suffers from too many health problems. But it is common for the Norsk Elghund to suffer from health issues such as….

And while many of these conditions may not be life-threatening, they can become quite expensive, particularly if they become recurring issues.  This is why we here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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