Complete Guide To The Norwegian Elkhound: Health, Grooming, Feeding and More

Brief Guide To The Norwegian Elkhound The subject of poetry and prose, the noble Norwegian Elkhound is a might member of the ancient Spitz breed. Companions to the Vikings, these hardy, personable dogs are as content to hike as to sail the high seas.

How Big Do Norwegian Elkhounds Get?

Male20.5″ at the shoulder55 lbs
Female19.5″ at the shoulder48 lbs

What Do Norwegian Elkhounds Look Like?

The Norwegian Elkhound is from the same family of dogs as the Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky. Slightly smaller but just as robust, their lush silvery coats and prominent black tips make them easy to tell apart. AKC-approved colors include almost any combination of black, silver and white — solid colors are a disqualification.

The Elkhound’s mid-length coat is thick and weather-hardened. Rugged, they’re of medium size but significant substance. Broad and muscular, they’re built to work.

Ears are erect, high-set and responsive to the least noise — oval eyes are brown and pleading. Tails are tightly curved and carried over the back. Though seldom mistaken for other breeds due to their distinctive colors, they share traits inherent in all Spitz dogs and may be confused for more popular breeds like the Siberian Husky.

What Is The Personality Of A Norwegian Elkhound?

Norwegian Elkhounds are intelligent, friendly and loyal — just shy of outgoing, their trust has to be earned. Steadfast friends once they get to know you, they’re good with children but wary enough of strangers to be capable guard dogs. Rarely aggressive, they have an even, dependable temperament.

Bred to hunt big game, they need plenty of exercise but aren’t sprinters. They’re endurance athletes that prefer consistent activities like day hikes over Frisbee in the park. Happiest with room to run outdoors, a fenced-in play area or secure, supervised space to roam away from roads is the safest environment.

Independent hunters, they will instinctively track any intriguing odor, so keep a leash handy. Early obedience training is the key to a long and happy relationship.

How Much Grooming Do Norwegian Elkhounds Need?

Norwegian Elkhounds have heavy double coats — a wooly layer near the skin to insulate them from the cold and a coarse, rain-resistant top coat that deflects moisture. In the spring and fall, temperature changes cause the undercoat to blow out in a way best described as intense — keep the vacuum plugged in.

The good news is that daily brushing tames shedding in the house — a few minutes a day of back-brushing with a slicker is all it takes. The Elkhound’s coarse fur doesn’t retain odors, so a bath every six months is enough to keep them clean.

Unlike hounds with long ears, the Elkhound’s erect pinnae let enough air and light into the ear canal to ward off infections. Check them monthly and use a gentle cleaning solution to remove excess wax if necessary.

Nail care is a must for Elkhounds. Their feet are built for snow, so their toes are tight — overgrown nails can cause significant discomfort. A monthly trim with a rotary tool keeps them short and smooths out rough ends, so they’re less likely to snag on rough outdoor surfaces.

How Much Exercise Does A Norwegian Elkhound Need?

This particular breed isn’t one of the highest energy dogs in the world, but they do need regular vigorous exercise. A walk with this dog isn’t a stroll in the park. Rather, it should be an actual workout where both you and your dog are tired at the end.

The Elkhounds I’ve met have all loved to play ball, so make sure you have plenty of things for your Elkhound to chew and play with.

Activities That I Recommend With This Breed:

  • Walking
  • Hiking (both walking and hiking can be done with your dog also wearing a weighted pack; the weight in the pack will help to tire your dog out faster; don’t do this if your dog has any orthopedic issues)
  • Swimming
  • Agility Training
  • Dog Parks

What Kind Of Dog Food Is Best For Norwegian Elkhounds?

Norwegian Elkhound puppies are either chow hounds or they just don’t care that much about food. Adjust your feeding expectations accordingly.

Also understand that my philosophy as a veterinarian for the past 20 years has been that most dog foods are fine for most dogs. For those dogs that require a special diet (due to a health condition such as a food allergy or inflammatory bowel disease), use the diet most appropriate and recommended by your veterinarian.

I prefer large dog food companies for my recommendations because they’ve been around longer, had fewer recalls, put more into research and development, and are generally more cost effective than some of the newer “boutique” diets.

Please don’t listen to the folks at the pet store trying to convince you to buy a grain-free diet for your dog. There’s zero science behind that and vets are actually seeing diseases now related to feeding grain-free foods.

Best Puppy Food For A Norwegian Elkhound:

Best Adult Food For A Norwegian Elkhound:

How Long Do Norwegian Elkhounds Live?

12-15 years according to information from the AKC

What Health Problems Do Norwegian Elkhounds Have?

The breed is a pretty healthy one with their relatively low popularity helping that. However, by doing some basic research with the Canine Health Information Center, the breed itself has a potential risk for hip dysplasia that is above average.

They also have “abnormal” dentition which usually means an overbite or underbite. This can lead to accumulating tartar and plaque at faster rates than dogs with normal dentition.

Also, watch out for obesity with the Norwegian Elkhound. Their thick coat can make it easy to overlook those 10 extra pounds they put on during winter. If you’re not sure, check with your vet to see if your Elkhound is in the proper weight range.

Where Can I Learn More About Norwegian Elkhounds?

Norwegian Elkhound Association of America

AKC Breed Page

Where Can I Find A Norwegian Elkhound?

I would recommend with contacting the closest regional club listed by the Norwegian Elkhound Association of America. They should be able to give you a list of the best breeders in your area.

AKC Puppy Marketplace

Looking for a Rescue? Start with Elkhound Rescue.

Interesting Facts About the Norwegian Elkhound

Norwegian Elkhounds have a long and distinguished history. Here are few fun facts about this remarkable breed.

The Norwegian Elkhound is Millenniums Old

Ancient Viking burial sites hold the remains of Elkound-type dogs, laying side by side with the remains of warriors and their weapons. Archaeologists estimate they could be 7000-years-old, making them among the oldest breeds in the world.

• Just Call Him Your Royal Highness

The Norwegian Elkhound’s history is as storied as their Viking masters. From protecting their cities to exploring lands unknown, they were valued partners and devoted companions. Legend has it that one 12th-century male Elkhound so vigorously defended the realm of Throndhjem that he was crowned its king.

• Or Moose Dog

The Norwegian Elkhound was bred to hunt large game. Its original name, “Norsk Elghund,” translates to “moose dog” in English. Moose in Europe are referred to as elk, but in the United States, they’re two distinct species — hence the confusing moniker in English-speaking countries.

• They Like To Be Top Dog

Norwegian Elkhounds are independent hunters. They chase and trap their quarry, sometimes miles ahead of their humans. But with good decision-making skills comes confidence that can translate into unwanted dominance behavior if not checked — train them early and be consistent.

• They’re Like Dogs With a Bone

Hunting dogs are known for their tracking ability and concentration. But Norwegian Elkhounds take it to extremes, having chased prey through plate glass windows and taken game as large as bear down without a hunter in tow.

• Famous Elkhounds

Norwegian Elkhounds don’t have the celebrity following of the Chihuahua or Shih Tzu, but they had at least one famous American fan — former US President Herbert Hoover.

• Come Rain or Sleet or Snow

Few dogs handle the inclement weather as well as the Norwegian Elkhound. With two weather-resistant coats for warmth and enough body fat to ward away chill, these Scandinavian hunters are always winter-ready.