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All About Norwegian Elkhounds

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Norwegian elkhound dog looking up

Norwegian Elkhounds are beautiful and charismatic dogs that are full of love and energy. Before adopting one of your own, read all about Norwegian Elkhound pros and cons and what it’s like sharing your home with these spit-fire, pep-in-their-step dogs.

About the Breed

Norwegian Elkhounds are adorable pups that people can’t help but want to hug. Although they may look like cuddly clouds, these dogs are most definitely not couch potatoes.

Elkhounds have an immense amount of energy, which they need to burn off every single day. Typically two 30 minute walks, plus some time to run around and play, is what it takes to get all of the jitters out of their system. Only then, after they have the chance to exercise and play, will they be open to lounging on the couch with you.

Though you may be tempted to skip a walk or two with your dog, just keep in mind that a bored Norwegian Elkhound can quickly become a destructive one. To help keep their minds busy, it may be worth purchasing a puzzle or brain game. Arguably, Elkhounds enjoy exercising their mind just as much as exercising their body.

As long as they have enough exercise and playtime, these dogs can happily live in a smaller environment, such as an apartment, but with that in mind, it’s important to note that these dogs tend to bark. While it is possible to train dogs not to bark as often, barking is just a part of the Norwegian Elkhound’s history and what they were bred to do. In other words, if you prefer to have a quiet household, this may not be the breed for you.

Even though Norwegian Elkhounds are naturally independent, they are still fiercely loyal to their people and family. These dogs can do well in a household with children, but it is essential that children are first taught how to interact with your dog correctly. Be sure always to monitor any interaction your dog has with children. Dogs of this breed can also adapt well to a multi-dog household.

While they can learn to get along with other animals (such as cats), especially when raised together, keep in mind that Elkhounds have a strong prey drive and may try to chase smaller animals.

Breed History

Norwegian Elkhounds are an ancient breed that has been around for at least a thousand years. They are Spitz dogs that originated in Norway, and they are intertwined with a great deal of Norwegian history. These dogs were also incredibly popular among the Vikings, who utilized them for their various skills, including herding, hunting, and guarding. Because they are excellent guard dogs, the Vikings often tasked these dogs with guarding their flocks, herds, and homes.

In addition to their guarding skills, Norwegian Elkhounds also have a talent for tracking down big game during hunts. Hunters had two different ways of hunting with these dogs. One consisted of the Elkhound tracking down the game and keeping watch over the animal while simultaneously barking to alert the hunter where they were. The other method consisted of the hunter keeping pace with the Elkhound, who would silently track down the game.

Although these dogs are not overly large, their size never reflected the size of the game they would help hunt. Typical large game for the Norwegian Elkhound included moose, elk, bears, and wolves.

Though they have been around for quite some time, these dogs did not appear outside of Norway until the 19th century, when they began arriving in England. Around the same time, this breed made its way to the United States, though they did not gain people’s attention for many more years. It wasn’t until post World War I, after Norway gifted President Herbert Hoover a Norwegian Elkhound, that this breed’s popularity began to increase.

Norwegian elkhound with a red white and blue bandana resting on wood floor at home


There is much to learn about the Norwegian Elkhound before adopting your own. Though these pups can make excellent pets, they are not ideal for all people or lifestyles. Unfortunately, many people adopt dogs before taking into consideration all that goes into caring for one. In order to avoid running into a similar situation, it’s most helpful first to familiarize yourself with as much information as you can about this breed and what can be expected from them.

Common questions from future dog parents include:

What’s the Typical Norwegian Elkhound Temperament?

All around, Norwegian Elkhounds have an easy temperament. These dogs are not aggressive or overbearing, and they usually get along dashingly with just about anyone. Although some people may say that this breed’s exercise needs are demanding, once your dog has a chance to burn off all of their energy, they can become just as easy-going as other breeds.

Do Norwegian Elkhounds Shed?

When it comes to Norwegian Elkhounds, shedding will become practically a constant occurrence. Simply put, these dogs shed a lot, and if you are not a fan of dog hair on your clothes or having to run the sweeper multiple times a week, then this is not the dog for you.

While Norwegian Elkhounds are in a constant state of shedding, twice a year when they “blow coat,” the shedding will increase even more, but just for a short period.

How Long Do Norwegian Elkhounds Live?

The average Norwegian Elkhound lifespan is 10-15 years. However, many factors can affect dog life expectancies, including their diet, living environment, exercise regimen, and whether they have any preexisting health conditions.

What’s the Average Norwegian Elkhound Size?

The typical Norwegian Elkhound weight ranges between 44-55 pounds, and they usually stand around 19-20 inches to their shoulder. These dogs are considered to be medium-sized, well-built, and muscular.

Norwegian Elkhounds, which have incredible endurance, enjoy spending their time outside, embarking on new adventures. Seeing how they originated in the cold Nordic region, this breed does not mind being out in the winter and snow. On the other hand, these dogs are not the biggest fans of extreme heat, so don’t expect them to do much outside in hot weather.

Norwegian Elkhounds have a thick, black, and silver coat, pointed ears, and a curled-up tail. At a glance, it’s understandable why people have mistaken these pups for Huskies.


An implemental part of being a responsible dog parent is to train your dog. Training should begin as early as possible since dogs can quickly establish poor habits. Although Norwegian Elkhounds are intelligent and hard-working, they may prove to be challenging to train. This is mainly because they are naturally independent.

Being a hunting dog, Norwegian Elkhounds quickly learned how to take point on tasks and carry out their job without the hunter’s instruction. While this strong will and self-sufficiency are convenient on a hunt, it can be quite irksome during a training session.

It’s helpful to remain patient with your pup and reward them with praise, a treat, or a toy whenever they do a job well done. You may also find that by keeping your training to short sessions, you will also be able to keep your dog’s attention better.

As you continue to work on training with your best pal, it’s crucial that you also work on socializing your Norwegian Elkhound. Taking them to new places such as parks, beaches, and pet-friendly stores and restaurants are just a few places to begin. These outings provide the opportunity for your dog to have exposure to new people, places, sights, and sounds.

Socialization is an implemental part of raising a dog with a well-rounded personality and temperament. Without socialization, dogs are more prone to becoming anxious in new environments and leery around strangers.

One of the best parts about training and socialization is that it’s never too early to start—unless your puppy doesn’t have all the necessary shots quite yet. Even at a young age, puppies can absorb an impressive amount of information, and it is an ideal time to introduce them to as many new environments as possible. That said, if you adopt an older Norwegian Elkhound, there’s always a chance that they will not be well trained or socialized.

No need to fret. Even though the old saying is that you “can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” in reality, you most certainly can. Though it may take a few extra steps, special attention, and some additional time, you can still help teach and introduce your old dog to new experiences.

close up on the eyes of a Norwegian elkhound dog

Grooming and Care

Because of their thick, double coat, Norwegian Elkhounds need brushed multiple times a week, even daily when they are blowing coat. Although it may sound like a good idea to shave your Elkhound at first, this is by no means a solution and will cause more problems in return. Double-coated dogs, like Norwegian Elkhounds, should never be shaved.

Having a double coat insulates them and allows them to regulate their body temperatures in both hot and cold weather. Once the fur is shaved, your dog is more prone to injuries on their exposed skin, they run the risk of being sunburnt, and the texture of their hair could be ruined and not grow back in properly. If you do not foresee yourself being able to brush your dog three or more times a week, then a Norwegian Elkhound probably isn’t the right breed for you.

Although their coat does require a little bit of extra attention, thankfully, these dogs do not require frequent baths, assuming that they don’t find a mud puddle or something stinky to roll in. As far as the rest of their grooming routine goes, everything is pretty much by the books.

Your dog will need their nails trimmed about every month, though some dogs may need them cut sooner, while others can go longer.

Every few weeks, you should check your pup’s ears. If they appear dirty, clean them out with a dog-safe ear cleaning solution and a soft cloth or cotton ball—never use cotton swabs as they could cause injury. You will additionally want to keep an eye out for any signs of unusual redness or a bad odor, as this could be an indication that your dog has an ear infection.

Don’t forget to brush your dog’s teeth at least once weekly, though multiple times a week is even better, and always use dog-safe toothpaste. In order to help your dog become comfortable with their grooming routine, it can be beneficial to introduce each grooming item starting from a young age. Just like training, try to make each grooming item a positive experience.

Common Health Issues

Norwegian Elkhounds are considered to be a relatively healthy dog breed. They are, however, still susceptible to developing a few health-related problems. According to our claims data,** the five most common health conditions for Norwegian Elkhounds include:

  1. Cyst
  2. Cancer
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Arthritis
  5. Ear infection

As a Norwegian Elkhound parent, you may find it helpful to familiarize yourself with the main signs for these conditions. By knowing these, you may be able to stay a step ahead with your pet’s health. At the first sign that your dog is acting out of the usual or they are showing symptoms, you can then take your pal to the veterinarians for a check-up.

Even when your dog is as fit as a fiddle, it is still crucial that you take them for annual appointments with their veterinarian. These yearly check-ups allow a professional to better monitor your pet’s overall health. Plus, if an issue does arise, there will be an increased chance that the problem can be diagnosed and treated early on.

**Internal Claims Data, 2015-20
The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.


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