Photo by © David Street

Norwegian Elkhound - Breed Profile:

Origin: Norway
Colors: Shades of grey
Size: Medium
Type of Owner: Novice
Exercise: Vigorous
Grooming: Regular
Trainability: Somewhat difficult to train
Combativeness: Can be a bit dog-aggressive
Dominance: High
Noise: Likes to bark

Physical characteristics

The Norwegian Elkhound is a squarely built dog of Spitz type with the stamina to hunt all day long for many days in a row. The body is relatively short with most of its length included in the ribcage. The chest is deep and relatively wide. The front legs are straight and parallel to each other. The wedge-shaped head is broad at the ears, with a clearly defined stop and a muzzle tapering to the nose without being pointed. The medium size eyes are dark brown; they are neither sunk nor protruding. The expression is keen and friendly. The mobile ears are set high, firm and erect. The lips are tightly closed and the teeth meet in a scissor bite. The tail curls over the back. The gait is typical for an active, agile, and hardy dog.
Norwegian Elkhounds weigh 48 to 55 pounds. Their height is 19,5 to 20,5 inches.


Fearless, friendly, reliable, and active. A good companion for children and a sensible guard dog. Affectionate with its family. Dignified and independent, the Norwegian Elkhound can be somewhat resistant to obedience training. Puppies need firm but gentle discipline, which will establish and enforce your role as a pack leader. Two males may tend to fight with each other, as well as with other male dogs. Some sources say Elkhounds are usually good with non-canine pets, other sources say they shouldn't be trusted because of their hunting nature. Caution will never be excessive. Besides, if you're a firm, consistent and confident pack leader, the dog will most likely be balanced and free of the mentioned behaviour problems. The Norwegian Elkhound thrives on strenuous activity and needs long daily walks. Likes to roam and bark.

Coat and grooming

The weather resistant coat is hard, thick, and close-lying. The undercoat is soft, dense, and woolly, while the outer hair is coarse and straight. The hair is short and even on head, ears, and front of legs. It is longer on the back of the neck, buttocks and underside of the tail. Regular grooming is necessary, with extra care given in shedding periods. The Norwegian Elkhound comes in shades of grey, with the darkest colour on the saddle and lighter pigmentation on the chest and mane. The muzzle, ears and tail tip are black.


Tends to gain weight easily. Don't overfeed. Prone to hip dysplasia, pyotraumatic dermatitis and PRA. Fanconi syndrome has occasionally been seen. Like other Arctic dogs, the Norwegian Elkhound has no doggy odour. The lifespan is 12 to 15 years.

Other interesting facts

One of the most ancient breeds, a skeleton similar to today's Norwegian Elkhound has been found dating from 4000 to 5000 BC. Historically, the dog was used in Scandinavia as a hunter of big game, especially elk. It was also a guard dog for the Vikings.