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Norwegian Elkhound


Life span: 12-15 Years

Height: 19 – 21 inches

Weight: 48 – 55 lbs.

An ancient breed, the Norwegian Elkhound is a medium-sized breed that is well-suited for hunting large game, such as elk and bear. It is a hard worker when in the field, and thanks to its muscular build, it is capable of significant feats of endurance. The Norwegian Elkhound has a thick coat which comes in two colors – silver and grey, and a tail that curls over its backside.

This breed can be quite the challenge to own, given that they are loud and stubborn dogs. However, they are highly intelligent, playful, and affectionate with their family, while remaining wary of strangers.

Physical Characteristics

Their ears are small and remain erect, with a long tail that curls over its back. The eyes are brown with a black nose. Their double coat is made up of a straight overcoat that is soft to the touch, and a dense undercoat. Coat colors include brown, black, grey and light grey.


Originally a companion to Vikings, this breed and its ancestors were used as big game hunters, guardians, defenders and even herders. Its name comes from the word “elg”, which means moose in Norwegian, one of the animals they hunted. In 1877, they began being shown in dog shows, leading to its standard being established after the Norwegian Hunter’s Association noticed the breed and began keeping tabs of it. A stud book was also published thanks to this. They are now popular sled dogs and the Norwegian Defense Minister can call them into action, whether privately owned or not, during wars. In Scandinavia, their origin town, they are still used more as working dogs than pets. In 1923 the British Kennel Club recognized the breed, and in 1930 the American Kennel Club followed.


This intelligent dog is known for its independent nature, which can make them stubborn and curious at times. They enjoy cold weather and are playful. They are loving and affectionate with their family, but wary with strangers, which makes them great watchdogs. They tend to fight with same sex dogs in order to show dominance, and are very loud and vocal dogs. Training must be firm yet kind and they might hold a grudge when you punish them if they feel it’s unfair. They will also obey only when they think it’s a good idea.


Although generally healthy, this breed may suffer from:

Fanconi Syndrome, a disease with no cure and no test to know if your dog carries it, that consists of a kidney disease in which the sugars and proteins are not processed correctly and instead are urinated. It can be diagnosed, usually in dogs 4-7 years old and has a treatment that increases their lifespan. Its symptoms can be excessive thirst, urination and elevated levels of glucose in their urine.

Hypothyroidism, a disease that affects the thyroid gland, its symptoms are ear infections, skin infections, hair loss, lethargy, and depression.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), in which the dogs may become night blind at first and progressively lose their day eyesight as well.

Skin Cysts, in which the dog might develop lumps, and although epidermal and sebaceous cysts tend to not be a problem, they could be if they rupture by becoming infected.


They need to be brushed daily, but bathed only twice a year. Their nails should be trimmed regularly, along with their teeth brushed and ears checked for any dirt to prevent infections. They are not incredibly energetic, but are very curious. They should be taken out for a walk daily, but never let off their leash or left to roam on their own. Training can be difficult given that they get bored easily of the command once they have learned it.


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