Norwegian Elkhound Dog Breed: Info, Pictures, Overview and more

Norwegian Elkhound Dog Breed Information and Pictures

Breed Overview

The breed known for its strong hunting instincts, medium size, and distinctive gray coat is a versatile, energetic, and intelligent working dog originating from Scandinavia. With a friendly and confident demeanor, they are excellent family companions known for their loyalty and protective nature. Bred to track and hunt large game, they possess a keen sense of smell and are fearless and independent in the field. Their thick double coat provides insulation in harsh weather conditions, requiring regular grooming to maintain. Active and lively, they thrive in environments where they can receive mental stimulation and physical exercise to prevent boredom and potential behavior issues.


Norwegian Elkhounds are known for their friendly, playful, and independent temperament. They are loyal and make excellent family pets, forming strong bonds with their owners. While they are generally good with children, they can be aloof with strangers. With their hunting background, they have a strong prey drive and may not do well with smaller pets. They are intelligent and sometimes stubborn, requiring consistent training and socialization from a young age. Despite their independent nature, they thrive on human companionship and enjoy being part of a family unit. Regular exercise and mental stimulation are essential to keep them happy and well-behaved.

Size and Appearance

Medium-sized and sturdy, the Norwegian Elkhound is a spitz-type breed known for its distinctive double coat, comprised of a thick, weather-resistant outer layer and a soft, dense undercoat. With a wolf-like appearance, these dogs have pricked ears, a tightly curled tail, and a tightly curled tail. Males typically stand between 20.5 - 22 inches at the shoulder and weigh around 55 pounds, while females are slightly smaller at 19.5 - 20.5 inches and 48 pounds. Their silver-gray outer coat is accented by black tips, giving them a striking and majestic presence.

Health and Lifespan

Norwegian Elkhounds are generally healthy, with a lifespan of 12-15 years. They are prone to hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and Fanconi syndrome. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and routine veterinary check-ups can help maintain their overall health and well-being. It is important for owners to monitor their weight and provide adequate mental and physical stimulation to prevent obesity and boredom-related behaviors. Early detection of any health issues through screenings and tests can help prolong their lifespan and ensure a high quality of life for these loyal and energetic companions.

Family Compatibility

Norwegian Elkhounds are incredibly family-friendly dogs, known for their loyalty, affection, and gentle nature. They thrive in households with active members who enjoy outdoor activities, as these dogs require regular exercise to stay happy and healthy. Their protective instincts make them excellent watchdogs, always keeping a watchful eye over their loved ones. While they may be aloof with strangers at first, they quickly warm up and become devoted companions to all family members, including children. With proper training and socialization, Norwegian Elkhounds make fantastic additions to any loving home seeking a loyal and loving canine companion.

Exercise Needs

Norwegian Elkhounds have moderate exercise needs, requiring daily walks and playtime to stay mentally and physically stimulated. They are a high-energy breed that particularly enjoys activities like hiking, jogging, and agility training. Providing regular exercise is essential to prevent boredom and potential destructive behaviors. Engaging in interactive games and puzzles can also help satisfy their intelligent and active nature. Regular exercise not only keeps them physically fit but also strengthens the bond between the dog and their human companion.

Diet and Feeding

Norwegian Elkhounds require a balanced diet with high-quality protein to maintain their energy levels and lean muscle mass. Feeding them twice a day is recommended to avoid bloat. This breed thrives on a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids to support their immune system and promote a healthy coat. It's important to monitor their weight and adjust portion sizes as needed to prevent obesity. Fresh water should be available at all times, and treats should be given in moderation to prevent excessive weight gain. Consulting with a veterinarian for personalized dietary recommendations is advised.
Norwegian Elkhound Dog Breed Information and Pictures

Living Environment

Norwegian Elkhounds thrive in environments where they have ample space to roam and expel their high energy levels. They are well-suited for homes with large, securely fenced yards. This breed enjoys being active and requires daily exercise to remain physically and mentally healthy. While they can adapt to apartment living with consistent exercise, having access to a yard is ideal for them to explore and fulfill their natural instincts. Additionally, Norwegian Elkhounds prefer moderate to cool climates since their thick double coat provides insulation against cold temperatures, making them better suited for cooler regions rather than hot climates.


The norwegian elkhound has a thick double coat that sheds moderately throughout the year. Weekly brushing with a slicker brush helps control shedding and keeps the coat healthy. During shedding season, daily brushing may be required to manage the amount of loose fur. Regular baths are not necessary, as their coat is weather-resistant and self-cleaning. However, occasional baths can be given when needed. Pay special attention to grooming the undercoat to prevent matting and keep the skin healthy. Additionally, routine nail trims, ear cleanings, and teeth brushings are essential parts of overall grooming care for this breed.

Training and Intelligence

Training a Norwegian Elkhound can be a rewarding experience due to their high intelligence and independent nature. While they are quick learners, they may exhibit stubbornness at times, requiring consistent and patient training methods. Positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, work best with this breed, as they thrive on engaging activities and mental stimulation. Due to their strong prey drive, early socialization and obedience training are crucial to help manage their instincts and prevent any potential behavioral issues. With proper training and guidance, these intelligent dogs can excel in various canine sports and activities.

Exercise and Activity Requirements

The Norwegian Elkhound is an energetic and active breed that requires plenty of exercise to stay happy and healthy. Daily walks or runs are essential to satisfy their natural instincts and prevent boredom. Engaging in interactive playtime and mental stimulation activities, such as puzzle toys or training sessions, can help fulfill their need for physical and mental challenges. It is recommended to provide opportunities for off-leash exercise in secure areas to allow them to roam and explore freely. Regular exercise not only maintains their physical well-being but also contributes to their overall behavior and temperament.


Socialization is crucial for this breed to ensure they develop into well-rounded, friendly dogs. From an early age, exposing them to various people, animals, and environments is key in preventing any potential timidness or aggression. Proper socialization helps them become more adaptable, confident, and less likely to display unwarranted fear or aggression as adults. Positive interactions during this critical period can shape their behavior and temperament for life, making them more sociable with strangers, children, and other animals. Regular exposure to new experiences and stimuli will help them thrive in various social settings and build strong bonds with their human family.


Norwegian Elkhounds typically have a lifespan of around 12 to 15 years. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and proper veterinary care can contribute to a longer and healthier life for this breed. Owners should be aware of common health issues that may affect their pet as they age, such as hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and Fanconi syndrome. Providing a loving and stimulating environment along with routine health check-ups can help ensure that a Norwegian Elkhound lives a full and happy life.

Common Behavioral Issues

Common behavioral issues seen in this breed include stubbornness, independence, and a tendency to bark excessively. Norwegian Elkhounds are known to be strong-willed and may require consistent training and socialization to curb these behaviors. Additionally, their hunting instincts can lead to chasing small animals or wandering off if not properly contained. Engaging their intelligent minds with interactive toys and activities can help prevent boredom-related misbehaviors. Owners should establish themselves as confident leaders to effectively manage and mitigate any behavioral challenges that may arise with this breed.
Norwegian Elkhound Dog Breed Information and Pictures

Special Considerations

When considering bringing a Norwegian Elkhound into your home, it's important to note their strong hunting instincts, necessitating a secure and high fence in the yard to prevent them from chasing after small animals. Additionally, their thick double coat requires regular grooming to minimize shedding and prevent matting. This breed is known to be independent and may exhibit stubborn behavior, making consistent training and positive reinforcement essential for a well-behaved companion. Norwegian Elkhounds thrive on mental and physical stimulation, so engaging them in various activities and exercise routines is crucial for their overall well-being and happiness.

Guardian Instincts

The Norwegian Elkhound breed has strong guardian instincts, making them natural watchdogs and protectors. With a loyal and courageous nature, they are alert and vocal, ready to alert their owners of any potential threats. Known for their territorial behavior, they are wary of strangers and will bark to signal danger. This breed is highly protective of their family members and will not hesitate to defend them if needed. Given their history as hunters and herders, Norwegian Elkhounds have a keen sense of awareness and a strong instinct to safeguard their loved ones.

Allergies and Shedding

Norwegian Elkhounds are moderate shedders year-round, with heavier shedding occurring during seasonal changes. They have a thick double coat that helps them stay warm in cold climates, shedding their undercoat twice a year. Despite their shedding, they are considered hypoallergenic as they produce less dander than some other breeds, making them a good choice for allergy sufferers. Regular grooming, including brushing their coat at least once a week, can help manage shedding and keep their skin and coat healthy. It's essential to maintain proper grooming habits to minimize shedding and allergens in the home.

Cost of Ownership

The cost of owning a Norwegian Elkhound includes expenses such as purchasing the dog from a reputable breeder, which can range from $800 to $2,000. Additional costs for supplies, vaccinations, spaying/neutering, and training can amount to around $1,000 in the first year. Annual expenses for food, grooming, toys, and routine vet check-ups can average between $500 to $1,000. Unexpected medical bills, pet insurance, and boarding or pet-sitting services should also be factored in, making the total cost of ownership for a Norwegian Elkhound estimated to be between $1,000 to $1,500 per year.

Availability and Adoption

Norwegian Elkhounds are typically available for adoption from breed-specific rescues, shelters, and reputable breeders. It is important to research and visit different adoption options to find a dog that fits your lifestyle. Rescue organizations often have Norwegian Elkhounds of various ages looking for loving homes. Additionally, reaching out to local shelters and breeders can provide potential adoption opportunities for those interested in welcoming a Norwegian Elkhound into their family. Responsible adoption practices ensure that these intelligent, energetic dogs find forever homes where they can thrive and be well cared for.

Famous Examples

Balder, a famous Norwegian Elkhound, gained popularity for his impressive tracking abilities in search and rescue missions. In the world of entertainment, Max the Norwegian Elkhound starred alongside Adam Sandler in the movie "Eight Crazy Nights," showcasing the breed's intelligence and versatility. Additionally, Stikki, another Norwegian Elkhound, made history by being the first of the breed to earn the prestigious AKC Champion title, highlighting the breed's excellence in conformation competitions. These famous examples demonstrate the Norwegian Elkhound's exceptional qualities and capabilities across various fields.
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