Norwegian Elkhound

The Norwegian Elkhound is a nordic breed originally from the Scandinavian territory. This breed comes in two varieties - grey and black. These affectionate dogs are suitable for experienced owners as well as for new ones. The Elkhound is alert and energetic which makes them great watchdogs that will alert you about anything they consider suspicious. Since they are a primitive, nordic breed that comes from extremely cold climates, they have a double coat that was developed as valuable protection from the cold weather. They are also extremely energetic and need to spend their energy on something productive and healthy. If you do not provide your dog with a proper energy outlet, they will most likely develop some sort of bad behavior and can become destructive.

These dogs had a main job in their native land and it was to hunt big game such as moose, wolves, or even bear. Thanks to their extreme stamina, they were able to keep prey in one place by running and jumping around it until hunters arrived. It shouldn’t surprise you that these dogs are enthusiastic barkers to this day and even though you might teach them to stop barking on command, you can’t always train out something that is in their genes. That is an important thing to keep in mind if you are interested in getting one of these dogs.

These dogs are not big on trying to please their owners and most of the Norwegian Elkhounds are very independent. You can teach them basic commands but they are not the best breed for obedience. Training them can be challenging as well. You will need a lot of patience and most importantly - cookies and treats. The best motivation for this breed is food.

Norwegian Elkhound Height


19,5-20,5 in (49-52 cm)

Norwegian Elkhound Weight


48-55 lb (22–25 kg)

Norwegian Elkhound Origin



Norwegian Elkhound Life Expectancy

Life Expectancy:

12-15 years

Breed History

Norwegian Elkhound is a fearless dog that served as a guardian, flock herder, defender of predators, and as companion. These dogs were specialized in following the scent of the elk and moose and holding them until the huntsmen arrived.

Dog Breed Characteristics

Energy Level
Grooming Needs
Exercise Needs
Kid Friendly
Dog Friendly
General Health

FCI standard

This is one of the oldest European dog breeds so it is not a huge surprise that it is accepted by most of the major cynology associations. This breed comes from Norway and Norway is a full member of the largest cynology union in the World - the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI). This union has a standard in place for this breed and it describes it as being compact with a square built and with a short body. These dogs are placed in Group 5 (Spitz and primitive types), Section 2 (Nordic Hunting Dogs). The Norwegian Elkhound is required to have a working trial only in the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway, and Finland. This standard has a defined ideal size for this breed and it is 20,5 in (52 cm) for male dogs and 19,5 in (49 cm) for the female dogs. This standard says nothing about their weight but as a general rule, a dog’s weight should always be proportioned with their size.

This breed was registered by the FCI on the 3rd of April 1963.

AKC standard

The Norwegian Elkhound is a breed that is fairly popular in the United States of America and it is not a big surprise that this breed is registered by the American Kennel Club - the governing cynology association in the United States. The AKC also has a standard in place for this breed and it describes it as being a hardy grey hunting breed. They say that these dogs are typical nordic hunting dogs in appearance and with medium size and substance. This standard also mentioned the ideal size for this breed and an ideal male dog should be 20,5 in (52 cm) tall and weigh about 55 lbs (25 kg). An ideal female dog should be 19,5 in (49 cm) tall and weigh around 48 lbs (22 kg).

This breed was registered by the AKC in 1913.


Norwegian Elkhound has a double coat with a short and thick topcoat and dense and wooly undercoat. These dogs shed a lot – during the whole year and during shedding seasons they will blow their entire coat. Every breeder will inform you that you must be prepared for a lot of hair around your house year-round. Brushing few times a week is a must to keep the amount of hair under control, and during shedding season you must brush your dog daily. These dogs usually come in medium grey color.

Bathes are only required 2-3 times a year because these dogs don't have a doggy odor.

Brush their teeth at least three times a week to prevent tartar buildup and infections. Make sure you use products that are made especially for dogs as human products could potentially harm them. Trim their nails if they don’t wear them down naturally. A good indication is if you can hear them clicking on the floor while they walk. Clean their ears and check for signs of redness or infections. Use a cotton cloth and never insert anything in their ear canal

norwegian elkhound dog


Norwegian Elkhounds are active dogs originally bred to track and follow moose. Because of that, they needed to be able to cover many miles for a few days if needed. They had to think by themself and make decisions and because of that, they are an independent dog breed. Most of all they love the freedom to roam around.

 They were bred to work all day, so these dogs need a lot of daily exercises. These dogs need an active lifestyle to be happy. They love to be outside and to be part of an action, whether it is running, and chasing balls, playing, jumping, or jogging. If you are thinking about getting a Norwegian Elkhounds, make sure you have enough free time and energy to spend it outside playing and training your Norwegian Elkhounds. If your schedule can’t allow you that, consider getting some less active breed.


Norwegian Elkhounds are very intelligent dogs that can quickly pick up your commands. Because of their independence training should be consistent. You must be a firm owner otherwise your dog will be in charge.

There are many ways you can socialize your Norwegian Elkhound, and the most important thing to do is to get your dog familiar with different situations they can find themselves in. Take your dog to dog parks where they can meet other dogs and people. They can learn to react accordingly and understand that they don’t need to be scared of strangers and other dogs. It is also possible to socialize and teach your dog how to handle other pets, although they might never learn to “play nice” with other pets due to their high prey drive. 

Norwegian Elkhound and children

Early socialization and proper training can teach them to behave even when children are around. Their temperament makes them more suitable for families with older children. If you train and socialize your dog well, your children will get a great playing partner that has plenty of energy. These dogs can play for hours upon hours without getting tired or bored.

However, you will have to provide your dog with proper obedience training so he wouldn't become dominant over children.

Norwegian Elkhound and other pets

These dogs can get along well with other dogs and can enjoy their company. Dogs of this breed can develop dominant behavior, especially towards other dogs of the same sex so you have to make sure they are properly trained and socialized.


Like any other dog breed, the Norwegian Elkhound can potentially develop health problems. If you are buying a dog, make sure the breeder can provide you with the necessary health tests and guarantees. Always ask to see the results of tests from the puppy’s parents. 

The Norwegian Elkhound is generally considered a very healthy breed that can live 12-15 years and they are most prone to:

  • Hip dysplasia - Genetic problem affecting hips resulting from an improperly formed hip joint.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy - Group of diseases that affect the retina and cause it to deteriorate over time.
  • Cancer
  • Hearth issues
  • Kidney issues

Norwegian Elkhound breeders

Before you start looking for registered Norwegian Elkhound breeders, make sure that this breed will fit your lifestyle, living conditions, and/or your family. These are energetic dogs that are quite independent and alert with a tendency for stubbornness. Some owners can not handle such dogs so before you actually get this dog, make sure you have enough time to “invest” in them. Ask the breeder as many questions as possible and ask for advice about raising these dogs. A good breeder will certainly be happy to answer all your questions and will help you make an informed decision.

World Dog Finder team


Updated at16.05.2021.