The Norwegian Elkhound is a very old and ancient Nordic breed, with ancestry that most likely even predates the Viking age. During the Viking age, the Norwegian Elkhound accompanied the Vikings and they were used as hunters, guards and companions. The Norwegian Elkhound is most likely a result of crossing a female wolf and male domesticated dog from South, but since it is extremely old dog breed, we can not be sure about their exact history and ancestry. But it is definitely very ancient breed.
The breeds full name, and i might mispronounce it a little bit, is Norsk Elghund Grå, which is describing the dog perfectly. Norsk, means norwegian and Grå means gray. The word Elghund can be translated either as elk dog or moose dog, and indeed, the moose is the main prey of the Norwegian Elkhound. So the breed is sometimes called as Gray Norwegian Moose Dog rather than Norwegian Elkhound, but both names are correct.
3) Black Elkhound
Why is it important to mention the gray color in their name? Is there any other Norwegian Elkhound? Well, there is! The Black Norwegian Elkhound. It is much younger breed, bred for the same purpose as the original Gray Elkhound, but they are smaller, more agile and thanks to their black color easily recognizable in the snow.
As you already know, the main utilization of Norwegian Elkhound is hunting. They serve this purpose for many many centuries and they are great asset for any big game hunter. These dogs are bred to track mostly moose on large distances in harsh Norwegian weather and terrain. When they track down the moose, they typically corner it and start barking to alert the hunters. To be good at this kind of hunting, the Norwegian Elkhound must be very endurant breed with high stamina, extraordinary sense of smell, great courage, little bit of independence and great loyalty to the hunter. And the Norwegian Elkhound posses all these qualities.
Of course, every individual dog is different, but most of Norwegian Elkhounds create extremely strong bond with its owners and family and they are absolutely devoted to them. Some of them might be little bit protective and possesive over their loved ones, but typically, these dogs do not show agression towards other people. But they are alert dogs, that can be trained to be very good guards and protectors. They truly create very good playful and intelligent companions, especially for active families. They can be little bit headstrong and consistent training and socialization is needed to have obedient dog in your home. They are pretty tolerant with kids and they will love to play with older kids. Of course, younger children must be supervised with any kind of dog breed. Norwegian Elkhound can also live with other dogs, especially if socialized together from the puppyhood.
The Norwegian Elkhound is a medium to large sized dog breed with sturdy and squerly built body which is pretty muscular. The average height of this breed is between 19-21 inch, which is 48-54 cm and weight is usually between 44-51 lbs, which is 20-23 kg.
On the first sight it is obvious that the Norwegian Elkhound is a Spitz type of a dog, and they share all the typical Spitz appearance characteristics. The most obvious are erect ears, curled tail and very dense double coat. The thick and dense doublecoat is protecting them from even the coldest temperatures and it is essential for their survival in Scandinavia. The coat comes in mixture of black and white color and it gives expression of gray or silver. The head is broad and wedge shaped with shorter muzzle, pointed ears, dark brown eyes which gives friendly expression.
The Norwegian Elkhound is very active and high-energy dog breed who needs plenty of exercise to stay in good shape, physically, but also mentally. Daily longer walks or hikes, combined with fun playtime are absolutely essential for this breed. This dog is ideal for people who love spending time outdoors, as they will be always ready for any kind of outdoor activity. This is definitely not a coach potatoe and it is important to be prepared for a high energy dog breed when considering purchasing a Norwegian Elkhound.
The Norwegian Elkhound can keep its coat in good condition by itself, but the dense doublecoat does shed. And they do shed all year long, which is why regular brushing is very beneficial to minimize the shedding, but it is impossible to stop it. But no other grooming is really required. Of course, you should regularly check their eyes, ears, nails and teeth and clip them or clean them if needed.
The Norwegian Elkhound is usually very hardy and healthy dog breed. They might ocassionally suffer from the same health issues as other larger breeds, such as hip dysplasia or kidney problems. Some Elkhounds posses genetic predispotions to suffer from progressive retinal atrophy. Just like with all dogs, you can minimize the risk of serious health concerns by purchasing the breed from reputable breeder. The average lifespan of Norwegian Elkhound is around 13 or 14 years.