Norwegian Elkhound: The Viking of Canine Companions

Norwegian Elkhound

Norwegian Elkhound: The Viking of Canine Companions


Intelligent Norwegian elkhounds are ancient dog breeds that are devoted family companions and enthusiastic outdoor playmates. This breed of dog is well-suited to an active, modern lifestyle because of its adaptability.

You may be forgiven for supposing that a valued canine companion of the Vikings would never stoop to romp with lowly mortals like us.

Thankfully, affectionate and devoted to their families, Norwegian elkhounds are known for their high-energy and independent character.

They are ideal partners for rough-and-ready activities such as hiking, swimming, hunting, herding livestock, and other activities that outdoor enthusiasts enjoy doing.

Their rugged beauty makes them stand out. When they are finished with their labor, they will be relieved to be able to relax inside, next to the fire, with a full belly, and be within easy reach of being rubbed and patted.

Montana Mountain Elkhounds is a kennel that is owned by Sofiah Hoefer and her husband Skyler. It is situated close to Missoula, Montana.

She believes that “elkies,” another name for these dogs, are a courageous, bright breed that possesses a great deal of personality. “They want excitement, independence, and a sense of purpose.

In addition to this, they are joyful, friendly, and make fast friends with everyone they meet. They are excellent family dogs and have strong maternal instincts for children.”

Appearance of Norwegian Elkhound

Elkhounds from Norway are known for their dignity, but they are built for the hunt: They have powerful, compact legs, which they use to rapidly scale different sorts of terrain and maintain a decent running pace.

norwegian elkhound

They are solid, robust, and nimble. That’s quite a bit of power for a dog that only weighs between 48 and 55 pounds! His intense dark brown eyes are oval-shaped and look straight ahead. His head is in the shape of a wedge and tapers to a long black snout.

When an Elkie is facing you, he is paying attention and prepared for the next duty; when his ears are relaxed and turned back slightly, he is mellow and ready to relax.

Elkies have high-pointed ears that can express several different emotions. Elkhounds, like many other Nordic dog breeds, have a thick double coat of fur that is so plush that you will want to bury your face in it.

A downy, insulating layer lies just below the top layer of coarse hairs that are resistant to the elements. This gives them enough protection against the ferocious gusts, and it also helps them dry off more rapidly after taking a plunge in the chilly waters.

Even though they are frequently referred to as “gray Norwegian elkhounds,” these canines never have a totally gray coat: They have black, white, and silver swathes that run over their chests and backs, and these swaths sometimes continue down to their hindquarters.

Let’s not forget an elkie’s gorgeous tail!

He won’t be able to clear the coffee table with it because male and female dogs only stand around 20 inches high at the shoulder, but it’s hard to miss that multi-colored curly tuft high on his backside; this whole area wiggles when he’s playing and thrilled.

Temperament of Norwegian Elkhound

The attitude of a Norwegian elkhound is a complicated combination of loving attentiveness and quick mental agility.

He is trustworthy, has a jovial sense of humor, is patient with both youngsters and other dogs, and has a patient disposition toward other animals.

He is never satisfied unless he is with you and the rest of the family, whether you are caring for cattle, running along a hiking trail, or riding on the edge of your kayak; no matter what you do outside, your Elkie will be right there with you.

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According to Hoefer, “They regard themselves to be an equal part of the family whose thoughts should be valued, and they have a strong focus on the people around them.”

When interacting with a dog of this breed, you may expect a lot of eye contact. In addition to being autonomous thinkers, Norwegian elkhounds want assurance that they are following the leader of the pack.

According to Patrick Singletary, DVM, owner of Good Dog Veterinary Care in Marietta, Georgia, “Investing in training for these clever canines, either by a professional or do-it-yourself training to deepen the devoted attachment you have with your dog,” is the best way to go about achieving this goal.

Positive reinforcement training is the most effective method for teaching dogs new skills and breaking old habits. It also helps to improve the quality of life for your elkie.

Because Norwegian elkhounds are so intelligent, they are also prone to becoming easily bored, especially once they reach the point when they believe they have mastered a task.

According to Hoefer, they respond most well to training that is both constant and fair, with plenty of rewards and “atta boys.”

If you are an experienced dog owner, owning an elkhound will allow you to engage in activities with your dog that will test both of your abilities.

Some of these activities include nose work, dock diving (elkies love to swim!), field trials, and other occupations that are task-oriented. Your Norwegian elkhound will be extremely content if you train him in a variety of different skills.

Since an elkie is usually inquisitive, it is only natural for him to immediately give in to his wanderlust and investigate all of the odors that he picks up.

Because of this, it is recommended not to let him off leash unless you are in a contained location or if you are pursuing a game and need his assistance and he recalls well.

Because an elkhound is such an incredible hunter, he can even catch birds in flight!

He has a high prey drive for smaller creatures; therefore, it is important to socialize him with the family cats and any other small pets while he is still a puppy to ensure that he will get along well with them.

Living Needs of Norwegian Elkhound

To be completely content, a Norwegian Elkhound, although he can live in an apartment, needs a great deal of exercise and interaction.

norwegian elkhound

The Vikings relied on him as their principal hunting hound. He would elevate his muzzle to the wind from the bow of a ship and race ahead through rugged terrain on the scent of enormous prey. These innate yearnings are difficult to shake off completely.

According to Hoefer, Norwegian elkhounds are powerful dogs that were bred to labor and are capable of trotting and hiking for a significant amount of time.

“Having an acreage for an elkhound to wander and explore is ideal, but it’s not a need,” she says. “Having an acreage for an elkhound to roam and explore is perfect.”

“A fenced yard is not necessary for the health and happiness of elkies. However, it is imperative to maintain an active lifestyle as well as a high level of attention and mental stimulation.

If an elkhound is left alone for long periods, it is prone to become disruptive and develop a barking issue.”

In addition to engaging in high-energy and focused activities like flyball, Frisbee, or barn hunts, taking your dog on daily outings to a dog park, where he or she may run and play with other dogs ranging in size from medium to large, is beneficial for socializing.

A potential Elkie owner should also be aware of the temperature in which they reside as well as the coat that an Elkie has.

This advice comes from Singletary “Because of their susceptibility to overheating in the summer, dogs of this breed do not do well in moderate climates.

However, because they may exhibit some challenging behavioral issues, it is not a good idea to shut them up in a room with air conditioning and confine them to their space.”

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To ensure that your Elkie is cool even when the temperature outside is high, you should design a location that is canine-friendly and provides a lot of shelters, shade, and a fun water feature for them to play in.

Care for Norwegian Elkhound: Ensuring a Happy and Healthy Companion

Caring for a Norwegian Elkhound involves more than just providing food and shelter. These loyal and spirited dogs thrive on proper care, attention, and a nurturing environment.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the essential aspects of caring for your Norwegian Elkhound to ensure they lead a fulfilling and healthy life.

norwegian elkhound

Nutrition and Diet

A well-balanced diet is the foundation of good health for your Norwegian Elkhound. Here are some key points to consider:

  • High-Quality Dog Food: Opt for high-quality commercial dog food that meets the specific nutritional needs of Norwegian Elkhounds. Look for products that list meat as the primary ingredient.
  • Portion Control: Norwegian Elkhounds have a propensity for overeating, so it’s crucial to monitor their portions and prevent obesity. Follow the feeding guidelines provided on the dog food packaging and adjust as needed based on your dog’s age, activity level, and metabolism.
  • Fresh Water: Ensure your Elkhound has access to clean and fresh water at all times to stay hydrated.

Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Norwegian Elkhounds are an active breed with a love for the outdoors. Regular exercise is essential to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Here’s how to meet their activity needs:

  • Daily Walks: Aim for at least one hour of exercise daily, which can include brisk walks, jogging, or hiking. These activities satisfy their strong hunting instincts.
  • Playtime: Engage in interactive play sessions, such as fetch or agility games, to keep your Elkhound mentally sharp and physically fit.
  • Socialization: Expose your dog to various people, animals, and environments from a young age to ensure they grow up to be well-adjusted and sociable companions.

Grooming and Coat Care

Norwegian Elkhounds have a thick double coat that requires regular grooming to keep it in top condition:

  • Brushing: Brush your Elkhound’s coat at least once a week to remove loose hair and prevent matting. During shedding seasons, more frequent brushing may be necessary.
  • Bathing: Bathe your dog as needed, typically every 6-8 weeks or when they get dirty. Be sure to use a dog-specific shampoo to maintain the coat’s natural oils.
  • Nail Trimming: Keep their nails trimmed to a comfortable length, as overgrown nails can cause discomfort and affect their gait.

Love and Attention

Norwegian Elkhounds thrive on companionship and affection from their owners. Spend quality time with your dog, offer praise, and engage in bonding activities to nurture your strong human-canine connection.

By providing proper nutrition, exercise, grooming, healthcare, and emotional support, you can ensure that your Norwegian Elkhound lives a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life as a cherished member of your family.

Remember that each dog is unique, so tailor your care to meet their individual needs and preferences.

Health of Norwegian Elkhound: A Robust and Resilient Breed

The Norwegian Elkhound is a hardy and robust breed known for its endurance and resilience.

In this section, we will explore the health considerations and common health issues that may affect these magnificent dogs.

Understanding their health needs is essential for ensuring a happy and active life for your Norwegian Elkhound.

Genetic Health

Norwegian Elkhounds are generally healthy dogs, but like all breeds, they can be prone to certain genetic health issues. Responsible breeding practices aim to reduce the prevalence of these conditions, but it’s essential for owners to be aware of them:

  • Hip Dysplasia: This is a common issue in many dog breeds, including Norwegian Elkhounds. It involves an abnormal formation of the hip joint, which can lead to discomfort and mobility problems. Regular check-ups and keeping your dog at a healthy weight can help manage hip dysplasia.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is a group of genetic diseases that cause the retina’s degeneration, leading to vision loss and eventually blindness. Responsible breeders screen their breeding dogs for PRA to minimize its occurrence.
  • Fanconi Syndrome: Although rare, some Norwegian Elkhounds can inherit Fanconi Syndrome, a kidney disorder that affects the absorption of nutrients. Early diagnosis and management are crucial if this condition arises.
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Weight Management

Maintaining a healthy weight is vital for the overall well-being of your Norwegian Elkhound. These dogs are known for their love of food, but it’s essential to monitor their diet to prevent obesity.

Obesity can exacerbate joint issues like hip dysplasia and put extra strain on the heart.

Exercise and Activity

Norwegian Elkhounds are an active breed that enjoys outdoor activities. Regular exercise not only keeps them physically fit but also mentally stimulated. A tired Elkhound is a well-behaved one, so daily walks and playtime are essential.

Veterinary Care

Routine veterinary check-ups are crucial for monitoring your Norwegian Elkhound’s health. Your vet can provide guidance on vaccinations, dental care, and preventative measures against common canine health issues.

By being proactive in managing your Norwegian Elkhound’s health, you can ensure they lead a happy and active life. Remember that genetics, diet, exercise, and regular vet visits all play a part in maintaining their well-being.

History of Norwegian Elkhound

The Norwegian elkhound is one of the oldest domesticated dog breeds in the world, having descended from the Northern spitz family group of canines found throughout Russia and Scandinavia.

These dogs are anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 years old, making them one of the oldest dog breeds in the world.

The sense of adventure that these Nordic marvels possess was honed during their travels with ferocious Viking warriors across broad oceans and hilly terrain.

Not only were they valuable friends and watchdogs, but they were also indispensable when it came to tracking huge game like moose, bear, wolf, and lynx.

According to the American Kennel Club, archeologists have uncovered the remains of elkhounds beside the shields and swords that belonged to their Viking owners.

This is evidence of the significant responsibilities that elkhounds played in the traditional way of life in Scandinavia according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).

According to the American Kennel Club, the term Norwegian Elkhound, often written as “Norsk Elghund,” is a bit of a misnomer. In the United States, elk belong to a different species from their counterparts in Norway, which are known as moose.

In Norwegian, “elg” means “moose” and “hund” means “dog”. Because of this, he is often referred to as the Norwegian moose dog, which is an appropriate description according to the correct translation.

Because of their greater ability to track and hold games, Norwegian elkhound dogs are put in the varied hound group by the American Kennel Club (AKC). This classification also applies to them while participating in dog shows and other types of events.

In the year 1930, the Norwegian Elkhound Association was established in the United States, and it wasn’t until 1953 that the American Kennel Club recognized the breed.

Fun Facts of Norwegian Elkhound

  • The Norwegian elkhound is the country’s official canine representative.
  • It is said in Norwegian mythology that an old elkhound named Bram traveled over the mountains with his owner Tore, but the snow and ice caused Bram’s tail to become weighed down. Tore rolled Bram’s tail over his back and fastened it with a piece of leather; this is the reason why Norwegian elkhound dogs have tails that are high and curly.
  • Herbert Hoover, who served as the 31st President of the United States, had a pet ‘elkie’ that he called Weegie. In 1932, Hoover was so pleased with the dog that he included a picture of him in the official presidential Christmas card.

An Overview Of The Norwegian Elkhound

  • 19.5–20.5 inches
  • 48–55 pounds
  • 12–15 years
  • medium (26-60 lbs.)
  • families
  • children
  • dogs
  • outgoing
  • friendly
  • willful
  • playful
  • high
  • seasonal
  • high
  • active
  • frequent
  • low
  • hound
  • medium
  • gray
  • black
  • white
  • tricolor
  • good hiking companion
  • easy to train
  • easy to groom
  • high prey drive
  • cold weather tolerant
  • high potential for weight gain
  • loves water
  • apartment-friendly
  • strong loyalty tendencies


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