AKC Dog Breeds: Norwegian Elkhound

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Hound Group
Height 18-21 inches  Weight 40-50 pounds Color gray coat with lighter undercoat- black on muzzle, ears and tail

A solid, sturdy hunter of elk, bear and other wild animals, the Norwegian Elkhound has a temperament that is dignified, independent and generally, friendly. The Norwegian Elkhound is a compact and muscular medium sized dog that is very like a spitz breed in appearance and somewhat like a hound in temperament and hunting ability. The Norwegian Elkhound comes down to us through more than six millennia with all his Nordic traits untainted. An ancient breed from Scandinavia, the Elkhound worked as a hunting and guard dog for the Vikings. The dogs tracked, encircled and held game such as bear and moose for the hunter. The breed was not shown until 1877, when the Norwegian Hunters’ Association held its first show. The breed was registered with the AKC in 1913.

General Appearance

The Norwegian Elkhound is a hardy, medium-sized Spitz-type dog, sturdy and squarely built with the stamina to hunt all day long for days at a time. The stand-off double coat has a distinctive gray color with a lighter undercoat and undersides. The muzzle, ears and tail tip are black. The head is broad and wedge- shaped with a defined stop. It has strong jaws. The pointed prick ears are very mobile. The eyes are dark brown and friendly with a keen, friendly expression. The teeth should meet in a scissors bite. The tail is rolled tightly over its back. The body is relatively short and most of the length should be in the ribcage. The chest should be deep and relatively wide. The forelegs are straight and parallel to each other. The paws are small and tight with thick pads. The Norwegian Elkhound has no doggie odor.

The Norwegian Elkhound is a gentle and friendly dog, and is also very versatile, displaying great courage and determination. This is a dog that puts one hundred percent into everything that he does, and is confident and dignified. He can be very independent and strong willed, and is therefore best suited to those with some experience of dog ownership. The Norwegian Elkhound has high energy levels, and needs plenty of exercise. Regular walks or a safe, secured area in which to play and exercise are important. Although these dogs are intelligent and quick to learn, they are also very headstrong, and need an assertive and confident owner in order to respond well to training. The Norwegian Elkhound makes a good watchdog, as he will bark to raise the alarm - in fact, he will often bark a lot anyway, and is not well suited to those looking for a quiet pet. The Norwegian Elkhound loves the attention of his family and likes to get involved in activities, so this is not the breed for those with little time for their pets. These dogs need families that are active, attentive, and loving. In order to reduce the risk of boredom, both mental and physical stimulation is required. The Norwegian Elkhound tends to get along well with children, particularly when brought up with them. They can be dog aggressive with dogs of the same sex, and should also be socialized early with cats. When it comes to strangers, some Norwegian Elkhounds can be friendly, and others may be more reserved. The Norwegian Elkhound is a protective and loyal dog, and makes a good family pet for the right family.

Norwegian Elkhound's require weekly brushing with a comb or rake to minimize loose and dead hair. Special attention should be given to the coat during their seasonal heavy shedding. However, during heavier shedding you will need to brush on a daily basis. These dogs are high shedders, and shed to some degree all year round. They are therefore not the best choice for allergy sufferers. Bathing should only be done when absolutely necessary as their coat is naturally self-cleaning.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy
The health conditions most often seen in Norwegian Elkhound are the same as many of the larger breeds. These include canine hip dysplasia and Progressive Retinal Atrophy, an eye condition found in most breeds. In addition some Norwegian Elkhounds will develop pyotraumatic dermatitis, more commonly known as Hot Spots. These painful and itchy lesions on the skin look moist and crusty and the dog will lick, scratch and bite at the skin causing hair loss. This can be treated by washing the area, clipping the hair, and consulting with a vet to track the source of the irritant. Fanconi Syndrome, a kidney impairment is very occasionally seen in the breed. The life expectancy of the Norwegian Elkhound is around 10-15 years.

Activity Level

The Norwegian Elkhound breed is not recommended for apartment living. They require an inordinate amount of exercise. They do best in a large securely fenced yard or a rural setting with a job to do. Norwegian Elkhound's thrive on family interaction, biking, running, and hiking. The Norwegian Elkhound excels at agility, guarding, sledding, herding, and watch dogging.


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