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The Norwegian Elkhound is best for highly active singles or families. Dog parents with some experience would be best for this breed, or those who embrace a challenge.
Norwegian Elkhound Traits
What makes the Norwegian Elkhound a Norwegian Elkhound? Let's find out how they stack up.
Norwegian Elkhound Temperament
A Norwegian Elkhound’s temperament is active and intelligent, strong-willed and devoted. These qualities make them a great family dog for an on-the-go crew who’s up to the challenge.
A typical Norwegian Elkhound personality is loyal and friendly, although they aren’t quite as outgoing as a Labrador or Golden Retriever. They may take some time to warm up to strangers, though they will generally come around. They aren’t aloof like some breeds, but they’re not always seeking a new BFF, either. Their loyalty is to their pet parent first and foremost.
Even though they’re driven hunting dogs, eager to track, chase and keep large animals at bay, Elkhounds are not prone to being aggressive toward humans. They are, however, a protective and a very vocal breed, and they won’t hesitate to sound the bark alarm as needed (or if they are trying to tell you something Very Important, whether that’s Stranger Danger approaching or you are 10 minutes late with their dinner). They are well-suited to work as watchdogs, as they’re more inclined to bark rather than bite.
Norwegian Elkhounds can co-habitate with other dogs, although it’s best if they have been raised with them from a puppy. Elkhounds may not be enthusiastic about living with other dog breeds or dogs of the same sex but should adapt if properly socialized and introduced from an early age. They may also clash with cats due to their hunting tendencies and strong prey drive, but not necessarily if socialized properly.
How to Care for a Norwegian Elkhound
Norwegian Elkhounds require commitment. Their high energy demands a high activity level, and they must be well-trained or they may try to lead you. One top of that, daily brushing is a must for this double-coated breed, and they will shed their undercoat twice a year, sending your vacuum cleaner into overdrive.
Norwegian Elkhound Health
Norwegian Elkhounds’ life expectancy is 12 to 15 years. They are a generally sound breed with few health problems. But there are a few health issues to be aware of. Thankfully their biggest health concern—obesity—is entirely preventable with a good diet and the proper amount of exercise. Here are some of the other health issues you should be aware of.
- Obesity: Norwegian Elkhounds love food and love training humans to feed them more. Combine that with how difficult it is for most people to provide an Elkhound with enough exercise, and it’s an equation for obesity and the health problems it leads to, such as joint issues. The remedy is not overfeeding your pup and keeping their activity level high. Share any weight or diet concerns with your vet.
- Hip Dysplasia: A common problem in large breeds and older dogs, hip dysplasia happens in some Elkhounds. Hip dysplasia is the condition where the hip joint isn’t formed properly and rubs, causing the dog pain. Symptoms include lameness in the back legs, decreased activity and “bunny hopping.” Veterinarians are well versed in treatments, such as physical therapy, medications and potentially surgery.
- Genetic Eye Conditions: Several genetic eye conditions that lead to blindness occur in the breed, including progressive retinal atrophy, glaucoma and cataracts. They are not curable, but they are rare. However, a dog who loses sight can still lead a happy and full life. Always select a Norwegian Elkhound puppy from a reputable breeder, who will screen for these issues in their breeding program.
- Renal (Kidney) Disease: Norwegian Elkhounds may experience kidney problems. Symptoms include excessive urination and thirst, as well as weight loss. While this is rare, there is no cure for kidney disease, but there are treatment options, including a special diet, medications and ensuring your dog always has access to fresh water.
Norwegian Elkhound History
The so-called “Dog of the Vikings,” Norwegian Elkhound history and origin dates back further than even the Vikings themselves. Skeletons and depictions of Elkhound-like dogs are believed to be found among human remains at Stone Age archeological sites in Norway. They hunted with their Viking companions, who bred these fearless hounds for trailing and cornering big game like moose, reindeer and bears. They’ve also served as guardians and watchdogs, barking incessantly at threats that came their family’s way. Their strong noses and barking abilities persist in the breed today.
Norwegian Elkhounds became show dogs in their native country in the late 1800s. They were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1913. In 1931, the Norwegian Elkhound Association of America gifted an Elkhound puppy, named Weegie, to President Herbert Hoover after his German Shepherd died. At the time, there were only a couple dozen Elkhounds in the US, although they were more common in Europe. Today they rank 97 out of 197 in AKC breed popularity.
Where can you find a puppy today if you are considering raising a Norwegian Elkhound? The AKC Marketplace lists puppies available from AKC-registered breeders. How much does a Norwegian Elkhound puppy cost? The price for a puppy from a reputable breeder ranges from around $1,000 to $2,000. But for that price, you’re likely getting a pup who’s been screened for health and temperament issues and may come with pedigree papers. There are also several recuse organizations who specialize in Norwegian Elkhounds, or you can keep an eye out at your local animal shelters if you’re interested in adopting a member of this breed.
How do you pronounce Elkhound?
Elkhound is pronounced elk-haund. The name comes from the original Norwegian name, Norsk Elghund. Elg means “moose,” and hund means “dog.”
Do Norwegian Elkhounds shed?
Yes, Norwegian Elkhounds shed—be prepared to vacuum a lot. Their thick, double coat requires daily brushing to keep it in shape, but when they blow their coats in the spring and fall, be prepared for the fur to fly.
How long do Norwegian Elkhounds live?
Norwegian Elkhounds live about 12 to 15 years and is a relatively healthy breed. When well taken care of, this pup can bring you love, joy and companionship for a very long time.
Are Norwegian Elkhounds good family dogs?
Yes, Norwegian Elkhounds can be good family dogs. Like many pets, they do well with children when they’re properly socialized, starting at a young age. Fiercely loyal and protective, Elkhounds are devoted to their families, preferring companionship over alone time.
What are the most popular Norwegian Elkhound names?
Some of the most popular Norwegian Elkhound names echo their Nordic roots and include names like Lars, Corey, Nils, Oskar, Olaf, Elsa, Astrid and Iver. Get more dog name inspiration here.
What are the most common Norwegian Elkhound dog mixes?
The most common Norwegian Elkhound dog mixes are:
- Norwegian Elkhound-German Shepherd mix
- Norwegian Elkhound-Husky mix
- Norwegian Elkhound-Labrador mix
- Norwegian Elkhound-Border Collie mix
- Norwegian Elkhound-Golden Retriever mix
To thrive, Norwegian Elkhound dogs need to be challenged, both mentally and physically, and they’d do best in a go-getter family who is up to the task. Active pet parents who have the time and energy to socialize and train their Elkhound will be rewarded with fun and love from these devoted dogs.
Expert input provided by veterinarian Jo Myers, DVM, a veterinary expert on JustAnswer; Association of Professional Dog Trainers board member Sandy Modell, CPDT-KA, who is owner of Wholistic Hound Academy in Alexandria, Va.; and Holly Lewis, breed ambassador for the Norwegian Elkhound Association of America.
Photo credit for “How do I look?” The Spruce Pets