The Norwegian Elkhound dog breed is a medium-sized dog with a bulky coat that makes it appear larger than its real size. In function too, these dogs were used to hunt prey much larger than them, such as elk and bear, as the name indicates. These bold and energetic dogs are capable of working independently, but remain loyal to their owners. They make excellent companions and family dogs for active people who spend a major part of their time outdoors.
The Norwegian Elkhound dog breed is a typical Northern spitz in appearance, but has the characteristics of the hound family. These dogs have been around for thousands of years, working alongside Scandinavian hunters in the cold and rough terrains of the Northern region. Their exact origins are lost in antiquity, but they are thought to have descended from Pariah Dogs of ancient origin. But, over the centuries, several other breeds would have contributed to the Norwegian Elkhounds we have today.
The Norwegian Elkhounds were not used to kill the prey and bring it to their owners. They were mainly used as scent hounds to track down moose, and were expected to work independently to locate prey and hold it down until their masters arrived on the scene to make the kill. Their distinctively loud bark served to signal their owners when they had an animal under custody. They could even drive the animal towards their owners.
These versatile dogs functioned as herders and guard dogs too. Their loud barking and bold appearance made them excellent protectors of their family. First introduced to the rest of the world in 1877, they reached England towards the end of the 19th century. They were introduced into the United States soon after, and the American Kennel Club accepted the breed in 1930. This dog has the distinction of being the National Dog of Norway.
The Norwegian Elkhounds stand at about 20 inches or more in height and weigh 50 to 55 pounds. They have a typical spitz-like head with a pointed muzzle and small, triangular, pointy ears that stand erect, giving the dog an alert appearance at all times.
They have a thick double coat that stands well away from the body to give a bulky appearance to the dog. The coat comes in a combination of black, white and grey hair, the muzzle, ears and the back having a darker coloration while the underbelly and limbs remain light in color. The plumy tail is tightly rolled up and carried on the back.
Norwegian Elkhounds are highly intelligent and capable of independent thinking and action, but they have a strong pack sense that keeps them devoted and loyal to their owners. They are boisterous dogs fond of fun and frolic, and demand lots of attention from their owners. Though they are naturally friendly, early training and socialization can bring the best out of these dogs.
Having a stubborn streak, these dogs are not exactly easy to train. Consistently firm handling by a dominant owner is necessary for effective obedience training. Positive reinforcements, particularly lots of food rewards help with training. These dogs love to eat and have a tendency to become obese, so care should be taken to exercise portion control.
Grooming and exercise
Norwegian Elkhound dog breed requires regular grooming. Brushing the coat thoroughly once or twice a week should be sufficient. More frequent brushing, probably every day, may be required during the main shedding seasons.
These dogs are hunters through and through. They should ideally have outdoorsy owners and access to the countryside or safe running courses. They have tremendous stores of energy that needs to be expended by a very active lifestyle that should include long jogs on the leash and opportunities to hunt or run freely in wide open spaces. They are not for being cooped up in a kennel or in the house.
Norwegian Elkhounds’ thick coat offers ample protection from cold, but they cannot tolerate heat. They are ideally suited for colder regions where the dogs can live outdoors round the year. But it would be ideal if the dogs kept as family pets get to spend the nights indoors with the other family members.
Common health issues of Norwegian Elkhound dog breed
Being of ancient origins, Norwegian Elkhound dog breed has a stout constitution. However, they may have a number of health problems, the major one being Canine Hip Dysplasia. They are known to have a few kidney disorders such as renal dysplasia and Fanconi syndrome. Skin-related issues such as sebaceous cysts, intracutaneous tumors, and hot spots are found in this breed. Patellar luxation and progressive retinal atrophy are occasionally seen. Healthy dogs usually live 10 to 12 years.