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This medium sized Spitz type dog originated in the harsh northern countries of the world, and has a long and varied history. Like all other Spitz types, it is bold but friendly with a well defined streak of independence.
As the name suggests, the Norwegian Elkhound originated in the far northern Scandinavian countries and is a very old breed. Thought to be thousands of years, maybe since the since the Stone Age, a skeleton suggesting a dog similar to today's Norwegian Elkhound dating from anywhere between 4000 to 5000 BC has been found.
They were bred to be hunters and guard dog and lived alongside the Vikings. Very adaptable, the dogs could utilise their skills to hunt both large and small game including elk, the animal which gave the dogs their name. The dogs would track the quarry and alert the hunter by barking, holding the animal at bay until the hunter arrived. Norwegian Elkhounds can smell game from over a mile away and are capable of working at night as well as during the day - a trait which made them very prized amongst their owners. The name 'Elkhound' is a direct translation from its original Norwegian name Elghund which means 'moose dog'. In Norwegian, 'elg' means 'moose', and 'hund' means 'dog'.
Average height to withers: Males between 19-21 inches, with females between 18-20 inches.
Average weight: 23-37kg for males and females up to 23kg.
The Norwegian Elkhound is a sturdy, medium-sized Spitz type dog. The body is short and square in profile with a back that is straight and strong. The wedge shaped head is broad at the ears, which are held erect. The muzzle is thick at the base, which tapers away into a finer point. It has oval shaped eyes which are usually a dark colour. It has a deep chest and ribcage with straight front legs. The tail is set high tightly curled over the back. Interestingly, there are usually dewclaws on the front legs but not on the back.
The double coat is thick, hard and well adapted to the harsh northern climates in was bred to live and work in. The soft undercoat provides a good layer of insulation while the outer guard hairs provide a weather proof layer. The coat is usually gray with black tips with the undercoat being lighter undercoat. The muzzle, ears and tail are usually black. Norwegian Elkhound pups are born black and turn gray when they are about a week old as their coat develops.
The Norwegian Elkhound is a courageous and loyal companion who loves to be part of the family. The naturally love people and are quite the extrovert by canine standards. They are loving, good natured and very intelligent, yet they do have a stubborn streak, often put down to its innate independence which all Spitz type dogs ted to have. This is thought to be a survival mechanism, which they developed to help them navigate their way through the inhospitable landscapes of the northern and Arctic countries. With this in mind, they are not always the most obedient of dogs.
They are energetic dogs and will need a regular routine of daily exercise. They like long walks and a wise owner recognises this as a bored Elkhound will get into mischief. A mentally and physically stimulated Elkhound will be dependable and very even tempered. While the Elkhound is not aggressive, he is protective and sometimes possessive of his family and property, so it needs a firm and experienced owner who can provide leadership. Quite vocal, especially if a stranger approaches the house, this is a dog that does enjoy barking! The Elkhound does well with children and other animals, especially when introduced to them at a young age. The Norwegian Elkhound is an ideal pet if you are looking for a versatile, devoted companion. Just know that they need to be around humans to be happy. This is only one of the reasons they make excellent PAT therapy dogs.
A healthy Elkhound will live up to the age of 15 years old and maybe longer as these dogs usually enjoy a robust health. They can be quite gluttonous dogs, and as such if they do not receive the correct balance of food versus exercise, they can have a tendency to put on weight. Seek advice from your vet with regards to the best nutrition plan for your dog in this case.
The hard, coarse, weatherproof coat is easy to groom. It should be brushed regularly, with extra care given while the dog is shedding its dense undercoat. When the dog is shedding, the dead hair clings to the new hair. Bathe only when necessary, as it removes the natural oils in the skin and hair. Remember, this dog needs exercise so is best suited to an active family.