1. Key Breed Facts
2. Breed Characteristics
3. Looking for a Norwegian Elkhound ?
8. Intelligence / Trainability
9. Children and Other Pets
11. Caring for a Norwegian Elkhound
15. Average Cost to keep/care for a Norwegian Elkhound
The Norwegian Elkhound is a sturdy, solid looking dog bred to hunt elk in the very northern regions of Norway. They are Spitz-type dogs with the same typical physical traits namely pricked ears and tight curly tails. They are highly prized in their native Norway, not only for their stamina out hunting, but also for their friendly and loyal natures. Although not so well known here in the UK, the Norwegian Elkhound is gaining a fan base thanks to their handsome looks and kind natures although they are best suited to people who are familiar with the specific needs of this type of dog rather than novice owners.
The Norwegian Elkhound is thought to be an ancient breed with remains of very similar looking dogs having been discovered that date back to the Stone Age. These charming Spitz-type dogs originate from the very northern regions of Scandinavia where they were bred to hunt and guard livestock, living alongside Vikings. They are highly skilled hunters being able to track their prey over great distances which includes larger animals like Elk. They are known to work just as well at night as they are during the day - a trait that made them highly prized by their owners.
They were given their name Elkhound which translated from Norwegian means "moose dog" even though they were used to hunt smaller prey. Today, they are still extremely popular in Scandinavia not only for their hunting and guarding skills, but also because these charming dogs make wonderful companions and family pets thanks to their kind and calm natures. With this said, anyone wishing to share a home with a Norwegian Elkhound would need to register their interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because so few well-bred pedigree puppies are registered with The Kennel Club every year.
Height at the withers: Males 49 - 52 cm, Females 49 - 52 cm
Average weight: Males 22 - 25 kg, Females 22 - 25 kg
Norwegian Elkhounds are stocky, compact, medium sized dogs that boast having quite a square outline. They have the typical pricked ears and tight, curly tails typical of the Spitz and their coats can be a variety of shades of grey with a very distinctive stripe on their shoulders. They have wedge-shaped heads with a noticeable stop. The back of their heads and foreheads are a little arched, but with no wrinkling. The bridge of their noses is straight and their eyes are medium in size and oval being a dark brown in colour. Norwegian Elkhounds always have a friendly, courageous look about their eyes.
Their ears are small, firm, pointed and set high with dogs holding them upright. They have a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Necks are moderately long and powerful with the hair on it being longer forming a ruff, but with no dewlap. Their front legs are straight showing a good amount of bone and shoulders are powerful and sloping.
The Norwegian Elkhound has a powerful, sturdy and compact body, strong albeit short backs with their bellies being only very slightly tucked up. Chests are deep and broad with dogs having a nice curve to their ribs. Toplines are level and straight. Their hindquarters are strong and powerful with dogs have firm, well-muscled back legs. Their feet are small and a little oval in shape with well arched, tightly closed toes with quite a bit of hair in-between each of them. Nails are very strong. Their tails are set high and thickly covered in hair, but no so much as it forms a plume. Dogs carry their tails tightly curled over their backs.
When it comes to their coat, the Norwegian Elkhound boasts having a profuse, close lying, straight and coarse top coat and a much softer yet very dense and woolly undercoat that's extremely weather resistant. The hair on a dog's head and on the front of their legs is short and smooth whereas it is a little longer on the back of their legs. The hair on a dog's neck, the backs of their thighs and tails is longer still. The accepted breed colours are as follows:
The Norwegian Elkhound is an energetic, bold character and one that boasts being very intelligent although quite independent by nature. They are highly skilled hunters which means they have a high prey drive even when kept in a home environment. They make wonderful companions and family pets because they thrive in a home environment and being around people. They are also known to be quite extrovert and good natured although because they are so independent, they can be a little stubborn at times which is a very Spitz-type trait.
Puppies need to be well socialised from a young age and this has to include introducing them to lots of new situations, noises, people, other animals and pets once they have been fully vaccinated so they grow up to be more relaxed dogs wherever they are taken anywhere and meet other people and animals. Their training also has to begin early bearing in mind that Norwegian Elkhounds are not known to be the most obedient dogs on the planet.
They can be a little over-protective of their families and property which is one of the reasons why early socialisation is so important for one of these high energy, intelligent dogs. Norwegian Elkhounds need to know their place in the pack and who is the alpha dog in a household or they would quickly take on the role of dominant dog which can make them unruly and harder to live with.
They can be quite vocal at times which is another trait that needs to be gently curbed when a dog is still young. However, a Norwegian Elkhound would always be quick to let an owner know when there are strangers about which means they make good watchdogs. They are not the best choice for first time owners because they need to be handled and trained by people who are familiar with the particular needs of this type of dog. They are an ideal choice for people who live in more rural areas and in households where one person usually stays at home when everyone else is out of the house.
Because they are so intelligent, a Norwegian Elkhound needs to be given the right amount of mental stimulation on a daily basis for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. Without enough to keep their minds busy, dogs would quickly get bored which would prompt them to find ways of amusing themselves which could see them developing some unwanted and destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving stress. All too often if they are left on their own for longer periods of time, they develop separation anxiety simply because they love being around people so much and which is one of the reasons why they make such good PAT therapy dogs.
Although the Elkhound is an intelligent dog and one that forms very strong bonds with their owners, they can be quite difficult to train. Their education has to start early with puppies being taught the "boundaries" as soon as they arrive in their new homes. With this said, an Elkhound would always be ready to test these limits just to see how far they can go. As such their training has to be consistent and always fair throughout a dog’s life.
Like many other hounds, they are quite sensitive by nature which means they need to be handled with a very firm, yet gentle hand. The key to keeping a dog focussed is to make their training sessions short, fun and interesting. If the sessions are too long and too repetitive, an Elkhound would soon get bored and loose interest, making it that much harder to train them. It takes a lot of patience, understanding and a good sense of humour to train an Elkhound which is just one of the reasons why they are not the best choice for novice owners.
If an Elkhound has grown up with children, they get on extremely well together although playtime can get a bit boisterous, especially when dogs are still young. As such, any interaction between younger children and a dog should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure things stay calm and nobody gets too excited which could result in a toddler being knocked over, albeit by accident.
When they are well socialised from a young enough age, Elkhounds generally get on with other dogs they meet. However, care has to be taken when they are around smaller animals and pets which includes cats because their high prey drive would get the better of them with disastrous results therefore any contact is best avoided.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Norwegian Elkhound is between 12 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Like many other breeds, the Elkhound is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active, handsome dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
As with any other breed, Elkhounds need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
The Norwegian Elkhound boasts having a double coat that consists of a harsher top coat and a much softer and very dense undercoat. They need to be brushed on a weekly basis to remove any dead and loose hair and to keep things tidy. They shed steadily throughout the year only more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent brushing is usually necessary to stay on top of things.
It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
The Norwegian Elkhound is a high energy, intelligent dog and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. They need anything from 40 to 60 minutes exercise a day with as much off the lead time as possible, but only in a very safe and secure environment. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, an Elkhound would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving any stress they may be feeling.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these high energy dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble bearing in mind that Elkhounds are very good escape artists.
With this said, Elkhound puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.
If you get a Norwegian Elkhound puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be fed a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
If you are looking to buy a Norwegian Elkhound, you would need to register your interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because very few puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything upwards of £500 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Norwegian Elkhound in northern England would be £19.44 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.75 a month (quote as of July 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of all of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with an Elkhound and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Norwegian Elkhound would be between £50 to £100 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree or other puppy.
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