The Norwegian Elkhound is an ancient dog breed that may have been the companion to the Stone Age man, shipmate of the Vikings and a guard dog to its homeland. Today it is a prized household companion, a fantastic working dog and also a show dog in many countries. Let us study the characteristics, breed standards and proper care of your Norwegian Elkhound puppy.
Interesting facts about the Norwegian Elkhound
- The Norwegian Elkhound is one of the oldest or most ancient dog breeds. Records from nearly 6000 years ago show that this breed was most certainly a companion of the Vikings. They can even be considered as the first sea dogs accompanying their masters across Europe and America. Stone Age archeologists have discovered skeleton remains of what appears to be today’s Norwegian Elkhound.
- Over time, the breed acquired many different names such as Elkhound in Britain, Norrland Spets, and even Grahuynd.
- The literal translation of the word Elg Hund is moose dog. In early days, they were used as tracking hounds and were even considered sturdy enough for sled hauling.
- They have strong hunting instincts and are impervious to cold and wet.
- In Norway, the Norwegian Elkhound is actually the Black Norwegian Elkhound. The variety found in America is known in Norway as the Gray Elkhound.
- Lifespan of the Norwegian Elkhound is 12-13 years.
- Norwegian Elkhound size-Height is between 49 and 52 cm and weight is between 20-23 kg/44-51 lb.
- Like all other dog breeds from the Scandinavian region, the Elkhound has an abundant double coat that is water proof and gives excellent warmth. The soft, dense and thick undercoat provides insulation against cold while the waterproof outer coat protects against heavy rain. Despite their abundant coats, these dogs do not have that typical doggy odor.
- Norwegian Elkhounds can be found in various shades of gray. It is light in certain areas and darker in others. The coat also forms a thick ruff around the neck, tail and back of the thighs. Black Norwegian Elkhounds have a shiny black coat and are actually smaller and with a lighter build than the Gray Elkhound. Note that the black Norwegian Elkhound is actually similar to another Norwegian variety known as the Norwgian Buhund.
Where to find a Norwegian Elkhound
Now that you have decided you want a Norwegian Elkhound it is time to look for an established breeder. The official website of the club of the Norwegian Elkhound of America can give you a list of registered breeders near you. The breeder you choose should show outstanding ethics and a strong commitment to the well being of their pups. Naturally, as a new owner, you will have hundreds of questions to ask about the dog. A good breeder would be willing to answer these questions. Also, an ethical breeder will sell you a Norwegian elkhound puppy for a fair price and only if s/he believes that you are a suitable owner for this breed. Also, no matter how many times you need advice or no matter when you need it; a good and kind breeder can always be relied upon.
Norwegian Elkhound prices can vary between $1000 to $5000 depending on the breeder. You could adopt a Norwegian Elkhound for about $500. Alternatively, you could go in for mixed breeds like Norwegian Elkhound and German Shepherd mix or Norwegian Elkhound and Husky mix.
This is a bold, energetic and hard working guard dog. They are normally friendly and have great dignity and independence of character. Since they were originally bred to hunt under extreme conditions, they are strong, compact and hardy. You will need to give your dog adequate mental and physical challenges and his stamina will astound you. These are dependable and trustworthy dogs. But they won’t hesitate to bully you and have their own way. That is why they need to be trained right from the start. Norwegians have a great potential for dominance and that is why they need a dominant owner. Norwegian elkhound puppies will likely be extremely disobedient to submissive owners. Common behavior problems in the breed include excessive barking, dominance, and stealing and guarding food. These dogs have excellent watch and guard dog abilities.
The active and outdoor loving Norwegian elkhound will love to exercise especially if you get moving along with him. Good daily exercise for this breed includes a couple of walks per day along with active playtime in a secure area. The simple routine of going out with your dog and walking, jogging or playing catch is great for both you and your pet.
Training should ideally begin the moment your Elkhound puppy enters your home. There is a huge difference between training a puppy and an adult Elkhound. For a pup of about 8-12 weeks, everything is new and he will be experiencing many new things. Start with crate training so he will learn to sleep away from you. House training and leash training should ideally go hand in hand. Each time you take your puppy to poop or pee outside, lead him using his leash. This way; he will learn to associate walk time with pooping/peeing time. Unless an emergency strikes, never whisk your pet in your arms and rush him out to do his business. Devote at least 30-45 minutes per day in training your puppy to ‘come’, ‘sit’ and ‘heel’ etc. Keep training positive and reward based. Never shout or punish your puppy. You can check out my informative guides on basic dog training here.
Your dog will need different food at different stages of his life. So learn to read food labels. You can also talk to a breeder or your vet about the right food to feed your young pet. This way; you can be assured that what you feed meets your Elkhound’s nutritional requirements. Dog food brands also make recommendations about appropriate food quantities based on age. However, your vet can guide you about proper food portions. If, due to any reason, your dog becomes over or under weight, you may want to make food adjustments. Dry food can sometimes actually taste better with a splash of water or chicken stock. Always keep fresh drinking water in clean bowls readily available for your pet, especially in hot weather. Most dogs eat a lot less in summers, so do not be alarmed if your pet’s food goes untouched. Promptly discard unused food portions as they could develop bacteria very rapidly in hot weather.
This is not a dog for people with allergies. The Norwegian sheds in small amounts twice a year but shed he does. And if you are the type that dislikes finding hair all over your clothing and furniture, you may want to reconsider your decision of getting a Norwegian. However, if you already own one, you only need to brush and groom him a little more during shedding season. Norwegian Elkhounds are rather clean dogs and they generally keep themselves clean, almost like cats do. This is the reason why, despite their thick, abundant coats, they do not have a typical doggy odor.
Common health issues in the Norwegian Elkhound
The lifespan of this beautiful breed is about 12-13 years. Common health issues seen in them are hip and elbow dysplasia, patella luxation, early retinal degeneration and chondrodysplasia.