Norwegian Elkhound

The Norwegian Elkhound has a long history in Norway as a watchdog, flock guardian, and big-game hunter.

Daily Care

Grooming Tips

The Norwegian Elkhound has a “two-ply” coat, with a top coat and an undercoat. Elkhound breeders warn potential puppy buyers of the inevitable—that duringsheddingseason they will have “tumbleweeds” of silver undercoat rolling around their house. The outer coat will shed as well, but not to the degree that the undercoat will. A slicker brush will help you keep the fur storm under control. Five minutes a day of “back-brushing” (brushing in the opposite direction to which the coat lies) will take care of the problem for most of the year. Daily maintenance of just two minutes a day at other times will keep the coat beautiful, and will give your vacuum a new lease on life! Elkhounds do not have a doggy smell, due to the harshness of the coat. Abathtwo to three times a year for the family pet is perfect and helps the dead coat to fall out and new, healthy hair to grow in.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every six weeks. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath.

Exercise Tips

These are hunting dogs in their native Norway. They track and follow moose, ranging far ahead of the hunter, and they must be able to trot many miles for several days if necessary. Because they must make their own decisions when hunting, and by virtue of the way they hunt, they are independent and lovers of the woods and their freedom. For that reason, when exercising their Norwegian Elkhounds, owners should resist the temptation to allow them to roam the neighborhood or the park off lead. The instinct to travel and to inspect the world is intrinsic to the breed. Most love swimming (a required moose-trailing activity), and many enjoyagilityas well asherdingtrials.
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.

Feeding Tips

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.
Learn about whichhuman foodsare safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

Health Tips

The Norwegian Buhund is a fairly healthy dog. Its average life span is 12 to 15 years. This breed may be predisposed to developing hip dysplasia and cataracts. Negligible incidences of PRA have been found but can be traced to foreign dogs.hip dysplasiaoccurs, but by and large, dogs that are checked usually get a “good” or “fair” evaluation from OFA, with many rating “excellent.” There have been some bouts of renal (kidney) issues, but this seems to have been put out of the breed’s current state of health.


The Norwegian Elkhound, while very intelligent, is also very independent. This breed will learn commands with ease, however, they may not always follow them. It is necessary to be a very firm and consistent pack leader with this breed to ensure they know who’s boss. Rules must be laid out for the Norwegian Elkhound and followed rigorously to ensure the dog does not develop bad behavior. It is necessary to make it clear to this dog that they do not outrank any member of the family.
Many Norwegian Elkhound owners train their dogs to compete in AKC Obedience Trials. Of course, this takes a lot of time and hard work but it can be rewarding for both dog and human. Some people even train their dogs to become Therapy Dogs and visit ailing people in hospitals and rehabilitation centers. Another great activity for Norwegian Elkhounds is agility training. This is a great outlet for their energy and they get to use all of their muscles that were originally developed for hunting elk and moose.


The Norwegian Elkhound is one of many breeds of the Spitz family, or, as they are often referred to, the Northern Breeds. Throughout its history, this multi-talented breed has been used as a herding dog, sled dog, guardian, and hunter. As its name implies, it is from Norway, and it was used (and still is) to hunt elk, as well as other game such as moose, bear, and wolf. They are believed to be a very ancient breed, with ancestors known in Viking times. In Norway, only dogs that qualify in the Norwegian Hunting Trials may be awarded the title of breed champion. The gray coat color is usually darker in European members of the breed. Even when used as a hard hunter, they make a wonderful family pet.
Though these dogs have been known in Norway for hundreds of years, it wasn’t until 1877 that they began to be exhibited in dog shows. The Norwegian Hunters Association held its first show that year, and owners began to keep better records of pedigrees and trace them back as far as possible. They wrote a breed standard and published a stud book. A photograph of a well-known dog of that time — Gamle Bamse Gram — looks much like an Elkhound of today, lacking only some of the modern dog’s refinement.
The American Kennel Club recognized the Elkhound in 1913. Today the breed ranks 106th among the dogs registered by the AKC.