Norwegian Elkhound

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Norwegian Elkhound
Norwegian Elkhound showing the standard tightly curled tail
Norwegian Elkhound showing the standard tightly curled tail
Alternative names
Norsk Elghund
Gray Norwegian Elkhound
Small Grey Elk Dog
Country of origin
Common nicknames
Classification and breed standards
FCI: Group 5 Section 2 #268  
AKC: Hound  
ANKC: Group 4 (Hounds)  
CKC: Group 2 - Hounds  
KC (UK): Hound  
NZKC: Hounds  
UKC: Northern Breeds  
Not recognized by any major kennel club
This breed of dog is extinct
The FCI divides this into two breeds,
Black (268) and Grey (242). The standard for the Grey is not available on the FCI site.

The Norwegian Elkhound is a breed of dog, specifically a member of the scenthound family. The dog is the national dog breed of Norway.


The dog stands about 52 centimetres high and weighs up to 24 kilogrammes. Its grey coat is made of dense smooth lying hair ranging from black at the muzzle, ears and tip of its tail, to silvery grey on its legs, tail and underbody. Solid black elkhounds are rarer.

Origin and history

Archaeological digs in Scandinavia show this breed existed in the Stone age. At the end of the 19th century the breed came to England and in 1901 the The Kennel Club was officially recognised it.

For many years, the breed was considered one of the oldest dog breeds, going back more than five thousand years. Recent DNA analysis reveals, however, that this breed is actually a recent construction, bred to resemble an older form. An ideal elkhound has a tightly curled tail, as the dog shown in the photograph on this page. The elkhound is a medium sized dog and extremely hardy. They are bred for hunting large game, such as bear and elk. The elkhound has a very strong drive and it is not unheard of for an elkhound to go through a plate glass window when motivated by its quarry. Although the breed is strong and hardy, the dogs typically have an inseparable bond with their masters and are quite loyal.[1] The Norwegian elkhound was presented at a dog exhibition for the first time in 1877.


Norwegian Elkhounds are loyal to their "pack" and make good family dogs. They are tolerant of children and are protective of those they consider part of their pack or family. Norwegian Elkhounds are difficult to train because of their intelligence and deep independent streak. However, they are good natured in their disobedience (for example, failing to "come" because there is something of greater interest in the other direction).


Norwegian Elkhounds shed a great deal, particularly in fall and spring when they molt their undercoats. Elkhounds require significant grooming because their oil glands will become plugged and easily infected without regular brushing. When brushed in a hot summer month, the dog will produce copious amounts of fur, which in some rural regions of Norway, people make clothing such as sweaters from.

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