Norwegian Elkhound Dog Breed Information and Personality Traits

The high energy Norwegian elkhound needs plenty of strenuous exercise if it is to thrive. This intelligent, independent yet affectionate dog does best in a family with well-behaved older children or no children at all.

Norwegian Elkhound at a glance
The Norwegian Elkhound Dog Breed

Norway’s Defense Minister is empowered to mobilize all privately owned Norwegian elkhounds in the country’s defense.


Weight Range:

Male: 53-57 lbs.
Female: 45-50 lbs.

Height at Withers:

Male: 20 in.

Female: 19 in.


Upright ears (naturally)


Exercise Requirements: 40 minutes/day
Energy Level: Very energetic
Longevity Range: 10-12 yrs
Tendency to Drool: Low
Tendency to Snore: Low
Tendency to Bark: High
Tendency to Dig: Moderate
Social/Attention Needs: Low

Bred For:

Hunting elk


Length: Medium
Characteristics: Double coat, straight
Colors: Gray
Overall Grooming Needs: Moderate

Club Recognition:

AKC Classification: Hound
UKC Classification: Northern Breeds
Prevalence: So-So

The Norwegian Elkhound is a medium-sized, hardy and squarely built dog designed to withstand cold weather and hunt for days at a time.

Male dogs range in size from 19 to 21 inches at the shoulders and weigh 50 to 60 pounds (23 to 27 kilograms). The height of female dogs ranges from 18 to 20 inches, with a corresponding weight range of 40 to 55 pounds (18 to 25 kilograms).

The double coat is gray on top with a lighter undercoat and undersides. A heavy seasonal shed is standard. The ears, muzzle and tail are black. Like other northern-type dogs, the tail rolls curls over the back. The head is broad and wedge-shaped and the ears stand erect atop the head. The eyes are dark brown.


The Norwegian Elkhound is a fearless, reliable, energetic and extremely loyal companion. These dogs may be a little reserved around strangers, but they will greet family members and other people they know with gusto.

Like other northern-type dogs, the Norwegian elkhound is a relatively independent animal. This independence is necessary when holding an elk at bay until the human hunter arrives for the kill, but this can pose a challenge when it comes to modern obedience training. The Elkhound's watchdog talents are evident in its tendency to be territorial and to bark more than some other breeds do.

This proud, intelligent, independent yet affectionate animal does best in a family with well-behaved older children or no children at all. Caution is in order with respect to adding a Norwegian elkhound to a family that already has smaller pets; this dog may view the smaller animals as prey.

Living With:

Norwegian Elkhounds are high-energy animals that need a relatively high amount of strenuous exercise — at least an hour a day — if they are to thrive. At the same time, the dog's independence may cause it to be more likely to roam than other breeds. The dog's excellent sense of smell, while important for tracking game, may cause prove to be a distraction during training.

A Norwegian elkhound needs a owners who has the time, knowledge and dedication to bring out the dog's intelligence, loyalty and talent. First-time dog guardians might want to think twice before taking on this challenging animal. However, for the experienced guardian who can give this dog the attention and exercise it needs, life with a Norwegian elkhound can prove very rewarding. The average lifespan of a Norwegian elkhound is 13 to 14 years.


The Norwegian elkhound's history reaches back thousands of years to perhaps as long ago as 5000 BC. Since then, these hardy dogs have served their human companions as hunters of big game, including the elk from which the breed derives its name.

However, the Norwegian elkhound's hunting skills are not limited to elk. These dogs can hunt badgers, lynx, mountain lions, bears, wolves, reindeer and rabbits. They also are prized flock guardians, watchdogs and sled dogs.

Their courage has earned them a special place in their native country's defense efforts; in times of war, the Norwegian Defense Minister has the authority to mobilize all privately owned Norwegian elkhounds.