The Norwegian Elkhound is a compact, sturdy dog who has been bred for more than 6,000 years to hunt elk, bear and other large wild animals in Arctic conditions. She evolved, at least partially, from the grey wolf subspecies now found in south central Europe and western Russia, and may be one of the oldest of all dog breeds. Scandinavian archeological digs have discovered evidence that she was used for hunting, herding flocks, protecting the home and serving as a companion for humans as far back as the Stone Age. Primarily a hunting partner, her job was to track down large prey and distract their attention by leaping around, while barking loudly to signal her location to her master.
The grey, Spitz-type Elkhound of today can be traced back to the father of the modern breed, Gamle Bamse Gram, born in 1865. In 1877, the Norwegian Hunters' Association held its first show, and it wasn’t long before the formal breed standard was drawn up. Exportation of the breed began around 1900, and since then Elkhounds have become popular around the world as companion dogs.
Developed for stamina, versatility and of course, cold temperatures, the Elkhound’s form has remained largely unchanged for thousands of years. She has a square build, pricked ears and a fluffy, curled tail and weighs around 50 lbs. Her silver-grey outer coat has saddle markings, often with black points, and covers a soft, dense undercoat meant to protect her from harsh weather. Regular brushing is necessary to keep shedding at bay.
The Norwegian Elkhound is energetic, loyal and devoted to her family — she is happiest when she is close to her people. She is an effective guardian, but her friendly nature means that even strangers may quickly be accepted. She does well with children, especially when introduced to them at a young age. Intelligent and obedient, she responds well to consistent, gentle training, and can make an excellent tracking or agility dog.
Although a hardy breed, the Norwegian Elkhound is still prone to a number of hereditary and congenital conditions that can adversely affect her health, and your family’s budget. Some of the conditions and illnesses Norwegian Elkhounds are prone to include joint conditions such as hip dysplasia; skin conditions such as atopy; eye conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma and persistent pupillary membranes; and thyroid conditions such as hypothyroidism.
Thankfully, Petplan pet insurance covers all hereditary and chronic conditions as standard. Which means if your Norwegian Elkhound inherits her mom’s bad hip or her dad’s bad eyes, you’re protected.