Norwegian Elkhound (Dyrehund)

Written by: Jamie
Updated: January 22, 2022

Want to learn more about the National Dog of Norway? Then check out this guide for all the background information you need on this breed.

Norwegian Elkhound Dog standing on Sand

Height: Male 18-22 inches female 18-20 inches
Weight: Male 23-27 kilos female 18-25 kilos
Lifespan: 12-16 years
Pedigree? (registered with the KC?): Yes, this breed is registered with the Kennel Club.

Positives and Negatives

Read up on some Norwegian Elkhound facts below:


  • Deeply loyal, makes an excellent guard dog
  • Sight and hearing is stronger than other breeds
  • Loves to be around people, friendly with children
  • Thick coat makes them ideal for harsh climates


  • Not a good breed choice for first-time owners
  • Needs lots of exercise and access to outdoor space
  • Dominant, could lead to aggression
  • Barks a lot, they love to use their voice


Norwegian Elkhounds are highly prized in Norway. They make an excellent all-round dog used for hunting, protection, and companionship.

This breed is known to be fearless and won’t back down from a fight. Norwegian Elkhounds will go to great lengths in order to protect their family.

Barking is a way of communication for this breed. They like to tell you what is going on with their voice. It can be a downside, especially if you have neighbours close by.

Norwegian Elkhounds are very people orientated and love the company of humans they know, yet they are balanced by their independence, so can be left alone for a few hours.

Shedding is something you will have to get used to. This breed is always growing and losing fur. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it maintains its magnificent coat. Keep up with brushing to avoid fur covering your home and furniture.

Norwegian Elkhounds are active and love to play outdoors. Access to a garden isn’t a must, but it is ideal for a breed like this.

Ensure you have high fences as this canine can jump very high. If they see prey they won’t hesitate to chase it no matter where they are.


It is believed the Norwegian Elkhound could date right back to 5,000 BC. They’re thought to have also accompanied the Vikings!

In Norway’s Medieval days, the Elkhound was known as ‘Dyrehund’ which translates to ‘animal-dog’. These vicious hunters would target the Elk. The main reason for this dog being given the name ‘Elkhound’.

The breed doesn’t have just one job but a great variety. These include pulling sledges, hunting, acting as a watchdog, protecting their owner or family, and being a flock guardian.

Norwegian Elkhounds have been a fantastic working addition to many lives across their native land. They really do live up to their title as the National Dog of Norway.

Norwegian Elkhound Dog standing on Sand

Not only do they hunt Elk, but these brave dogs also take on bears, wolves, moose, mountain lions, and other large game. Rabbits, badgers, and lynx are also known targets.

Their scent and smell are outstanding which is why they are the most prized hunting dog in Norway.

It was in 1877 when these canines began competing in dog shows. The Norwegian Hunters Association began the first show leading others to officially record their breeds.

There has been some development of the dog within this time, yet their general characteristics remain the same.

Related: Everything you need to know about the Sheepadoodle is in this comprehensive guide.


Norwegian Elkhound Temperament:

This pooch is very people friendly. They adore attention from their owners and families and will literally do anything to protect them.

You can tell from the animals they hunt that this breed is automatically fearless. It can be good when it comes to protecting the family but needs to be kept under control.

Norwegian Elkhounds have a loving, calm, and gentle personality in the home. There is nothing this dog loves more than some downtime with its owner.

Provided you can assert yourself as the dominant one, this breed will fit nicely into the home of a sole owner, couple, or family.

Young girl playing ball with a Black Norwegian Elkhound dog

Are Norwegian Elkhounds Good With Strangers?

This canine will be reserved around strangers. They’re watchdogs and will certainly bark at someone approaching the home.

Aggression won’t come naturally towards humans. If you are relaxed with the person at the door, they will relax with you.

Are Norwegian Elkhounds Good With Children?

Ideally, the Norwegian Elkhound dog should be brought up with children. Adults will need time to get to know the new cries, sounds, and behaviours of a child. Older children are more suitable for this breed.

Are Norwegian Elkhounds Ok With Other Dogs?

No, this breed isn’t good with other dogs. Their dominant nature could turn into aggression.

Socializing Norwegian Elkhound puppies is extremely important and will impact how they act around other canines. They can live with other dogs and also cats if brought up together. Smaller animals are a no go.


Norwegian Elkhounds love the outdoors. Their coat protects them from the cold winter temperatures in their native land. Ideally, an hour’s worth of daily exercise is best for this dog. It needs to be strenuous so your pooch won’t feel energetic. You may find a Norwegian Elkhound puppy needs longer.

Hounds are often independent, something that can definitely be said about the Norwegian Elkhound. This may lead them to wander off on their own adventure, so do ensure exercise spaces are enclosed. Remember their sense of smell is highly strong and could lead them on a track so don’t let them off-leash otherwise.

This canine is used to walking along tough terrain. Rural areas in Norway were the Elkhounds playground! This pooch has the stamina to hunt bears! You must keep up with their exercise or expect disrespectful behaviour at home.

Norwegian Elkhound Dog, Mother with Puppies suckling


Check out the Norwegian Elkhound health issues below:

  • Hip Dysplasia- The poor development of the hip joint will lead to pain, inflammation, swelling, and lameness. The affected leg will eventually get arthritis.
  • Fanconi Syndrome- A kidney disorder where the proximal renal tubules aren’t absorbing the nutrients and electrolytes your dog needs. This leads to weight loss, excessive urination, and drinking.
  • Hypothyroidism- An abnormality of the thyroid gland reduces your dog’s metabolism. This leads to weight loss, coat thinning, excessive shedding, and a lack of tolerance to cold or hot temperatures.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy- This degenerative disease affects the photoreceptor cells in the eye. It will eventually lead to blindness.

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Intelligence & Training

Norwegian Elkhounds are highly intelligent pooches. It’s why they are used in a variety of different working jobs across Norway. They love to help out their human companions with a true purpose in life. However, do be aware hounds are not the easiest to train. Their stubbornness, independence, and dominance often hinder the process.

This breed is sensitive and can pick up on your tone. If you are angered or frustrated they will pick up on this. Keep calm, stay focused, and be positive. Norwegian Elkhounds need clear leadership or they will walk all over you! Be firm and reward your pooch every time they do something right.

Obesity can be an issue for this dog. Try to avoid repetitively handing out treats and replace this with affection. Elkhounds love human praise and as a people-orientated dogs, they just want you to be happy with them. Lots of cuddles after a good training session wouldn’t go amiss.

If you like you can enter this canine into dog shows and competitions. It is great for exercise, training, and mental stimulation. Puppy classes are a good way to socialize the Norwegian Elkhound. Meet new people and other canines whilst teaching your dog some basic commands.

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Norwegian Elkhounds shed all year round. They are definitely not a hypoallergenic breed. Expect a coat blowout at least 2-3 times each year. Their thick woolly undercoat and soft topcoat are what gives them that extra defence against harsh climates.

Brush their fur once or twice a week with a de-shedding rake followed by a slicker brush to smooth the coat after. During their blowout, it will need to be done more regularly. Naturally, their oils will protect their coat from debris and dirt getting stuck. Aim to bathe them every 5-8 weeks.

Coats should not be trimmed or shaven, even if it is Summertime. Vets advise against this as it could completely damage your dog’s coat. They may not be able to grow it back in time for winter. This dog can regulate their temperature in the hotter months so you shouldn’t worry about this.

Trim or file their nails every 6 weeks. You should start doing this as early as possible. Some dogs despise their nails being done! Ears should be cleaned weekly, be sure to remove any strands blocking the ear canal. Don’t forget to brush their teeth! Vets recommend this is done daily.

About the Author

Hi, I'm Jamie! I've always been around dogs and now writing about them is an absolute joy.
Read more about my story here.
Reach me at or connect with me on LinkedIn below.

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