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An overview of The Elkhound from NZKC

Physical Description
A very versatile dog developed as a companion to the Vikings as a hunter, guardian and companion. Wolf like in appearance this medium sized "Spitz" type dog has silver-grey hair and a dense weather resistant double coat. The face is a dark blackish grey. Square in profile with prick ears and a tightly curled tail that lies over the back. Hey are powerfully built dog with exceptional strength and will bounce off prey like a rubber ball. They have high levels of both energy and stamina with a strong sense of smell and hearing. The ideal height at the shoulders is 49-52cm and a weight of 20-24kg.

Determined, loyal, and enthusiastic, they are friendly to strangers when introduced. Of high intelligence with an ability to think independently which appears at times as stubbornness. They are trainable but will not be robotic. They will thinks about what is requested and respond when they think it is time to do so. They communicate with their tails, facial expressions, and with a series of barks depending upon the situation; i.e. one to announce intruders, one to bail game, etc. Despite their working background they're very gentle and very devoted to their family.

The Elkhound has changed little since the Stone Age and is one of the more ancient breeds. They have been bred to herd, hunt, guard and pull sleds. Remains of Elkhound type dogs have been found buried with the ancient Norse dating back some 6000 years. In Norwegian, Elkhound actually The Norwegian name is actually: "Norsk Elghund" ("Norse" is an English word) ...and "Elg" does directly translate to Elk...or moose...since its the same word in Norwegian...but "elk" is the best translation, since there are no moose in Norway......and "hund" does directly translate to hound...or dog...since its the same word in Norwegian...(and the English word "hound" most likely derives from the Old Norse) translates to "Moose Dog", not Elk Hound as the current description would have it. this amendment comes from Eskil Bradley of Norway

Ownership Preferences
Excellent with children. Because of their breeding they double as both a companion and a watchdog. Still used widely as a hunting and farm herding dog. Generally they have a dislike of water and are not a retrieving dog.

Housing Requirements
A good dry bed is all they require. Given their long history in an inhospitable climate they are quite happy to be outside all day, then curl up beside the owner at night. If living in an urban situation then a well fenced property is necessary because they have little traffic sense. Walking on the lead is recommended around towns.

Feeding Requirements
The diet must be controlled as they can survive on very little. They tend to put on weight easily if overfed or not exercised and will eat anything including fruit and vegetables.

They are particularly clean and like all spitz type dogs are relatively odour free. Their coat is easy to care for and, should it become muddy, once ry the mud will fall off. The females moult twice a year and the males once a year, when substantial amounts of hair and undercoat will be shed. The dense undercoat changes depending on the climate and the amount of time spent outdoors. Brush weekly and during the moult comb daily.

Being of strong independent nature they need to be brought up firmly yet fairly. They are very quick to learn yet quite sensitive and will adapt to most circumstances.

Leisure Pursuits
They thrive with an active family and if you are a keen walker or tramper then the Elkhound will be with you all the way regardless of the terrain or weather. They are built for endurance rather than speed. Used in New Zealand as a hunter of pigs and deer, they have been used as a search and rescue dog in many parts of eh world including New Zealand.

12-15 years
Health problems perculiar to the breed:Generally there has been few problems in New Zealand. Like all breeds watch for inbreeding. This can cause PRA (Night Blindness) and Hip Dysplasia in some lines.

Undesirable Traits
Elkhounds should be friendly to people and not show signs of aggression apart from their bailing characteristics. Dogs should be square in appearance with plenty of "air" beneath their bellies. Dropped-sided tails and "spectacles" around the eyes are a common fault as are short legs. Because they have been bred to bark they must be taught what they are allowed to bark at and what they are not allowed to bark at.

Cost of ownership
Apart from the cost of acquiring your dog, running costs are low. As they generally will eat food scraps including your apples and pasta, special food is not necessary provided they get a balanced diet.

Other Names

  • Norsk Elghund
  • Grå Norsk Elghund
  • Gray Norwegian Elkhound
  • Small Grey Elk Dog
  • Norwegian Moose Dog
  • Harmaa Norjanhirvikoira


The Norwegian Elkhound is one of the ancient Northern Spitz-type breed of dog and is the National Dog of Norway. The Elkhound has served as a hunter, guardian, herder, and defender... Although the breed is strong and hardy, the dogs typically have an inseparable bond with their masters and are quite loyal. Wikipedia

Milli & Marty, owned by Maria Stewart (front: Ch Nankuri Nu Millinium; behind: Nankuri De Bugg)

Ingrid, owned by James Henry

Elkhounds owned by John and Jacque Nagle, NZ, above and below

Photo by Nancy Moser, USA

Photo by Barbara Barganska, UK