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Norwegian Elkhound Rescue & Referral of New England, Inc.
Norwegian Elkhound Rescue & Referral of New England, Inc.
​Norwegian Elkhound Rescue & Referral ® E-Mail statton@comcast.net with questions or comments about this web site. 
Copyright © 2011
What is a  Norwegian Elkhound?
The Norwegian Elkhound is a member of the Spisshunder group. This group includes Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, Finnish Spitz, Greenlanders and Samoyeds. In fact as well as being used for their primary role as a moose hunter they are also used to pull sleds and skiers for fun. [The breed is not a hound; it doesn't look like a hound, it doesn't hunt like a hound and it doesn't run like a hound "]. Its true name is ELGHUND with ELG meaning moose and HUND simply meaning dog. Therefore a more accurate translation would be Moose Dog.

The Norwegian Elkhound is characterized by its boldness, agility, intelligence and a gregarious nature. A bit of a clown, Elkhounds are dog extroverts. Affectionate and good natured with adults and children alike. Because they have been bred to act as independent scouts for hunting, close obedience work is not their forte. Although quite trainable for basic obedience they rarely display the slavish desire to please that one might find in other breeds (the Golden Retriever for instance). Elkhounds usually need a tangible payoff for their work. Food will do while faint praise will not. They must be stimulated and motivated to perform superior obedience work. Theirs is a partnership with humans. With this in mind they make wonderful companions

Norwegian Elkhound Origins and History

The origin of the Elkhound derives from the swamp dog or Torvmosehund which was domesticated by the flat woods people of ancient Denmark (the Veidefolket). This dog was the progenitor of the northern breeds. It migrated with these early peoples up into Norway and Southern Sweden. Skeletons of dogs bearing a close resemblance to the modern Elkhound have been found by archaeologists who have dated these remains to between 4000 BC and 5000 BC.

It is with the Scandinavian people known as the Vikings that the first tangible records of the Elkhound have been found. Bas-relief pictures have been discovered that depict Elkhounds hunting moose. Fallen Viking commanders, buried on land in their ships with their possessions, were often accompanied by the body of their beloved dog. A fitting companion for their journey to Viking heaven, Valhalla. The forces of Christianity and closer relations with the developing economies of Europe brought the Viking way of life to an end. This decline adversely affected the quality and quantity of the Elkhound breed. A small number of less than optimum specimens scattered about in isolated villages were all that kept the breed from extinction.

It wasn't until 1865 that the breed enjoyed a rebirth in the whelping of Bamse Gram, owned by Consul Jens Gram of Ask, Ringerike, a renowned hunter and sportsman. No pedigree for Elkhounds goes back further than Bamse. Using good breeding stock found in Ringerike the Elkhound line was revived and its modern appearance formed. The first Elkhounds to be registered in America were imported from Norway in 1913. From this humble beginning the Elkhound has enjoyed great popularity among dog fanciers with refined and discriminating tastes. The Norwegian Elkhound is " ... 46th in popularity of the 129 breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club. This is a good place to be - not too high up on the scale, and not too far down".

Breed Standard

General Appearance
  The Norwegian Elkhound is a hardy gray hunting dog. In appearance, a typical northern dog of medium size andsubstance, square in profile, close coupled and balanced in proportions. The head is broad with prick ears, and the tail is tightly curled and carried over the back. The distinctive gray coat is dense and smooth lying. As a hunter, the Norwegian Elkhound has the courage, agility and stamina to hold moose and other big game at bay by barking and dodging attack, and the endurance to track for long hours in all weather over rough and varied terrain.

Size, Proportion, Substance
Height at the withers for dogs is 20½ inches, for bitches 19½ inches. Weight for dogs about 55 pounds, for bitches about 48 pounds.
Square in profile and close coupled. Distance from brisket to ground appears to be half the height at the withers. Distance from forechest to rump equals the height at the withers.
Bone is substantial, without being coarse.

Head broad at the ears, wedge shaped, strong and dry (without loose skin).
Expression keen, alert, indicating a dog with great courage. Eyes very dark brown, medium in size, oval, not protruding. Ears set high, firm and erect, yet very mobile. Comparatively small; slightly taller than their width at the base with pointed (not rounded) tips. When the dog is alert, the orifices turn forward and the outer edges are vertical. When relaxed or showing affection, the ears go back, and the dog should not be penalized for doing this during the judge's examination.
Viewed from the side, the forehead and back of the skull are only slightly arched; the stop not large, yet clearly defined. The muzzle is thickest at the base and, seen from above or from the side, tapers evenly without being pointed. The bridge of the nose is straight, parallel to and about the same length as the skull. Lips are tightly closed and teeth meet in a scissors bite.

Neck, Topline, Body
Neck of medium length, muscular, well set up with a slight arch and with no loose skin on the throat. Topline--The back is straight and strong from its high point at the withers to the root of the tail. The body is short and close-coupled with the rib cage accounting for most of its length. Chest deep and moderately broad; brisket level with points of elbows; and ribs well sprung. Loin short and wide with very little tuck-up. Tail set high, tightly curled, and carried over the centerline of the back. It is thickly and closely haired, without brush. natural and untrimmed.

Shoulders sloping with elbows closely set on. Legs well under body and medium in length; substantial, but not coarse, in bone. Seen from the front, the legs appear straight and parallel. Single dewclaws are normally present. Feet--Paws comparatively small, slightly oval with tightly closed toes and thick pads. Pasterns are strong and only slightly bent. Feet turn neither in nor out.

Moderate angulation at stifle and hock. Thighs are broad and well muscled. Seen from behind, legs are straight, strong and without dewclaws. Feet as in front.

Thick, hard, weather resisting and smooth lying; made up of soft, dense, woolly undercoat and coarse, straight covering hairs. Short and even on head, ears, and front of legs; longest on back of neck, buttocks and underside of tail. The coat is not altered by trimming, clipping or artificial treatment. Trimming of whiskers is optional. In the show ring, presentation in a natural, unaltered condition is essential.

Gray, medium preferred, variations in shade determined by the length of black tips and quantity of guard hairs. Undercoat is clear light silver as are legs, stomach, buttocks, and underside of tail. The gray body color is darkest on the saddle, lighter on the chest, mane and distinctive harness mark (a band of longer guard hairs from shoulder to elbow). The muzzle, ears and tail tip are black. The black of the muzzle shades to lighter gray over the forehead and skull.
Yellow or brown shading, white patches, indistinct or irregular markings, "sooty" coloring on the lower legs and light circles around the eyes are undesirable. Any overall color other than gray as described above, such as red, brown, solid black, white or other solid color, disqualifies.

Normal for an active dog constructed for agility and endurance. At a trot the stride is even and effortless; the back remains level. As the speed of the trot increases, front and rear legs converge equally in straight lines toward a center line beneath the body, so that the pads appear to follow in the same tracks (single track). Front and rear quarters are well balanced in angulation and muscular development.

In temperament, the Norwegian Elkhound is bold and energetic, an effective guardian yet normally friendly, with great dignity and independence of character.

The Norwegian Elkhound is a square and athletic member of the northern dog family. His unique coloring, weather resistant coat and stable disposition make him an ideal multipurpose dog at work or at play.

​Norwegian Elkhound Rescue & Referral ® E-Mail statton@comcast.net with questions or comments about this web site. 
Copyright © 2011