The History of Norwegian Elkhounds

Even the large elk is at bay with the formidable elkhound.

Even the large elk is at bay with the formidable elkhound.

Originally a sturdy guard dog, battle companion and hunter, the Norwegian elkhound is a breed with a deep history tracing back as far as 5,000 B.C. Loyal to the end, these sturdy, medium-sized dogs are now family companions that will joyfully share in all of your adventures.


Fearless and sturdy, the Norwegian elkhounds sailed with their viking masters into battle and fought courageously by their side. So important to their masters, if by chance their master was killed during battle, the elkhound would be sacrificed to enter the afterworld with his warrior master. Their history is closely interwoven with Norse mythology. Viking grave sites have turned up skeletons of dogs with bone structure closely similar to those of modern elkhounds.

Guard Dogs

Although they are primarily thought of as hunters of large game, elkhounds began as fearless guardians of flocks against wolf and bear attacks. Although they aren't particularly large dogs, their squat, square, thickly muscled and compact bodies made for a formidable opponent to even large predators. These features, along with their loyalty, also aided in being guard dogs for the family.


Built for stamina rather than appearance or speed, this scent hound would be perfectly adapted to hunting large game in the cold weather all day, every day. Their relatively small size in comparison won't stop them against even the largest game such as elk and moose. Their thick coat and robustness add to their ability to withstand the longest hunting trips and cold temperatures.

Breed Information

Reaching just over 20 inches for males and weighing in at approximately 55 lbs., this is a medium-sized breed. Even for their smaller size, the Norwegian elkhound is a large dog packed into a compact package. Their coat is a thick, muzzled gray with relatively large pricked ears and a square head. The tail is slightly curled and the elkhound carries it loosely over his back. This breed closely resembles other northern breeds.

About the Author

With a professional background in gardening, landscapes, pests and natural ecosystems, Jasey Kelly has been sharing her knowledge through writing since 2009 and has served as an expert writer in these fields. Kelly's background also includes childcare, and animal rescue and care.

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