Gray Norwegian Elkhound: Breed Info

The elkhound, also known as the gray Norwegian elkhound in this country and referred to as “Norsk Elghund (Gra)” and “Grand” in its homeland, is counted in FCI Group 5 of the top archetype. Its origin lies in Norway, where it is also revered as the national dog. According to the breed standard, the ideal size for males is 52 cm, females are naturally a little smaller at 49.5 cm.

Facts/Breed Portrait

  • FCI Standard No. 242
  • Origin: Norway
  • Height at the withers: males 52 cm | Bitches 49 cm
  • Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years
  • Weight: 22-25kg
  • intelligent, courageous, watchfulness
  • persistent hunting dog


Only shortly after the end of the First World War did the first specimens of the breed come to Great Britain, in the USA it was not even recognized as an independent breed by the AKC until 1935. Although the elkhound is still used as a hunting companion in parts of Scandinavia, it is almost never used as a hunting dog outside of its homeland.

Since the elkhound has lived closely with humans for many thousands of years, it is well suited as a house-and companion dog. Although he was forced by his owner to a very hard-working life over this long period of time, he is more loyal to his master than almost any other breed and extremely friendly to people.


The desired weight should be between 20 and 23 kg. In addition to this elkhound, there are two other elkhound breeds that are recognized by the FCI, but unfortunately have received almost no attention outside of their homeland:

First, there is the “Black Norwegian Elkhound”, called “Norsk Elghund (Sort)” in its homeland, which is a bit smaller but livelier than its grey-haired relative. His ideal shoulder height is between 46 and 51 cm, his ideal weight is 18 kg. It is also very rare in its homeland and particularly suitable for hunting in the mountains, as it is lighter and more agile than its big brother.

With the exception of color, it is judged to the same breed standard as the Gray Elkhound. The second other breed is the so-called “Big Swedish Elkhound”, which originated in Sweden and is known there as “Jämthund”. Its height, as required by the standard, is 58 to 63 cm and its weight should be 50 kg. The largest of the three elkhound breeds, he is known as an independent, energetic hunter who acts calmly and deliberately, but knows no fear.

What is striking about all three breeds belonging to the Spitz type is that they have remained almost unchanged in their external appearance for thousands of years.


Like its two relatives, the Norwegian Gray Elkhound’s weatherproof coat is short, thick, and spiky. He has a pronounced undercoat and the top coat is quite rough and dense. The hair may be curled at the nape of the neck. Any shade of gray with shading and lighter tones on the underside is acceptable for coat color.

In the US, lighter shades of gray are the norm in the Elkhound, but in their homeland, they are very often dark gray and have an almost black face with a mask. Despite its dense and weatherproof fur, the elkhound is surprisingly not affected by extreme heat and tropical climates.


Today’s elkhound is very likely similar to the Nordic dogs that accompanied humans as early as the Stone Age. Skeleton finds of dogs dating back to this period have been made in Norway, which is almost identical to the bone structure of the modern moose dog. There is evidence that Nordic hunters used elkhounds for hunting as early as a thousand years before Christ. They were most likely also used as herding and sled dogs, at least temporarily.

Even today, for example, the Norwegian Minister of Defense has the right to confiscate private moose dogs in the event of war. These are then to pull military equipment on sleds through the snow in teams. In later times, elkhounds accompanied the Vikings on their raids across the seas to foreign shores.

These dogs were valued as excellent workers throughout Scandinavia. Propagated without a pedigree or even a uniform standard set by a breeding association, regional minor differences developed, but they were well-bred. Finally, the FCI divided the elkhounds into the three different breeds mentioned. They are now all mainly bred and hunted by Swedish hunters in the district of Jämtland.

Hunting Properties

After being used for centuries to hunt rabbits, deer, lynx, wolves, bears, and moose, they are now increasingly used in paddocks. They try to drive the game they have found towards the hunter. Since they are not hounds or hounds, they do not pursue game over long distances, but usually stay close to the hunter.

They try to cut off small game such as wild chickens, martens, or stoats or to drive them towards the hunter’s gun. The elkhound’s excellent sense of smell enables it to track its prey without making a sound. A larger game is pretended to be attacked by the elkhound in order to stop the game.

Essence & Character

He has a naturally cheerful character and is particularly fond of children. Although the Elkhound is easy to train, it is an independent and confident dog that will never be 100% obedient. Its long history as a hunting dog makes it necessary that it gets plenty of exercise and exercise, otherwise, the innate hunting instinct could lead to problems in under-exercised dogs. The elkhound is very hardy, determined, and courageous. After all, once he’s caught the game he needs to be able to dodge the sharp antlers of a moose or the deadly claws of a bear.

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