Norwegian Elkhound (Formerly Grahund)

The Norwegian Elkhound has only been listed as such since the early 1980s but has a long history as a domestic and hunting dog in Scandinavia. As the name suggests, the dogs were used to hunt big game and are characterized by their particular fearlessness. If you live in the country and are looking for a capable farm dog, the Norwegian Elkhound could be the right companion for you.

Traits of Black and Gray Elkhounds: What Makes the Two Types of Norwegian Elkhound Different?

The gray Norwegian Elkhound differs from the black in many ways, which is why the types are listed as separate breeds in the FCI breed standard. They are described as a typical tip. The gray variant reaches an average height at the withers of 52 cm (males) and 49 cm (females). With an ideal height at the withers of 47 cm for males and 44 cm for females, the black one is significantly smaller and built a little narrower overall. As the names suggest, the dog breeds are easily distinguished by their coat colors.

  • FCI: Norwegian Elkhound grey
  • FCI: Norwegian Elkhound black

Similar and related dog breeds

  • Norwegian Buhund: Smaller and quieter(bu = hut); the fur is white, light brown, or black.
  • Norwegian Lundehund: Two or three colored with dark-colored lips and eyelids, six toes on front and hind paws.
  • Jämthund: Larger and stockier, coat color light to dark gray with white markings.
  • German Spitz: The so-called Wolfsspitz differs from the Norwegian Elkhound mainly in its fluffy coat structure.

The Norwegian Elkhound from head to tail

  • What is striking about spitz-like dogs is their long muzzle. The muzzle of the elkhound is as long as the skull and tapers slightly towards the tip. The head and muzzle of the black Norwegian Elkhound appear almost wedge-shaped. The black markings on the face emphasize the friendly expression of the dogs.
  • The eyes are dark and almond-shaped with the corners of the eyes clearly visible on the outer rims.
  • The ears are set high on the skull and stand out stiffly. They are relatively thick and can hardly be folded.
  • The body of the gray Norwegian Elkhound appears almost square and very strong. The belly line of the black type is a little more drawn up than that of the gray type. In both types, the neck is framed by a stately collar, the skin lies flat against the body.
  • The tail carried over the back, which always remains curled, is characteristic. In adult dogs, the tail cannot be straightened. She is well-haired but not feathered.

The fur colors of the Norwegian Elkhound

  • Grey: Two-tone top coat with black tips and gray undercoat, lighter and solid color on collar, belly, and underside of tail. The dogs also wear black masks.
  • Black: Solid black, small white markings on chest are allowed.

The Elkhound is the Original Breed of Dog: Side by Side with a Man

The earliest archaeological finds of cultural objects in Scandinavia indicate that Spitz, with close resemblances to today’s Norwegian Elkhound, have lived and hunted alongside humans for thousands of years. In the Middle Ages, the Dyrehund (animal dog) was highly prized as a hunting dog for any type of prey. It was not until around 1900 that the animals began to be bred outside of Norway. In the 1930s, the dogs almost became extinct – today’s population goes back to only four animals.

Norwegian Elkhound and Swedish Gråhund – what’s the difference?

The friendly hunting dogs have also always been very popular in Sweden. In the FCI, gray Norwegian Elkhounds were initially listed under the Swedish designation Gråhund. In 1981, Swedish Gråhunds and Norwegian Elkhounds were merged under one name because there were no distinctive differences between the types. The origin of the breed is now clearly attributed to Norway.

The Hunting Dog with the Warm Nature

Norwegian Elkhounds are alert and brave without being aggressive. They don’t avoid confrontations, but they never attack unprovoked. They are therefore not particularly well suited as watchdogs or protection dogs – they behave suspiciously towards strangers, but they always remain friendly. Their friendly nature makes them suitable companion dogs in the family; on farms, they can also live outdoors in winter.

Characteristics of the Norwegian Elkhound: This is what the Elkhound is known for

  • They are very persistent and can work for hours in the snow and cold. Even sub-zero temperatures can hardly harm them.
  • The dogs are not intimidated by anything and carry out their tasks even under difficult conditions. However, they must first learn obedience.
  • They are intelligent and quickly grasp connections. Many elkhounds learn how to open doors and drawers or outsmart locks just by observing and thinking.
  • For hunting and farm dogs, they are extremely friendly and sweet.

Training the Norwegian Elkhound: A Matter of Patience and Dedication

Norwegian elkhounds are very good hunters – they track down grouse and meadow deer, approach silently, and finally pin down the prey with loud barking. If the dogs are kept as companions and house dogs, their skills are almost superfluous. In order for your dog to develop into a well-balanced family member, you should give it the right amount of exercise in everyday life. Socialization also plays an important role in young elkhounds to avoid stalking wildlife, cyclists, or even cars.

This is how socialization works in young elkhounds

Between the eighth and twelfth week of life, your puppy should get to know as many everyday stimuli as possible. These include, above all, different types of people and animals. You can prepare your dog for everyday encounters in adult life with various training units:

  • Puppy socialization training sessions
  • Visit zoos and animal parks
  • Ride your dog on the train or bus
  • Practice running in tight streets and in the countryside
  • Get your dog used to going to restaurants and beer gardens

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