|Other names||Norsk elghund|
Grå norsk elghund
Gray Norwegian Elkhound
Small Grey Elk Dog
Norwegian Moose Dog
|Notes||The FCI divides this into two breeds,|
Grey (242) and Black (268).
|Dog (domestic dog)|
The Norwegian Elkhound is one of the Northern Spitz-type breed of dog and is the National Dog of Norway. The Elkhound has served as a hunter, guardian, herder, and defender. It is known for its courage in tracking and hunting moose and other large game, such as bears or wolves. The Norwegian Elkhound was first presented at a dog exhibition in Norway in 1877.
The AKC breed name "Norwegian Elkhound" is a direct translation from its original Norwegian name Norsk elghund, meaning "Norwegian moose dog." The breed's object in the hunt is to independently track down and hold the moose at bay—jumping in and out toward the moose, distracting its attention, while signaling to the hunters by barking very loudly—until the hunter who follows the sound can arrive to shoot it. The dog will only bark while the moose is stationary, but it can also slowly drive the moose towards shooters lying in wait. The Norwegian Elkhound is also used on a leash. In this mode of hunting, the dog leads the hunter in the direction of the moose while keeping quiet.
The breed falls under the mitochondrial DNA sub-clade referred to as d1 that is only found in northern Scandinavia. It is the result of a female wolf-male dog hybridization that occurred post-domestication. Subclade d1 originated 4,800–3,000 years ago and includes all Sami-related breeds: Finnish Lapphund, Swedish Lapphund, Lapponian Herder, Jämthund, Norwegian Elkhound and Hällefors Elkhound. The maternal wolf sequence that contributed to these breeds has not been matched across Eurasia and its branch on the phylogenetic tree is rooted in the same sequence as the 33,000 year-old Altai dog (not a direct ancestor).
|Norwegian Elkhound appearance|
|Build:||medium, sturdy and squarely built|
|Weight:||44-51 lbs (20–23 kg)|
|Height:||19.5–20.5 inches (50–52 cm)|
|Coat:||Coarse, straight, with soft undercoat|
|Color:||Black and white coloring, often noted as grey or silver|
|Head:||Broad and wedge-shaped with a defined stop|
|Eyes:||Dark brown with a keen, friendly expression|
|Tail:||Rolled tightly over back|
|Limbs:||Straight and parallel|
|Life span:||14–16 years|
According to The Kennel Club breed standard ideally the dog stands about 19.5–20.5 inches (50–52 cm) high and weighs up to 23 kilograms (51 lb). Its grey, white, and black coat is made up of two layers: an underlying dense smooth coat ranging from black at the muzzle, ears, and tip of its tail to silvery grey on its legs, tail, and underbody and an overlying black-tipped protective guard coat. An ideal Elkhound has a tightly curled tail. The Elkhound is a medium-sized dog and extremely hardy.
Norwegian Elkhounds are bred for hunting large game, such as wolf, bear and moose. Although the breed is strong and hardy, the dogs typically have an inseparable bond with their masters and are quite loyal. All Elkhounds have a sharp loud bark which makes them suitable as watchdogs.
Norwegian Elkhounds are loyal to their "pack" and make excellent family dogs given proper attention. They are bold, playful, independent, alert, extremely intelligent, and, at times, a bit boisterous. They rank 54th in Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs, being of above average working/obedience intelligence.
Norwegian Elkhounds sometimes carry a genetic predisposition to suffer from progressive retinal atrophy, or, like many medium and large breeds, hip dysplasia, renal problems, and cysts, particularly in later life; they are also prone to thyroid problems. Overall, however, they are a hardy breed with few health problems.
Elkhounds are prone to rapid weight gain and must not be overfed.
They have a lifespan of 12–16 years. There have been reports of elkhounds living to be 18 years old and older.
In Medieval times, it was known as a dyrehund, meaning "animal-dog" in Norwegian, and was highly prized as a hunting dog but rarely seen or bred outside of Norway until its appearance in England in the 19th century. It was officially recognized by The Kennel Club in 1901.