OVERVIEW OF THE NORWEGIAN ELKHOUND The Norwegian Elkhound is neither a hound nor was it meant to hunt elk. Its original Norwegian name, Norsk Elghund, means ‘moose dog’, which is a much more accurate description of the breed. These Norwegian dogs with their magnificent thick furry coats and exceptional stamina were originally used to hunt […]
OVERVIEW OF THE NORWEGIAN ELKHOUND
The Norwegian Elkhound is neither a hound nor was it meant to hunt elk. Its original Norwegian name, Norsk Elghund, means ‘moose dog’, which is a much more accurate description of the breed. These Norwegian dogs with their magnificent thick furry coats and exceptional stamina were originally used to hunt moose and game. They can be traced back centuries when used by Vikings as hunting and guard dogs.
They are now rarely used as hunting dogs but are energetic and protective watchdogs and tender-hearted, devoted family members. They are affectionate and will comfort you by placing their head on your lap when you’re feeling down. You can be assured that when you’re ready for an adventure, their tails will be wagging and they’ll be right by your side.
As devoted as they are, they’re not the type of dogs that will fetch the paper for you in the morning. They see themselves rather as coexisting with you than beneath you. These dogs are independent thinkers with a mind of their own. They do well in basic obedience but anything more than that may require plenty of treats.
Fully grown, the Norwegian Elkhound averages around 20.5 inches in height and weighs between 48 and 55 pounds. Their thick coats are typically varying shades of gray with black tipping in certain areas.
It is very important to train and socialize your Elkhound from a young age. If you don’t they’ll quickly take up the dominant role in your household. They do have a strong prey drive which can kick in if they’re not socialized early on.
A house with a big fenced yard is ideal. If you live in a smaller space, be aware that they are barkers and the relationship with your neighbors may never be the same.
If you are thinking of inviting an Elkhound to your home, make sure you can give your new family member plenty of outdoor exercise and adventures. There’s no doubt that you’ll have a terrific watchdog and devoted family member who does well with children and loves plenty of attention.
NORWEGIAN ELKHOUND FOOD AND HEALTH
If you are buying a puppy from a breeder, make sure they provide you with health clearance certificates for your puppy and the parents. This proves that only healthy dogs are used for breeding and prevents the occurrence of hereditary diseases. For your Norwegian Elkhound, get clearances for hip and elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, thrombopenia, and von Willebrand’s disease as well as certification that their eyes are healthy.
Although healthy pups will not necessarily experience any illness, it is good to be aware of common conditions that can occur. Hypothyroidism is a thyroid disorder that can cause epilepsy, hair loss, lethargy, and various skin conditions. It can be treated with medication and adjustments in your pup’s diet.
Fanconi Syndrome is a hereditary disease to be aware of in Elkhounds. It affects the kidneys and leads to imbalanced levels of nutrients and hormones in the body. This eventually leads to muscle wasting and pain, vomiting, and is fatal. It generally starts with excessive urination and thirst. When caught early enough, it can be managed with medication, diet, and hydration.
Eye diseases that can occur in Elkhounds are Progressive Retinal Atrophy. This family of eye diseases causes gradual retina deterioration. Dogs initially become night-blind and later lose day vision. If their surroundings remain the same they can adapt well to their limited vision.
Elkhounds are food-motivated and are very good at eyeing out the chunk of steak on your plate. They can quickly become obese if fed table scraps and too many treats (which will lead to serious health problems).
It is very important to keep a close eye on your pet pal’s diet. Avoid feeding them table scraps and remember to include the calories they get from training treats into their daily food allowance.
Your dog needs high-quality nutrition to ensure healthy development and shiny fur and to keep them satisfied. Although the amount of food will vary according to your pet’s activity levels, weight, and age, it is recommended to give an active adult Elkie between 2 and 2.5 cups of dry food daily. Food needs to be of high quality and rich in the right nutrients. Divide the daily allowance into two separate meals.
Puppies require different nutrient ratios and should only be given puppy formulas. The packaging will clearly state what age the dog food is intended for and how much to give your pup according to its weight.
If you prefer cooking meals for your adult dog, make sure they get a high-protein diet with lean meats, some veggies, and sweet potatoes. Some dogs love bananas as treats too. Ensure that the foods you give your pet are dog-friendly since there are many human foods including onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, chocolate, and certain nuts that are toxic to dogs. When introducing something new into their diet, always start with a small amount to see how their tummy reacts.
LEASHES AND COLLARS FOR YOUR NORWEGIAN ELKHOUND
Because of their independent spirit, Elkies can be hard to train. They don’t respond well to harsh training methods but they do need a firm hand and consistency for training to be effective. If you are not firm and consistent, be prepared for trouble.
Once trained as a puppy, they’ll be your most devoted activity buddy, always ready for a jog, hike, or long walk. They prefer cool weather and are happy to play in the snow for hours.
When you’re out in public, keep your pet on a leash. If their prey drive kicks in and they decide to go on the chase, you’ll come in a sore second place trailing behind.
A front-clip, V-neck harness is a good choice for your Elkhound. The V-neck strap prevents too much heat retention and matting of their coat. If your pet pal is already trained to walk nicely next to you (instead of taking you for a walk) a back-clip harness will also work. Some pups can, however, get into the habit of pulling you along if you start with a back-clip harness which offers a little less control.
There is also less chance of your pet pal wiggling out of a harness than a collar. Make sure the harness is comfortable and not too tight. Upsize it regularly as your puppy grows.
Collars do have their benefits but are generally best used for name tags and identification. The pressure that a collar exerts against your pup’s neck can cause severe harm to their throat and neck, and restrict blood flow causing serious long-term damage.
If you do decide to get a collar, check it daily while your puppy is growing and upsize as needed. Collars should be removed at night to allow the skin to breathe and to prevent hair knots and breakage. It will also lessen the chances of infections, abrasions, and rashes.
BEST CRATES, BEDS, AND DOG HOUSES FOR NORWEGIAN ELKHOUND
Although Elkhounds love being outdoors, they see themselves as part of the family and will want to be inside with you at night.
Crate training is important to teach them good manners, however, a crate should never be used as punishment and you should never leave your pet pal in there for a day. If your Elkie views their crate as a den of comfort where they can retreat, they will be more at ease spending time there to take a nap or when you are out.
Since Elkhounds shed quite a lot and are on the bigger side, it’s best to go for a metal or plastic crate rather than a soft fabric one that may be hard to clean. To make the crate comfortable, place a mattress inside and partially cover it with a soft blanket at night (if it’s where your pup is going to sleep).
The crate should have enough airflow and be big enough for your dog to move around easily. Puppies are still going to grow a fair amount, so consider getting a bigger crate than you need and sectioning it off inside while they are still small. As they grow, they should be able to stretch out comfortably, stand and turn around without any difficulty while all their accessories are inside.
When choosing a bed for your dog, get something that has a removable and machine-washable cover to make cleaning easy. A plush bed may feel silky soft, but if your dog’s hair constantly rubs off on the cover as it sheds, it will become an inconvenience if it is not easy to wash.
If your dog is a big chewer, make sure the fabric and construction of the bed are durable. Additionally, keep a chew toy around as the first option.
BEST TOYS FOR NORWEGIAN ELKHOUNDS
As we just mentioned, chew toys are a must for puppies. As they teeth, they start chewing whatever they can find to relieve itchy and swollen gums. Teething toys will save your furniture, shoes, and kids’ toys. Older dogs may also like rope or rubber chew toys. Chew toys for adult dogs can actually help maintain dental health by removing some plaque build-up, however, it is not a replacement for brushing their teeth.
Elkies love chasing balls, but won’t necessarily return them to you, so you may prefer throwing cheaper, environmentally friendly objects such as sticks before spending your pet budget on one-game wonders.
Rope toys for tug of war can be a good option and so are puzzle toys for mental stimulation. The fact that puzzle toys involve treats is a great incentive for Elkhounds to engage in the game. Where there’s a treat…there’s a way.
GROOMING INSIGHTS FOR NORWEGIAN ELKHOUND OWNERS
Elkhounds have thick double coats that are weather resistant and self-cleaning. If you brush them regularly they’ll stay fairly clean since the naturally occurring oils on their skin and coat expel dirt. Of course, if they roll in mud or dirt, they will need extra cleaning.
Their undercoat is wooly and soft while the top coat is short, thick, and smooth. Two or three times a year they blow their coats and shed heavily. During this time you’ll want to brush them daily or every two days. In general, a weekly brush will suffice.
Since they blow their coats, trimming is not necessary. Your Elkie really only needs to be washed when dirty. Washing them too much will strip their coat and skin of their natural oils which can cause dry skin, and infections and cause them to show dirt more quickly. Make sure you use a gentle dog-friendly shampoo when washing your pet.
Elkhounds can develop sebaceous cysts which form under their skin. In some cases, it may be necessary to have the cysts surgically removed. While doing your pup’s weekly grooming, always check their skin, eyes, ears, and paws to catch any infections before they become serious.
Get your pup used to being groomed at a young age. Brush their teeth regularly and ensure their nails are clipped by a professional if not worn down naturally. Make grooming a pleasant experience with lots of encouragement and praise. This will make your life much easier as your dog gets older. It will also allow vet checkups to run smoothly.
BEST NORWEGIAN ELKHOUND ACCESSORIES
To take care of your pet pal’s gorgeous coat we recommend you get a slicker brush or pin brush for weekly brushing, as well as a good hair dryer.
A slicker brush will allow you to get to the undercoat and remove dead and loose hairs before they get all over the house. A hairdryer is not only a good way to dry your pup quickly after a wash but it blows out dirt and loose hairs. It can also come in handy when you’ve been playing out in the snow and your pup needs a quick dry-off.
Since Elkies are very much treat-motivated, a treat pouch is a must-have for Elkhound owners, especially for training. The adjustable pouch clips around your waist and features waterproof zipper pockets to keep waste bags, treats, keys, cash, and your phone. There are also rings to attach a leash so you can walk your pup hands-free.
To learn more about breeds like the Norwegian Elkhound, check out our breed hub page.