Norwegian Elkhound Grey

Other names: Norwegian Moose Dog, Grey Elk Dog, Norskelghund, Grå norsk elghund, Gray Norwegian Elkhound, Small Grey Elk Dog, Harmaa norjanhirvikoira, Norwegian Elkhound

Norwegian Elkhound Grey
Norwegian Elkhound Grey

The Norwegian Elkhound is an ancient spitz breed. The national dog of Norway, the Elkhound is a revered and skillful hunting dog. A brave and fearless animal, they’re used to track moose, bears, elk, and even wolves. This dog is exceptionally loyal and tends to form a close bond with one member of the family. Thanks to its sharp (and very loud) bark, the Elkhound also makes an excellent watchdog. 


Key facts about the Norwegian Elkhound Grey

  • Life expectancy : Between 12 and 14 years
  • Temperament : Playful, Hunter
  • Size : Medium
  • Type of coat : Long, Hard
  • Price : Between £1000 and £1500

FCI Group

FCI Group

Group 5 - Spitz and primitive types


Section 2 : Nordic Hunting Dogs

Physical characteristics of the Norwegian Elkhound Grey

Adult size

Female dog Between 17 and 18 in
Male dog Between 18 and 19 in


Female dog Between 44 and 55 lb
Male dog Between 44 and 55 lb

Coat colour

Grey and dark grey. 

Type of coat

Harsh, straight topcoat. Soft and dense undercoat. 

Eye colour



Medium sized spitz breed. Sturdy build with a square body and large head. Thick fur and bushy tail.  Alert, intelligent expression. Elongated muzzle.



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A loyal and affectionate dog that enjoys lots of contact with its owner. Much less affectionate around strangers.


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An energetic, bold character that loves to play. The Elkhound is a very intelligent dog, so games must be interesting.


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Older Elkhounds are quite calm, but younger dogs, and especially puppies, are very boisterous. Has a tendency to jump up, which can unnerve people who are less familiar with dogs. 


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A very intelligent dog with a strong and independent mind. Keeping them mentally stimulated is just as important as keeping them well exercised. 


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This dog was bred to hunt elk, moose, and bears. Has a very high prey drive. A fearless hunter. 

Fearful / wary of strangers

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A very confident dog that will rarely get scared by anyone or anything. However, they can be a little suspicious of strangers. Because they’re so loyal to the pack, they view strangers as outsiders, and a potential threat.  


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Independent and very strong-willed. A dominant personality, especially around other dogs. 

Behaviour of the Norwegian Elkhound Grey

Tolerates solitude

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A social dog that requires lots of human contact and company. These dogs have been working alongside people for thousands of years. They’re not suited to solitude. 

Easy to train / obedience

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Responds well to reward-based training methods, but requires a firm and confident handler. Consistency and structure are really important when training these highly-intelligent animals.


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Known as a very vocal breed. The Elkhound has a loud and very distinct bark. 

Tendency to run away

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An extremely loyal dog. Very unlikely to run away. 


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This dog is prone to separation anxiety, which can lead to destructive behaviour.

Greedy / Gluttony

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No issues with overeating.

Guard dog

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Thanks to its loud and distinct bark, the Norwegian Elkhound makes an excellent watchdog. A natural protector. 

First dog

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First time dog owners will struggle to handle the Elkhound. These dogs are strong-minded, willful, and can easily take advantage of a “weak” handler. 


Norwegian Elkhound Grey in a flat

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A flat is a really bad environment for the Elkhound. Keeping one locked up in such a small space will lead to behavioural problems and mental health issues.

Need for exercise / Sporty

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This dog needs around two hours of exercise every day. The Elkhound is an outdoor dog. Owners need a large garden or should live near the countryside.

Travelling / easy to transport

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Easy enough to transport by car, although longer trips should be broken up into stages. The Elkhound will need to stretch its legs, otherwise it will get bored and frustrated. 


Norwegian Elkhound Grey and cats

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The Elkhound is a real working dog with a very high-prey drive. Not suitable for families who have cats.

Norwegian Elkhound Grey and dogs

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The Elkhound is naturally competitive and can be aggressive. This can lead to conflict with other dogs. 

Norwegian Elkhound Grey and children

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Suited for families with older children who know how to behave around dogs. Far too boisterous and powerful to be left alone with toddlers. 

Norwegian Elkhound Grey and the elderly

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This dog can be a real handful, especially during its first few years. Requires over two hours of exercise every day. Not the best choice for elderly dog owners.  


The initial cost of a Norwegian Elkhound puppy is between £1,000 to £1,500. The average cost to keep one of these dogs (including vet bills, insurance, and food) is between £50 to £100 a month. 


The Elkhound has a thick, profuse coat that needs brushing on a weekly basis. 


Sheds throughout the year. Very heavy shedding during the Spring

Nutrition of the Norwegian Elkhound Grey

4 cups of high-quality dog food per day. 

Health of the Norwegian Elkhound Grey

Life expectancy

A very healthy and well-bred dog, although they do have a genetic predisposition to thyroid problems. Their average life expectancy is between 12 and 14 years.

Strong / robust

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Bred to survive in harsh natural environments. Very strong. Very robust. Well-built, muscular dog with lots of stamina.

Withstand heat

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Sheds during the spring, which helps keep them cool in summer. However, they will struggle in warmer countries, especially during very hot summers.

Withstand cold

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They have a thick, double-layered coat that provides protection against the cold, the rain, and the wind. No problems surviving the cold. 

Tendency to put on weight

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Although the Elkhound has an average appetite, they’re prone to rapid weight-gain as they approach old age. This is due to problems with their thyroid gland, which slows down the Elkhounds metabolism. 

Common illnesses

Good to know

Young Elkhounds are very boisterous, and as puppies, they border on the hyperactive. They need a tremendous amount of exercise and stimulation. 

Elkhounds love cold weather, especially the snow. 

The Elkhound can be very stubborn and disobedient. They can run rings around less experienced dog handlers.

Origins and history

The Norwegian Elkhound is an ancient breed that was developed around 3,000 years ago. It’s a result of a female wolf and male dog hybridization that occured long after wild wolves were first domesticated. It seems that Scandinavian tribes  were looking for a way to improve the existing hunting breeds by crossing them with wolves. And they certainly succeeded with the Norwegian Elkhound. This dog has been hunting alongside humans ever since and still helps hunters track large game such as moose, elk, and bears. This highly prized dog was rarely seen outside of Norway until the late 19th Century. It was officially recognised by the Kennel Club in 1901. 


Ice, Val, May, Laurie

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