If you love having a smart dog around your home, then a Norwegian Elkhound is the perfect pet for you. They are one of the most intelligent breeds that are available today. Originating from Scandinavia, the breed is an old Spitz-type dog that is dominant, energetic, and extremely wily.
It is also critical to know that even though there is “hound” in the name of the breed, the Norwegian Elkhound is not a true hound breed. Their name in the native language literally means “Moose Dog.”
If you’re thinking about bringing a Norwegian Elkhound into your home, then here are some of the pros and cons to consider with this breed.
List of the Pros of a Norwegian Elkhound
1. They are a fearless breed.
When you own a Norwegian Elkhound, then you have a dog that is willing to go anywhere with you. They love to try new experiences. Although they are perfectly satisfied to hang out at home to protect their domain, you’ll see more tail-wagging joy when you take a walk down a nature trail. These dogs do not like to be stuck in the same routine. They love the outdoors and seem at their happiest whenever they get to be brave.
2. Norwegian Elkhounds have excellent sight.
These dogs can spot the smallest details in the shadows, whether you’re taking them hunting in the woods or letting them spot squirrels in the backyard. They react quickly when something is spotted, either to retrieve or protect, depending on what the circumstances happen to be. For some families, that is why they make an excellent guard dog. This breed will be the first to spot someone or something lurking outside, then they move fast to ensure that their family is protected from harm.
3. They have superb hearing.
The senses of the Norwegian Elkhound are highly developed. They can hear targets which are several miles away, thanks to multiple generations of work developing hunting skills. If there is any type of prey that you’re hunting, this breed will find it. Although they were trained to hunt moose, then elk, owners can hunt rabbits, badgers, foxes, birds, deer, and anything else you might be authorized to hunt.
4. Norwegian Elkhounds are very energetic.
This breed takes charge of a situation because they always want to be on the move. Their independence is one of their greatest attributes, offering them the energy required to go anywhere or do anything. They know how to communicate with their owners or other hunters to let you know that what you’re hunting is around. You will find them running off in the pursuit of any idea, then coming back when you need them. They were initially bred to accept a nomadic way of life, and those traits are still part of the physical attributes of the breed.
5. This breed is extremely loyal to their family.
You will struggle to find a dog that is more loyal than the Norwegian Elkhound. Even though their stubbornness is marked as a disadvantage for the breed, that personality trait is also why they are so loyal. They enjoy close family bonding moments, lots of attention, and daily opportunities for playing. This breed is dedicated to their home, willing to protect it at all costs. Elkhounds understand their value, embrace their strength, and expect to be rewarded when a job is done well.
6. They are a very people-friendly breed of dog.
Because Norwegian Elkhounds are active dogs, they need to expend their energy every day. If you keep them inside, you’ll find this breed can become a little belligerent or disrespectful. Give them time outside to run and play, then you’ll have a dog that is ready to snuggle up with you as you’re relaxing for the evening.
7. Norwegian Elkhounds never back down from a fight.
Their bravery extends to all dimensions. When exploring how dedicated this breed is to the hunt, some dogs have crashed through plate glass to attack their prey. They won’t back down from a bull elk, barking loudly enough to encourage an attack so that hunters can find the correct location. If intruders are coming into their home, no treat is going to stop this breed from doing its job. They alert their masters whenever trouble is near with a voice that echoes loudly, wherever it happens to be.
8. There are multiple coat color options from which to choose.
Most purebred Norwegian Elkhounds grow into a coat that is either black and gray or black and silver. Some dogs develop a reverse trend, where there is more silver or gray than black in their fur. There are some who develop a coat that is tri-color too, incorporating white or gray with the silver and black tones.
If you find an Elkhound with a coat that is all black, then it is from a separate breed. There are no other varieties of the Norwegian Elkhound, but some people do call this breed “gray” to distinguish them from the all-black breed.
9. They do not grow to be very large dogs.
The average height for a fully-grown Norwegian Elkhound is about 20 inches for males, with female dogs about an inch less. Full-grown males may weigh up to 60 pounds, even when they are active every day. Full-grown females weigh about 10 pounds less. Some breeders might say that they have a miniature Elkhound, but it is not an official designation. Smaller members of this breed are either still puppies, the runt of the litter, or a hybrid dog.
List of the Cons of a Norwegian Elkhound
1. This breed does not do well with other pets.
If you have other dogs at home already, a Norwegian Elkhound will usually fit right in with the pack. You might see aggressive tendencies at first because this breed prefers to be in the Alpha position. Once everyone settles into their new role, you’ll have peace at home again. With cats, however, it is a different story.
This breed loves to chase cats, and they will treat them as prey when they are caught. Unless you get your Norwegian Elkhound as a new puppy, it should be in a cat-free home. They will also chase and kill other small pets, such as guinea pigs and rabbits.
2. They are not a hypoallergenic breed.
Because of their initial breeding location, the Norwegian Elkhound goes through two full coat cycles each year. They have a summer coat and a winter coat. That means shedding is a major issue in homes that own this breed. You can temper this issue a little with daily grooming, especially when the new coat is growing in. For those with allergies to dogs, this breed should not be considered as an option. They are shedding constantly.
3. Norwegian Elkhounds need a lot of room to run.
Apartment living is not the right option for this breed. You wouldn’t be able to take your Norwegian Elkhound on enough walks to expel their energy. That would likely lead to destructive behaviors in the home, guaranteeing that you’d lose your security deposit when it was time to move. This breed requires a large yard and wide-open spaces to enjoy time to run. They prefer their own space over a dog park. If you have public lands nearby where you could let the dog run, that would be a great option to consider.
4. This breed can jump very high.
Even though the Norwegian Elkhound doesn’t look like much of a jumper, their muscular frame allows them to achieve considerable airtime. You cannot keep this breed contained with a standard six-foot fence. Even an eight-foot fence can be conquered with adult members of this breed.
To properly contain a Norwegian Elkhound, you must either have a ten-foot fence at minimum or use an interior overhang on the fence which prevents them from being able to jump over it. If you put this breed into a standard dog run that doesn’t have a roof, they’ll figure out a way to be free in no time at all.
5. They love to bark loudly and often.
Norwegian Elkhounds are very conversational. You’ll find them ready for a chat at all hours of the day. They will also communicate to you when hunting to let you know when something is near. In rural locations, this concern isn’t much of an issue. If you live in an urban or suburban home, however, you will find that their loud, boisterous bark will eventually annoy your neighbors. They will let you know that something is needed from you, then not stop until you provide them with what is wanted.
6. Norwegian Elkhounds can be difficult to train.
When you bring a dog from this breed home, you must work to have some buy-in with obedience and training. If a Norwegian Elkhound doesn’t want to do something, you’re not going to be able to force them to learn. They are dedicated to who they are and what they know. You must be consistent, patient, and offer meaningful rewards to get the attention of the dog.
Unlike other breeds, the Norwegian Elkhound doesn’t care if you get impatient or angry. They prefer to do things their way. That level of stubbornness is frustrating for dog owners who are used to the compliance of other breeds.
7. This breed loves to go exploring.
What makes the Norwegian Elkhound unique as a breed is its desire for total independence. Your dog will never be happier than the days when you have them off-leash, exploring the woods as you fulfill your hunting tags. Don’t be surprised if your dog runs off on its own, refusing to listen to your commands to return. They follow their natural instincts, conserving their strength for the moments when they need to be up for battle. If you want a dog who will always be by your side, then this is not the breed for you.
8. They never back down.
Although this can be a positive trait, it can be a negative one as well under specific circumstances. If a Norwegian Elkhound identifies someone or something as a potential intruder, its natural instincts kick into high gear. It will attack other dogs, pets, or people who stray onto your property if there is even the smallest thought that harm could come to their family. Once the decision is made, they don’t back down from the fight they’ve initiated.
These Norwegian Elkhound pros and cons take a look at what is required to form a successful relationship with this breed. They are high energy dogs who demand a lot of attention. Their intelligence is one of their best assets, but it also contributes to higher levels of stubbornness which could be problematic for some owners. Evaluate each key point to determine if this breed might be the best option for your home today.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.