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The Norwegian Elkhound

I imagine there are many people out there looking for the perfect pet to complete there loving family. There are of course literally hundreds of breeds in all colors and sizes from all over the world for a person to choose from. Many people will decide on the well known Golden Retriever or lovable and cute Dachshund, but there is one breed of dog not many people consider when choosing their family pet. The Norwegian Elkhound, though not well known, can make a great addition to the family.

Once believed to be the oldest breed of dog, the Norwegian Elkhound has definitely stood the test of time. The breed developed over 6000 years ago in Norway, and to this day it is considered to be the National Dog of that country. They were the hunting companions of the Vikings and it is widely believed they were domesticated during the Stone Age. Remains of Norwegian Elkhounds have been discovered at many ancient Viking burial sites that have dated back as far as 5000 B.C. Because of this, they are sometimes referred to as “Dog of the Vikings”.

In those early days they were used as hunting and tracking dogs. They are an incredibly brave breed, and this is evident by the fact they often hunted bear, elk, and moose. The name, Norwegian Elkhound, comes from the term “Norsk Elghund” which is Norwegian for moose dog. They became fashionable in Europe in the 1800’s, and were recognized by The Kennel Club as early as 1901.

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They are a medium size dog usually weighing around 55 lbs. They normally stand around 20.5 inches tall when fully grown. They have two coats which is a common trait for cold weather dogs. The outside coat is gray and is often speckled with some black at the tips. It is thick, hard, and almost wiry as it is primarily used for weather resistance. The underlying coat is soft, dense, and silver in color. The muzzle, ears, and tip of the tail are black. The most distinguishing characteristic of the Norwegian Elkhounds are their tightly curled tails which they carry over their backs.

Norwegian Elkhounds have a great temperament for a pet. They are an extremely loyal breed especially to their “pack” which makes them excellent family dogs. They tend to be bold and alert which lends them to also making good watch dogs. They are also inquisitive by nature and are energetic dogs to say the least.

The Norwegian Elkhound is best suited as an outside dog. They do have lots of energy and according to many breeders, should be walked for 20-30 minutes twice a day if possible. Because of the rough environment of their origins, Elkhounds also have a stamina that is unmatched by other breeds. They also tend to love children, and become protective of them.

The life expectancy of the average Norwegian Elkhound is between 12 and 15 years. They do have a tendency to have rapid weight gain as they love to snack. This is one area prospective owners should be aware of. They also have a genetic predisposition for Progressive Retinal Atrophy. Like many dogs of the same size they can also have problems with hip dysplasia, renal problems, and cysts. These are not common problems, but should be considered by any would be owner.

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Norwegian Elkhounds are adventurous dogs at heart and can have a problem with running off. This is often due to boredom. As mentioned earlier they work best as an outside dog, and having an appropriate sized yard to burn off its energy in is an important factor when deciding if a Norwegian Elkhound is right for you.

Choosing the family dog is a big and important decision. There are many factors that need to be examined before selecting the appropriate breed that will be right for you and your family. With that in mind, after you have done the research and examined the many different types of breeds, you just might be surprised to learn the perfect family dog for you is the Norwegian Elkhound.