The type of dog represented by the Norwegian Elkhound Grey can be traced back several millennia. It is an exceptionally versatile dog, and a highly cooperative hunting dog, especially for elk and bear hunting.
Photographer: Vibeke Brath
Norway formulated the first breed standard for the Grey Norwegian Elkhound in 1905, and thus got a head start on Sweden with regard to developing the breed. Since then, varying breed characteristics have been emphasised throughout the years.
Today, it can be said that a uniform type has been developed. The Grey Norwegian Elkhound has been the flagship of the native Norwegian dog breeds, and to this day the Grey Elkhound adorns the logo of the Norwegian Ken¬nel Club. There is presently extensive cooperation between Norway, Sweden and Finland regarding the breed’s conformation and hunting abilities.
Furthermore, the Grey Norwegian Elkhound is also a popular breed in the USA. In recent years, the Grey Norwegian Elkhound has become a natural part of family life – a fact that is reflected by the temperament of today’s dogs. The Grey Elkhound is a sociable dog that is loyal to family members and extremely cooperative, a trait that is clearly seen when hunting out in the woods. Fortunately, the myth that a good hunting dog should be fierce no longer prevails, and today’s Grey Norwegian Elkhound is just like any other dog in its daily surroundings.
The Grey Norwegian Elkhound is the most popular elkhound breed in Norway. Its population has seemingly increased in step with the growing elk population, from 30 registered puppies per year in the 1920s, a few hundred in the 1930s to more than 700 by the 1950s. It is now the most popular international elkhound breed, with about 1000 registered puppies per year, and is found on five continents – the majority in Norway, Sweden, Finland and the USA.
Appearance and size
The Grey Norwegian Elkhound has a proud posture, and should be lightly built without being slender. The breed should not be too heavy, and above all, must be squarely built. The breed standard has changed very little since the first one was published. The standards are still the same, as can be seen in today’s breeding goal: ”specific emphasis on a dark mask, small ears, squarely-built, strong body, high-set tail that is firmly curled over the centre line, thick, grey coat with no sooty colours, well angulated and effortless movements”. For males, the ideal size at the withers is 52 cm, for bitches 49 cm.
The Grey Norwegian Elkhound is highly esteemed as a big game dog, especially for elk hunting. The breed was earlier, and still is, used for bear hunting. In Norway, Grey Elkhounds are used both as leashed and off-leash tracking dogs. The introduction of hunting trials significantly affected the selection of breeding dogs.
The requirement for breeding dogs in Norway is having won a first prize (graded) at a hun¬ting trial for males and a prize at a hunting trial for bitches. To become a hunting champion, a dog must have achieved 3 first prizes (graded) at trials, of which one must be a two-day test. On such tests, the dog must at least win a prize one day and win a first prize the other. In addition, the dog must have won a first prize at two shows.
Breed registration statistics
Below you can find the registration statistics for the Norwegian Elkhound Grey in the Nordic countries from 1990 onwards.