Also known as the Norwegian Elkhound (originally Elghund, meaning "elk dog"), this breed is probably the oldest and most unchanged member of the Spitz family, which includes the Akita, Keeshond, Chow Chow, and American Eskimo breeds. The oldest evidence of the breed's relationship with man dates to about 4000-5000 BC. Skeletons of elkhound-type dogs were discovered at the Viste Cave site at Jaeren in Norway.

Best known for being the "dog of the Vikings," appearing in many Norse and other legends as companions to various mythical figures, these compact, tough dogs were and still are used as trackers, watchdogs, sheepdogs, and sled dogs. Like other Spitz breeds they have a nearly limitless stamina, and are intelligent, though they are generally not pack animals like Huskies or Akitas. They are (sometimes fiercely) loyal to their families, but are a bit high-strung and males should be kept separate to prevent fighting.

They are gentle around children, but are excitable and tend to be "naughty," though never vicious or violent to humans. Their thick coats allow them to thrive in the subarctic climate of the Scandanavian countries, but they have also been bred in Great Britain and the United States with some success. Although the elkhound is not a huge dog, males measuring about 52 cm and weighing in at about 23 kg (bitches slightly less), a single dog is often capable of tracking and holding a full-grown elk (which is a pretty monstrous animal) until the hunter arrives. They have also been used to track wolves, moose, reindeer, bear, badger, and lynx.

As a show breed, the Norwegian Hunters Association first showed the dog in 1877, shortly thereafter establishing a breeding standard, and stud books and records. In 1923, the British Elkhound Society was founded, and in 1930 the Norwegian Elkhound Association of America followed. I believe the elkhound is classified as a Non-sporting dog for show (as are most spitz dogs), but if anyone can correct me, please do.
written for wertperch's nodeshell challenge

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