Known as the “Viking Dog” the Norwegian Elkhound’s (Norsk Elghund in his native Norway) origin is cloaked in the folklore and legend of Norse Mythology. As rugged as the land from which he sprang, the Norwegian Elkhound was a cherished possession of his Viking masters. His long history has centered on his use as companion, guardian and hunter. In common with other northern breeds, the elkhound is believed to descend from the Torvmosehund (swamp dog). It is believed that the swamp dog first appeared in Denmark and was domesticated for use as a hunter of small and large game.
A brief histoy of the Viking Dog
Excavation of Viking grave sites in southwestern Norway has yielded the skeletons of dogs structurally similar to the modern elkhound. These skeletons have been dated to the period 4000 to 5000 B.C. During the time of the vikings, the elkhound sailed and fought at the side of his master. In the event his owner was killed in battle, the elkhound was sacrificed to enter Valhalla with the warrior. In the famous Viste Cave at Jaeren in western Norway, archaeological remains were found dating from 5000 to 4000 BC. Of these remains, four dog skeletons were found, two of which were identified by Professor Brinchmann of the Bergen Museum in Bergen, Norway as of definite Elkhound type breed. It’s believed the Elkhound had begun a working relationship with mankind even before the Viking era.
Early elkhounds were used for a variety of farm purposes including guarding other animals from the threat of wolves and bear. As the threat imposed by predatory animals decreased, the elkhound was adapted to his more familiar function as a hunter.
Elkhounds have a long history in Norwegian rural districts where they have been used by farmers, herdsmen and hunters to serve as watchdogs, guardians of flocks, and as trackers of big game. The Norwegian Elkhound is truely a Viking Dog.