Siberian Husky Vs Norwegian Elkhound: Breed Comparison

If you’re choosing between a husky vs Norwegian elkhound it’s vital to learn all about the two breeds and how they compare, as they are both not ideal pets for first-time owners.

Both of these breeds are highly energetic and require an experienced owner who can meet their exercise needs whilst training them properly.

Before we dive into the detailed comparison between these two breeds, here’s a quick rundown of the key points:

An infographic summarising the key differences and similarities between huskies and elkhounds

Siberian Husky Overview

Huskies were bred by the Chukchi people of Siberia to assist with pulling sleds over long distances.

Huskies have a pack mentality and were not used for guarding or hunting, but rather as a functional part of a pack to work.

Huskies retain a large capacity for exercise due to this and like to be around other dogs due to their pack mentality.

They are very intelligent but difficult to train as they can be stubborn and independent.

They have a thick double coat that requires regular grooming and are not suited for being left alone as they will get bored easily and can develop destructive behaviors.

Norwegian Elkhound Overview

As their name suggests, Norwegian elkhounds were initially bred to hunt elks and other large game. During hunting, they would run for long periods of time and corner the prey and bark loudly to alert the others.

In modern times, the Norwegian elkhound has become quite a common pet, especially in places like Norway where it is the national dog.

They are great watchdogs and have almost endless stamina. They are also not particularly interested in pleasing their owners, a trait found amongst many hounds, but once they form a bond with their owners they are inseparable.

These dogs are not for first-time owners as they require good discipline to keep them in check, otherwise, they can quickly take over the house if you are not careful.

Their strong prey drive also leads them to chase after other animals without much thought, and they will not listen if you try to recall them.

Difference In Appearance

Huskies and Norwegian elkhounds obviously look different, but they do share the wolf-like appearance that is common amongst artic breeds.

A husky and norwegian elkhound facing each other on a custom graphic

Both have pointed ears and pronounced snouts. Norwegian elkhounds only have brown eyes, whereas huskies can have blue or brown eyes or a mixture of both.

Norwegian elkhounds have medium gray colored fur with black-tipped hairs, whereas huskies come in a wide variety of colors from full white to gray to white and black and more.

In fact, the Norwegian elkhound is probably most similar to the agouti husky coloring, which is another variation of the husky coat.

More Differences Between Husky Vs Norwegian Elkhound

Now the obvious appearance difference is out of the way, let’s take a deep dive into the other differences between these two breeds.


Huskies reach a height of 20 to 23.5 inches and a weight of 35 to 60 lbs.

This is pretty similar to the Norwegian elkhound, which reaches 19 to 20 inches at the shoulder with a weight of 45 to 60 lbs.

The real difference is in the physique. Huskies are more slender and slightly taller, while Norwegian elkhounds are slightly shorted and stockier in build.

Food Motivation

Norwegian elkhounds are highly motivated by food, which can make training them slightly easier than normal.

Huskies, on the other hand, tend not to be motivated by food and are in fact not particularly motivated to please their owners whatsoever.

Huskies are much like cats in their behavior and are very difficult to train. Make no mistake, Norwegian elkhounds are pretty difficult to train as well – especially for first-time owners – but they are not as difficult as the husky.

Similarities Between Husky And The Norwegian Elkhound

There are a lot of similarities between these two breeds, mainly due to their similar origins.

Shedding & Grooming

Huskies and Norwegian elkhounds are double coated.

A double coat is where the fur is split into two distinct layers, one short undercoat that has a woolly texture with a long guard hair.

A double coat provides protection from the elements when in artic conditions, and also helps to regulate temperature when it gets too hot.

The result of this is that both breeds need regular grooming. A daily grooming session should be done to maintain the coat, and multiple times per day during coat-blowing season to help them shed their fur.


Huskies and Norwegian elkhounds share an average life expectancy of 12 to 15 years, which is quite good considering that they are medium-sized dogs.

They also tend to be prone to similar health conditions:

  • Hip dysplasia – This is a condition where the ball and socket of the hip joint do not form correctly. Symptoms for this start very early, and it can only be managed with pain relief and other medication/supplements.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy – This is a term for a group of degenerative diseases that affect certain cells in the eye. It eventually leads to blindness, and it is an inherited disease.

This doesn’t mean that every husky or Norwegian elkhound will get one of these conditions, but they are more prone to them.

Most reputable breeders will have vet checks done to look for early signs of these conditions, where possible, to keep the lines healthy.

Working Background

Huskies and Norwegian elkhounds have a strong history as working breeds.

Huskies were used to pull sleds for hundreds of miles and Norwegian elkhounds were used to track and hunt elk primarily (hence the name), but also other animals like mountain lions and wolves.

One of my favorite facts is that in a time of war, the Defense Minister of Norway has the authority to mobilize all privately owned Norwegian elkhounds.

The working background of both of these breeds has a direct impact on how much exercise and mental stimulation they need when kept as pets.

Exercise & Mental Stimulation Requirements

You should aim to exercise both of these breeds for 2 hours or more each day, alongside other mental stimulation like playing games or giving them toys.

These types of dogs are not for beginner owners and require a lot of commitment to care for properly.

Artic Breeds

Huskies and Norwegian elkhounds are both ‘artic breeds’, or cold weather breeds.

This has a direct impact on their personalities. Artic breeds tend to have a mind of their own and have a strong independent streak, which is observed in both of these dogs.

They are highly affectionate with their families, however, and build a strong bond with them.

Strong Prey Drive

It’s no surprise that Norwegian elkhounds have a strong prey drive given their hunting background, but huskies also have a strong prey drive as well despite being sled dogs.

This means that both breeds are prone to chasing after small animals without giving it a second thought.

Leashes should be used at all times when not in a secure outdoor location, and you need to be careful if you have a cat or other small dog in the household as they can be prone to chasing them.

There are a lot of success stories about huskies and Norwegian elkhounds kept with cats or small dogs, but they are usually brought up from a young age together.

In Summary

Huskies and Norwegian elkhounds are very similar breeds, both requiring a lot of exercise and experienced owners who can handle their independence and personality.

Hopefully, this guide has provided you with all the information you need to choose which dog is right for you!

Interested in checking out more husky comparison guides? We’ve covered plenty of others:

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About The Author

Caitlin is the owner and lead writer for The Malamute Mom. She has over 10 years of experience with Alaskan Malamutes and Huskies. She is currently working on getting her PhD in materials science but continues to write for The Malamute Mom in her spare time.

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