Norwegian Elkhound history is rich, long and intriguing. Skeletons of similar Spitz-type dogs buried with Norsemen have been found that date back as far back as 4,000 BCE. It is firmly believed that the ancestors to Norwegian Elkhounds traveled alongside the Vikings as they plundered the seas and shores. They also apparently used these dogs on the homestead for hunting, herding, guarding and companionship. Much of the development of the breed may have happened in the last few centuries, however. DNA evidence has been found in these dogs of an extinct species of gray wolf from nearby regions.
Of course, the Vikings didn't leave any written records meant to preserve their adventures and legacies. It took a very long time before Norwegian Elkhounds were written about. That started around 1877 when the Norwegian Hunters Association first noticed the dogs. Members sought to retain as much history as far back as possible, and pedigrees were traced back as far as they could. These records helped form the breed's studbook, the Norsk Hundestambak, and upon it was formed the Norwegian Kennel Club. That same year, the Club held its first dog show. As the show was held in Oslo, much was said about Norwegian Elkhounds throughout Europe. The dogs became very popular rather quickly, and they were exported to many countries soon thereafter.
The breed was entered into the American Kennel Club (AKC) studbooks in 1913. A full decade later, the UK-based Kennel Club (KC) formally recognized Norwegian Elkhounds. That same year, 1923, the British Elkhound Society was formed to prompt that KC recognition. By 1930, the AKC had also recognized the dogs, a move which was likely petitioned by the Norwegian Elkhound Association of America. That Association, which had been basically founded in 1930, became a club member of the AKC in 1935.
Today, the Norwegian Elkhound is the National Dog of Norway.