The Norwegian Elkhound is one of the oldest breed of dogs, with archeological remains attesting to its existence as far back as 6000 years ago. It had a variety of jobs in its native snow-covered Norway, including herding, guarding and hunting small and very large game. The Norwegian Elkhound recognized by the American Kennel Club, the United Kennel Club, the Canadian Kennel Club and the Kennel Club of Great Britain is the Grey Norwegian Elkhound; this breed is born black, but after several weeks its coat becomes a grayish color with varying shades of black and light silver along parts of its body. Importantly, any base, or overall, color other than gray constitutes grounds for disqualification according to these Kennel clubs.
The FCI, or the Federation Cynologique Internationale (registry for European breeds), however, recognizes another, separate breed, of Norwegian Elkhound, whose base color is entirely black. Not much is known about this breed and it is actually quite uncommon outside of Scandinavia. It is not as ancient as its gray cousin, with evidence pointing to its being bred for the first time around the beginning of the 1800s, in Norway. Like the Gray Norwegian Elkhound, the black variety is a Spitz breed, used for a variety of functions that included herding, hunting and guarding. It is smaller, however, than its cousin, and therefore more agile in its movements; also, due to its black color it is much easier to pinpoint in the snowy landscapes of the Nordic countries.
Though smaller than the Gray Elkhound, the Black Elkhound is a very hardy, powerful dog, with a strong will and determination. It is actually more determined and strong-willed than the Gray variety, with a very high level of intelligence. Some experts claim that this is not a dog for first-time dog owners, as training can be difficult if you do not show consistent firmness. Due to its intelligence, however, an owner with a good grasp of training techniques can easily train the dog; the majority of dogs of this breed do well in obedience classes. Another consequence of its intelligence, the dog must always be kept stimulated. This is by no means an indoor dog and craves the forest and rugged terrain, even more so than the Gray Elkhound.
The Black Elkhound is a hunter at heart, having most often been used to hunt very large game; it excels at tracking and is a magnificent problem solver. It does not make as good a family dog as its gray cousin for families that do not often go hunting or do not live in large forested areas, but it does form very tight bonds with its master and his family and is a loyal and affectionate companion. It does often display problems with other dogs, however.