As mentioned previously, purebred dogs are often shown in what are called conformation events. These are the dog shows that you often see on television; what many people may not know is that the dogs are not competing against one another in these events. Instead, the dogs are each being judged against their particular breed's "standard" or "ideal dog"; this "ideal dog" has never actually existed, or at least the judges don't have any one single live dog in mind when observing the candidates. This "ideal" is what the breed is supposed to strive towards achieving, the characteristics of the perfect dog to fulfill the job description for which the breed was created. The dog that most closely resembles the standard for its breed is the dog that wins in the show ring.
If you're going to show your Norwegian Elkhound, you'll have to make sure you have a dog that is close to the breed standard. In general, the Elkhound is a northern-looking dog with a relatively square profile and about medium build; males should measure about 20.5 inches at the withers and weigh around 55 pounds, while females should measure about 19.5 inches at the withers and weigh around 48. Elkhounds have broad, wedge-shaped heads and erect, high set pointy ears that are quite mobile, with a curled tail that is set high and that they carry over their backs. They have a dense and smooth gray coat with splashes of other colors and they should display confidence and a good temper.
Their expression should be one of alertness, with medium, dark brown eyes that do not protrude and are oval in shape. There should be no loose skin on the head and face. It is acceptable for the dog's ears to go back when the judge is examining it, as this is a sign that the dog is in a relaxed state. The muzzle has a thick base that tapers, with teeth meeting in a scissors bite. These dogs have a muscular neck of about medium length, completely lacking loose skin around the throat. The body is close-coupled and short, with a straight back and a deep chest. The tail should not be trimmed, but rather left natural with its thick, close hairs.
Sloping shoulders are another requirement for the breed, as are medium sized legs that are set well underneath the body. The paws are somewhat small and have toes that are tightly closed and pads that are thick. Their shape is somewhat oval. The hindquarters exhibit a slight angulation, with broad thighs that are well muscled. The coat is one of the most distinguishing characteristics of the breed. It is very thick and weather resistant; there is an undercoat that is soft and wooly, overlaid then by straight hairs that are slightly coarse. The coat should be the longest along the neck and around the rear, including underneath the tail. It should not be trimmed, clipped or groomed in any special way; the Elkhound's coat, which must have an overall gray color, is to be presented in its natural state. Certain markings over the gray base are also allowed, while others are grounds for disqualification.