Stone implements and bones were found in Viste Caves, Jaeren, in Western Norway that date back to between 4000 and 5000 BC, older than the first pharaoh of Ancient Egypt and the start of construction at Stonehenge. Along with these remains, archeologists found the skeletons of at least four dogs. Two of them have been classified as of Elkhound-like origin, making some consider the Elkhound among the oldest of dog breeds. There has been some controversy regarding this belief, however, as many experts say genetic and skeletal evidence suggest that modern Elkhounds are "recreations" of older types of dogs.
Apparently, elkhounds have always aided humans in war time, starting from the era of the Vikings. During World War II, in fact, while under German occupation, Norway trained Elkhounds to transport mines and place them under German tanks.
Staying true to its practice of helping out in times of military conflict, the Norwegian Elkhound was also used by the Royal Air Force to guard air stations. It has been reported that one air station in particular was guarded solely by Elkhounds.
References to elkhounds have appeared in popular culture as well. In one episode of the television series The X-Files, FBI Agent Fox Mulder says, "Excuse me! Could you help me find my dog? He's a Norwegian Elkhound. His name is Heinrich. I use him to hunt Moose."
The name "Elkhound" is not a correct translation of the dog's original Norwegian name, the "Elghund". "Elg" is not "Elk", but "Moose" and "Hund" is not "Hound", but "Dog", making the correct translation "Moosedog." Indeed, the Elkhound is not a hound at all, with its hunting and physical characteristics far removed from those of the hound group. It does not bay and does not make any noise while tracking an animal. The breed was bred to bark only when an animal is cornered and to keep the animal at bay, giving the hunter the time to arrive and make the kill.
The Elkhound has a very thick double coat, which both protects from rain and snow and keeps them warm. The coat is moulted twice a year, so as to get rid of old hairs and to allow the dogs to cool off a bit when the weather gets somewhat warmer. In some parts of Norway, the enormous amount of fur that Elkhounds shed is actually used by local women to make sweaters; indeed, it is said that the resulting fabric is very warm and soft.
The Elkhound is one of the many breeds of dogs that have been fortunate enough to make it into the White House. Indeed, President Herbert Hoover owned a Norwegian Elkhound by the name of Weegie; the dog was given to him by the Norwegian people as a sign of gratitude for the help he had given during the first World War.