Bred to be a hunting companion in cold northern climates, the Norwegian elkhound is a sturdy and loyal breed. Elkhounds can be shy around strangers but crave the companionship of family and friends. They are typically gentle with children and good play companions, as they need a good deal of exercise to stay happy and healthy. Affectionate but independent, they may be difficult to train if their owners lack a firm hand.
Elkhound owners must establish themselves unequivocally as the leader and the dog as the follower. Elkhounds only submit to authority if they feel confident in the leadership of their pack alpha, and elkhounds who are uncertain of their position may show their insecurity by fighting with other dogs. Bred as hunters, they tend to be aggressive with small pets such as hamsters and guinea pigs unless trained to accept the other animal as a superior.