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breed of dog that originated thousands of years ago in western Norway, where it was used as an all-purpose hunter, shepherd, guard, and companion. It generally excels in tracking European elk and has also been used for hunting bears and lynx. A medium-sized dog with erect, pointed ears, the Norwegian elkhound has a short, compact body and a thick, smooth coat of black-tipped gray hairs; it carries its tail curled high over its back. It stands about 19 to 21 inches (48 to 53 cm), weighs 48 to 55 pounds (22 to 25 kg), and is characterized as a bold, energetic dog