Elk vs Deer: A Detailed Comparison Guide To Elk and Deer


Many people think that elk and deer both are the same animals. And this statement is because of their similar appearance to each other.  But this statement is not true at all.  We can say that all elk are deer but all deer are elk it is not possible.

 In this article, we will help you to discover the true elk vs deer comparison. And surely reading this article you will be easily able to tell two species apart. 

So if animals are your interest and you want to know some interesting facts about them. Then stay with us till the end and we will solve all the puzzles in your mind about these two species. Moreover, we will answer some of the frequently asked questions regarding their nature and other species of deer.

Elk vs Deer

When we use the term deer we take it from a very broader perspective. It includes many deer species that are entirely unique from one another. One common fact of these two species is that they belong to the same family, Cervidae

 This family also includes many other hoofed ruminants.  For instance moose, reindeer Caribou, muntjac, etc.  Although, these animals are completely vegetarian or herbivores.  Despite these common aspects, these animals have distinct characteristics that also change from region to region.

Up next we will be presenting all the key points that make both these species different from each other.

Elk And Deer Comparison

Elk vs Deer Size

·         If we talk about the size of elk, then it is a little bit bigger than deer. Generally, elks are 3 to 5 feet tall.  And this is the only height of their shoulders; the antlers are not included in it.  And the average adult weight of an elk is about 375 to 1100 pounds.

·         On the other hand, deer are two to four feet tall.  And similar to the above criteria this length is from their shoulders.  The weight of an average adult deer is 100 to 400 pounds.  Although they are very tall, their weight is not very much.

Antlers of Elk And Deer

·          When we talk about mule deer and elk, these animals have pretty big antlers. The antlers of elk are very long and possess branching characteristics.  Furthermore, they are up to four feet long.  Hence they have a very considerable length.

·          In comparison to elk, the antlers of deer are shorter.  The antlers of deer possess branched or spiked characteristics.

 Colour And Thickness of The Coat

·          As elk live in cold areas so they have very thicker coats of fur on their body.  It is very shaggy and mane.  Considering The colour of the coat, they are mostly brown and Gray colour.

·          As per the difference of region and the temperature, deer have a very shorter and thinner coat.  They do not have mane on their bodies.  Generally, their body hair colour is in between brown or red with some white parts in it.  These white parts turn into a Gray colour when there is a winter season.

Habitat of Elk And Deer

·          Elks are generally found in mountainous regions.  They are mainly present in forested areas.  Elks have migratory behaviour throughout the year.  For instance, they spend some of their time in elevated mountainous regions.  And after that, they move accordingly into the forested mountains.

 Mainly elk are found in central and East Asia, and some species in North American regions of the world

·          Contrary to that deer lives in grasslands, deserts, plains and some in forests. Due to the similarity in the habitat many people question, is moose a deer?  Although these two animals belong to the same family there is still a big difference between moose and a deer.

 While deer prefer to live in South Asia, South America and all across Europe. Different species of deer in different countries of Europe.

 Elk And Deer Speed

·          Here the comparison is a little bit difficult because both these animals are very fast.  It is a fact that hooved animals can run at a very good speed.  According to the maximum estimations elks can run up to 45 mph.  Although this figure changes from species to species.

·          Meanwhile deer can run up to 35 to 45 meals per hour. Deer have further different species, for example, white-tailed deer can run up to 35 mph.  And the mule deer have a running capacity of up to 45 mph.  Hence their species have different capabilities of running and their speed is also different. Overall these animals have very boosted reputations at good running.

Elk vs Deer Shape of Hooves

·         The hooves of deer and elk are made of keratin material.  This material is usually present in the nails of humans.  But in these animals, it is very hard and provides good protection to the feet of the animals.  The hoof shape of elk consists of two round parallel halves giving the appearance of the round shape.

·          On the other hand, deer give the tracks a heart shape on the ground. As deer have a very light framework so their traces are very delicate and give good print only on soft soil.

 Diet of Elk And Deer

·          As we are dealing with the aspect of elk vs deer.  We will also discuss the diet of these two animals.  We have also discussed the elk versus Caribou relation and these two animals have different diets although these are herbivores.  Similarly, elk prefer to eat grass as twigs, farbs, shrubs, and tree bark.

 In Particular, Elks prefer to eat bluegrass, bluegrass, geraniums, clover, aspen, choke, cherry and oak.

·         No doubt deer also consume different types of grasses, twigs and tree barks in very large quantities.  But there are also different other types of food that they eat.

 For instance, deer prefer to eat different leaves of the trees, nuts, corn, fruits, and alfalfa.  Some species of beer also like to munch on fungi in the initial months of the winter season.

 Sounds of Elk And Deer

·         Another important characteristic that can help us distinguish between these two animals is their sound.  Generally, male Elks produce very bulging calls that are very distinguishable. Sometimes they also produce sharp sounds.

·         Interestingly deer have a very high-pitched sound. The vocals of deer are more sharp than that of elk.  Because of the difference in sound, many hunters are easily capable of differentiating between elk and deer.

We have now discussed all the means to differentiate these two animals from one another.  Both elk and deer are from the Ruminant family.  So they also share many similarities in their behaviour as well.


 Finalising our discussion on elk vs deer.  We have now discussed all the major aspects that are different in both these two speeches from the Cervidae family.

These animals have different habitats and their sizes and weight also varies accordingly.  Furthermore, these animals have very good running abilities. No doubt these animals are highly adaptive in their natural habitat.

Elk and deer also have very amazingly recognizable antlers that look very incredible.  Moreover, their diets are completely different but here we can clarify that these animals are completely herbivores.  Apart from this discussion, if you have any queries left in your mind feel free to ask.

 Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Is moose a deer?

Moose is from a dear family but we cannot say that moose is a deer. It has very unique characteristics and the appearance is also very distinct.  They are black in colour and have very long legs.

The antlers of moose are also very wide and flat. These are very easily recognizable because of their height.

Q2. Can elk and deer breed?

Only Animals of two species can breed with each other if they have a good compatibility level.  Interestingly red deer and elk can produce fertile offspring when they breed.

Q3. Is an elk a deer?

 It is a very interesting fact, all Elks are deer.  However, all the deer are not elk.  Here there are different species that make them different from each other and have different order also.

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