The Norwegian Elkhound
Club of Canada
THE NORWEGIAN ELKHOUND
An amazingly versatile dog:
THE NORWEGIAN ELKHOUND
Throughout his history this medium-sized dog has had many names. In the English language that name might still cause arguments. That's no wonder for he is not a hound and he does not hunt only Elk! He belongs to the "Spitz" group, is a "Nordic" dog, and, although originally developed to hunt big game (bear, deer, moose, etc.), the "Elghund" (his Norwegian name) is much more than just a hunting specialist.
He was and still is also a farm dog who can be trusted around the other farm animals - he even can be used for herding!- a sled dog strong enough to pull a sleigh or a cart, a gentle pet good with children, and an intelligent watch dog alerting you to the arrival of visitors.
The breed has been refined for only 140 years so he is still a natural dog whose roots go back thousands of years. He was the friend and companion of the Vikings on their forays through North Western Europe and even across the sea as far as Nova Scotia.
As a hunting dog, the Elghund must be full of energy, bold, and appear to be aggressive. He must be energetic enough to track game for many miles and bold enough to stand up to bull moose and bear. An Elghund which is not agile and smart would soon be put out of action by his prey's hooves, claws or horns.
All this calls for intelligence, which makes the dogs easy to train. But they do not perform every time they are asked. Elghunds have a mind of their own. You will get a look which seems to say, "I did that five minutes ago; why should I do it again?"
The Elghund's muzzle is wider at the base than at the nose, giving his head a wedge shape. A good fill under the oval or almond shaped dark brown eyes protects the eyes when he runs through the woods; the pointed ears are very mobile when erect. He shows friendliness and affection by laying his ears flat against his head. The Elghund reveals a lovely "mascara" line from the outside corner of the eye to the base of the ear. This line may be missing if the face is too dark. There also may be black "beauty marks" on the cheeks.
The compact, square body of the Elghund makes him as long as he is tall, with his height being just about half leg and half body. The short back is created by a strong short loin and the tail is carried tightly curled over the centre of the back.
The Elghund brings a bear or moose to stand by teasing the animal; his dodging in and out bothers his large prey. The dog's build allows him to jump away quickly, to turn in mid-air, and to leap vertically. This makes size and build so important. A small, short-legged dog will tire too quickly; a large or long-legged dog will not have the needed speed to dodge and dart in and out of reach again. The ideal height at the shoulder is
20 1/2"-21 1/2" for dogs, and 19" -19 1/2" for bitches.
The coat of the Elghund is dense and thick, making it weather-resistant. This makes the Elghund a good companion for out-door activities. The soft woolly undercoat protects him from the cold and the heat, the smooth-lying guard coat repels rain and wet snow. Twice a year the Elghund sheds; many hours can be spent brushing that useful coat but aside from this brushing, nail trimming and regular exercise, the Elghund is truly a low maintenance dog. He does not require regular trips to a groomer.
The Elghund is often described as grey. The undercoat should be silver or cream (not yellow) and the guard hairs black tipped. Elghunds should not be too light or too dark. Pronounced white markings are a no-no.
The Elghund's gait has been described as a "dilt" or a "rocking gallop". A sound dog will move freely, without effort or swaying of the back and with a gait which is neither choppy and inefficient, nor flashy and extremely showy. He is a natural trotter; therefore his angulation should be moderate.
In our days many dog owners live in or near a city and not on a farm, and not many people hunt moose, bear or other game with their dogs. Today the Elghund's task might be to be a good pet and a trustworthy companion. Responsible breeders, however, will do whatever they can to preserve the true Elghund characteristics so he'll be able to be both a good pet and a good hunter.
There are a number of things the owner of an Elghund must always remember:
He is still so close to nature (where food is not always readily available) that he tends to eat as much as he can when it is there. He should, therefore, never be fed more than he really needs. Obesity is as bad for a dog as it is for humans!
Bred to be an intelligent hunter, the Elghund is full of curiosity. He always wants to find out what lies beyond his world, and left on his own, he goes to investigate. Although he might eventually come back to his starting point, it is much safer to make sure that the back yard, where no fast cars might bring his life to an untimely end, is securely fenced.
The Elghund is bred for action. Exercise will keep the dog (and the owner!) in good shape, and save the dog from the boredom which might lead to mischief. A good long walk at a brisk pace will keep the dog's muscles firm and strong.
A dog obedience course will teach the dog and his owner what to expect from each other. An Elghund is by nature a people lover, but being in a class with other dogs and owners will not only socialize him, but will also teach you how to ask obedience from the dog. The Elghund is a very independent-minded dog; once he has learned a certain routine, he might think that a repeat performance is useless. He'll gladly move on to the next exercise.
A satisfied owner and a happy dog form a team that's hard to beat. An Elghund is not very demanding; taking good care of him will give you a faithful and loving friend who just wants to enjoy your company.
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Revised: January 27, 2010
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