So, What's It Like to Own a Norwegian Elkhound?

      The Dog of the Vikings is a breed that has remained essentially unchanged for more than 6,000 years, and his many fans throughout the ages would have it no other way. Most Elkhound owners end up keeping several Elkhounds over their lifetime because the breed 's many qualities inspire complete loyalty. They just wouldn't consider owning anything but an Elkhound.
     But there are some good reasons that the Norwegian Elkhound has never risen above 35th in popularity in the United States among AKC-recognized breeds. Before you consider becoming the owner of an Elkhound, it's a good idea to see if it's traits and characteristics match your idea of a dog.
     The Norwegian Elkhound is an undeniably beautiful breed of an ideal medium size, nether too big for house, car, or boat nor too small to be an effective guardian or a companion to active children. Like all dogs, each Elkhound has a unique personality. The breeding background of each dog also affects its temperament. But there are certain breed characteristics that you can expect in every Elkhound.
      Originally, the Elkhound was probably an all-around farm dog, with varied duties. He probably protected his owner's farm animals from wild predators, acted as a companion and watchdog for the family and pulled loads for his people. The Vikings took some of their dogs to sea with them when they went out on their voyages. Similar breeds are used by the native Lapp people to herd semi-domesticated reindeer herds.In the last several centuries, however, the Elkhound had been bred primarily for his hunting capabilities. The Elkhound doesn't hunt like a hound - or even look like one. His American name is a mistranslation of Elghund or "Elg Dog." In Norway, "Elg" is the word for the European moose. He hunted singly using his superior air scenting ability to locate the moose and then hold it by bouncing around in front of the moose to keep it's attention. An independent hunter, he would bark to alert his owner to his whereabouts. He was not supposed to be so aggressive with the moose's attention on himself. Elkhounds are also used to hunt bear in Norway. They are not specialized as hunters and have been used on everything from deer to pheasants.
     In the is country, where dogs are not used on big game, the Elkhound is not commonly used as a hunter. He has resumed his earlier role as all-around family dog. But his carefully bred hunting traits are still the key to his personality. Energetic, curious, agile and devoted to his family, the Elkhound is generally outgoing and friendly. Because of his observant nature and impressive bark and appearance, he can be an excellent watch dog. However he is too friendly and insufficiently aggressive to be a guard dog. He is possessed of a great deal of common sense and considers himself quite self-reliant. He is hardy enough to keep outside, but he is so interested in the goings on of the household that he would prefer to be a housedog. He is a very food-motivated dog who is likely to forget years of careful obedience training whenever he sees a hapless picnicker biting into a sandwich. He is equally quick to take advantage of any opportunity to beg, demand, or steal food around the house. Although it's easy to fall for those soulful eyes, you have to watch his weight carefully. His propensity to put on weight makes him an "easy keeper" who looks his best with a modest amount of food.
     Elkhounds are energetic, intelligent dogs. Without careful obedience training, they may take over the role as pack leader around your house and become quite dominant, especially towards children, less strong-willed adults or other dogs. More often than not, this is likely to take the form of taking over as the family's guardian and training the family to do its bidding for food,treats and petting. They are capable of great obedience accomplishments, but it requires and skill to train them. Although they require firm consistency in everything you expect from them, they do not take well to harsh training techniques. The type of hunting they were bred for doesn't make them the best natural healers or retrievers. You may have to control their tendency to bark to keep your neighbors happy.
     The Norwegian Elkhound is a naturally clean dog with little doggy odor.His double coat is self-cleaning and requires only moderate grooming 2-3 times a week with a rake or a comb to keep him looking his best. But he sheds year-round and will blow coat about twice a year, leaving tufts of fur everywhere he goes no matter how carefully you are combing him. Many Elkhounds are prone to sebaceous cysts, benign skin growths that you may have to open and clean out from time to time. Generally they are quite healthy dogs, but as a breed can suffer from hip dysplasia. It is a good idea to find out if the parents of the dog you purchase have been x-rayed and certified clear of dysplasia by the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA). There are other health tests that many breeders also perform on their dogs.
     Like all dogs, Elkhounds require exercise to stay healthy and happy. An average-length walk is usually all it takes to keep them healthy. Longer walks will them very happy and are a good way to control unbridled adolescent energy, as well as getting you some fresh air and exercise. Usually once they are passed their puppyhood, they would much prefer a walk to chasing a ball or stick. They are not retrievers. They are also not a breed to rough-house with. It will only make them loose respect for you.
     Although the Elkhound is not the least bit aloof, he is a dignified, independent dog. A warm word, a few strokes with your hand, a treat or (especially) a walk are usually the most display of affections he wants from you. This is a breed that is capable of intense loyalty, but is never cloying.
     Norwegian Elkhounds tend to see people as a co-existing life form, not as all-powerful masters. Once you have earned an Elkhound's trust and proved yourself to be his equal (on his terms), you will have an incredibly deep and strong bond of friendship that you will remember for the rest of your life. But if you lack a strong will of your own, seek adoration from a dog, or don't have the time to develop the strong, subtle bond that the Elkhound is capable of, neither one of you will get as much out of the relationship as you should.

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