Our breed is an old breed, little changed over many generations. The Norwegian Elkhound is not rare in the UK, but it is very little known and seldom seen - whenever it is seen, however it is universally liked!
We must generalise, of course, but an Elkhound is fond of children and copes well with them, considering them to be part of it's family and worthy of respect like the rest of the household. Our Elkhounds originate in Scandinavia where they hunt Elk (Moose), the size of a horse. They do not attack the Elk themselves, but hold it at bay by barking and distracting the attention of the Elk while it tries to sweep this irritating dog away with its antlers. The barking not only annoys the Elk, but also allows the hunter to locate the confrontation so that he can stalk and shoot the Elk. The tracking and the hunt may take many hours so hunter and Elkhound must be very fit.
Of course we have no Elk in the UK so no hunting takes place. However, in Scandinavia it is still very much part of the life of many people. The general appearance of the Elkhound is of a strong and square-shaped dog with a proud bearing. Its coat is a double one in shades of grey and is very weatherproof, lying flat to the dog. Its ears are pointed and its tail is curled tightly over its back. Its temperament is generally one of friendliness and independence without signs of nervousness. The size for dogs is around 52cm and weight is 23kgs, whilst bitches are slightly smaller and lighter.
The Norwegian Elkhound is an adaptable all-rounder whose hunting skill is merely one of his many and varied talents. He is a courageous and loyal companion possessing an exceptionally high degree of intelligence which enables him to match his quick wits against anything or anyone, and win! Herein lies a danger for the new owner, who must remember that Elkhounds love being part of a family and joining in family life. This “pack” loyalty must be utilised to the full. Consistent firm and loving handling is needed to enable him to learn the family rules, and to make him understand his role as a member for the pack, and not its leader.
The Norwegian Elkhound is going to give you years of devoted companionship, but if you are new to the breed or to dog ownership you will need some advice, here are a few key points about our breed:
Elkhounds do have a tendency to bark but firm, not harsh, handling can control this. By all means let him bark when strangers come to your house, but teach him to stop when you say so, and not to bark at regular callers such as the postman. At all costs stop him from being a constant barker when you are out of the house. You owe it to your neighbours.
A few lessons in obedience will pay dividends, especially if learned while still a puppy. “Heel”, “come”, “sit”, “stay” are the basics, backed by a very firm “NO” when necessary.
Elkhounds moult quite profusely. Their coat does not need trimming. Keep him wiped clean with a damp cloth, and when he moults, comb and brush out the loose coat. If you can brush and comb him daily, he will look really first class. An occasional bath and shampoo will be necessary, followed by brisk towelling with his own towel.
Another basic lesson is not to jump up at people, however pleased he may be to see them.
There are many books that will tell you how to go about these simple forms of training. One lesson aimed at you rather than your dog, is to watch his weight and to give him plenty of exercise. Norwegian Elkhounds can quickly put on weight if you are not strict with yourself about his diet. Weigh him from time to time, ask your Vet about his weight compared to his size, and remember that a hunter just cannot afford to carry fat, however beautiful he may look. If the trend is for his weight to go up, you must cut down his food drastically until the weight stabilises at the right level. Of course, the weight of a puppy should increase, and during this period the advice of your vet can be especially helpful.
If you decide to exhibit your puppy at Dog Shows, it will be helpful to you and other exhibitors if you first take him to ringcraft classes. This will help ensure that when he appears in the show ring he will be a credit to you and to the breed. It will give you confidence to learn what happens at shows, and some of the accepted rules of good showmanship. Ringcraft classes are usually run by your local Canine Society. The people who attend dog shows get their impression of the breed from the occasional badly behaved dog. You owe it to the breed and to other exhibitors to keep your dog under control. Do not leave him alone on his bench at a show for hours. Come back to him from time to time. Ask other exhibitors nearby to tell you if he barks while you are away. If he does, stop him. Keep him on a short benching chain so that he cannot lunge out at passing dogs or people. Do not let him foul the showground. Let him perform before you arrive there. At the show, take him to the exercise area from time to time and clean up afterwards.