As the name implies, this dog originated in Norway and was used for hunting large game. A very rugged and robust dog built for endurance, bred and trained as a hunter and tracker, the Elkhound displays a keen and very acute sense of smell and hearing.
Temperament will vary from one individual to another, but an Elkhound is not normally aggressive by nature and can be relied upon not to attack without VERY extreme provocation. Normally friendly, even with strangers, his bear-like look, deep resounding bark, and large white teeth can discourage most unwanted visitors. An Elkhound can be protective, even possessive, of his human family and his property making him a commendable watch dog.
Elkhounds are very energetic and need to have consistent exercise daily (20-30 minutes twice a day) or they may have trouble adjusting to the calm housepet role expected by most owners.
As is common with most northern dogs, the breed is double-coated -- long coarse outer hair to shed rain, sleet and snow and soft wooly undercoat for insulation against the elements of nature. The undercoat sheds profusely twice a year, usually at six month intervals; guard hairs are shed approximately every other year. If you are a meticulous housekeeper, an Elkhound is not for you. The coat sheds most foreign substances with ease and the dog seems by instinct to keep himself clean. Regular grooming is advisable and an absolute necessity when shedding. A most unusual physical characteristic of the breed is the absence of "doggy odor".
The Elkhound is a loving and good-natured dog, sensitive to praise and reproof without the necessity of physical punishment. It is amazing how much communication is possible through expressions, gestures, and voice. Remarkably intelligent, an Elkhound is also headstrong and independent. For this reason it is illogical to expect unquestioning obedience from an Elkhound. Left to his own devices, he can be prone to problematic behaviors. To consider an Elkhound, you must understand the role of training in the dog's life and the need for it to be an ongoing process.
As it is not possible to produce genetically perfect humans, nor is it possible to produce genetically perfect dogs. The Elkhound is fortunate that it does not have the number of health problems present in many other breeds. Before you consider an Elkhound, be knowledgeable about the genetic defects that are most prevalent in the breed. Eye disorders (blindness), skeletal anomalies (hip dysplasia), urogenital conditions (renal disease), and skin ailments (cysts) are known to occur in the breed. It is possible to eliminate or reduce the incidence of these genetic problems by carrying out screening tests on all breeding stock.
Care & Maintenance:
Because of his long association with man and his deep devotion to his human family, an Elkhound thrives on love and attention. Housing needs are simple as he will prefer to live with you. Given a proper diet, reasonable exercise (30 minutes twice a day), and clean living conditions, the Elkhound is an extraordinarily maintenance free dog. Strong and vigorous, he will relish long walks or bicycling with his master. An Elkhound's eyes rarely need care and likewise, his prick ears are usually trouble free. His feet require no special attention except regular clipping of his claws about every six weeks. The Elkhound, shown in his natural condition, requires no trimming or stripping -- even for show purposes his whiskers need not be trimmed. Consider your lifestyle and household schedule -- do you travel, do you work long hours, do children's activities keep you busy? In other words, do you have the time to give an Elkhound the love and attention he needs.