Frequently Asked Questions About

          Norwegian Elkhounds
How big will an elkhound get? Elkhounds are usually between 18½" and 21½". The standard calls for bitches to be 19½" at the withers (shoulders), and dogs to be 20½". An inch over or under is to be severely penalized in the show ring. Bitches are usually between 35 and 45 pounds, dogs between 45 and 55 pounds. Of course, this can vary, but usually not very much. The smallest elkhound I have ever been personally acquainted with was 16", and the largest was 23". These are rare extremes.
Does an elkhound shed much? In a word, YES! Elkhounds shed undercoat in small amounts constantly. About twice a year, they shed copious amounts of undercoat, in large clumps and wisps. It gets everywhere. An elkhound is definitely not for meticulous housekeepers or those with pet allergies.

How easy is it to train an elkhound? Elkhounds are often considered "difficult" to train. This attitude usually comes from people accustomed to training breeds developed specifically to work with people and take instructions from people, like herding breeds, working breeds, or retriever/pointer-type hunting breeds. This "difficult to train" attitude is also common among folks used to the old-fashioned "jerk and correct" method of training. Elkhounds are very independent, preferring to make their own decisions. After all, they were bred for a self-confident, independent, quick-thinking personality that is not afraid to go head-to-head with a 2000-pound bull moose. This type of personality gave rise to what experienced elkhound owners call "selective deafness," wherein your elkhound seems to hear only the things he or she wants to hear. But you can obedience train your elkhound (or agility-train, or train them for most anything), if you use the right approach. You must use motivation to train elkhounds. You cannot force or bully them into doing what you want. If you make training fun and not a battle of wills, elkhounds are very trainable, and suitable for many kinds of work. Just look at Ch. Alpha's Say Goodnight Gracie, CD, TDI, TT, CGC, SAR, MT-3, ACE, VNE, who was also my service dog. She's passed away now, but Daisy did great taking over for her as my new service dog when Gracie passed away. Now that Daisy's passed away, Bob's learning the job. He's doing well as a service dog and as a search dog. I personally prefer elkhounds as service dogs. They can learn so much, and they're very special. They really are!

What is an elkhound's temperament like? The typical elkhound is "bold and energetic," self-confident, very independent, and sometimes slightly aloof. An elkhound is not normally a "lap dog," but is usually very loyal and loving (in an aloof kind of way, if you can imagine that!). They are usually very stable and good with all types of people. Many elkhounds throughout the United States are used for therapy work in nursing homes and hospitals, where a stable temperament is of paramount importance.

How much grooming does an elkhound require? There is no trimming associated with elkhounds. In fact, the standard says, "...presentation in a natural, unaltered condition is essential." Since they shed at least some undercoat constantly, you need to give them a good combing once a week (combs remove more dead hair than brushes). When they are in the midst of "blowing coat," you need to give them a good combing daily. Dead undercoat left untended can lead to skin infections, pain and hair loss for your elkhound, and large vet bills for you. Correct elkhound coats do not absorb dirt, mud, or water easily, and they have little doggie odor, so unless your dog gets very dirty or goes for a swim in a pond or lake, you only need to bathe your elkhound about twice a year or so.

Does an elkhound eat much? Elkhounds are what are called "good doers." This means they can manage very well on less food than many other breeds. An average-sized elkhound with a moderate amount of activity can do very well on a diet of 2 cups of a high-quality (i.e., not a run-of-the-mill grocery store brand) dry dog food per day. They might require a little more or less depending on size, age, and activity level.

Does an elkhound need much exercise? The answer to this one is "yes." Since they make such good use of the food they eat, an inactive elkhound can become obese very quickly. And, because elkhounds are so intelligent, they need activity to keep their minds occupied, or they can turn to mischief to relieve boredom.

Are elkhounds good with children? Under most circumstances, yes. As with any breed of dog, small children should never be left unsupervised with the dog. But a child who has good "dog manners" will normally get along fine with an elkhound, and vice versa.

How long do elkhounds live? A normal, healthy elkhound can live well into its teens. The average is about 14 to 15 years. That means you can expect to have that adorable puppy 14 or 15 years, or more. A cute elkhound puppy is going to be a long-term committment, not a new toy you can toss away when you or the kids get tired of it!

How much attention does an elkhound require? Lots! Elkhounds are very intelligent dogs, and they need meaningful activity to keep their minds occupied and keep them out of mischief. On the other hand, they don't always need to be petted. Often, elkhounds are content to lie at a distance and watch their person from across the room. They usually aren't lap dogs, more often being described as "aloof." However, many elkhounds across the United States are very successful therapy dogs in nursing homes and hospitals. So the answer to this really depends on the
individual elkhound involved!

Do elkhounds bark much? Some do. When elkhounds hunt, they are supposed to trail silently, giving voice only after the prey is cornered. But they are very alert, and often bark at unexpected noises or perceived intruders. And the elkhound's voice is meant to be heard over miles of mountainous terrain by the hunter who is following at a distance. This is great when you're working your dog in the field, but a potential problem if you plan to leave your elkhound unattended outside in the yard most of the time. Elkhounds get bored easily, and bored dogs are barking dogs, and barking dogs with voices designed to carry for miles over mountainous terrain can make for very bad feelings among neighbors!

Are elkhounds good "guard dogs"? If the purpose is making noise to scare off an intruder, yes. If an imposing appearance to scare off intruders is what you're interested in, yes. If you want an "attack dog," most emphatically, no.
Do you have more questions that have not been answered here? Feel free to e-mail me at SANCTUM Educated Elkhounds, et al. and ask away! If I don't have the answer myself, I can find someone who does for you!

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©1998-2014 by Donna Jagodzinski