So You Want to Adopt an Elkhound?
By: Gary Wynn Kelly
The Elkhound is a member of the Spitz group, and a “Nordic” dog, just
like the other dogs rescued by ADRTC. In spite of its name, the
Elkhound is not a hound, and historically hunted much more than elk.
The Norwegian name, Elghund, reflects the hunting heritage. These dogs
were developed to hunt large game, such as bear and moose. The Elghund
is also a good farm dog, and is trustworthy around farm animals, can be
a good sled dog when necessary, and fill in as a herding dog.
Elghunds make good family companions, as they are good with children,
and are intelligent watch dogs. The Elghund trains easily and can
excel at obedience.
Like most of the members of the Spitz group, the breed is “primitive”;
having been refined for only 140 years. While this is longer than the
Siberian Husky or the Malamute, it is a short time in dog history.
The Elghund has a long and venerable lineage. Elghunds were the friends
and companions of the Vikings on their numerous forays in northern
Europe, and traveled across the sea as far as Nova Scotia.
Because the Elghund became a prominent hunting companion, it had to
be energetic, bold, and intimidate through apparent aggression.
Elghunds had to track game for many miles, and be bold enough to stand
up to moose and bear. The most successful Elghunds were agile and
smart. It was these ancestors that passed on the high intelligence
that makes these dogs easy to train today.
Elghunds are still members of the Spitz group, and have the Spitz
independence. They will obediently carry out a command, but not
necessarily twice in a row. An Elghund gets bored by too much
The Elghund is still close to nature, and possesses the genetic
behaviors passed down from a not-so-distant time when these dogs were
expected to take care of their own needs far more than at any time in
recent history. The Elghund must be kept in a securely fenced yard, or
it will roam and possibly hunt. These dogs have a healthy curiosity,
which is best exercised at the end of a leash when taking long walks
with an owner who loves outdoor activities with an appreciative
Obedience training is recommended, as the new owner will come to know
what to expect of the Elghund, and the dog will benefit enormously from
the socialization with other dogs. Elghunds naturally love people, but
may require careful handling around new dogs until taught and
socialized to being with them.
As the Elghund is “independent minded”, it may be necessary to provide
varied stimulation during training. Skipping to the next lesson,
before repeating a lesson, is often a good strategy.
Elghunds make faithful and loving friends. The Elghund requires
comparatively little physical care. Like other Spitz dogs, the Elghund
has an efficient metabolism, and it is necessary to feed one far less
than it might eat to avoid obesity.
The Elghund coat is an “easy care” coat. Bathing is only necessary a
few times a year, and regular brushing easily cleans the coat of any
dirt or debris picked up during regular exercise.