Showsight Presents the Norwegian Elkhound

in the most effective way; dogs cannot be registered if either of their parents are dysplastic. EH: Norwegian Elkhounds need to be square, athletic and agile to hold a moose in position for the hunter and too many people forget that. Most of the very important char- acteristics is a good front and the above attributes appear to be recessive and, hence, if a line does not have this, it’s difficult to bring it in and maintain the structure needed. RR: Our breed like many others has fallen prey to the “show dog” robotic stand up-right like a statue and bait syn- drome like a lot of other breeds. These are athletic hunt- ing dogs. They need to be able to move. Balanced move- ment front and back that isn’t restricted. They don’t hunt moose standing still looking at bait. So, you’ll see typical short upper arm, straight shoulders and big rear kick. Additionally, these dogs need lung capacity to hunt for many miles. They should be square as the standard says but length of back needs to be in the ribcage for lungs. These dogs will be short-coupled and to be able to dodge the moose. There are a lot of dogs with short rib cages and long loins that are still square, but they wouldn’t have the lung capacity or the short, well-muscled loin that allows them to do their job. KR: The Elkhound ranks in the 90-100 in AKC registrations, which is middle of the pack in popularity. Very few people know the breed. We often hear, “Oh my god, he/ she is beautiful. What breed is this?” This concerns me; people need to know how versatile and adaptable the Norwegian elkhound is. Be it in a house, hunting, show- ing, guardian or companion. North, South, East or West— the breed is very capable. 3. The biggest problem facing you as a breeder? GH: Currently, my biggest problem is finding a pool of genetically and structurally sound males to choose from to breed. EH: The relatively small gene pool that we have available does not have major problems. We have always been in this for the long term and with our 4th generation very much involved in breeding and showing we want to continue this. Open talk about the problems of our breed is very important to not bringing in negative factors detri- mental to our great breed. RR: Costs of everything from dog food, vets, entry fees, motels, gas, etc. Also, our breed, unlike many others, doesn’t command big dollars for puppies, be they show or pet—our costs are the same. Animal Rights groups and our own breeders not supporting other breeders. KR: I have been very fortunate in having the best mentoring from successful breeders such as Pat Trotter, Skip Weir and Gayle Thomas, to name a few. I also have very eager

partners: my wife, Linda, Nicole Cassavechia of Canada and Lori Webster from New York. We’re able to keep a few dogs extra in our program, which helps. Our biggest concern is just that we do need a bigger gene pool. A lot of Norwegian Elkhound breeders are going back in time and using frozen semen from the older generation, which can be very successful if chosen right. Still, I think we need to educate and promote this versatile breed to hunt- ers, farmers, pet people, etc. In this way, we would have more options in our breeding programs. 4. What characteristics do you strive to produce in each litter and in subsequent generations? GH: The characteristics that I strive to produce in each liter are specific: first, certified good hips, eyes and tempera- ment; second, I look for breed type—square body, short back, substantial bone, high-set, tight, center curled tail, pleasing expression with dark eyes, high ear set with black, medium-sized ears with strong leather and a scis- sors bite; third, I look for hunting type. This is a puppy with excellent angles front and rear. The ideal front has a smooth and well-laid back shoulder and a long upper arm. The ideal rear angle looks wide at the thigh with a short hock. A pup with these angles will produce sound, clean single-tracked motion, coming and going. From the side, a pup will produce noteworthy reach and drive. EH: I aim for a square dog with short loin that has a solid front with clear, silver-gray color capable of hunting for many hours over rough terrain. We aim to produce many Elkhounds of quality consistently in each litter and recently do have litters producing four-five champions. Clear hips of dysplasia, which is so important in a hunt- ing dog. Correct, small ears of good leather, which are a definite breed characteristic. A moderate stop to prevent the Elkhound from hunting too close to the moose and being killed. RR: A square, short coupled, long ribbed, not under sized, has a good strong rear, which is a one generation fix, no reason breed or keep a bad rear, that isn’t restricted in movement and that is energetic and bold. Then again, each litter has differences. KR: Well, as far as type goes, I’m pretty much a stickler on shoulders, neck and spring of rib, which should lead to a beautiful topline, and short loin. I do like a thicker thigh and well bent stifle. Moderate length of hock appears stylish as long as it is in balance with the front. If all goes well, now and again you get it right. I’m not what you would call a headhunter. Certainly I will stay within the standard as much as I can, but form and function take the higher precedence. Do not forget when you look at a lineup of Norwegian Elkhounds, you have to ask yourself,

222 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J ULY 2017

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