Showsight Presents the Norwegian Elkhound

ELKHOUND NORWEGIAN

Let’s Talk Breed Education!

DOG OF THE VIKINGS

By Randi L. Johnson

T

he Norwegian Elkhound is a hardy, gray dog that has remained relatively unchanged for plus or minus 6000 years. Th e essence of his beau-

ty is that he is not “man-made.” He is a medium-sized dog, compact, square, well- muscled, exceedingly intelligent, coura- geous, bold and energetic. Th is is a natural requirement for a big game hunter, on the chase, day after day, in the rugged country from which he originated, Norway. It is surmised that in the Viking Era, the Norwegian Elkhound had many duties. He was a companion and watchdog for his people. He protected his owner’s farm from wild animals, such as wolves and bears. He was a guardian of fl ocks. Also, the Vikings took some of their dogs on voyages to sea. Pre-dating the Viking Era, archeological fi ndings revealed a number of stone implements and bones inside Viste Cave at Jaeren in Norway, including two skeletons of dogs, identi fi ed as de fi nite Elkhound type by Professor Brinchmann of the Bergen Museum. Th ese fi ndings date back from 5000 to 4000 BC. It is in the last several centuries that the Norwegian Elkhound has been bred primarily for his superior hunting capabili- ties. In America, the name “elkhound,” has been misinterpreted to mean, “elk hunter.” Th is is a mistranslation of the Norwegian word, “elghund,” which means “moose dog.” Th e Elkhound is an independent hunter, using his keen air scenting ability to track the moose through rugged terrain. His impressive bark alerts the owner to his whereabouts. Upon locating the moose, the Elkhound barks incessantly, skillfully darting in and out and bouncing from side to side to avoid deadly racks and hooves. Th is distracts the moose from the hunter, while holding the moose at bay. Th us, stamina and agility are more important

than speed for this breed. Elkhounds are also used to hunt bear and deer in Norway. In the United States, game laws prohibit the use of the Elkhound for hunting moose and other kinds of big game. However, the Norwegian Elkhound makes a great fam- ily dog for those that appreciate that keen hunting instincts in fl uence his personality. He is loving and devoted yet independent, highly intelligent, curious and energetic, and with a great deal of selective hearing. For instance, if he takes o ff running, and you call him, he often stops, looks around, and if there are no better options, he will come trotting happily back to you side. Th is is a good example of the need for a 5 to 6 foot fence to keep your dog safe and secure. It also shows that basic, consistent obedience training is a necessity, as there is a continuing con fl ict between his loving devotion to you and his deep instinct to be “on the hunt” combined with a never- ending intellectual curiosity. Many Elk- hounds have become quite accomplished

in obedience, rally, agility, tracking (the Elkhound is both a sight and scent hound) and/or therapy. Also, it has been recently noticed that some Elkhounds have the ability to alert owners to impending sei- zures, some cancers and more. Due to the Elkhound’s independent nature, any one of these endeavors takes skill, great e ff ort and persistence, but success is very reward- ing for those owners that partake. Most Norwegian Elkhounds have a zest for life and are, well, just plain fun. Th ey cherish the outdoors and love to interact with people. Th ey relish long walks. Some even love to retrieve a ball or toy, but usually only up to a point. Many love to play “keep away” with you and/or other dogs in your family. Th ey can be a joy to watch with all their energy and gusto, remembering what you’ve learned of their skillful, agile moves utilized by their relatives and ancestors in dealing with the moose. Th ere are small hazards to watch out for within the Elk- hound’s outdoor territory. Tripping on a

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HIGH POINT Norwegian Elkhounds

OWNED BY KATHI MOLLOY, HIGHPOINT ELKHOUNDS, AKC BREEDER OF MERIT BRED & CO-OWNED BY DONNA G. WEEKS, ELGWOOD ELKHOUNDS HANDLED BY PAUL CATTERSON, AKC REGISTERED

BISS GOLD GRAND CHAMPION Elgwood N Highpoint ’ s Summit

256 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, AUGUST 2021

NORWEGIAN ELKHOUND

do have some breed related health issues. Sebaceous cysts, which are benign skin growths, plague many Elkhounds. Some have hip dysplasia and/or luxating patellas. Some Elkhounds have eye-related issues. Renal disease is not uncommon in the Elk- hound. All but sebaceous cysts can be test- ed or x-rayed and certi fi ed clear or a ff ected through the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). Elkhounds occasionally acquire cancers, such as hemangiosarcoma or stomach cancer. So far, research has not pin-pointed any speci fi c cancer that tends to be heritable in the breed, but research is ongoing. Th e Norwegian Elkhound makes a wonderful and ful fi lling companion! He is strong-willed, yet deeply loyal with an abiding love of his owner. He is fun, yet digni fi ed, with a strong sense of purpose. Th e Elkhound is a relatively easy keeper that wants to be with his people but doesn’t demand constant attention. Th ese are some of the reasons many people throughout the years have said to me, “My Elkhound was the best dog I’ve ever owned.” BIO Randi L. Johnson lives in Greenwood Village, Colorado with her husband and three Norwegian Elkhounds, one young male, his dam and grand dam. She has grown up with Elkhounds and has helped raise them all of her life, influenced by her parents and grandparents, who were Nor- wegian immigrants. She has been breed- ing and showing the beautiful gray dog for more than a decade. Her Elkhounds and descendants of her breeding stock have done well in the show ring and at Regional and National Specialties. One such dog won the breed at our National Specialty in 2008. Randi observes her dogs using agility skills almost every day. Th e dogs practice their natural tracking ability while on walks and jogs with Randi, on a nature trail behind her property and up at the family cabin. Th ey are her personal ther- apists whenever she has a need. One of Randi’s dogs let her know, repeatedly, that “something was wrong” within months before Randi discovered she had early stage breast cancer. Needless to say, Randi will never have another breed.

freshly dug hole, coming across a “crater” next to your foundation and disappearing sprinkler heads are just a few. Elkhounds, as smart as they are, always have a reason for their mischief and only some take part in these sorts of activities. Where did that gopher go? How about a nice cool den during a warm summer day? No bone? A sprinkler head will do. Also, Elkhounds love to chase small game. Along with this comes the barking, sometimes incessant, as with a treed squirrel. Just hope you have tolerant neighbors! However, the same barking behavior DOES make him a good watchdog. Many would be sur- prised to know that a certain percentage of Elkhounds love the water. Some like to run through sprinklers. Others enjoy run- ning through shallow streams and some actually like to swim, but usually with a purpose. My father started breeding Nor- wegian Elkhounds and Labrador Retriev- ers back in the 40’s. He used his Labs for pheasant and duck hunting. My father had a need for adventure and the curios- ity of an Elkhound. He decided to try his Elkhound’s “paw” at duck hunting. His Elkhound jumped into the water and swam quickly toward the duck. When He came to shore with duck in mouth, my father hastefully took the duck so as to quell any “Elkhound notions” of running o ff with this tasty morsel for dinner. My father said that his Elkhound was a natu- ral. I say, “What could be more natural than an Elkhound going after easy prey at any cost.”

Indoors, the Elkhound can be a loving companion, lying at your feet or by your side on the couch. You may also fi nd him “crashed” on the fl oor in another room, sleeping. Sometimes he’s just “in your face,” always curious as to what you are doing. After your Elkhound has had his full and complete meal, and you are cooking or eat- ing dinner, there he is, looking up at you with those dark soulful eyes in complete adoration? Don’t fl atter yourself. Th e Elk- hound is a food motivated chow hound. Don’t give in. Yes, you can train him not to beg, with patience and persistence. Only give him treats as a reward for good behav- ior or speci fi c requests. If not, he will be successfully training you, the result being negative consequences to his health. A heavy or obese Elkhound is one that will be plagued with weight related health prob- lems until his shortened life is over. Th e Elkhound is generally an easy keeper. Because his double coat sheds rain, sleet, snow and other foreign substances, it is, in essence, self-cleaning, with very little doggie odor. Only a good brushing and/or combing is generally needed, once or twice a week. However, Elkhounds do shed. Some shed once or twice a year and others shed a little, all year long. For those that shed once or twice a year, much more diligence will be needed to rid the dog of old, dead coat and there will be times when you may be living with tufts of hair everywhere! Norwegian Elkhounds are generally healthy dogs, but, like all breeds, they

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*AKC STATS AS OF 6/30/21 # 1 B I TCH BREED *

HIGHPOINT ’ S B J O R N L A S S R A I S E YO U R G L A S S G R A N D C H A M P I O N

S I RE : MB I S MB I SS CH VIN-MELCA’S TOP O’ THE MARK

DAM: CH BJORN LASS HIGHPOINT MADAME X (SCUL LY)

SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, AUGUST 2021 | 257

Norwegian

Elkhounds:

THEIR JUDGE AND THEIR BREEDER

BY BONNIE TURNER

“ T he Norwegian Elkhound is a hardy gray hunting dog.” These are the first words of the Official Standard. Any prospec- tive breeder or judge can obtain a copy of this standard, read and study it. He or she can then pro- ceed to follow either of these two ultra-important paths, feeling possessed with the knowledge needed and forti- fied with enough knowledge to produce excellent results. The sport of dogs requires successful breeders or judges possessing an intrinsic (go-with-your-gut) confi- dence based on knowledge and experience that can only be attained through constant learning/studying. I have always felt that if you produced a wonderful litter when first starting out, luck had befallen that breeder. As to judges, initial assignments are usually followed by a few reflections on, “Woulda, Could, Shoulda.” The quality breeders and judges get their feet under them and, ulti- mately, produce a quality result, time after time, with the aforementioned learning/studying. My goal here is to benefit current and prospective breeders and judges by giving you some of the background that is not mentioned in the wording of the standard. I would like to expand on the intimate characteristics of the Elkhound that years of experience has provided me. Often, little-known factoids stick in a person’s mind and lend themselves to greater interest in that breed. GENERAL APPEARANCE: The gray dog is very difficult to see in the woods. The underbody and underside of tail are light silver, and help to provide the hunter (or the distressed owner of an escapee) with a sighting of their dog. The silver under- side is vital to coat color—and in the woods. Imagine the courage of a 50-pound dog trailing and holding an ant- lered and sharp-hooved giant of an angry animal many times taller and weighing 1,200-1,500 lbs. After trailing for miles, he must hold the moose until his human can get there to bring down their quest. To this end, the dog can be a barker (much to the chagrin of neighbors). The hunter must find the moose, and his dog, since his two legs leave him in the moose’s and the dog(s)’ dust quite early in the hunt. The hunter must listen for his dog(s) in order to have a chance of finding them. The moose is a great swimmer and has good speed. Now, how impressed are you with the abilities of this dog? Did you know that many of today’s Norwegians still fill their freezers every fall with game he has killed with his Elkhounds?

240 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, APRIL 2021

NORWEGIAN ELKHOUNDS: THEIR JUDGE AND THEIR BREEDER

THIS IS NOT A DOG BUILT FOR SPEED, BUT RATHER FOR ENDURANCE.

NECK, TOPLINE AND BODY: This is not a dog built for speed, but rather for endurance. For agility, the body is short. The ribcage comprises most of its length, thereby providing the room needed for heart and lungs. They must have a hard, level topline, which denotes great mus- culature. Leg strength, the ability to leap and twist (to evade attack), stems from the topline as well. All of these attributes just “scream” athlete. The dog’s very survival has always been deter- mined by his athleticism, intelligence, and the ability to think on the run. Coat: Thick and harsh to resist snow, ice, and freezing rivers and lakes. The outer coat keeps them warm and not wet enough to freeze, while the downy undercoat (that you find all over your floors and in your food) keeps them protected. Forequarter and Hindquarters: Paws are small and oval to travel easily over rough or icy terrain. Imagine a dog with large and/or open toes trying to cover rough terrain with such feet. Length of leg should be 50% (I, perhaps, like a little more – 52%) of the dog’s height. Please, please note that the ribcage does not hang down below the elbows. Both should meet in the same spot; heavy-bodied and/or short-legged dogs cannot make it as hunters. In Norway, there is a great deal of woods, under- brush, water, and fallen trees, all of which hamper the speed and progress of the shorter-legged, heavy-bodied, would-be hunters. The rear should have moderate angulation, providing the ability to leap and spin—avoiding antlers and hooves.

Temperament: He is bold, energetic, and will sure let you know when UPS has arrived at your door. The Elkhound hunts far ahead of the hunter and must make his own decisions about how he will proceed. For this reason, as an independent thinker, he is not the “star” of the performance world. He is far from stupid and he learns quickly. But in training class and subsequent competitions, his gen- eral feeling is, “Been there, done that, my dear owner. So how dumb are you for needing to do this over and over?” Some comply out of love of the partnership and some just love the energy they get to expend, but all Elkhounds are smart, sensitive to their people, loyal, and happy. If asked to advise breeders and judges as to the paramount infor- mation on which to base their selections, I would list the following: Above all, select the athlete who possesses a good headpiece for scenting ability, small ears that won’t freeze, arch of neck, and excel- lent layback with good return of upper arm, length of leg, hard level topline, long rib and short coupling, and high-set tail with ample rear angulation. His appearance must say, “I am the dog who can, despite harsh elements, long distance, and rough terrain, follow and contain the game.” Judges, please keep in mind when judging the Hound Group that the Elkhound looks like no other dog in his Group. When consider- ing your placements; evaluate your Elkhound on how well he fits his standard as a sound, energetic athlete. An extensive familiarity with this breed will, hopefully, have you considering them equally with the other more popular/safer breeds.

SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, APRIL 2021 | 241

THE NORWEGIAN ELKHOUD

KATHY CARTER I live in Colorado, northwest of Denver. I enjoy reading, gardening , zumba and traveling. I’ve had dogs all of my life, several different breeds when I was young. Started showing Elkhounds around 1978, and judging them in 1993 provisionally and approved in 1996. I share my life with husband, son, four Elkhounds and two adopted cats. I worked as a nurse for 35 years, but now just judge and really enjoy it. I’d like to see our Elkhound remain the strong stable natural breed it was meant to be. That’s why we all got into this breed in the first place. Too many breeds have been changed by breeding to fads and what is winning in the group. If we change it too much, it will no longer be the true original Norwegian Elkhound (Elghund). GLENDA HAGGERTY

break and ride quarter horses and train customers to ride horses both for pleasure and 4-H.

1. Your opinion of the current quality of purebred dogs in general and your breed in particular? GH: The current quality of all breeds is very good—if you are only watching the groups at shows. In the classes, I observe many pet quality dogs. In Elkhounds, the quality of bitches at shows is excellent. However, there appears to be a shortage of high-quality males.

2. Describe the breed in three words. KC: Square, agile and medium size.

3. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? KC: Square and close coupled, not long bodied. Proper leg length, at least 50%. A strong straight firm topline, a good foot: small, oval and tight. Thick, harsh weather resistant coat, that is not altered by excessive trimming and artificial substances. Moderate size and bone and balanced. A wedge head with good fill under the eyes, and a good temperament is a must. And a good tail, high- set and curled up tightly over the back. We don’t always get the perfect set or tight curl, but I’ve seen too many low set tails with hardly a curl, where the tail is hanging down on the hip, like an Akita tail. This is a feature that distinguishes the Elkhound from other breeds. 4. Does the big coat make it difficult to evaluate structure? KC: No, one has to feel under the coat to evaluate structure and leg length. 5. How important is gait in the breed? KC: It is important for the job they were bred to do, but it should be an agile, strong gait, and one of endurance, not flying speed. They have to be able to turn quickly and change direction in a moments notice, to get out of the way of the moose, so being agile is important. As is endurance, as they have to be capable of hunting all day through very rough terrain. 6. What’s the most common fault you see when travel- ing around the country? KC: A few temperaments have been questionable, bad feet; often flat and splayed, soft toplines, low tailsets and S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , S EPTEMBER 2018 • 401

I have been breeding and showing Norwegian Elkhounds for 34 years. My first big winner, Jackson, Ch Westwind So Hot of Greyplume CD, had numerous group placements during his years in the ring from 1985 to the late 1990s. With numerous champions and group winners in between, Ch Greyplume Denmar Mon- tego Bay, Teague, won the Norwegian

Elkhound National in 2004. My current male, GCh Ch Grey- plume’s Retrofit, Sage, won best opposite sex at the 2016 Nor- wegian Elkhound National. I live with my husband, Bill, and three Elkhounds: Sage, Daisy and Cher. Together we live on acreage with multiple yards and a six-foot-high, secure fence with numerous shade trees next to the Colorado National Monument in Grand Junction, Colorado. Outside of dogs, I study the Spanish language, practice pilates and yoga and participate in politics while working part-time at a specialty clothing store. KEVIN RICHARD I live in Washington, Pennsylvania, just south of Pitts- burgh. Outside of dogs, I train standard-bred race horses,

norwegian elkhoud Q&A WITH KATHY CARTER, GLENDA HAGGERTY & KEVIN RICHARD

movement front and rears—coming and going, either cowhocked/very narrow rears, or fronts that come out of the same hole and look like paddling mixmaster fronts. Also some very round , protruding eyes. 7. The biggest concern you have about your breed, be it medical, structural, temperament-wise or other? GH: My biggest concern is that some breeders are breeding dogs with hip dysplasia. Dysplasia is the largest problem in Elkhounds. In Norway, they recognize the problem in the most effective way; dogs cannot be registered if either of their parents are dysplastic. KR: The Elkhound ranks in the 90-100 in AKC registra- tions, 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. 8. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? KC: Definitely the gait, many are flying around the ring like German Shepherds with long extended gaits, which is not correct for this breed. Usually those dogs are too long in body and coupling. Also very straight fronts and over angled rears. 9. 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. 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. 10. Advice to a new breeder? Advice to a new judge of your breed? GH: My advice to a breeder is to only breed the highest quality in all areas. Pay careful attention to temperament and genetic health, especially good hip history. Plan on spending a lot of time socializing and handling pups. My advice to a judge is to look at the whole dog. Ask your- self, could this dog hunt over rough terrain with ease

for hours? Look at breed type and pay special attention to soundness and to reach and drive. KR: To a new breeder: do the research and purchase the best bitch you can find. Then rely on the mentorship of whomever you think. Start with your bitch’s breeder. If you are interested enough you’ll succeed. Pick everyone’s brain—it helps. For the Judge: you all read the standard. Remember this is a big game hunter in its’ country of origin. After you’ve found what you like, or not, in the lineup, good clean movement is a must, as well as, ease of gait. The animal you feel can do the job and not wear out or break down, is the one that should be picked. 11. In considering a stud dog for your breeding pro- gram, how far back do you research his pedigree? In other words how many generations do you feel have bearing on the litter produced? GH: I usually look at four to five generations for phenotype and genetics. KR: In choosing a stud, we certainly look at four genera- tions. Yet, as far as genetic problems, you must look as far back as possible and if you can think of who brought what to the table and not have it affect your bitches’ pedigree. Most important if you like your bitch, try to phenotype the sire to bitch; this is important to me. In other words, if mom and dad match up after a pedigree research is done, the results could have less risk, half as easy to say harder to do. But when it works, it’s worth it. I reiterate, always remember these dogs are meant to hunt and they are supposed to be athletes with a purpose. Pretty doesn’t always get the job done—strength of gait and functionable type does. 12. We all agree Elkhounds are the most wonderful breed, what good and bad information do you pro- vide your prospective puppy buyers? GH: For puppy buyers, I give the pros and cons: Pros: Companionship, intelligence, a great hiking partner (on lead) and protection. Cons: Barking, shedding, tendency to become over- weight if fed too much and cannot survive without a high-fenced yard and ample shade in the summer. KR: Most Norwegian Elkhound buyers we find are repeats. Their father, grandfather or they have had one. This is why the NEAA and all Norwegian Elkhound breeders should work on making the Elkhound more popular. We stress socialization, getting your dog out, obedience, agil- ity; whatever you can do the first year of your dog’s life— the better your pet will be to live with. And of course regular shots and worming are a must.

404 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , S EPTEMBER 2018

NORWEGIAN ELKHOUNDS: THEIR JUDGE AND THEIR BREEDER by BONNIE TURNER

“ T he Norwegian Elkhound is a hardy, gray hunting dog.” These are the first words of the Official Standard. Any prospective breeder or judge can obtain a copy of this stan- dard, read and study it. He or she can then proceed to follow either of these two ultra-important paths, feeling he possess the knowledge needed and is fortified with enough knowledge to produce excellent results. The sport of dogs requires suc- cessful breeders or judges possessing an intrinsic (go-with-your-gut) confi- dence based on knowledge and expe- rience that can only be attained with constant learning/studying. I have always felt if you produced a wonder- ful litter when first starting out that luck had befallen that breeder. As to judges, initial assignments are usu- ally followed by a few reflections on, “Woulda, coulda, shoulda.” The qual- ity breeders and judges get their feet under them and ultimately produce a quality result time after time with the aforementioned learning/studying. My goal here is to benefit current and prospective breeders and judges by giving you some of the background not mentioned in the wording of the stan- dard. I would like to expand on the inti- mate characteristics of the Elkhound that years of experience provided me. Often little known factoids stick in a person’s mind and lend themselves to greater interest in that breed.

moose and his dog since his two legs leave him in the moose’s and dog’s dust quite early in the hunt. The hunter must listen for his dog/dogs in order to have a chance of finding them. The moose is a great swimmer and has good speed. Now, how impressed are you with the abilities of this dog? Did you know that many of today’s Norwegians still fill their freezers every fall with game he has killed with his Elkhounds? NECK, TOPLINE AND BODY: This is not a dog built for speed, but rather for endurance. For agility, the body is short. The ribcage comprises most of its length, thereby, providing the room needed for heart and lungs. They must have a hard level topline, which denotes great musculature. Leg strength, the ability to leap and twist

GENERAL APPEARANCE: The grey dog is very difficult to see in the woods. The underbody and underside of tail are light silver and help provide the hunter (or the distressed owner of an escapee) to get a sighting of their dog. The silver underside is vital to coat color and in the woods. Imagine the courage of a 50-pound dog trailing and holding an antlered and sharp-hooved giant of an angry animal many times taller and weighing 1200-1500 lbs. After trail- ing for miles, he must hold the moose until his human can get there to bring down their quest. To this end, the dog can be a barker (much to the chagrin of neighbors), the hunter must find the

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , S EPTEMBER 2018 • 405

(to evade attack) all stem from the topline as well. All of these attributes just scream athlete. The dog’s very sur- vival has always been determined by his athleticism, intelligence and ability to think on the run. Coat: Thick and harsh to resist snow, ice and freezing rivers and lakes. The outer coat keeps them warm and not wet enough to freeze, while the downy undercoat (that you find all over the floors and in your food) keeps them protected. Forequarter and Hindquarters: Paws small and oval to travel easily over rough or icy terrain. Imagine a dog with large and or open toes trying to cover rough terrain with such feet. Length of leg should be 50% (I, perhaps, like a little more-52%) of the dog’s height. Please, please note that the ribcage does not hang down below the elbows, both should meet in the same spot; heavy bodied and/or short-legged dogs cannot make it as hunters. In Norway, there is a great deal of woods, under- brush, water and fallen trees, which will hamper the speed and progress of the shorter legged heavy-bodied would-be hunters. The rear should have moderate angulation providing the abil- ity to leap and spin avoiding antlers and hooves. Temperament: He is bold, energetic and will sure let you know when UPS has arrived at your door. The Elkhound hunts far ahead of the hunter and must make his own decisions about how he will proceed. For this reason, as an independent thinker, he is not the

“star” of the performance world. He is far from stupid and learns quickly, but in training class and subsequent competitions, his general feeling is, “Been there, done that my dear owner. So how dumb are you for needing to do this over and over?” Some comply out of love of the partnership, some just love the energy they get to expend but all Elkhounds are smart, sensitive to their people, loyal and happy. If asked to advise breeders and judg- es as to the paramount information on which to base their selections I would list the following: Above all select the athlete who pos- sesses good headpiece for scenting abil- ity, small ears that won’t freeze, arch of

neck and excellent layback with good return of upper arm, length of leg, hard level topline, long rib and short cou- pling and high-set tail with ample rear angulation. His appearance must say, “I am the dog who can, despite harsh ele- ments, long distance and rough terrain, follow and contain the game.” Judges, please keep in mind when judging the Hound Group, the Elk- hound looks like no other dog in his group. When considering your place- ments; evaluate your Elkhound on how well he fits his standard as a sound, energetic athlete. An extensive familiar- ity with this breed will hopefully have you considering them equally with the other more popular/safer breeds.

406 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , S EPTEMBER 2018

NORWEGIAN ELKHOUND THE DOG OF THE VIKINGS

GLENDA HAGGERTY

KEVIN RICHARD I live in Washington, Pennsylvania, just south of Pitts- burgh. Outside of dogs, I train standardbred race horses, break and ride quarter horses and train customers to ride horses both for pleasure and 4-H. 1. Your opinion of the current quality of purebred dogs in general and your breed in particular? GH: The current quality of all breeds is very good—if you are only watching the groups at shows. In the classes, I observe many pet quality dogs. In Elkhounds, the quality of bitches at shows is excellent. However, there appears to be a shortage of high-quality males. EH: Purebred dogs quality levels tend to be cyclical. I believe both judges and exhibitors need to spend more time not only studying their own breed, but the ones of others. RR: Numbers are down across the board since I started exhibiting and I think because of that the good and the bad dogs stand out more. Has the ratio of excellent to poor specimens changed? I don’t know without doing more research but the differ- ences stand out more because of less dogs in the ring. That and since numbers are down, a dog has to beat fewer dogs nowadays to win points and majors. So I’d say in some cases you had more worthy champions and specials when there were more competition. That being said, even with the points lower since there are less dogs being shown it’s hard to find enough dogs to make a major. Our breed has suffered in the same regard. With less dogs being shown, less competition to drive breed- ers to breed dogs that could win against a large field of competition. That’s not saying there aren’t so good dogs being shown but the breed has suffered from smaller numbers being bred and shown. KR: The quality of the AKC show dog is in fine shape with the more popular breeds. Yet, as we go further down the list to the less popular breeds, it would stand to reason that the gene pool is a lot smaller in these breeds. I feel the Norwegian Elkhound falls into this category. Surely the popularity of “Designer” dogs and “Rescue” dogs becoming more vogue hurt the AKC dog, top to bottom. However, the Norwegian Elkhound breeders are working together to overcome these issues. 2. The biggest concern you have about your breed, be it medical, structural, temperament-wise or other? GH: My biggest concern is that some breeders are breeding dogs with hip dysplasia. Dysplasia is the largest problem in Elkhounds. In Norway, they recognize the problem

I have been breeding and showing Norwegian Elkhounds for 34 years. My first big winner, Jackson, Ch Westwind So Hot of Greyplume CD, had numerous group placements during his years in the ring from 1985 to the late 1990s. With numerous champions and group winners in between, Ch Greyplume Denmar Mon- tego Bay, Teague, won the Norwegian

Elkhound National in 2004. My current male, GCh Ch Grey- plume’s Retrofit, Sage, won best opposite sex at the 2016 Nor- wegian Elkhound National. I live with my husband, Bill, and three Elkhounds: Sage, Daisy and Cher. Together we live on acreage with multiple yards and a six-foot-high, secure fence with numerous shade trees next to the Colorado National Monument in Grand Junction, Colorado. Outside of dogs, I study the Spanish language, practice pilates and yoga and participate in politics while working part-time at a specialty clothing store. ED HALL

I live on seven acres for my dogs and gardens in Merrimack, New Hampshire. I am Vice President and general manager of Kenmore Stamp Company, which sells postage stamps for collectors. I have bred and exhibited Norwe- gian Elkhounds for over 56 years under the Somerri Kennel prefix. In 1971, I graduated from the University of New

Hampshire with a B.A. degree in Zoology. I have been a member of the Norwegian Elkhound Association of Amer- ica and Merrimack Valley Kennel club since 1965. I am a charter member of the Norwegian Elkhound Minuteman Association (since 1977). My first judging assignment was at an all breed match in New Hampshire in 1964. Since 1973, I have been an AKC licensed judge of Norwegian Elk- hounds and now judge 69 breeds including all Hounds and most Working. ROBIN RHODEN I live in Westminster, Colorado and outside of dogs I go fishing and camping.

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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,

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“Who can or cannot hunt in the dense woods”. Jump, stand on hind quarters and bounce away from a moose, bear, etc and take whatever weather is thrown at them. We don’t give much leeway on form and function. 5. In considering a stud dog for your breeding pro- gram, how far back do you research his pedigree? In other words how many generations do you feel have bearing on the litter produced? GH: I usually look at four to five generations for phenotype and genetics. EH: Having seen most of the Elkhounds in pedigrees over the past 60 years is an advantage in determining what effect a stud will have on our line. When we use our own we know what to expect, but over this period having bred to many studs that met our criteria in at least the past three-four generations. With these some have been incorporated while others have not. Major early contri- butions were from CH. Silver Ski of Pomfret (Correct Small Ears), CH. Bobb of Pitch Road (Norwegian Import) (moderate chest and correct leg to chest ratio) and CH. Branstock’s Joker Joe (Correct Movement). We check to see that we can continue to maintain aspects such as these when adding to our line. RR: I typically look back at least seven but the first three generations make the biggest impact. Then you have to look at the maternal lines, as I think the dam lines will influence the breeding more than the male lines. Not that you don’t look at them, but the maternal line, especially a strong female line, can influence things more so. KR: In choosing a stud, we certainly look at four genera- tions. Yet, as far as genetic problems, you must look as far back as possible and if you can think of who brought what to the table and not have it affect your bitches’ pedigree. Most important if you like your bitch, try to phenotype the sire to bitch; this is important to me. In other words, if mom and dad match up after a pedigree research is done, the results could have less risk, half as easy to say harder to do. But when it works, it’s worth it. I reiterate, always remember these dogs are meant to hunt and they are supposed to be athletes with a purpose. Pretty doesn’t always get the job done—strength of gait and functionable type does. 6. We all agree Elkhounds are the most wonderful breed, what good and bad information do you pro- vide your prospective puppy buyers? GH: For puppy buyers, I give the pros and cons: Pros: Companionship, intelligence, a great hiking partner (on lead) and protection.

Cons: Barking, shedding, tendency to become over- weight if fed too much and cannot survive without a high-fenced yard and ample shade in the summer. EH: The main bad thing is that Elkhounds have a very dense coat and if you cannot live with the hair shed in varying degrees virtually all year round, this is not a breed for you. They can be very independent in nature, but loyal to their owner in nature, which makes for a great dog to live with. At times they can be very active, especially when they first get out of their dog runs. RR: Pros: Elkhounds love their people but they aren’t velcro dogs, so they won’t be on top of you wanting attention all the time. They are intelligent and are happy doing everything from laying on the couch to hiking in the mountains. Cons: They can bark at times, not to hear themselves bark but at rabbits, birds, squirrels, etc. Not constantly, by any means, but at times. They are a double-coated breed so when they do shed, there is a lot of hair. They don’t shed all the time like some breeds, so if you brush and get the dead hair out it doesn’t last a long time. If you don’t, you’ll have a lot of hair for a while. KR: Most Norwegian Elkhound buyers we find are repeats. Their father, grandfather or they have had one. This is why the NEAA and all Norwegian Elkhound breeders should work on making the Elkhound more popular. We stress socialization, getting your dog out, obedience, agil- ity; whatever you can do the first year of your dog’s life— the better your pet will be to live with. And of course regular shots and worming are a must. 7. Advice to a new breeder? Advice to a new judge of your breed? GH: My advice to a breeder is to only breed the highest quality in all areas. Pay careful attention to temperament and genetic health, especially good hip history. Plan on spending a lot of time socializing and handling pups. My advice to a judge is to look at the whole dog. Ask your- self, could this dog hunt over rough terrain with ease for hours? Look at breed type and pay special attention to soundness and to reach and drive. EH: New breeders should learn the backgrounds of your dogs. Talk to longtime breeders who are producing good specimens. I spent many hours talking with everyone in the breed when starting out as did the rest of my family. Today everyone seems to know all about the breed right off. Judges need to know the breed specific traits of the Norwegian Elkhound and what are life/death important as there are numerous ones. Judges need to know how tall 19 ½ inches and 20 ½ inches are. If it looks like an Aki- ta, it’s not an Elkhound. Judges need to not penalize the

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untrimmed dog which is called essential in our standard vs the trimmed one that can fool you on the proportions of the dog. Learn what the appearance of 50 ⁄ 50 chest to leg means. It does not mean 50 % leg to 50 % chest. The hair on the underside makes this appear that way, but on a solid hunting dog the leg is closer to 55 % while chest is 45 % which is 11 ¼ in leg on a 20 ½ inch male. RR: For judges: our type tends to vary and our numbers are low. So at shows if you have an entry you may see three- four littermates that look alike and one or two that look nothing like them. Know your standard those one or two that look different might actually be the correct ones. Also, in addition to what I mentioned above, our rears are supposed to single track and hips should be as broad as chest and well-muscled. There are a lots of narrow rears that almost double track instead of single tracking. Those rears would not be able to hunt in harsh terrain for miles and miles. Don’t be fooled be the restricted moving dogs whose handlers move them as fast as their legs will go. KR: To a new breeder: do the research and purchase the best bitch you can find. Then rely on the mentorship of whomever you think. Start with your bitch’s breeder. If you are interested enough you’ll succeed. Pick everyone’s brain—it helps. For the Judge: you all read the standard. Remember this is a big game hunter in its’ country of origin. After you’ve found what you like, or not, in the lineup, good clean movement is a must, as well as, ease of gait. The animal you feel can do the job and not wear out or break down, is the one that should be picked. 8. Anything else you’d like to share—something you’ve learned as a breeder, exhibitor or judge or a par- ticular point you’d like to make? GH: I realized a long time dream: I was able to hunt with Elkhounds in Norway and Sweden. I always tried to breed for hunting type in my years of breeding. Finally, I got to see hunting type in action. The most important thing I learned was how much the Elkhounds enjoy hunting and how expert they are. However, it is most obvious that the job of hunting requires the dogs to have sound hips and excellent structure to endure the countless hours of physical activity required to keep up. EH: Go to each show not to win but to learn. Spend time talking with people in other breeds about breeding, structure and the problems/solutions they are continually working on. We review what we have learned on the way home from each show and its amazing the knowl- edge that can be found. People at dog shows are a wealth of information. If you go to the show not worrying about

winning, the wins you do get will be much more pleasurable and the losses less painful. You cannot expect to win all the time, but you can learn more than imagined. RR: There has been a debate discussion for 30+ years about grooming of the breed. Standard says they should be shown natural. In reality, 90 % of the dogs being shown are groomed in some way. Fifty-sixty percent of those probably look more or less natural nothing looks artificial or made up. Just clean and tidy. Then 20 % more have a bit more done. A bit more trimming a few more prod- ucts. The last 10 % have way too much done to them, whether it’s sculpting with scissors so they look more like Bichons, a short-legged dog with absolutely no belly hair so they look like they have legs. Two-three layers of cholesterol and chalk on legs to give appearance of substance and, yes, those legs will feel sticky and gooey if judges felt them, or ears and a muzzle so jet black and not tri-colored as they should be that Revlon had something to do with it. KR: Make the right choices as a breeder. This is a wonderful breed; try to conform to the standard as much as possi- ble. As an exhibitor, have fun. The Norwegian Elkhound clubs are the some of the nicest people I’ve met and have made several lifelong friends because of my dogs. 9. And for a bit of humor, what’s the funniest thing that you ever experienced at a dog show? GH: My daughter, Bridgette, showed dogs with me for years. At her first show, a Norwegian Elkhound specialty at age six, the judge asked Bridgette to show her the dogs’ bite. Bridgette misunderstood and showed the judge her own bite. The crowd was must appreciative and gave Bridgette and veteran bitch, Rose, a standing ovation. EH: One of my experiences at a dog show was at the Cincin- nati National Specialty in 2002 when my eight-month-old puppy bitch, GCH Somerri Diamond’s Sapphire, grabbed my tie on the down and back in the puppy Sweepstakes under long-time breeder Vikki Lawton and simply did not want to let go the whole time. The audience was greatly amused that this would happen to a breeder judge and never let me forget same! She did go on to win the Sweeps and produce ten Champions. RR: One of the most funny and horrifying things—one of my first shows and I had a eight-month-old boy. Judge was judging in a chair due to her health. We’re doing the exam and he sticks his head under her dress and put his head all the way up to her underpants. This was only like my 3rd or 4th dog show. I’m mortified and want to die. The judge, bless her soul, just says, ‘Oh my, he’s a fresh young man,” and just laughed it off.

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Official Standard of the Norwegian Elkhound

Hindquarters: Moderate angulation at stifle and hock. Thighs are broad and well muscled. Seen from behind, legs are straight, strong and without dewclaws. Feet as in front. Coat: Thick, hard, weather resisting and smooth lying; made up of soft, dense, woolly undercoat and coarse, straight cov- ering hairs. Short and even on head, ears, and front of legs; longest on back of neck, buttocks and underside of tail. The coat is not altered by trimming, clipping or artificial treat- ment. Trimming of whiskers is optional. In the show ring, presentation in a natural, unaltered condition is essential. Color: Gray, medium preferred, variations in shade deter- mined by the length of black tips and quantity of guard hairs. Undercoat is clear light silver as are legs, stomach, buttocks, and underside of tail. The gray body color is darkest on the saddle, lighter on the chest, mane and distinctive harness mark (a band of longer guard hairs from shoulder to elbow). The muzzle, ears and tail tip are black. The black of the muzzle shades to lighter gray over the forehead and skull. Yellow or brown shading, white patches, indistinct or irregular markings, "sooty" coloring on the lower legs and light circles around the eyes are undesirable. Any overall color other than gray as described above, such as red, brown, solid black, white or other solid color, disqualifies. Gait: Normal for an active dog constructed for agility and endurance. At a trot the stride is even and effortless; the back remains level. As the speed of the trot increases, front and rear legs converge equally in straight lines toward a centerline beneath the body, so that the pads appear to follow in the same tracks (single track). Front and rear quarters are well balanced in angulation and muscular development. Temperament: In temperament, the Norwegian Elkhound is bold and energetic, an effective guardian yet normally friend- ly, with great dignity and independence of character. Summary: The Norwegian Elkhound is a square and athlet- ic member of the northern dog family. His unique coloring, weather resistant coat and stable disposition make him an ideal multipurpose dog at work or at play. Disqualifications: An overall color other than gray.

General Appearance: The Norwegian Elkhound is a hardy gray hunting dog. In appearance, a typical northern dog of medium size and substance, square in profile, close coupled and balanced in proportions. The head is broad with prick ears, and the tail is tightly curled and carried over the back. The distinctive gray coat is dense and smooth lying. As a hunter, the Norwegian Elkhound has the courage, agility and stamina to hold moose and other big game at bay by barking and dodging attack, and the endurance to track for long hours in all weather over rough and varied terrain. Size, Proportion, Substance: Height at the withers for dogs is 20½ inches, for bitches 19½ inches. Weight for dogs about 55 pounds, for bitches about 48 pounds. Square in profile and close coupled. Distance from brisket to ground appears to be half the height at the withers. Distance from forechest to rump equals the height at the withers. Bone is substantial, without being coarse. Head: Head broad at the ears, wedge shaped, strong and dry (without loose skin). Expression keen, alert, indicating a dog with great courage. Eyes very dark brown, medium in size, oval, not protruding. Ears set high, firm and erect, yet very mobile. Comparatively small; slightly taller than their width at the base with pointed (not rounded) tips. When the dog is alert, the orifices turn forward and the outer edges are vertical. When relaxed or showing affection, the ears go back, and the dog should not be penalized for doing this during the judge's examination. Viewed from the side, the forehead and back of the skull are only slightly arched; the stop not large, yet clearly defined. The muzzle is thickest at the base and, seen from above or from the side, tapers even- ly without being pointed. The bridge of the nose is straight, parallel to and about the same length as the skull. Lips are tightly closed and teeth meet in a scissors bite. Neck, Topline, Body: Neck of medium length, muscular, well set up with a slight arch and with no loose skin on the throat. Topline - The back is straight and strong from its high point at the withers to the root of the tail. The body is short and close-coupled with the rib cage accounting for most of its length. Chest deep and moderately broad; brisket level with points of elbows; and ribs well sprung. Loin short and wide with very little tuck-up. Tail set high, tightly curled, and car- ried over the centerline of the back. It is thickly and closely haired, without brush, natural and untrimmed. Forequarters: Shoulders sloping with elbows closely set on. Legs well under body and medium in length; substantial, but not coarse, in bone. Seen from the front, the legs appear straight and parallel. Single dewclaws are normally present. Feet-Paws comparatively small, slightly oval with tightly closed toes and thick pads. Pasterns are strong and only slightly bent. Feet turn neither in nor out.

Approved December 13, 1988 Effective February 1, 1989

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