Norwegian Elkhound Breed Magazine - Showsight

Norwegian Elkhound Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners..


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Official Standard of the Norwegian Elkhound 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 evenly 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 carried 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. 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 covering 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 treatment. Trimming of whiskers is optional. In the show ring, presentation in a natural, unaltered condition is essential. Color : Gray, medium preferred, variations in shade determined by the length of black tips and quantity of guard hairs. Undercoat is clear light silver as are legs, stomach, buttocks, and

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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 friendly, with great dignity and independence of character. Summary: The Norwegian Elkhound is a square and athletic 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.

Approved December 13, 1988 Effective February 1, 1989

History ~ Gray Elkhound of Norway By Dr. Nina P. Ross Norwegian Elkhound

The Norwegian Elkhound of the United States is the same breed as the Gray Elkhound of Norway, its mother country. The Norwegian Elkhound of Norway, on the other hand, is the Black Elkhound, a small- er breed with a lighter build. In fact, there are other Elkhound breeds, in addition to the Gray Elkhound and the Black Elkhound, used for moose hunting in Scandinavia, including the Jamthund, Karelsk, Karelian Bear Dog, and several Laika breeds from Russia.

Torvmosehund. The Viking Period, ca. 793 A.D., followed. The Vikings were fearless

credited with helping rid the country of the wolves by its ingenuity and fearless fighting. The wolves killed off most of the game in the woods in Norway, leaving one small herd of moose in Osterdalen and Hedmarken. Very few Elkhounds survived the ordeal. Breeders and hunters searched the country for the best of the survivors for breeding and, over a period of years, were able to re-estab- lish the bloodlines. A puppy whelped in 1865 became the model for today’s Norwegian Elkhound. He was named Gamle Bamse Gram. He is included in many

Viking Ship: Oseberg

Norsemen who traveled the seas in large, skillfully designed pirate ships made of oak, and requiring as many as sixty oarsmen. The Danes and Swedes sometimes joined with the Norwegians in their raids. Bold, rugged dogs were prized possessions of the Vikings, serving as comrades, guardians, and hunters. Traces of the dogs indicate physical features simi- lar to the Gray Elkhound of today. Viking ships were often used as burial ships, carrying the dead, their earthly possessions, food, horses, oxen, and dogs. They were loaded with rocks and a blue clay that kept them preserved for centuries. Osteologists and archaeologists inferred that the dog bones found at burial sites have a strong resem- blance to an elkhound-type breed of dog that still exists in Scandinavia. Artifacts unearthed from a grave at Valloby leave little doubt as to the existence of Elkhound-like dogs in Norway before the time of Christ. The Viking Age came to a close around 1066. A more recent period in Norse his- tory was the twenty-year stretch from 1825 to 1845, known as the ‘wolf’ period. Thousands of hungry wolves swarmed through Scandinavia, killing farm stock. The Elkhound is

Far-seeing eyes

of recorded pedigrees.The Gray Elkhound was first shown in conformation shows in Norway in 1877 where the first benched show was held. Breeders believed then, as they do now, that an Elkhound must be proven as a hunting dog before it can be shown in a conformation show. Of the 124 hunting dogs entered in the first show in Norway, fifteen were Elkhounds. There were 180 hunting dogs entered in the second show in 1880, including twenty-eight Elkhounds. the earliest Gamle Bamse Gram was whelped in Norway in 1865.He was the model for the breed.

The documented history of the Gray Norwegian Elkhound dates back more than six thousand years. They roamed the woods tucked between the fjords and cliffs of Norway in competition with prehis- toric man in search of the moose or elg for which the dog was named. Elghund translates as elk dog. Later, man and dog worked together as a team in their quest for food. Archaeologists have uncovered traces of an early migratory people referred to as Veidefolket or gypsies who roamed the area in search of food. They were accompanied by wild dogs thought to be the forerunners of the Norwegian Elkhound, referred to as


Norwegian Elkhound

History ~ Gray Elkhound of Norway

By Dr. Nina P. Ross

In 1899, a group of Norwegian hunters and sportsmen established the Norsk Dyrehundklub and began to formulate the breed standard for the Elkhound. It was completed in 1906 and was revised several times, the latest in 1950. A current revision is underway. The club name was changed in 1949 to the Norsk Elghundklub. Bamse, owned by Arne Omsted, was one of the first Elkhounds to be exhibited in Norway. The first Gray Elkhound champion in Norway was Sara, bred by Ole Blegeberg, and whelped in 1912. She earned her title

ue to aim for the preservation of the natural beauty of the Gray Elkhound,

the United States. He finished in 1926, soon after the Elkhound was admitted to regular classes from the miscellaneous class. Early Elkhound kennels in America were Vindsval, Stonewall, Pitch Road, Narvikwood, Bjorn-Lass, and Stonylea. Elkhound temperament is best described as bold, energetic, and friend- ly, a necessary combination if it is to be effective as a hunter, a guardian, and a companion. Although it is independent and a bit aloof, the Elkhound is good-

English Ch. Llychlyn Morgan

its innate intelligence and rugged- ness in an on-going effort to retain it as a comrade, a guardian and a hunter, much like its ancestors that first roamed the frigid terrain of Scandinavia. Three Elkhounds were imported from Norway to the U. S. in 1913. Koik, Bimba, and Laila, owned by Gottlieb Lechner of Idaho, became the first three Elkhounds to be regis- tered by the American Kennel Club. Eleven were registered between 1914 – 1921, twelve were imported from Norway between 1923 – 1930, eighty-

A correct bitch

Ch. Crafdal Tryg’nThor’s Tufsen

in 1916. Glitre kennels became one of Norway’s most notable kennels. Other kennels contributing to the preserva- tion of the Gray Elkhound included Elgstolen, Fjeldheim, Gjetemyra, Homanskogen, Kalagerasen, Lifjell, Skromtefjell, Sokomdal, Stavsetras, Suteras, Tortasen, and Vardetoppen. Kennels in Norway during the period 1930 – 1960 were considered large if they had three or four bitches. Today, they seldom exceed two bitches. The main objective is to supply hunting dogs for themselves and their hunter friends. Kennel owners in Norway who are breeder-judges have judged Elkhounds at specialties and point shows in America. Several of the older kennels are still in existence in Norway. These breeders, as well as successful long- time breeders of Norwegian Elkhounds in many countries, contin-

natured, willing to obey its master, calm, self-assured, highly intelligent, easily handled in the show ring, and eager to go hunting. Far-seeing eyes and a keen sense of smell stimulate its hunting instinct, even though the prey may be a rabbit or squirrel in the back- yard. Many owners in the U.S. do not

have opportu- nities to hunt with their dogs, but the E l k h o u n d proves itself as a trusted and intelligent companion, content with a gentle pat on the head when it has pleased its master. ■

Ch. Vin-Melca’s Vickssen

nine were registered in 1934, and one hundred fifty in 1935. The Norwegian Elkhound Association of America (NEAA), orga- nized in 1934, was approved by the AKC in 1936. Ch. Grimm of Lifjell, a Norwegian import, was the first Elkhound to finish a championship in

Dr. Nina P. Ross


Judging The Norwegian Elkhound By Bonnie Turner Norwegian Elkhound

For the purposes of this article we are going to pretend the “Holy Grail” of breeding has been reached. The perfect dog has been bred, he is embodied in a Norwegian Elkhound and he is about to walk into the ring where you are the judge. I am writing this as our eyes would be seeing, our hands would be feeling and our mind evaluating this perfect specimen.

The “Hands-On” exam: Head: Dog possesses a scissors bite and the underjaw is strong. Muzzle and backskull are parallel and even in length. Moderate stop leads to a skull that is not domed. Ears are firm, trian- gular and slightly taller than they are wide at the base. The eye is deeply set. Neck: Good length, nicely arched and powerful and most importantly it is well set on. Front Assembly: You find the desired shoulder layback with equal length of scapula and upper arm which leads your hands to closely set on elbows and then to legs that are at least 50% of height (hoping for 52%) and on down from strong pasterns to tight, oval- shaped paws. Body: Close, flat withers flow into a hard, well-muscled loin. Your hands then come to a high-set tight tail held atop the centerline and curling back under itself. Ribs are well sprung and reach only to the elbow. The length of the rib cage comprises most of the body length with the coupling measured at about three fin- gers width. The square dog has equal measurement from the point of shoulder

(acromion) to the point of pelvis (ischi- um) as it does from withers to ground. Coat: The dog carries a thick, healthy double coat. Your eye tells you that this is a gray to silvery dog with very dis- tinctive markings. Muzzle, ears, tip of tail and saddle are all black. Britches, top side of tail (when over the back), underbelly, legs and harness marks are all clear, light silver. Rear Assembly: You appreciate the dog’s moderate angulation. Your hands run over well muscled second thighs and flow into well-let-down hocks of moderate length. Mentally you drop a plumb line from the base of the dog’s tail which falls straight down to the toes. Evaluating Gait: The dog is the ultimate athlete. He moves around the ring with an air of dignity and purpose. His balanced front and rear demonstrate his agility, power and ability to cover rough ground for hours/days at a time. His topline remains level as he reaches and drives while “off” legs meet in the middle underneath the dog. On the down and back the dog single tracks coming as well as going and stops before you with

Beautiful Elkhound Head Study.

Upon entering the ring: Notice definite Elkhound “type.” You appreciate how the dog moves around the ring at an effortless gait while words from the standard-bold, energetic and great digni- ty come to mind. Exam from the side: The dog has a sub- stantial head (indicative of its sex), arched neck, hard level or slightly slop- ing topline, high set tail with a moder- ately angulated and well muscled rear assembly. Exam from the front: Forelegs are straight and parallel, head comprised of a short broad muzzle, intelligent expres- sion with an almond shaped eye accom- panied by good fill underneath, smaller ears set atop the head with no wrinkles in between.

Very deserving bitch. Notice she is small- er and darker having good leg length, type & balance.

Very deserving bitch. Taller, more silvery bitch having good leg length, type and balance.


Norwegian Elkhound

Judging The Norwegian Elkhound

By Bonnie Turner

ears up, feet straight ahead underneath the dog and tail up and over the back. His keen interest in his handler demon- strates his showiness.

Seek and appreciate dogs with good dark markings. Frown upon large patch- es of white on the chest or sootiness on the legs/ feet and lack of dark markings.

taller dogs that embody the assets laid out in the Perfect Elkhound scenario above. In your ring as judge, you decide what you will and will not reward (as the standard mandates of course) but I urge you to seek out the balanced dogs and proceed with judg- ing from there. This breed is capable of breeding down in size in one genera- tion, taller dogs can be an asset in the gene pool. • When hunting, the dog ranges far ahead of the hunter. Imagine the courage of this dog as he follows game sans human guidance. Then this 40-50 lb. dog must face a 1200 lb. moose and contain it until the hunter arrives. This requires great intelligence and indepen- dence of spirit. I am fond of saying what we love about these dogs is what we hate about them. They fail to understand why repeti- tive training is necessary-they already learned how to do what you want the first time you did it! After a perceived irritation, they are fond of refusing to comply with your wishes with payback usually delivered upon stepping into the ring. Complaints about their propensity to bark denies the necessity of their “voice”- the hunter can only find the dog and the game by homing in on that bark. Elkhound owners try to use this explanation to pacify the neighbors in their subdivision too!!! • In Norway, Elkhounds are expected to work the farm, guard the family as well as hunt well past the age of ten. They are intu- itive, loving, loyal, happy companions.

You reward this dog, mark your book, award the ribbons and proudly pose in the photo. You experience the thrill judges get when they know they have found a truly great dog. A little extra information not men- tioned in the standard: • Good Elkhound eyes are dark brown and seem to be rimmed with black eye- liner. This liner extends from the outer corner up towards the ear. These are called mascara lines. Light spots known as spectacles above or below the eyes, detract from the all important expres- sion of the dog. • Black markings of the mask, ears and back are essential pigmentation. In your judging you will encounter darker dogs as well as very silver dogs. While the dog must be an overall grey color there is a matter of preference here but is certainly not the ultimate criteria. You will find that the overall darker dog will carry longer guard hairs as these hairs are light at the base and become black closer to the tips. Very deserving mature dog. Athletic appearance,good bone & leg length, com- pact body, high tight tail set, good angu- lation. Note: This dog demonstrates the boldness, dignity and power which are hallmarks of the breed.

•Light markings running from the withers down to the elbows are called harness marks. • This dog is an endurance runner. When hunting, he is expected to run for days at a time and once his quarry is cornered he must have the stamina and agility to contain his game by barking, leaping and spinning to avoid danger- ous hooves. In the ring they should move freely, usually with head up and ears erect (wind scenters) and they should project confidence and power. • There is a good deal of discussion about size in the Elkhound. The sug- gested height is documented in our standard. When judging, I make mental note of these criteria: type, soundness, conditioning and temperament/show- manship. Over the past few years I have witnessed judges who sort out by size alone. They completely discount dogs of merit that are larger than the other exhibits, ignoring dogs that fulfill more of the criteria than the smaller compe- tition does. Frequently, dogs that are too big do not possess the required ground covering gait and are cloddy and overdone. But there are some Very deserving young dog. Athletic appearance, good bone & leg length,compact body, high tight tail set, good angulation.

Parent Club: N o r w e g i a n E l k h o u n d Association of America.

To request the newly prepared material “The Norwegian Elkhound A Comprehensive Study” go to: Other judge’s materials available as well. ■



Nor. Ch. Bamse

T he Norwegian Elkhound Associ- ation of America holds a nation- al specialty only once every two years. On the o ff or odd year a member regional club will host a NEAA sponsored specialty in conjunction with their own specialty. I just returned several days ago from judging NEAA’s show. Th is was such a huge honor. I had the pleasure of evaluating a number of good dogs. Our entries may be down but there were a num- ber of quality dogs and bitches from which to find the “one I wanted to take home”. I would like to describe for you the process used to make my choices. “Only a properly conditioned dog, square in pro fi le and balanced in proportion can perform e ff ortlessly as he was bred to do thou- sands of years ago.” – Author unknown I keep these words in my head with every dog I evaluate. Article after article has been written going piece by piece with the standard. My aim here is to provide a di ff erent concept about how to judge this breed. Th e following quote, also author unknown, may help you when you study our standard and try to apply it to live dogs. “ Th e Norwegian Elkhound is not a cook- ie-cutter dog. Th e standard uses inconclusive words (substantial, medium, comparatively and slightly) to describe the breed, giving ample opportunity for interpretation. How- ever, if one or more of the breed characteristics are out of balance, the dog is undesirable for showing or breeding.” Skeletons found in caves dating back to 4000-5000 B.C. give this breed the right to claim the title of oldest domesticated dog in western Europe. Living in Viking vil- lages, Elkhounds protected the people and their farm animals from theft and wolves. Th eir battles with wolves are legendary and can be found in numerous writings. Th e breed is a descendent of Canis lupus —the wolf, which explains his independence. One article describes him in this way “for all his loyalty and a ff ection he will never be su ffi ciently submissive for everyone’s taste.” It is this independence which gives him his

hunting prowess. Los-hund (Norwegian for hunting free), the dog must have an ability to make his own decisions, while knowing he will need to vocally summon the hunter to finish the hunt. Imagine the bravery of a 50-pound dog cornering and holding captive a 2500-pound kicking and goring machine, sometimes for hours and after giving chase for most of the day. Th e terrain of Norway is mountainous, covered with underbrush and densely forested. Th e ability to pick up a trail and follow it at a trot for hours is paramount. Now that I have laid out the physical requirements of this breed let us find the best dog in the ring—the dog that could do the hunting job. Viewed from the side, look for a short coupled, balanced dog. Check for good leg length-leg, this length helps them over fallen trees and to wade through streams without getting completely soaked. Looking at the dogs from the side as they gait, a level topline should be maintained while front toes reach the tip of the nose with good push o ff from the rear. Th ey tend to move with their heads lowered. Approach- ing the dog you should see courage in the dog’s eyes. Th ese eyes should be dark brown and oval with “mascara lines” coming from the outer corners. Th ere should be a scis- sors bite. Ears should be slightly smaller than their base’s width and black in color. Th e dog will lay them back when relaxed or showing a ff ection however judges must be able to see them erect at least once. Mov- ing to the side of the head you should see two equal and parallel planes with slight stop. Muzzle should be black and on occa- sion dogs will have spectacles under the eyes which are an undesirable marking. Fill under the eyes is most desirable. A muscular neck of good length leads you to a pair of great shoulders. Scapulas that lay on good muscling and are matched by long upper arms lead your hands to substantial bone in the leg and on to paws which are oval and tightly closed. Elbows should be well set on deep, well sprung ribs. We are now at the all- important ribcage for the correct Elkhound.

Th e dog must have a comparatively long ribcage and a short coupling to be correct. Th e distance between the withers and tail may appear to be short but it is the correct proportions that are essential. Th ere must be great heart and lung capacity for miles of ground covering and short coupling to aid in agility when avoiding the antlers and hooves that can kill. (NOTE: approxi- mately 3-4 fingers width should comprise the length of the coupling.) Th e dog should possess moderate rear angulation, well-let down hocks and muscled thighs. Th e tail is high set and tightly curled lying on the center of the back. Checking the coat, it must be harsh and flat lying for weather resistance, brushing it the other way should expose a woolly undercoat as the dog carries a double coat. Th e only disqualification is for a dog that is not overall gray in color. Th e darkness of the coat is determined by the length of the guard hairs. A dark dog of good quality should be rewarded as these dog will maintain the black markings in the gene pool. Th ere should be a black saddle, black ears, tip of tail and muzzle. Under- neath the dog, underside of tail and legs are light silver. Harness marks (longer, lighter colored hair) are distinct lines running from shoulder to elbow. In temperament he is bold and energetic, friendly but dignified. ABOVE ALL ELSE HE MUST BE AN ATHLETE IN ORDER TO GET THE HUNTING JOB DONE. As I quoted at the beginning of this article, the wording “the Elkhound is not a cookie-cutter dog” is very true. In your judging experiences you may encounter dogs that do not very closely resemble the type you were shown the week before. Judges must study materials and develop a picture in their mind of what the dog should look like then judge to that picture. I would suggest Elkhound breed type is: A hearty, grey Nordic hunting dog of great stamina and courage, good leg length, short coupling, moderate angulation, erect ears and tightly curled tail. He is truly the hound that hunts alone.

172 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M AY 2015


“ 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


(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.



By Randi L. Johnson


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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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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Tracy Lorraine Smith skijoring with Kibo.



E lkhounds are not just pretty faces, they are very intelligent and can excel in many di ff erent dog sports. Th ere is nothing like the feeling of working with your best friend. Bred to be independent, when hunting they go o ff and find the moose and then bark and bounce to hold it in place until the hunter comes to shoot it. While they are definitely not a breed that will do something just because you tell them to, with the right kind of training and respect for their independence, you can do just about anything. One of the most popular AKC performance venues is dog agility. Th e athleticism of the Elkhound is showcased in this venue. Elkhounds are run- ning agility at every level and the thrill of a great run with your favorite teammate cannot be beat! AKC agility started in 1994 and the AKC top dog that year was an Elkhound, Berrit, aka Ch. Midnight Sun’s Grin N Berrit MX AXJ CDX VNEX owned and handled by Richard (Dick) Budny. Th e High in Trial trophy for agility at the Elkhound National Specialty is bestowed in her honor. It took a bit longer for the first MACH, but in 2003, “Serker”, MACH Ch. Longships Sealine Berserker VCD2 TD OVNEX owned and handled by Larry Lovig became the first Elkhound to get


168 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M AY 2015


the title. Several dogs have followed in his footsteps and the all time leader MACH 5 Ch. Vikrest Steppin’ Out in Style RN CD “Prada”, is still active and working on that MACH 6 at the age of 7 with owner/handler Betsy Flagg. Elkhounds are a healthy breed and dogs are frequently competing into their teens. Obedience is another venue where Elkhounds can shine. Elkhounds have worked at the every level of obe- dience, including the highest levels of competition obedience. Th e first two Obedience Trial Champions were owned and handled by Don and Mar- ilyn Rotier, Am/Can OTCH Cama- lot’s Bella Tigra (Norwegian import!) and Am/Can OTCH Camalot’s Trul- leAyla UD in the 1980s. Elkhounds are quite intelligent and learn things very quickly. Th e challenge is to have them show what they know in public. Frequently, the mischievous imp in the Elkhound can think up new and better ways to perform the obedience exercises, pleasing the crowd, but not necessarily the judge! When work- ing with Elkhounds a sense of humor is requirement. When Rally was added to the AKC performance options, Elkhounds were right there in the forefront. Rally is a fast paced fun activity for both dog and owner. Th ere are twists, turns and

jumps, keeping both Elkhound and handler on their toes. Rally has prob- ably become the most popular dog sport for Elkhounds and the first Ral- ly title came within weeks for the start of the new sport, a Rally Novice title for U-CD Wrathwood’s Lasting UD RN NA NAJ “Merlin” and his owner/ handler Dona Barsul. Merlin was also a Search and Rescue dog, once again showing the versatility of the breed. Being Scent Hounds, tracking comes naturally to Elkhounds. Even with that advantage, it is also a very challenging sport. We are proud to say that there is a Champion Track- er (CT) Elkhound, “Alley” CT Ch. Highland Tornado Alley CD RN VNE owned and handled by Wendy Vise-Wiley. A tracking dog uses their nose to follow a set track and the han- dler is just along for the ride. Not being in the Herding Group, the Elkhound cannot contend in AKC herding trials, but dogs have earned American Herding Breed Associa- tion (AHBA) titles. Th e breed stan- dard mentions Elkhounds being used as reindeer herding dogs in Norway. Melanie Rodgers and her Elkhound Silkgrass Trufa’s Hy Mountain Bey- la RE CGC have the AHBA Junior Herding Dog title on sheep. Barn Hunt is a new sport where dogs climb up, over and under straw

bales to find tubes containing live rats. Th ere are three levels with increasing numbers of rats to find. In 2014 the National Champion was an Elkhound, the first one ever! Ch. Janor’s Guilty as Charged CD GN RAE MXP MJP “Loki” and owner/handler Dennis Bell took the honors at the Barn Hunt Nationals in Missouri. Th is up and coming sport is ideally suited for the Elkhounds natural scenting and scrambling abili- ties and is becoming very popular in the breed. But, at the end of the day, Elk- hounds also love just being with their people and enjoying the great out- doors with them, hiking, skijoring, rafting or camping. Th ey are built to go all day in the forest of Norway looking for game and enjoy getting out into nature. In Norway, they hunt o ff leash, “ loshund ” and on leash “ bandhund ”, but in the US we usually keep our Elkhounds on leash because they expect you to come looking for them, not the other way around! Th ey are busy looking for moose and the Norwegian hunting test requires them to bark for three hours to help the hunter find them once they have the moose at bay. Th ey are also used for hunting bear in their native Nor- way. A more loyal and loving friend and companion you cannot find.

Left: Kibo doing the weave poles in agility; he was the High In Trial Agility Dog at the 2014 Elkhound National Specialty. Right: Impi, an Elkhound, warming up for the obedience ring.

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , M AY 2015 • 169

THE NORWEGIAN ELKHOUND – HUNTER, ATHLETE By Leslie Forrest & Patricia Viken E valuating a breed requires that the judge understand the history and purpose of the breed. Th e Norwegian Elkhound has a very long history veri fi ed by science

and honored in folklore. Th e folkloric tradi- tions give us the legend of “How the Elk- hound Obtained Its Curly Tail,” and “ Th e Saga of the Wolf Night” to name a few. Scienti fi cally, archeologists have unearthed remains of two dogs with skeletal features similar to present day Elkhounds dating ca. 5,000 - 4,000 B.C. Professor Brinchmann at the Museum of Bergen in Norway attests to the Elkhound’s primal existence. Brinch- mann analyzed bones and relics found in Viking burial sites and concluded that the bones were dog skeletons, a testament to the value man placed on his dog in that early era. Artifacts unearthed from a grave at Val- loby leave little doubt as to the existence of Elkhound-like dogs in Norway before the time of Christ. Th e Norwegian Elkhound, the national dog of Norway, exists as a hunting athlete. Th e animal must not be fl ighty or frivo- lous. It is a solid, sturdy, hunting breed that loves its job. To become a show champion in Norway, an Elkhound must win in the conformation ring and earn a fi rst prize in fi eld trials. When judging an Elkhound, ask yourself, “Is this Elkhound capable of per- forming as a hunting dog?” Answering that question requires a bit of knowledge about Norway. If you have never had the opportunity to visit this beautiful country, understand that Europe’s true wil- derness is not found in the Alps but in the northern reaches of the continent and into the Arctic Circle. It is a land commanded by glaciers, sheer fj ords, mountainous ter- rain, and extensive coastline. It is not con- ventional wilderness, but expansive, uncul- tivated, and uninhabited —wild country. Th is is the terrain where the Elkhound trails moose.

Veteran bitch in snow

“When judging an Elkhound, ask yourself, ‘IS THIS ELKHOUND CAPABLE OF PERFORMING AS A HUNTING DOG?’”

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The Essence of the Breed For those with a passion for dogs, “goose bumps” are indeed characteristic of the experience of seeing a correct, well-made purebred dog. Th e “right” ones fi ll your eye, command your attention, and possess unmistakable breed type. Anne Rogers Clark wrote, “Type, to me, is what makes the dog look like its breed. An untypical dog that is sound is worthless; a typical dog that is sound is priceless.” As a hunting athlete, the Elkhound is not a breed of extremes. Th e correct Elk- hound has a square pro fi le ( Th e distance from the forechest to the rump equals the height from the withers to the ground.); is of medium size and moderate propor- tions. Ideally a male is 20-1/2 inches tall at the withers and a bitch 19-1/2 inches. A smaller dog will be ine ff ective in rugged terrain and deep snow while a dog exceed- ing 21-1/2 inches is likely to sacri fi ce nec- essary agility and e ffi ciency when holding the moose at bay.

When looking for the breed’s signature square pro fi le where half the dog’s height is in its leg length, do not be fooled. Some dogs may appear square, but upon exami- nation be found to have a short rib cage and long loin. Th is is incorrect. An Elkhound must be presented in proper condition—lean and hard. Over- weight and sloppy should not be reward- ed. In addition, this breed should have substance but not be over done. Visualize the dog maneuvering rough terrain while hunting. Too much bone does not serve the animal or the hunter. Heads, Tails or Both First impressions are often lasting. When approaching an Elkhound, you should be struck by its beautiful wedge shaped head with comparatively small and erect ears. Th e Elkhound’s expressive dark brown oval eyes exuding a calm, alert expression will draw you in. Th e muzzle should be dark with a straight nose that

is approximately the same length as the back skull. A very important aspect of the Elk- hound pro fi le is it signature tightly curled tail. It must be set high and curled over the centerline of the back. While variations to the standard are not a disquali fi cation, some Norwegian judges will not con- sider an Elkhound without an absolutely correct tail. Neck & Topline A strong, well arched neck of medium length is essential in the functional bal- ance of the dog and allows maximum maneuverability when holding the moose at bay. Often overlooked, a strong neck aids the elkhound in jumping, dodg- ing, and sprinting. If the dog appears square but its head seems to be set on its shoulders, the dog is out of balance and proportion. Another often overlooked feature of this breed is its topline. Again, think athlete.

Above: Illustrated square; Below: Head shot.

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