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Norwegian Elkhounds: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Norwegian Elkhound temperament, personality, training, behavior, pros and cons, advice, and information, by Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Norwegian Elkhound dog breed

The AKC Standard says, "Bold and energetic, an effective guardian yet normally friendly, with great dignity and independence of character."

Definitely this is a capable, confident dog with a strong presence, whose self-reliance requires supervision and leadership.

The Norwegian Elkhound is a bundle of energy just waiting for the signal to go. This rugged breed plays hard and enjoys vigorous exercise – leashed or in a safe enclosed area, for many Elkhounds have strong hunting and chasing instincts.

Most Norwegian Elkhounds are friendly with strangers and must be taught not to jump up into their faces. Others are more restrained with strangers. But even the friendly ones are great watchdogs, meaning they are keenly alert for anything out of the ordinary. When they see or hear anything unusual, they bark.

And bark. And bark. Elkhounds are very vocal dogs. They hunt by cornering their prey and feinting to and fro to hold it in position, all the while barking nonstop to signal their location to the hunter. Couple that with their high-pitched, piercing voice, and.... well, let's just say you will upset your neighbors if you leave this breed outside unsupervised.

Norwegian Elkhounds usually get along well with other family pets if raised with them. But some individuals can be aggressive with other dogs of the same sex, and some are confirmed cat chasers. Remember, this is a hunting breed.

Training can be a challenge, as the Elkhound is dominant and headstrong and may use his intelligence in clever ways that suit his own purposes. Yet owners who know how to lead will find him eminently trainable.

If you want a dog who...

  • Is a medium-sized member of the spitz family (dogs with a wolfish face, prick ears, thick coat, and curled tail)
  • Is sturdy and rugged, yet athletic and agile
  • Plays vigorously and likes a lot of outdoor exercise, especially in cold weather
  • Is a bold, confident, self-assured dog with a strong presence
  • Is polite with strangers, yet with his keen senses and watchful attitude, makes a dependable alarm dog

A Norwegian Elkhound may be right for you.

If you don't want to deal with...

  • Vigorous exercise requirements
  • Rowdiness and exuberant jumping, especially when young
  • Suspiciousness toward strangers when not socialized enough
  • Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
  • Lots of barking
  • Heavy shedding

A Norwegian Elkhound may not be right for you.

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

More traits and characteristics of the Norwegian Elkhound

If I was considering a Norwegian Elkhound, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Young Norwegian Elkhounds (up to about two years old) romp and jump with great vigor, and things can go flying, including toddlers and infirm people. Elkhounds don't need miles of running exercise, but they must have daily opportunities to vent their energy in a large, safely-enclosed area. Elkhounds who don't get enough exercise or companionship throughout the day are quickly bored – and bored Elkhounds are prone to destructive chewing.
  2. Barking. I've repeated this several times, because it's important. I've owned this breed and experienced the barking first-hand! Norwegian Elkhounds are vocal dogs, quick to sound the alarm at every new sight and sound. You have to be equally quick to stop them. But you can only do this if you have established the right relationship with your dog, where you are the leader and he is the follower. That's what respect training is all about.
  3. Heavy shedding. Another hallmark of the Norwegian Elkhounds is shedding. Hair and fur everywhere. Just so you know!
  4. Mind of their own. Norwegian Elkhounds are not eager-to-please Golden Retrievers. They are capable of learning a great deal, but they have an independent mind of their own and are not pushovers to raise and train. They are often manipulative, and some are willful and dominant (they want to be the boss). You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.

    To teach your Elkhound to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Norwegian Elkhound Training page discusses the program you need.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.

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