Swedish Elkhound

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55-66 lbs
20-24"
Sweden
Jämthund, Swedish Moosehound, Norsk Elghund
The Swedish Elkhound, also know as the Jämthund, is an ancient Spitz-type dog with a history that spans back thousands of years. They are one of few wolf-like breeds and unlike many others who sport a similar appearance, are actually believed to have wolf genetics in their lineage. Despite being trained and used throughout their history to track elk and even fight off bears and wolves, this dog generally has an easy-going temperament in the home and is considered a great all-around dog, as it is just as hard-working and useful in hunting as it is pleasant to have as a companion -- and that is no understatement. Throughout their history they've been employed as hunters, trackers, guard dogs, watch dogs, herding dogs, sled dogs, and even army or rescue dogs and there seems to be no limit to their abilities. They are generally affectionate and playful with their family, but do possess a high energy drive and need a fair amount of attention to keep from becoming bored or frustrated and thus generally do best with highly active families or those who have a yard large or access to open spaces for them to run and get exercise. Because of their longer coats, they also require a fair amount of grooming, but in all, posses very few setbacks that keep them from being one of the most well-rounded breeds available.
Purpose
Hunting, Companion, Guarding, Herding
Date of Origin
Ancient Times
Ancestry
Wolves, Native Scandinavian Breeds

Swedish Elkhound Health

Average Size
Male Swedish Elkhound size stats
Height: 22-26 inches Weight: 66-77 lbs
Female Swedish Elkhound size stats
Height: 20-24 inches Weight: 55-66 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Hip And Elbow Dysplasia
Minor Concerns
  • Skin Allergies
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hearing
Occasional Diagnoses
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Occasional Tests
  • X-Rays
  • Eye Examination
  • Physical Examination
  • Skin and Hair Exams

Swedish Elkhound Breed History

The Swedish Elkhound was developed thousands of years ago in Jämtland, a province in central Sweden whose name inspired the breed's native name, Jämthund. They have been used in the region extensively throughout their history and it is believed that they accompanied Vikings in their travels as well as hunting and working as all-around utility dogs. They are only found in Scandinavia and were one of few dogs kept by the Sami people, an indigenous Finno-Urgic group that spanned the Arctic region of Russia, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. They share some of their ancestry with other dogs of the region such as the Finnish Lapphund, Swedish Lapphund, Lapponian Herder as well as the Norwegian Elkhound, the latter actually being considered the same breed until 1946 despite the difference in color, pattern, and size. Surprisingly, unlike many other dogs bred to have a wolf-like appearance, it has been shown that the Swedish Elkhound actually has wolf in its bloodline, the product of hybridizing female wolves and native male dogs shortly after domestication. Throughout their history, they have been used for nearly every purpose imaginable, from sled dogs to elk hunters/trackers as well as family companions. In their native dialect, they used to be referred to as "bear dogs" because they were one of very few breeds in the world that would not back down from a bear. They've also been used as guardians, watch dogs, and even army, police, and rescue dogs as well and are considered one of the most versatile dogs around. Although they have a significant history that extends far beyond most, their Federation Cynologique Internationale breed standard was not published until 2003 and they were not accepted by the United Kennel Club until 2006. Strangely enough, although they are such a useful and well-rounded breed, they are still somewhat rare outside of the region and aren't even considered the most popular dog in the area.

Swedish Elkhound Breed Appearance

Swedish Elkhounds are medium to large sized dogs, standing an average of two feet tall at the withers and weighing around 65 pounds. They have a distinct wolf-like appearance that largely shows in their face and double coat, which is composed of a semi-long (a few inches) close-kept but not flat topcoat and a dense, woolly undercoat. The undercoat is usually cream with the top coat being a range of light to dark grey. Swedish Elkhounds have long, broad heads with a well-defined stop and a tapered muzzle capped with a wide black nose. Their eyes are oval-shaped, dark brown and usually possess a calm yet intelligent expression. Their ears are erect and strong, tapered to a point and hairy both inside and out. Their necks are long and powerful, extending down into well-muscled shoulders and a straight, if not only slightly sloping topline. Their front legs are straight with large, study bones, separated by a deep, well-sprung chest that tucks only slightly at the belly. Their back legs are parallel from behind but show good angulation from the side and possess a healthy amount of muscle in the thigh. They have a dense, curled and hairy tail that is held high.
Eye Color Possibilities
brown Swedish Elkhound eyes
Brown
Nose Color Possibilities
black Swedish Elkhound nose
Black
Coat Color Possibilities
gray Swedish Elkhound coat
Gray
cream Swedish Elkhound coat
Cream
Coat Length
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
Swedish Elkhound straight coat texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Swedish Elkhound Breed Maintenance

Swedish Elkhounds are considered a moderate maintenance breed as they do shed a fair amount and need daily brushing to keep their coats clean, free of loose hair, and to prevent matting, which can happen if they're not properly maintained on a regular basis. Brushing with a slicker or a firm bristle brush usually does the trick, but a dematter can be used if matting starts or persists. They do not require regular bathing unless they get into something particularly dirty or offensive smelling and it's suggested to keep it to a minimum as it may disrupt the natural oils produced by their hair and skin. Otherwise, they really only need their nails checked and trimmed when necessary and their teeth brushed weekly.
Brushes for Swedish Elkhound
Slicker Brush
Dematter
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
Swedish Elkhound requires daily brushing
Daily Weekly Monthly

Swedish Elkhound Temperament

On the grand scale, Swedish Elkhounds are known to be well-tempered and good all-around dogs both inside and outside the home. Outside, they are easily one of the most versatile and hard-working breeds around and can be used for just about anything if properly trained, which likely won't be hard for anyone with at least moderate experience and the ability to stay firm and consistent. When used in the field, they are bold, confident, and dedicated, sticking to their task with considerable resolve and endurance. As their name implies, they've been used for hunting elk and other large game, but have been successfully used to hunt smaller game as well and will even stand up to wolves and even bears if need be - and are one of very few breeds with this kind of tenacity. That type of protective nature also transitions into the home. They are known to form very strong bonds with everyone in their family and will treat them like part of the pack, alerting them of any potential threats with a massive bark and protecting them without end or question, making them excellent guard and watch dogs. They are known to be relatively affectionate and playful but due to their historic use, possess a boat load of energy and need both frequent exercise and a fair amount of attention, so they should be placed with either highly active families or those with the time, space, and availability to exercise them regularly. Despite their high energy levels, they are usually calm and collected in the home and have quite a bit of patience, making them inherently good with kids, although like any other breed, it is encouraged that they receive thorough training and socialization to get the best out of them. They do have a tendency to be somewhat aggressive with other dogs, especially of the same sex, as their pack mentality strongly adheres to a hierarchy -- another reason they need to be thoroughly trained, as they will assume the role of alpha if there is ever a question. But overall, given their drive to work, their love of being a part of a family unit, and their excellent temperament, they are considered great all-around dogs.

Swedish Elkhound Activity Requirements

Like most other working breeds, Swedish Elkhounds have a significant amount of energy and need frequent and exhaustive exercise to keep them happy, healthy and on their best behavior. Because of their high intelligence, they will also need a good amount of mental stimulation to boot, so any activities that encompass both their mental and physical abilities will help to quell any tendencies to become frustrated or bored, which could lead to poor behavior. They prefer to have open spaces to run and explore, as they are also a curious breed and will take advantage of any time they are given to roam freely and check out their surroundings, which is another reason they tend to do better in larger homes with larger spaces to explore and command. It is recommended that they get at least 90 minutes of exercise a day.
Activity Level
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
18 miles
Minutes of Activity Per Day
90 minutes

Swedish Elkhound Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
3.5 cups
Daily Cost
$1.5 - $2
Monthly Cost
$45 - $60

Swedish Elkhound Height & Weight

6 Months
Male Swedish Elkhound size stats at six months
Height: 17 inches Weight: 50 lbs
Female Swedish Elkhound size stats at six months
Height: 15 inches Weight: 43 lbs
12 Months
Male Swedish Elkhound size stats at 12 months
Height: 20 inches Weight: 61 lbs
Female Swedish Elkhound size stats at 12 months
Height: 18 inches Weight: 51 lbs
18 Months
Male Swedish Elkhound size stats at 18 months
Height: 24 inches Weight: 71 lbs
Female Swedish Elkhound size stats at 18 months
Height: 22 inches Weight: 60 lbs

Swedish Elkhound Owner Experiences

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