Swedish Elkhound Breed Information And Characteristics

The Swedish Elkhound or Jämthund is a Spitz type hunting dog that originated a few thousand years ago in Jämtland, a province in central Sweden. It is quite obvious that its Swedish name was given after the name of this province. This is one of three Elkhounds – other two being the Norwegian Elkhound and Black Norwegian Elkhound – and is the biggest of them, but it’s also the least favorite of them. It is interesting to know that before 1946, when the breed was finally recognized, the Jämthund and Norwegian Elkhound were considered the same breed. Well, although they’re quite different in look, it is not that surprising since these dogs were developed from the same ancestors. Together with the Swedish Lapphund, Finnish Lapphund, and Lapponian Herder, these two breeds were developed through hybridization of female wolves and male dogs. This interbreeding had occurred after their domestication. The Swedish Elkhound is in the FCI included in the Nordic Huntig Dogs group in the class of primitive dogs.

About Swedish Elkhound Dogs

The Swedish Elkhound is a hardy, agile, and vigorous dog of great strength. He is resourceful, confident, bright, and light on feet. This dog creates a strong bond with its owner and is always ready to please. He also gets attached to all other members of the family. Jämthund is generally nice and tolerant with kids. So, it is quite evident that this is an excellent family dog and companion. Main Swedish Elkhound characteristics are strength, agility, speed, stubbornness, boldness, independence, calmness, loyalty, intelligence, alertness, endurance, and persistence. He is a very curious dog, who enjoys roaming and exploring his surroundings. That’s why this is not an ideal dog for those who live in an apartment or a house in the midst of town. Jämthund thrives in large open spaces! So, it is necessary to have a big yard if you wish to own one. Of course, you can keep your dog indoors once in a while, but not for the long periods of time.

Swedish Elkhound is an elegantly looking dog, who is very agile and strong

Elegant and handsome

The life expectancy of a Swedish Elkhound is around 12-13 years. This is a very energetic and active dog with huge stamina, who demands a lot of daily exercise. So, to make sure your Moosehound won’t make any mess in your yard or worse – your home, remember to take your dog for a hike or jog at least once a day. However, before you take your dog outside, put him through adequate socialization as early as possible. This is after all a hunting dog with a strong need to chase its prey, which is why he is extremely dangerous for cats and other smaller pets. Jämthund often tends to be very dominant with other dogs, so he will pick a fight with every dog that confronts him, especially, with the one of the same sex. This behavior is, of course, unacceptable, so it is very important to socialize and train your Swedish Elkhound in obedience. But, this is a very proud, stubborn, and independent dog, who is not so willing to train or to let anyone try to control him.

This is the reason Swedish Elkhound is not for everyone! This dog demands a dominant and confident leader with a lot of experience. You will have to start with the training once the puppy is at least three months old. Organize his training sessions in a fun and focused way with a gentle attitude, but without too many repetitions. Also, you will have to keep the lessons short, but persistent on a daily basis. This way only, your Jämthund will be willing enough to invest himself fully into training. The good thing is that this is a very bright dog. With a proper approach, you will be able to teach him all the commands with ease. This is the reason Swedish Elkhound is a great hunting dog as well as a working dog, which can be used for all kinds of jobs, from watching and guarding to sled pulling and herding. His ability to easily understand and accept his duties made him such a prized dog in its native country, where he is officially recognized as the Sweden’s national dog.

Jämthund Dog Physical Characteristics

The Jämthund is a large medium-sized dog, who is very wolf-like. It is slightly longer than tall at the withers. Its body is muscular and lithe with a drawn up belly. The double, medium length coat of this dog is hard and dense. As usual, the underlying coat is soft and light, while the overlying, protective coat is rough but smooth to touch. The hair is slightly longer on the neck, chest, tail, buttocks, and on the back of the front legs. This coat is perfectly suited for cold winter conditions, but because of it this dog can’t stand excessive heat. So, remember to keep your Swedish Elkhound in a shaded, cooler room during hot summer days. You will have to groom your dog quite often to remove matts – a few times a week. These dogs are heavy seasonal shedders. During the shedding period, you will have to groom your dog once or twice a day. Jämthund has a wolf-like color pattern – the grey or dark grey tipped hair on the majority of his body, head, and tail, with markings of cream color on his muzzle (sideways), cheeks, chest, stomach, tail, and legs.

The wedge-shaped head of a Swedish Elkhound is very reminiscent of the Grey Wolf. It has the medium, powerful, and slightly tapering muzzle with strong scissor-like jaws. His rather small, brown eyes with lively look are well-set. The broad nose is black and the pointed ears are triangular and erect. The neck is strong and long. Its chest is broad and deep with nicely sprung ribs. The tail is long and loosely curled atop its long, broad, and strong back that is slightly lean. Its front legs are straight and firm. The hind legs are well-boned, muscular, and very powerful. The feet are well-furred and rather small. Swedish Elkhound is generally a healthy breed with only a few health problems, such as hip dysplasia, distichia, and skin allergies. With such physical characteristics, it is quite obvious that this is an elegantly looking dog with incredible movement and jumping ability. Besides, his graceful and swift gait allows him to easily overcome the harshest of terrains.

Swedish Elkhound Dog Size And Weight

– Height between 22,5 and 25,5 inches (57–65 cm)
– Weight between 66 and 77 pounds (30-35 kg)
– Height between 20,5 and 23,5 inches (52–60 cm)
– Weight between 55 and 66 pounds (25-30 kg)

Jämthund is an excellent hunting dog, who can equally well hunt small and large game

Damn, it is hot today :)

An Excellent Hunting Dog

The Swedish Elkhound is an intelligent and hardy dog, who is brave enough to confront even a bear – he is actually known as a Bear Dog among the locals in its native country. He is also very resourceful and agile and possesses the perfect senses of sight and hearing. With such qualities, it is no wonder this dog can easily track down and corner any game, doesn’t matter how large and dangerous it is. On top of that, he can bark very loud, so the hunter can easily locate its position. Jämthund was initially used only for the large-mammal hunting, but later on it proved its worth as a small game hunting dog too. As its name suggests, this dog is primarily used for elk hunting, but can be equally successful in the hunt on various other game, such as bear, wolf, lynx, ermine, grouse, etc. The way Swedish Elkhound hunts is that he tracks down the game by the smell and when he finally sees it, he starts chasing it until the game is cornered. Then, he utilizes his cunningness, barking, and agility to keep the game at bay until the hunter arrives.

All-around Worker

Like I wrote above, Swedish Elkhound is not just another hunting dog, he is also a versatile working dog. He can easily understand and perform a plethora of dog jobs, doesn’t matter how complex they really are. This is after all a dog of many qualities – he is smart, resourceful, energetic, powerful, hardy, and persistent, so this isn’t that surprising. Jämthund can be a good watchdog and guard dog (he is very protective and suspicious towards strangers and will alert its owner when somebody approaches its property), sled dog (he is strong, fast, sturdy, and large enough for this job), herding dog (he is bright, loyal, trustworthy, and eager to please), as well as an army or rescue dog (he is brave, fearless, assertive, and possesses the great tracking abilities). So, you see, this is an all-around wonderful dog, who is able to adapt to all sorts of situations and circumstances. But, like the majority of Scandinavian breeds, Swedish Elkhound is very rare outside its native country. Indeed, it is hard to come by a puppy of this dog, but as you can clearly see, it’ll certainly be worth it to try to get one! So, I wish you happy hunting :)

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5 thoughts on “Swedish Elkhound Breed Information And Characteristics

  1. Swedish Dogs

    Look, Swedish elkhounds are NOT good for herding, sledding or just as companions. As this is a very independent breed, they don’t like working together. These dogs are not made for sledding and should not be used as sled dogs. These dogs do not have a herding instinct, they have a very high prey drive. They are made to hunt, not herd. They are strict hunting dogs and should not be used just as a companion without the proper exercise.

    I’m from Sweden and owned swedish elkhounds, swedish elkhound mixes and know several people owning swedish elkhounds.

      • Swedish Dogs

        My first elkhound mix was 75% Swedish Elkhound and 25% White Swedish Elkhound, I’ve met 1 purebred and know someone who has had a few so yes, a bit. I don’t have experience with black Norwegian Elkhound but two of my elkhound mixes has been with regular Swedish and regular Norwegian.

        • Sim

          Thanks for the feedback – I’ve been researching a dog to use as a Bandhunting dog, with the intent to hunt deer, moose, elk, and bear.

          I’ve read/ heard that the white and black dogs are better suited to bandhunting than the Jamthund – but it will be a challenge to find a dog to bring to Canada. Do you think that there is a noticeable difference in the characteristics of the breed?

          I’d also like the dog to be a family pet, and serve as a watchdog

          Out of curiosity, what color did a half white, have jamthund look like? I’d imagine your 3/4 dog looked very similar to a Jamthund

          I’ve got a number of questions, is there a way to talk directly with you?

          • Swedish Dogs

            It is true that white dogs more or less paralyze a moose because of it’s color! You might have to go to Sweden or Finland and speak to breeders to get one imported because I know it has happened. There is actually a kennel with regular Swedish Elkhound, but I do not recommend that kennel. It’s not a good one. And what I know of, there’s no big difference behavioral wise. There’s some theories the white color comes from a mix between Samoyed dog and Jämthund.

            Elkhounds can be great watch dogs! They bark at basically anyone entering the house. My old Elkhounds would bark if they even heard a car going down our road, while our current one bark and stalk visitors once they enter.

            And because they’re more or less the same breed genetically and dark colors are dominant, they look more or less exactly like a Jämthund. My mix came from bad breeding (it’s really rare so do not worry about bad breeding and buy from a good kennel), so body side I can’t really say how they are.

            You can contact me on my mail! Thegiantwolf14@gmail.com

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