Norwegian Elkhound, history of a working dog breed, companion of vikings
The Norwegian Elkhound is an old and ancient breed of working dog. Their history indicates that they were first developed 6,000 or more years ago for the purpose of hunting both big and small game. The breed history is mixed with both folklore and legends of Norse Mythology, according to the website of the Norwegian Elkhound Club of Greater Houston. The website says it is thought they “descend from Torvmosehund (Swamp Dog).”The first appearance of the Swamp dog was i other northern breeds n Denmark where it was used for hunting. The breed is very ancient indeed. According to Wikipedia it was developed more than 6,000 years ago to help the Scandinavians to hunt. “Remains of dogs remarkably similar to the modern Elkhounds have been found in grave sites such as the Viste Cave,” according Wikipedia. The cave is in Norway and the sites are as old as 4000 to 5000 BC. Aarchaeological research in Scandinavia indicates the breed may have existed and been domesticated in the Stone Age.
Skeletons of dogs similar in structure to the elkhound were found at Viking grave sites in southwestern Norway, according to the Norwegian Elkhound Club of Greater Houston. They further note that the dogs were sacrificed to enter Valhalla, which in Norse mythology is where the souls of heroes slain in battle are received, according to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.
The Norwegian Elkhound was considered to be the oldest of the dog breeds but recent DNA analysis indicate“ several ‘ancient’ breeds have been ‘recreated . . . from combinations of other breeds,’ according to Wikipedia. Genetic evidence was found for a more recent origin of the Norwegian Elkhound. The study was limited in scope as it only includes 85 breeds and omits “many primitive lineages. The article further indicates that regardless of this some researchers still believe that the Norwegian Elkhound descends from the ancient primitive Pariah Dog from 4000 to 7000 years ago.
Wikipedia, after mentioning a rather complex but limited genetic study states, “Norwegian elkhound evolved, at least partially, from ancestral grey wolf subspecies . . . may very well be one of the most ancient of all dog breeds.”
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Elkhound as hunter
According to the website “Petwave Dog Breed Center,” the Elkhound could hunt all day long in rugged country with subarctic tempertures. A fearless hunter he helped to hunt bear with the human hunters. The bear were numerous in Norway at one tim, but. they eventually dwindled and the dog was then used to hunt what Americans call “moose” In the Norwegian language “elg means moose. This is a dog that barks, but with a purpose. The barking is a means of communication between the dog and his hunter companion. The barks are like a code between the two.. Among the animals that the dog hunted were reindeer, wolf, lynx, mountain lion, badger, fox, rabbit, and raccoon. They also hunted various ground dwelling birds. According to the Pet Wave Dog Breed Center, this dog uses scent, sight and hearing which are very refined and makes it a very versatile hunter.
Like many dogs of its type the Norwegian elkhound is both intelligent and independent. They can be trained but the owner or trainer should be aware of this characteristic
Watch dogs and guard dogs.
Elkhounds were also used to guard other animals from predators such as wolves and bear.
•Norwegian Elkhound is an ancient Spitz type dog
•it is the national dog of Norway
•they have a medium, sturdy, squarly built body type
•generally weigh about 48-55 lbs
•coat is coarse, straight with soft undercoat
•black and white color
•dark brown eyes
•tail should be rolled tightly over back
•life span is 12-13 years
•The Elkhound is a hardy, medium size dog that is devoted, bold and mischievous.
•They have a black tipped coat, tightly curled tail, small feet and ears.
•The Norwegian Elkhound was first registered in the United States in 1913
•Norwegian Elkhound Association of America was formed in 1935.
•The breed was admitted to the American Kennel Club in 1936.
The Norwegian Elkhound is a very ancient breed that was breed to be a sled dog, hunting dog and watch dog protector. It was created for a very harsh arctic climate and was a companion in survival for Vikings and others. They were bred to be loyal. They a vocal dogs that used barking as a way to communicate with their human companions. In the modern world they have become show dogs, watchdogs and pets.
Copyright 2012 Don Hoglund
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