What Is The Swedish Elkhound And Is It A Good Family Pet?

Swedish Elkhound

There are many dog lovers that like what they would call a “real” dog.

This is something that still has a look of its canine ancestors and a purpose as a working animal. In other words, not a small companion dog over-bred to extreme standards.

The Spitz dogs of Scandinavia and Russian regions are a great example. They have the look, build, coat and work ethic that many dog lovers are after.

The Swedish Elkhound is a prime example of a tough, attractive breed with a strong heritage. The question here is simple: do the character and genes of this dog translate into a good family pet?

In this guide we will look at all the important Swedish elkhound information that new owners need to know before committing to this breed.

Swedish Elkhound GuideSwedish Elkhound – Image Source

The first place to start is with a better understanding of the dog and its origin. This is an old, native breed that is quite different to many of the more popular breeds.

Then we will look at the physical features of this dog, notably the size and coat type. This will lead to a section on care with grooming and exercise needs, as well as health care information.

Then we will look at the personality of these working dogs and their suitability as a family pet, as well as training needs.

Finally, we will look at how to obtain one of these pups, including a look at adoption and the Swedish Elkhound price.

By the end, you should have a clearer idea of whether this breed is a good choice for the family.

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What is a Swedish Elkhound, and where do they come from?

Before we look at the characteristics of this breed, we need to understand where it comes from and clear up some confusion about similar breeds and names.

There are lots of different Scandinavian and Nordic dogs from this cold region, many of which look similar and have the same types of roles.

[thrive_text_block color=”note” headline=””]There are lots of different names for this one Elkhound alone. Some will know this as the Jämthund or Jamthund, depending on whether owners and breeders are particular about that accent. This is a traditional name that breeder like to stick with, and we will use it occasionally throughout this guide. [/thrive_text_block]

It is also known as the Swedish Moose Hound by some breeders. This may depend on area and heritage.

Swedish Elkhound SizeImage Source

The dog was bred as a hunting dog in the cold forests of Swedish, dealing with moose, elk and much more.

It comes from an older breed of the Sami people in the Arctic region, much like the other regional dogs. It is similar to the Swedish Lapphund and the Norwegian Elkhound.

However, while the Swedish Elkhound and Swedish Moosehound are the same thing, the Norwegian Elkhound is much different.

The Swedish Elkhound vs Norwegian Elkhound

The main difference here is that the Norwegian Elkhound is a stockier animal than its Swedish cousin, and much short.

There are also differences in the tail shape and colorations.

For example, the Norwegian black mask on the muzzle compared to the white muzzle of the Swedish dog. Even though the two are clearly two distinct lines from those ancient Sami dogs, and the Swedish Elk Hound became a breed in 1946, it was only fully accepted in 2006.

Norwegian ElkhoundNorwegian Elkhound – Image Source

The physical characteristics of this Jamthund dog

When it comes to the look of these animals, there are some clear links to other Nordic pack dogs and Spitz dogs, as well as their wolf ancestor.

This is a good looking dog and one that many dog lovers will be immediately drawn to.

There are many owners and breeders that will immediately talk about the wolf-like appearance of this dog. This is largely due to the build, the long tapered snout and the coloration across the thick coat.

One difference here is the curled tail that hangs over the back like a typical Spitz. They mostly have brown eyes and are known for their erect ears – perfect for their keen sense of hearing.

[thrive_text_block color=”blue” headline=””]When it comes to the size, this is medium sized dog with a good, athletic build. The average Swedish Elkhound height is around 20.5 to 25.5 inches, and they typically weigh between 50 and 65 pounds. [/thrive_text_block]

Grooming a Jamthund

All this talk of a thick, wolfish fur leads to the needs for a further discussion on the coat and grooming need of this animal.

[thrive_text_block color=”note” headline=””]This dog will always have a thick double coat with a long, dense upper layer and small insulating undercoat. This is essential for dealing with the weather and temperature in Sweden. [/thrive_text_block]

The color is generally agouti with greys and browns – hence the comparison to the wolf. There will always be some variations in tone, but those looking for a Swedish White Elkhound may not find something quite that pure in color. Instead, there will often be white areas to the mask, neck, chest and tail, which looks great against the darker back.

[thrive_text_block color=”red” headline=””]This double coat and its length does lead to some issues with Swedish Elkhound shedding and grooming. The undercoat will shed and owners have to deal with the consequences with regular grooming and cleaning. [/thrive_text_block]

These dogs need regular brushing to remove all the dead hair and keep the coat in the best condition. However, there are warnings against bathing them too often. This can damage the hair of this wonderfully weather-resistant coat.

Further Reading: What Is The Best Brush For Shedding Dogs? (Top 15)

Caring for these Swedish Elkhound puppies in the best possible environment

The size and nature of these dogs means that they will not cope well with a small home environment and limited activity.

[thrive_text_block color=”red” headline=””]These dogs were bred to be active and engaged in work. This is not an easy-going dog that will nap on the couch all day.

They need plenty of exercise with a good run in the park and plenty of mental stimulation with toys and play time. This is where a home with a yard really helps. [/thrive_text_block]

Also remember that the coat limits their tolerance to high temperatures, so they are not suited to all climates. They were perfectly bred for the Swedish Arctic, not a southern state or major city.

Further Reading: A Guide To Finding The Best Dog Houses For Large Dogs

Swedish Moose HoundImage Source

Then there are the Jamthund health issues and its lifespan to consider

The great news with this dog is that it is a pretty hardy animal with minimal health risks.

These dogs were built to survive tough conditions and the Swedish Elkhound lifespan is between 12 and 13 years. Even so, there are some minimal risk factors to be aware of.

There are cases of hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, liver disease, skin allergies and hearing problems with this breed.

Furthermore, they can overeat and become obese if they don’t have the right diet and exercise regime. This could be a problem for inexperienced owners.

What is the Jamthund personality like?

The heritage of this working dog also means that some people may have a few concerns regarding their personality.

Is this a breed best suited to a life as a working dog, rather than a pet. Or, is it possible for this animal to enjoy both sides of life?

These dogs must have a good temperament, intellect and level of obedience in order to do either. So, how well do these Nordic dogs get along with people and are they easy to handle?

There are many people that highlight positive aspects of the Swedish Elkhound temperament. But, there are also behavioral issues.

Those that are experienced with this animal as a family pet will talk about all of the great personality traits. There is no doubt that this animal can be a calm, loving member of the family – as long as it is with the right people in the environment mentioned above. There is a protective side to the dog that could turn them into a loyal, determined watchdog that will take good care of any children in the house.

There are also those that state that they are a pretty easy-going breed that deals well with potential change or stress. This is essential in a working dog that must perform consistently and please its master.

The problem with this dog is that there are also some behavioral issues that can be a little discouraging for new owners.

There are many breeders and owners that will say that this really is a dog best suited to experienced owners. The main reason for this is their dominant, powerful side, which may be overbearing for those not used to being a pack leader. This leads to a stubbornness and independence that can be difficult to control without the right training.

eliminate dog problems

Training a Swedish Elkhound

There are some good points and bad points to Jamthund training, but the process is worthwhile to create that calm, obedience dog that fit into both family and work environments.

The stubborn side can be a problem with training if owners don’t have a firm, consistent approach. Yet, there is no doubt that this is also an intelligent dog that is keen to please, and this side will win through with a good programme and some persistence.

It is best to start as early as possible, especially with socialization. Anyone that struggles with this firm, regular approach should turn to Doggy Dan the Online Dog Trainer.

This helpful online guide offers great advice on a range of issues, including socialization, with simple step-by-step techniques.

Further Reading: A Guide To Some Of Best Dog Training Books Available Today (Top 24)

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Finding Swedish elkhound puppies for sale or adoption

You may decide that these pros and cons are worth experiencing because of the personality and potential of this beautiful dog. If so, you need to know where to find one.

The first place to look when finding these pups is a breeder, but this is easier said than done.

These dogs are popular in their native land, where they are still one of the best workers for the job and are really at home in the Arctic conditions.

However, there are far fewer Swedish Elkhound breeders outside of this region. This is still a specialist dog with a function and heritage, not one that has adapted to family life in the same way as many shepherds and retrievers.

Breeders may be limited, but most that work with this breed should do so because they understand it, and want to preserve a healthy line.

This isn’t the sort of breed that con artists will breed Jamthund puppies on the cheap for a quick profit. It just doesn’t have that level of designer appeal and demand yet.

Swedish-elkhound-personalityImage Source

So what does this all mean for the price for families outside of Sweden?

This issue of supply and demand could have major consequences for those looking for a healthy, well-bred pure Jamthund dog.

They aren’t going to come cheap. The Jamthund price will vary depending on the breeder, their location and the package offered.

Some charge more for their lines and the extra work that went into the breeding programme.

Shop around where you can, but be aware that there won’t be too much local competition.

Many dog lovers prefer the option of adoption with their pets.

There are so many concerns about the responsibility and reputation of breeders, and over-bred stock, that rescue dogs are more appealing. Owners can save a life and save some money.

However, it is easier to find some breeds in shelters than others. The dominance and behavioral issues with this Elkhound means that many families could struggle to handle them, and give them up to a shelter. Yet, the rarity of the breed means that the chances of there being one in a local shelter are slim.

The best bet here really is to search for that ideal breeder and potentially pay a bit more for the privilege of a well-bred, healthy pup.

swedish elkhound trainingImage Source

Is this Swedish Elkhound a good choice for your family?

There are some clear pros and cons to this dog as a family pet – and not just in the lack of availability and high cost.

Those that find a pure bred Elkhound for sale will have to put a lot of effort into raising this dogs in the right environment. This is the only way to ensure that they stay happy, healthy and good natured.

Those that neglect the exercise regimen and training needs will end up with an unhappy, stubborn dog with weight issues. Those that treat them right should see a sweet, loyal family dog with a great look and a healthy life.

It all comes down to confidence and experience. If you have both, and can take on this unusual breed with relative ease, you should have a great time as an Jamthund owner.

Featured Image: Instagram/muru_the_swedish_elkhound


Passionate lover of dogs and proud owner of a friendly, mischievous and energetic golden retriever named Beethoven! I’m incredibly excited to share my experiences on how best to care for your beloved pet. The more we know, the happier we and our canine friends will be!

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