Swedish Elkhound (Jämthund)

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dark grey, light grey with light grey or cream markings
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Pros Cons

  • courageous and bright

  • very protective

  • alert watcher

  • wonderful hunter

  • may be ill-disposed to other animals (including unknown dogs)

  • independent-minded

  • needs a great deal of physical exercises

  • not for an apartment dweller


The Swedish Elkhound is a variety of Spitz that was developed in Sweden and was majorly prised for its hunting talents. Great size in combination with exceptional stamina makes this breed an effective hunter of such large and ferocious game as moose and bear. However once properly trained and socialised it can be successfully kept as a companion animal even in families with kids.


The early Swedish Elkhounds arrived to northern Sweden thousands years ago when this territory was populated from the east (Finland) and from the west (Norwegian shore). The dog is also frequently called Jämthund because originally it was primarily bred in Jämtland, a district in the midst of Sweden, located near the Swedish-Norwegian border. This area envelops more than 50 000 square kilometres of thick forests and steep mountains. Moreover it’s notable for one of the most severe climate in the world. Such harsh conditions place special demands on the physical characteristics of hunting dogs. Rich coat of the Swedish Elkhound is a reliable proof against water and chilly weather, its wedge-shape muzzle allows it to resist gusty and cold Northern winds and its fast and well-muscled legs are capable of easily conquering the barely passable terrain.

The Swedish Elkhound and the Norwegian Elkhound have very little difference in conformation since initially these two breeds were created from the same foundation stock. In the beginning of the XX century such striking resemblance caused misconception that all grey-haired specimens of Elkhounds represented the one canine variety. For over than 40 years of the past century the Swedish Elkhound of a true type was bred only by the small group of its loyal fanciers who mainly lived in the severe areas of the Jämtland province and several other territories.

In the 1942, the Norwegian named Aksel Lindström found out that his beloved Nordic breed, the Swedish Elkhound, faces the threat of eventual extinction. So he pushed the publication of an article about this majestic breed and managed to command attention of the entire nation to this problem. In particular, Aksel could awake interest to the breed in Count Björn von Rosen, a famous canine lover and diplomat. These two men petitioned the Swedish Kennel Club, requesting to recognise the Swedish Elkhound as a separate breed. The Club approved this proposal and by 1946 drew up its final standard. Today the breed still thrives in its primary roles of a guard and hunting dog but lots of its members just enjoy the life of a family pet.


The best words for the description of the Swedish Elkhound’s temperament are staunch, protective, obstinate, stable, affectionate and out-going. It gets intimately connected to all family members and sorely needs their attention and company. In most cases this dog is absolutely fine with children with whom it interacts with essential gentleness and patience. It’s worth to note that this breed likes to take dominant position in the pack so it should be taught to respect the authority of all its masters (including kids).

It’s highly important to explain your Swedish Elkhound that houseguests are friends and should be treated accordingly. Otherwise this dog may become outright aggressive to all unfamiliar people. In general it takes the role of a personal and property protector very naturally and always diligently fulfils its guarding duties. This vigilant dog also makes a wonderful watcher that will never fail to warn its masters about possible danger.

The Swedish Elkhound commonly assumes hostile attitude to unfamiliar dogs, which are perceived by this breed either as adversaries or as a menace to its territory or favourite people. Especially strong aggressive tendencies are seen in unneutered males. Make sure that your pet always wears a firm leash and preferably a muzzle while being walked. Despite its nature of a passionate hunter this dog can get on with those cats and other non-canine pets with which it’s kept in the same household since its puppyhood.

Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include:

· hip dysplasia;

· elbow dysplasia;

· arthritis;

· skin problems;

· eye problems;

· ear infections.


The Swedish Elkhound can be groomed with average investment of efforts. It’s important to systematically brush dense fur of this breed so mats and tangles won’t develop in it and it will stay free of loose hair. Frequent bathing is really unnecessary because the dog’s coat naturally repels both dirt and water.

The rest is a routine care and consists of monthly nail trimming, weekly teeth brushing and ear cleaning if they look dirty. Start training your puppy to these essential manipulations with its body as early as possible and it won’t be afraid of them in its adulthood.


The training of the Swedish Elkhound is a relatively challenging task. Because of its propensity to independent thinking and sharp mind it’s highly advisable to avoid dull or repetitive assignments during training sessions. Nonetheless this dog is always glad to please its master if he demonstrates qualities of a true leader.

Consistency and adequately firm treatment are obligatory requirements of the breeds’ successful training. Reward your pet’s obedience with delicious treats and your Swedish Elkhound will readily follow your command. Housebreaking may be difficult for this breed and its puppy should be provided with lots of chances to roam around outdoor.


The Swedish Elkhound was developed as an all-around working dog and it still retains much of its industriousness. It won’t make the best four-legged companion for an apartment dweller, which will be off his feet trying to satisfy the dog’s need for exercises.

Daily playtime in a safely enclosed area is essential for good mental and physical health of this breed. It also loves having some important job to perform and stands out for unbelievable endurance. Remember that your Swedish Elkhound will inevitably pick up habits to destructiveness and unreasonable barking if you don’t devote enough attention to walking and playing with your pet.