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28 Swedish Elkhound Temperament and Personality Traits (MUST KNOW)

The Swedish Elkhound temperament makes her both a great hunter and family dog. However, before you decide to bring home that lovely Swedish Elkhound puppy you need to understand more about the breed's temperament and purpose.

The Swedish Elkhound is a working dog that originated in the Arctic areas of Scandinavia. She is a valiant moose and bear hunter who sometimes works as a sled dog or a rescue dog.

The Swedish Marines and the Swedish Air Force use them as service dogs.

If you’re considering adding one to your family, you will need to understand the Swedish Elkhound temperament. She is not a good choice for the inexperienced dog owner.

She has an independent streak and a strong prey drive, and she can be aggressive with strangers. The Swedish Elkhound temperament needs firm and consistent training from an experienced handler.

But for those who are up for the challenge, she makes a loving family companion as well as a hard worker and an expert hunter. She is an excellent all-around dog.

The Swedish Elkhound Temperament

1. Intelligent

The Swedish Elkhound is a smart dog who needs a lot of mental stimulation to keep her out of trouble.

2. Independent

The Swedish Elkhound is a hunting dog. She has the independence she needs to do her job well.

3. Stubborn

As with most intelligent breeds, she can be stubborn when she wants to be. Proper training will help with this.

4. Courageous

This is one brave hunter. She is a moose and elk hunter, but she is also the rare breed that will face down a bear.

5. Powerful

These dogs are very strong. They use that strength to track and hold large prey in rugged terrain. The combination of strength and speed makes them great sled dogs as well as hunters.

6. Cheerful

The Swedish Elkhound temperament is happy and outgoing. Spending time with her is a real pleasure.

7. Loving

She is loving and affectionate to every member of her family.

8. Loyal

She forms strong attachments with her people, both adults and children.

9. Adaptable

The Swedish Elkhound temperament can easily transition from one setting to another. If she gets enough exercise, she is content to be working, playing, or spending time at home with the family.

10. Hardy

The Swedish Elkhound doesn’t mind the cold. She originated from a cold climate and does well in even Arctic conditions. She lives mostly in northern and Arctic areas in Canada, Scandinavia, and Russia.

11. Proud

She stands with self-confidence with her head erect. She has a grand, regal posture.

12. Curious

She loves to explore her surroundings. She needs space and would not make a good apartment dog.

13. Energetic

The Swedish Elkhound has a lot of energy and needs plenty of exercise.

14. Playful

This breed works hard, but she plays hard, too. She is a great companion for the kids.

15. Enthusiastic

She loves having a job to do and can’t wait to get to it. She is equally excited about playtime.

16. Affectionate

The Swedish Elkhound is a very affectionate breed. She loves positive attention and gives it right back.

17. Eager to Please

She is smart and easy to train, but she needs a firm and consistent trainer or she can be stubborn.

18. Protective

They love children and do well with them because of their natural protective tendencies.

19. Calm

The Swedish Elkhound can “go with the flow.” She’s a real stoic in almost any situation.

20. Active

She likes to be busy at work or play. Either one is fine with her.

21. Trustworthy

The Swedish Elkhound is reliable in all situations. She is dependable on the hunt, and she can be trusted to take good care of “her” family (especially the children) at home.

22. Territorial

She is suspicious of strangers and very protective of her family and property. She makes an excellent watchdog or guard dog.

23. Vocal

The Swedish Elkhound barks a lot related to her work as a hunting dog. When she tracks a moose, her job is to bark a notice to her master until the hunter can get to her.

24. Dominant

This breed loves to be in charge. She will be aggressive to other dogs who challenge her, so she does best in a single-dog home. She needs a very firm, dominant “pack leader” in the home and on the hunt.

25. Persistent

She has great endurance and stamina. She can run miles during a hunt, and then spend as long as it takes to hold the prey while “baying” for her hunter.

26. Responsive

The Swedish Elkhound temperament is highly focused on the owner or trainer. She responds quickly to commands and instinctively knows what to do, often without command.

27. High Prey Drive

She is a hunter, after all. The Swedish Elkhound temperament makes her a poor choice for a home with smaller pets. She will need to be contained when she’s outdoors.

28. Agile

The Swedish Elkhound covers rock, ice, forests, and mountains in the course of her work. She is graceful and light-footed.

She has no problem trudging through belly-deep snow or charging through dense brush.

Swedish Elkhound Training

Once again, this breed is not for everyone. The Swedish Elkhound temperament is very trainable, but she has a strong independent streak.

The Swedish Elkhound is a dominant breed. She needs a strong, confident leader who takes firm control. Otherwise, she may not always obey commands.

Helpful Dog Training Resource:

For help with training your Swedish Elkhound dog, you should take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.

With proper leadership, the Swedish Elkhound temperament is eager to please. She is a fast and eager learner, so positive reinforcement works well with her.

She may need short but consistent lessons. Her intelligence causes her to be easily bored. She learns even complex commands in no time.

She also needs early socialization to prevent stranger or dog aggression.

Swedish Elkhound Appearance

General Appearance

The Swedish Elkhound is a medium-sized dog. She has a thick double coat that helps her tolerate the cold weather of Scandinavia. Her top coat is long and tight. Her undercoat is shorter and soft to the touch.

She is a Spitz-type dog with a wolf-like appearance and a tail that curls up over her back. She is dark gray and white with a white muzzle.

Swedish Elkhound Size

Swedish Elkhound weight is between 50 and 65 pounds. And their Height is 20-1/2 to 25-1/2 inches.

Swedish Elkhound History

The Swedish Elkhound is a primitive dog that originated in the Arctic region of Scandinavia. Historians believe she is a cross between a female wolf and a male dog.

The Swedish call this dog Jämthund. The name comes from Jämtland, a province in central Sweden.

It is a Spitz-type breed—wolf-like with almond-shaped eyes and a feathery tail. It is an ancient dog, but historians don’t seem to know exactly how long they have been in existence.

Dog historians had long considered the Swedish and Norwegian Elkhounds two sizes of the same breed.

In 1946, the FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale, or World Canine Organisation), recognized the Swedish Elkhound as a separate breed.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) accepted the Norwegian Elkhound (including the Swedish) in 1913 and still has not accepted the Swedish Elkhound as a distinct breed.

The United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized the Swedish Elkhound as a distinct breed in 2006.

Swedish Elkhound Must-Knows

Swedish Elkhound Lifespan

The Swedish Elkhound’s life expectancy is 12-13 years.

Weather Tolerance

With its thick, weather-resistant double coat, the Swedish Elkhound loves the cold. Not surprisingly, she does not tolerate heat well.

Swedish Elkhound versus Norwegian Elkhound

The Swedish and Norwegian Elkhounds are often mistaken for each other. They have the same genetic background, and Norwegian and Swedish Elkhound behaviors are similar.

But their looks are quite different.

The Swedish Elkhound (also called Jämthund or Norrland) has a longer, taller build and is heavier than the Norwegian.

The Norwegian Elkhound (other names Elghund or Grahund) is a smaller dog, shorter and broader than the Swedish.

Their coloring is similar, but the Swedish Elkhound has a white muzzle while the Norwegian Elkhound has a black one.

Swedish Elkhound Health Issues

The Swedish Elkhound is a primitive dog, meaning the instinctive traits of her ancient heritage have not been bred out of her. Because of this lack of over-breeding, this is a healthy, hardy breed.

Even so, all breeds are susceptible to some health conditions. The health issues the Swedish Elkhound is prone to are rare in this breed, but they include:

Note: Don't let the many issues above scare you. The best way to approach health problems is to prevent them in the first place. The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health is a great place to start. Get a copy to keep at home. It will help you prevent the painful health issues that can plague your lovely Swedish Elkhound pet from expressing his winning personality and maximizing his life expectancy.

Caring for the Swedish Elkhound

Swedish Elkhound Grooming

The Swedish Elkhound needs daily brushing to prevent matting of her undercoat.

You should bathe her only when necessary to keep her coat from drying out. Otherwise, this will weaken its weather resistance.

Swedish Elkhound Diet

This breed does well on a high-quality commercial food. If she gets the recommended amount of exercise, consider a working-breed formula. You will want to keep a close eye on her weight, though, because the breed is prone to obesity.

Swedish Elkhound Exercise

As a working dog, the Swedish Elkhound is an energetic breed that needs an hour or more a day of vigorous exercise. They need an active family and a large enclosed space for free play.

These dogs are excellent candidates for canine sports such as agility and obedience. And they also love jogs and hikes.

If you can give her a job to do, even better. Pulling the kids around the yard on a sled would be a joyful task for the Swedish Elkhouns (with or without snow!).

If you can keep her busy enough, she will be calm and content when she spends time indoors with the family.

Finding a Swedish Elkhound

Buying a Swedish Elkhound Puppy from a Breeder

The Swedish Elkhound is a rare breed and very rare in North America. Finding Swedish Elkhound puppies for sale could be difficult.

At the time of this writing, there appears to be one Swedish Elkhound breeder in North America, located in Canada. If you choose to go that route, expect a long waiting list. Swedish Elkhound price is about $2700.

A second option is to import one from Sweden. You would need to do an online search for up-to-date information if you are interested in trying this.

Another possible source for breeder information is online forums. There are forums you could join for nearly all breeds. You would be sure to find some folks who are knowledgeable about the Swedish Elkhound and how to get one.

Swedish Elkhound Rescue/Adoption

You may have a slightly better chance of finding a Swedish Elkhound for adoption or rescue. Here, too, an online search or online forums would be the best way to find them.

An adopted or rescued Swedish Elkhound would more than likely be an adult. There are a lot of advantages to adopting an adult dog.

Any dog coming from a shelter or rescue environment will be spayed or neutered. It will be up to date with its immunizations and health checks.

Chances are it would have at least basic obedient training and be housebroken. It may also be microchipped.

This would be a much less expensive way to go compared with shipping from Europe or even Canada.

Is the Swedish Elkhound Temperament the Right Breed for You?

There is certainly a lot to love about the Swedish Elkhound. But is she right for your family?

You’ll want to consider the Swedish Elkhound’s temperament very carefully before making your decision.

  • Is your family an active one that could provide her with enough exercise?
  • Do you live in a house (as opposed to an apartment) with a large enclosed yard?
  • Do you (or another family member) have experience training strong-willed, independent dogs?
  • Are you (or they) willing to be the firm, dominant pack leader the Swedish Elkhound needs to be happy?
  • Are you prepared to socialize her early so she won’t become aggressive toward strangers?
  • Do you live in a cooler climate?

Are you agreeable to your Swedish Elkhound being your only household pet?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, then you can’t go wrong with the Swedish Elkhound. If you are able to meet all of her needs, she will be a marvelous family dog. She will be loving and protective toward every member of the family, including the kids.

The Swedish Elkhound is a rare breed in many ways. If you are lucky enough to make one part of your family, her Swedish Elkhound temperament will make you wonder how you ever managed to be happy without her.