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Breed -

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Breed History


Probably the most impressive of Sweden’s native breeds with its size and grand stature. The breed derives from large hunting spitzes found in the forest region of the north barrier of Scandinavia and Russia. These spitzes most likely came with hunting tribes that migrated to Sweden thousands of years ago. Two types of wolf coloured spitz have been recognised in Scandinavia, the smaller Norwegian Elkhound and the larger Jämthund. The Norwegians decided in 1877 that the smaller was to be called Norwegian Elkhound. The large variety that was mainly known in the Swedish county of Jämtland did not match the standard for Elkhounds on several points, especially not for size. However, the varieties were judged as one breed for decades.

During the 1930s this became a very hot topic that was frequently discussed, and of such importance that there were ongoing debates also in the national press. The solution came in 1946 when the Swedish Kennel Club decided to recognize the large spitz as a breed of its own under the name of Jämthund. The breed is self-secure, proud and trustworthy and has a kind disposition in the family. It is an excellent hunter that can track and make an elk stand still as if hypnotized by its powerful, monotonous barking/baying. This is the typical way the breed makes the elk stop and stand until the hunters are in place. There are dogs of this breed that have the courage and sharpness to even stop a bear.

The Swedish Elkhound is one of a number of breeds of spitz-type hunting dogs that have been known throughout Scandinavia for centuries. Historically these dogs have been used to hunt a wide variety of game including bear, elk, wolf and lynx.  The Swedish Elkhound received official recognition as a breed in 1946, due to intensive work by Aksel Lindström and others. Before that, both it and the Norwegian Elkhound were seen as the same breed. They are both used for hunting large game, such as moose and bear.

The breed falls under the mitochondrial DNA sub-clade referred to as d1 that is only found in northern Scandinavia. It is the result of a male dog-female wolf hybridization that occurred post-domestication. Subclade d1 that is thought to have originated no more than 480–3,000 years ago and it includes all Sámi-related breeds: Finnish Lapphund, Swedish Lapphund, Lapponian Herder, Swedish Elkhound, Norwegian Elkhound, Black Norwegian Elkhound and Hällefors Elkhound. The maternal wolf sequence that contributed to these breeds has not been matched across Eurasia and its branch on the phylogenetic tree is rooted in the same sequence as the 33,000 year-old Altai dog.(Paleolithic dog)

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