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Norrland Elkhound Preservation

Appearing here at close to 17 months of age in this photo, Takoda is a terrific young representation of what a quality Norrland male would look like 200 years or more ago. This is exactly what was roaming around Sweden prior to the first organizational meeting.

Ancient Swedish Elkhounds

You can see from this old photo these Elkhounds were taller, rangier, loose curl to the tail and overall larger and longer.

Takoda Ancient Lineage Elkhound

Takoda is shown above and you can easily see he would be able to literally step out of this image into the one above and be completely at home. In fact he literally could be littermates with those two boys from decades earlier.

Leif, Norwegian Elkhound Male Kamia Kennels 2017

Does all of the background of the founding dogs have that much difference at the end of the day today? That is a great question. We look at Pretty Boy Leif today and can't help but admire him. He is a stunning representation of the state of the Norwegian Elkhounds currently today. They are some awesome, don't get me wrong. However I personally want to be able to say that 100 years from now that there is a full range of genetics and enough diversity that there will be no issues. For me, genetic diversity is paramount.

Leif and Takoda and Jaegar and pups

This photo goes a great distance to speak to genetic diversity at our breeding facility.

Leif is shown with me, and he is a "Norwegian Elkhound" bred to the standard, and his ancestors bred to the standard for as long as can be found. He is a fully registered Male, with roots to Norway a long ways back, but primarily North American genetics. He has beside him his son Torleif, who is a result of the mating of Tuva and Leif. Tuva is also a Norwegian Elkhound bred to the standard, but a working lineage as her dad is first generation in Canada, his parents from Norway. Her mother's background is Canada/Norway/UK based. Tuva's ancestors all are "Registered" but Tuva is not. Tuva and Leif, and Torleif are the cream of the crop in "Norwegian Elkhound Breeding".

Jaegar is full working genetics, Norway based genetic mother, and Norrland/Canadian based father ( Mia and Takoda). This is exactly the same style and type of dog that was all over Sweden, and first imported by the British such as the big boys W F Holmes would have shown to the right. Jaegar's son, Rig is a result of mating to Kalia, who is Canadian based Elkhound from great old lineages, but again, based on the Grahund/Norrland lines. She is larger, loose curl, darker and her son Rig is again a full working Elkhound exactly like you would have seen in Sweden in 1908.

Takoda at the top of the photo is very much Norrland, very little Grahund, based almost entirely on the Swedish strain of Elkhound hunting dogs. One of the descendents of the very early settlers from Sweden that came with the big grays. He is mated to GAEDA which is a "Registered Norwegian" but again, tons of background in the Grahund/Norrland lines as she is much larger than the breed standard, throws much darker pups, loose curl, bigger ears, longer and rangier. So her pup Dajr is a true full blood working Elkhound. Dajr is very much like his dad in that he would be much closer to the dogs of the early 1800's than the early 1900's.

We breed primarily for the working dog. Yes potentially a Leif pup could one day end up in a show, but for the most part our focus is on great working lineages with full genetic diversity.

Did the early breeders completely agree on everything, of course not. It took 50 years just to agree on the Norwegian Elkhound Common Standard, and much longer for the Swedish type. So Is everyone going to agree with me, very doubtful. Do my folks that have the full working dogs, of course. At the end of the day, that is what matters to me.



Takoda - Ancient "Norrland" Swedish Elkhound in Canada

I will try to share a bit today about the ancient contribution to the Norwegian Elkhound Gene pool by the old Norrland Elkhounds ( more formally known as the Swedish Elkhound) that roamed through Sweden for centuries.

When we think today of the Norwegian Elkhound our thoughts of course for good reason believe that the founding of the Norwegian Elkhound was "Norway". Which in fact was a huge contribution to the genetic pool, no doubt. But for hundreds of years long before the Norwegian Kennel Club was even thought to be formed there existed hunting dogs in all of Scandinavia. These hunting dogs all contributed to the formation of the founding dogs that make up the "Norwegian Elkhound" as we know it today. Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark all contributed.

Representatives of the grey hunting dog were found in all regions and in the country of Sweden two types were found, one the great Grahund, which is a very close representation of the Norwegian Elkhound of today and is what the Swedish Kennel Club based their standard for the "Norwegian Elkhound" upon, the other a slightly taller, sometimes darker type called the Norrland.

"The Norrland is what is believed to have contributed to the creation thousands of years ago to the Swedish Elkhounds known today called the Jämthund."

As a preservation breeder, meaning we breed to keep ancient lineages intact and flourishing we still salute and breed the Norrland dog ideal. I have to note that the ideals, structure style and type of the Norrland is no longer compatible with the revised and rewritten Norwegian Elkhound Breed Standard.

So thus the reason our dogs DO NOT in most cases meet or match the breed standard. Nor do we try with most of our lineages. It's only with our "Norwegian Elkhound lineages" with no known late blood other than Norwegian that we "Breed to Norwegian Elkhound Standard".

For years breeders really without knowing have been breeding out the Norrland genetics that contributed a huge amount to the early foundation Elkhounds. Many say the superior athletic ability, the long distance capability in particular of the taller rangier type assisted those early foundation Elkhounds. What has been happening though as the standards are rewritten to get a more uniform appearance the taller rangier dogs have been bred out.

Breeders have been moving away from keeping all the genetic diversity and have been moving toward a more concise looking dog, focusing a fair bit of the breeding on the "Look" that matches, all the while trying to maintain the original hunting aspects.

By focusing so much on this "look" the taller leaner dogs, lots had white in the chest, around the lower jaw some times, and many were much dark overall with longer guard hairs, these dogs were thought by the "Unknowing" to be undesirable. The original standard of course established at the very beginning acknowledged these traits and were welcome, but todays standards do not.

So over the years the types have not been kept up in the mainstream show breeding establishments in North America particularly.

Here almost all breeders have lost focus on true genetic diversity for a pursuit of a certain look and style.

At Kamia Kennels we strive to keep those old lineages intact. We feel it strengthens the genetic make-up, keeps the gene pool much larger, and with a larger gene pool comes less risk of genetic issues. Also Canada has a great deal of the same regional typography that the old countries have, and of course this means a great deal of snow. The snow was one of the underlying reasons for selecting over the decades the taller dogs. Now they are not overally much taller, but are taller. An inch or two in deep snow means a much safer hunt and allows the dog to hunt longer into the season if need be.

Now it's also very easy to understand from a judging standpoint why they rewrote the Norwegian Elkhound Breed standard and why "Show Breeders" wish to utlize only lineages that conform to that. They of course could not "win" if they are outside the standards. It was difficult for the early Clubs to come to an agreement, from the formation of the first show in 1877 it took until 1937 for the Swedish and the Norwegian Kennel Clubs to agree to having 1 unified common standard that would be used for the Grey Norwegian Elkhound.

But as a preservation breeder we don't have those concerns foremost, we already know our dogs are going to be larger in many cases, we know most certainly taller and longer, and in a lot of situations on some lines, much darker. So for us, the "look" in our ancient lineages is not the primary goal. The goal is to breed healthy ancient genetics that have all the instincts intact with as much genetic diversity as possible.

Vida Norrland Hunting Dog TodayA prime example of a full blood all instinct intact young female pup that is a true purist in terms of genetics would be young Vida shown at 5 months. Vida is exactly what was used say 300 years ago to hunt and find game and assist the old woodsmen especially in hunting season, but throughout the year as well. Vida is a daughter of Takoda and GAEDA. She represents everything about an ideal Elkhound through all the genetics and the related health aspects. Her balance, the movements and gait, structure and much more. Her temperment and personality along with her mental stability. Everything literally is perfect. And she is as wide a genetic range with as much diversity as could be found in an Elkhound female in North America today.

But she would not conform to the "Breed Standard" because of her looks. She would be just slightly taller, slightly longer, and of course darker. Outside of those three little aspects she is a far superior dog in all respects.  So do we "Worry About" that little bit of height or length or dark color, of course not, we in fact cherish it. We know the background of this female, we know that with her here now we get another chance to preserve the ancient bloodlines that ran in the old county centuries ago.

Ancient Hunting Swedish ElkhoundI found an old photo, I apologize I can't remember where I got it, I have had it for a long time or I would say where I got it, but no matter, it is a really great old photo of an ancient ancestor to Vida. You'll clearly be able to see all the things I was discussing in this old photo of this great hunting Elkhound.

In the old times the dogs were bred by abilities, not by color or standard etc. Thus the reason that the big Swedish Elkhounds were kept in fairly remote regions, primarily as pure hunting dogs. The Jamtland Province of Sweden had a great collection of the big Swedish dogs, known to have had little influence in breeding with any of the smaller grey's for hundreds of years if not longer. It was this tight group of what is called the founding strain of Swedish Elkhounds that were selected to enter the Association.

However the Norrland for hundreds of years had been used as a hunting and breeding dog and the influence was found in the Grahund, and a very dominant genetic makeup it was.

Today we still see judges commenting about the white on the chest and to "Watch out for it" as it's difficult to get out. Preferrably the standard would describe it not there in your dog. Other features of course that are constantly monitored in today's show world is the size. Dogs outside the size are not acceptable.

When I attended the big show in Finland and was watching the Norwegian Elkhounds coming through, I noticed a judge take a "painted plywood Elkhound" and stand it beside an entry. The dog was just larger than this "Sized Elkhound" which is used as a quick and very easy way to measure size. I know there is a name for this tool, I just don't know it. But what I found interesting is that the dog that was there was a stunning dog. It had completed it's hunting trials and had excelled. It was now going to try to win in show competition. But here literally 100+ years after the standard, the larger dogs are still showing up so much so they have a ready measurement procedure to gauge quickly these larger dogs.

It should be noted that in hunting trials the size is not a concern, thus he was able to come to the "Show" as he had been qualified in work.

So the old Grahund/Norrland influence is still evident in Finland, Sweden and Norway, along with Canada and the USA, UK and others.

Today you can still have a "Grahund/Norrland/Swedish" influenced dog, who is actually "Registered As A Norwegian Elkhound".

GAEDA Norwegian Elkhound GAEDA is a prime example of this today. She is a stunning female and an absolute pleasure to be around. But here is the thing, she is a big female. She is 60+ pounds and taller and longer than the standard. She has the slightly finer bone density the Swedish dogs have, she also has the loose curl tail and she has the slightly taller ears. Most judges who don't really know the Grahund/Norrland based Norwegian Elkhound lines would discredit her few features. But GAEDA is actually a superior example of a true Norwegian Elkhound as she retains a much more diverse set of genetics and contributes a whole different set of traits and DNA to the gene pool. A female like GAEDA is extremely valuable to the entire population of the Norwegian Elkhound and dogs like her need to have greater value for the overall benefit and quality to the breed than simply just "Looks".  Take a look through the site and view her pups, what an outstanding group. And look at the "old genetic style" that she can bring out. Syn a great example, Desna, another. Vendela, Vuk, Hanna, there are so many more examples, all superior Elkhounds. So for us when people ask why our dogs are a bit larger, why we are breeding dogs that are obviously outside the standard in some cases, this article hopefully will help them understand that genetic diversity has existed in this breed long before the Associations and Breed Standards and we will strive to maintain that.



Deep Snow Conditioning For Elkhounds

Elkhound Conformation For Athletic Ability

An Offleash Winter Hiking Adventure With Elkhounds

Takoda and Aina Swedish Elkhounds

Here is a photo of Takoda and Aina in the fall of 2016 up above our kennels in BC. Aina is a "Full Jämthund" meaning her ancestors were selected from the known best Swedish Elkhounds, descendants of the Norrland to enter the registration process and provide seedstock bloodlines for the newly formed Swedish Elkhound Association in around that 1946 time frame.

Ancient Champion Norrland Blood Elkhound

Here above is an ancient early Champion Norwegian Elkhound from the early 1900 - 1930 time frames. This is a "Glitre" Champion from the famous Holmes Kennel. These big boys are what were causing the judges trouble as they were big thick dark rascals. This big fella Rugg au Glitre was carrying a great deal of the "Grahund Elkhound / Norrland" blood.

Mr. W F Holmes became the leading breeder in the early years in the British Elkhound Society and imported many great Elkhounds from both Sweden and Norway. A lot of these dogs still have influence today, as do other Grahund/Norrland grays.

Jaegar Today at Kamia Kennels Norrland Blood

Jaegar shown above in July of 2017 is practically a litter mate to that big rascal above. Note all the color pattern with the much darker guard hairs for these two big rascals. Of course both of these boys are larger than the 50 - 55 pound breed standard. Its very easy to see the influence when we look back at the early Champions.

MANE and Jaegar Elkhound Males

As far as quality goes it would be extremely hard to argue with a photo like this. All of these are direct descendants of Takoda. MANE the young male top left is 9 months old in this photo. That is his littermate sister lower right, Luna. Jaegar in front of him, and Jaegar's daughter Phoenix left side.

Outside of the fact that all of these are darker and larger than the breed standard Norwegian Elkhounds, all are superior in every trait, every aspect, including lineage diversity and hunting skills when compared to most North American Norwegian Elkhounds.

Ancient Bloodline Norwegian Elkhound

To put things a little into perspective these 3 pups from Takoda are some of the only remaining Elkhounds left in North America that retain any close links genetically to the ancient Swedish base of hunting dogs that started out the contribution Sweden made to the "Norwegian Elkhound".

Canada and the USA have basically abandoned the powerful genetic lineages that still exist in the old countries, and of course, still exist right here in a small little corner of Canada. They are flourishing as a matter of fact here at Kamia Kennels!

Show breeders need to start to take a look at the genetic diversity direction they are heading and to fully appreciate that they will first have to take a good look back at where it began.

Don't ever worry though, Takoda has allowed us another great descendent in Vida so we are thrilled. The Swedish contribution will live on!

Takoda and his daughter Vida, Ancient Lineages Live On