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The Norwegian Elkhund is a hard-working, humorous dog who loves to see that he's amused his family. They make affectionate companions indoors and dedicated, energetic workers outdoors. Norwegian Elkhunds are cheerful and goofy with their families and dignified and serious as they work.
These active, energetic dogs need to be in the company of their family and they need to expel lots of energy during the day. They flourish in active homes where their tireless drive to amuse and entertain is appreciated and encouraged.
Norwegian Elkhunds have a playful spirit and a strong sense of humor. They enjoy engaging their owners in games, chasing them around the house and barking to communicate with them. However, they will need to be trained to calm down and relax when their owners are not ready for spirited playtime. Because they tend to bark for amusement, they can be loud and bothersome. They were bred to act independently and trust their instincts, so obedience training can be a challenge if it is not begun while the Norwegian Elkhund is a puppy. They have an innate ability to distinguish friend from foe, which makes them level-headed guard dogs. These dogs tend to look like they're smiling, and their friendly personalities reflect their zest for life. They often enthusiastically greet friends and family.
Although these friendly, lively dogs are very social, they need to be exposed to other animals consistently. Their possessiveness makes them a little jealous when they watch other animals interact with their family, and males can have a desire to dominate other dogs. Therefore, frequent socialization will help these dogs display their genial personalities around all new friends. They have been used to hunt in packs and pull sleds, so they can get used to cooperating quickly.
Puppies are born black but turn gray as their hair grows in. Adults have silver-gray coats with black tipped hairs and a black saddle. Most Elkhunds have black markings around their muzzle and ears and at the tip of their tails. The double coat is made up of a soft, wooly under coat and a thick, straight-hanging over coat. The coat is abundant but not excessively long. The hair around the face is short and soft. It is longest on the rump and tail and along the back of the neck, where it forms a small ruff.
Norwegian Elkhunds shed continuously, and although their coat is naturally tidy in its appearance, they will drop quite a bit of hair throughout your house. To manage the shedding, brush your dog at least once a week with a slicker brush to remove dead hair and keep the coat healthy. Twice a year, Elkhunds drop their coats. During this time of extreme hair disposal, they will need extra brushing to remove dead hair and help manage the shedding. With consistent care, the coat does not create too much mess, but without frequent brushing, gray hairs will appear all over your house and clothes. The weather-resistant coat expels dirt and debris, so in order to manage the mess, brush your dog's coat after rambunctious outdoor play to keep the dirt outside.
With preparation, perseverance and a positive attitude, bathing can become a fun and fulfilling part of the regular grooming cycle, while helping your dog avoid many diseases and infections.
The general rule of thumb for dog bathing is every three months but some double-coated dogs can be done so with less frequency (the Alaskan Malamute, in particular, has no odor and can go with annual baths). The coat should end up fresh smelling, shiny, with no loose or shedding hair. First give the dog a good brushing to remove dead hair and mats. Place a rubber mat in the tub to provide secure footing and fill the tub with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Use a spray hose, pitcher or unbreakable cup to wet the dog, taking caution to avoid getting water in the eyes, ears and nose. Massage in pet shampoo, saving the head for last. Immediately rinse thoroughly, starting with the head to prevent soap from dripping into the eyes. Towel dry. Remember to wipe wrinkled breeds with a soft cloth and make sure they are totally dry after bathing. High-velocity dryers work great to remove excessive loose hair with shedding.
Clipping or trimming your dog’s coat is far easier than you would ever imagine. With the right clipper, trimmer and scissors, it is simple to give your dog a haircut and save expensive trips to the groomer.
Dogs with double coats generally require regular trimming. It lessens the chances of matting, tangles and the infestation of fleas and other pests, thus reducing the risk of skin infections. There is no set timetable. Judgment should be made on an individual basis, depending on functionality and owner preference. There are a wide array of trimmers available that will make each snip a snap. It’s a good idea to take your dog for a short walk to calm him down before you groom him. Thoroughly brush the coat to remove tangles and mats. Use trimmers to trim excess fur off the dog's body, choosing the appropriate clip attachment to achieve desired length. Start with the shoulders and progress towards the tail. Trim around the tail, paws, sanitary areas and chest, if needed. Groom the head and face last, being watchful for sudden movement. Trim with the flow of the fur, away from the eyes and nose.
Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.
Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience. As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.
You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.
Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.
It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Corgis, Alaskan Malamutes, Akitas and Collies have sensitive ears that need to be checked weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. If your dog is prone to developing tear stains around the eyes, clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes.
Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.
Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.