The Norwegian Elkhound was bred to be an extremely versatile dog, used as a hunter, herder, sled dog and guardian. They were bred to be hardy dogs, able to withstand hours of strenuous work in extremely cold and harsh conditions. Not only were they bred to be hardy, but they needed to be bold, courageous and also extremely intelligent, as their prey was often many times larger than themselves and very dangerous; indeed, Elkhounds were used to hunt and guard against moose, bear, and even wolves. Because hunting these animals was so dangerous and required strategy, Elkhounds were also bred to be extremely loyal to their humans, considering their humans as integral members of the pack. It's partly thanks to this inbred loyalty that Norwegian Elkhounds make such good watchdogs.
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Indeed, all the characteristics that went into making the Elkhound the excellent hunter and tracker that it was bred to be contribute to making it an excellent watchdog, especially if trained properly. The practice of using Elkhounds as watchdogs began very early, most likely with the Vikings, as it was evident that the dog's nature and skills could be put to good use guarding the family of its human owner. To understand the Elkhound's watchdog capabilities, therefore, it's a good idea to understand what makes the Elkhound a good hunter. First of all, it has a very acute sense of hearing and smell; these keen senses keep it alerted to everything that is going on in its surroundings. Not only does it have these well developed senses, but it is also an incredibly intelligent and curious dog, able to seemingly strategize on the spot, making it want to tune in to as many details as possible.
The Elkhound is extremely loyal to the humans that it lives with and consequently is also very protective of its family, which it considers its pack. Because of this, it is always on the lookout for situations which could potentially harm its family. It is not aggressive towards strangers, but most Norwegian Elkhounds are not overjoyed by the presence of strangers, having a very distinct idea as to who is part of the family and who is not. It is fearless, having been trained to protect against fierce animals such as wolves and bears. Perhaps the most important hunting characteristic that has translated into a commendable watchdog characteristic is the Elkhound's piercing bark. It is an extremely vocal dog, announcing the presence of new sounds, sights and smells, and was bred to be this way; indeed, the Elkhound was bred to bark both when it picked up the scent of prey and when it cornered the prey, as a way of communicating with the hunter. Many Elkhound owners claim that this breed is able to make different vocalizations in different contexts, seemingly attempting to communicate.
His loud, consistent bark will not only warn his family of an intruder, but will also scare away any potential intruder. If trained properly, the Elkhound is an extremely docile and loyal dog, having a good temper; it is very trustworthy, dependable and alert. His confidence and devotion have allowed him to easily transition into a loving yet protective pet.
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