Dog Days: Get To Know The Swedish ElkhoundMarch 18, 2020
Our longtime readers know we love dogs.
Need proof? From five Swedish dog breeds to stories about the Swedish Lapphund, Swedish Vallhund and Hamiltons, we’ve had plenty of dog days.
We wanted to learn more about the Swedish Elkhound, aka the Jämthund breed, so we caught up with Merv Carlson, owner of Kamia Kennels Inc. in Grand Forks, British Columbia, Canada, the only breeder of Jämthunds in North America.
According to Carlson’s estimates, there are only 20 of the spitz-like hunting dogs in North America, and less than 4,000 in the world, the majority being in Sweden, Finland and Norway. Two of them are Ark and Ella, who enjoy going for mountain hikes with Carlson.
You have relatives from Sweden. Is that how you became familiar with Jämthunds?
Yes, that is correct. My grandfather came in his 20s when Canada was starting. The knowledge of the Great Gray dogs came with him. I grew up with Elkhounds.
For those who don’t know much about the Jämthund breed, how would you describe them?
They are extremely loyal, amazingly polite, very good with children and families. As one of the oldest breeds of dogs, they are very healthy and extremely athletic. Skilled hunters of course, but can be so versatile, so hiking, family adventures, camping, these activities suit this dog perfectly. A very hardy rugged dog. Primarily bred to hunt, but are used all year as companion dogs and love the outdoor lifestyle.
How long have you been breeding Jämthunds? And why?
We have been breeding Elkhounds for a very long time and brought the Jämthunds over four years ago so that we could have both types, the Norwegian Elkhound and the Swedish Elkhound. We are a Preservation breeder, one of the only Preservation breeders left in North America. So, the top breeders in Sweden, Finland and Norway work with us to establish a separate gene pool of the magnificent Jämthunds so that a unique set of bloodlines is preserved here as well. We have some of the oldest-known lineages anywhere in our breeding program. Our Jämthunds lines all trace to the very start of the Association.
This allows individuals to experience these magnificent dogs as we have pups of course available after we select our preservation stock. It is basically impossible to get a Jämthund from overseas breeders as they do not wish to let the genetic material disperse and prefer to sell only to hunting interests. So, by allowing us to preserve a new lineage here, this gives North Americans the opportunity to have one of the very best dogs of all time and to experience this great companion.
We must add that without the cooperation of the very best breeders of Jämthunds overseas and them willing to work with us to establish this gene pool, we would not have the opportunity. They have worked tirelessly, and as a team, many breeders involved to allow us to import unrelated lineages from the very best bloodlines and Champion lines available. We have four different and distinct bloodlines now from four Master breeders here so that we can establish the Jämthunds using the very best.
By chance, do you know how many of them are living in Canada? The United States?
Yes, in Canada there are 12, and in the USA, there are eight.
When out in public, do people ask you about Ark and Ella?
Oh yes, it is constant that people come running over. “Oh, wow what is that?” “What type of dogs are they?” And everyone that has our pups, the same thing occurs. They are so beautiful, so social and magnificent that people are so attracted to them. Of course, Ark as the first Jämthund born in North America, and Ella, a beautiful Finnish Import brought in as a mate for him, they are a stunning pair. Two of the most stunning Jämthunds in the world. They attract attention.
About how many Jämthunds do you breed and sell in a year? Have you sold any to Americans?
We have enough females old enough now to breed and sell a few litters a year, potentially four litters. Seven of the eight Jämthunds in the USA are pups from our Kennel, and the eighth is Rico, the father to them. Rico is owned by co-breeders of our kennel, Russ and Beth, and Rico and his daughter Zena are living in the USA. The remainder of the Canadian Jämthunds are either all from our kennel or our imports.
We are expecting three litters this year of Jämthunds from our foundation females that were born in Canada and they will be mated to Posso, our newest import stud. A truly exceptional example of the very best of the Jämthund males. Next year, the famous Ark and Ella will have a litter. What a glorious time for Jämthunds in North America.
Aina, the founding female, the very first female Jämthund to have a litter on North American soil, is a stunning dog. Out of a pure Champion hunting lineage, she is true to her roots. She can hunt, she can hike, she is so magnificent. To date all our pups are from her. She has produced the majority of the seedstock for the gene pool bred to Rico. Rico, of course, one of the very best Jämthund males in the world. Aina will have a litter with the newest import, Posso, son of Champion hunting Jämthund Posse. We are excited about that pairing.