Combining the best of different dog breeds to create an ideal family dog was the basic idea behind the Elo, although this isn't a breed recognised by an international umbrella association.
© Christian Müller / stock.adobe.com
Elo Dog Breed standing on a wall.
Looks aren't everything...
... although the Elo looks alert and friendly from the first glance with its long fur and upright ears. However, appearance plays a secondary role in breeding Elos. An Elo's appearance is clearly defined by the breeds involved in its formation – more on this later. Though, health matters take precedence over a uniform appearance with Elo breeding. There are two sizes in principle: small Elos reaching up to 45cm in shoulder height and weighing around 15kg. Large Elos reach a shoulder height of around 60cm and weigh up to 35kg. The tail of Elos should be rolled over their back. Two pointed upright ears protrude over the powerful head, the forehead is pronounced and the snout short.
Furthermore, there are two varieties of fur texture as well: coarse-haired Elos have fur resembling the coat of Bobtails, which feels soft despite the name. Smooth-haired Elos have shorter fur on the limbs and face. Apart from mottled fur, all colours are permitted, though pure white dogs with markings are particularly desirable.
History of the Elo
The Elo emerged in 1987 when the German dog breeders Marita and Heinz Szobries set themselves the goal of combining the best of the Old English Sheepdog (Bobtail), Chow Chow and Eurasier breeds in a new breed: derived from these three original breeds, they called the dogs that resulted from this selection Eloschaboros, nowadays known as Elos for short. Appearance was secondary and behaviour that made the Elo an ideal family dog was most important to the breeder couple.
The newly created breed was to combine the primitive nature of the Eurasier with the Bobtail's gentle character and also bring health to the fore. In 1995, the wish for a smaller companion dog came to the fore, which showed the positive characteristics of the Elo that had previously been achieved. Dogs from the Pekingese, Spitz Klein and Japanese Spitz breeds were paired so that a dog of a handy size came about from what were otherwise the same breeding objectives.
Elos – designer dogs?
The Elo is a brand, which is why a copyright symbol is often written after its name. What initially appears strange makes sense with further observation, since all dog breeds represent certain characteristics and their respective history. The Elo trademark owners are the founders of the “breed”. They protect the Elo as a brand from all and sundry being able to sell hybrid dogs under this name without fulfilling breeding criteria. This prevents black sheep amongst dog breeders, especially because the Elo isn't recognised as an independent breed by the FCI, therefore it isn't possible to breed it on a formal basis as part of an association. This is starting point for a criticism that some dog lovers direct at the breed founders and their supporters. The Elo isn't a breed, but merely a hybrid. Elo offspring will be real surprise packages of varying appearance and character.
Elo breeders should meet stricter conditions
Those interested in the Elo should engage with this argument in order to form their own opinion. However, it should be kept in mind that permitted Elo breeders in many cases have to meet stricter conditions than breeders belonging to the FCI. By the breeders' own account, selection also takes place based on ideal character, meaning that buyers get much more certainty than with hybrid breeds like the Labradoodle. However, are there not also suitable hybrids in animal homes able to win you over with their character?
On the other hand, the response to the criticism that the Elo is a designer dog could be that this really applies to every dog breed that is to fulfil criteria specified by humans? This often includes dubious features like flat noses, abundant wrinkles and extreme sizes. At least it can be said that the idea behind the Elo is human- and animal-friendly.
What an Elo should be like
The goal of Elo breeding was and is to produce a perfect family dog – in ideal cases, it will show numerous traits that make it predestined for this role. The breed is calm in temperament and is considered attentive without tending to yap. Elos generally get on wonderfully with fellow dogs or other pets. They are mostly distanced towards strangers, though not aggressive or timid. They radiate calm and aren't unsettled easily. In addition, they have little to no hunting instinct, so walks with them are relaxed. Small Elos tend to be somewhat livelier than the larger variety.
If you already have experience with dogs, it will definitely be easier for you when it comes to training an Elo. Even though the Elo can be a dream family dog based on its genetic make-up, it needs consistent and skilful training. Even the best genes can't compensate for training errors. First-time dog owners should therefore do comprehensive research before training an Elo. If an Elo doesn't respect its owner as a competent leader, it will soon try to call the shots itself – to make a rough guess.
Subordination is difficult for growing Elos, though with loving consistency you can reliably get them to follow rules they have once learnt. An Elo will always have stubborn tendencies – indulge these once it has mastered basic rules, since this character trait constitutes the breed's personality. Attending puppy play sessions and a dog school round off an Elo's training.
Health from optimal breeding
If you would like an Elo, you should enquire about puppies to suitable breeders. They should belong to the German EZFG (Elo-Zucht und Forschungsgemeinschaft - translation: Elo Breed and Research Association), because in contrast to recognised dog breeds, there is no umbrella association for the Elo like the FCI, which unites breeding associations. Reputable Elo breeders belong to the EZFG – no ifs or buts! In order to protect their charges from hereditary diseases, breeders should follow the specifications and recommendations of the EZFG and get the parent animals to have X-rays for hip and elbow dysplasia and examine the knee joints of young Elos, as well as getting certified vets to carry out several eye tests.
Choose the right vet
Throughout Europe, it would be best to look for a vet belonging the the European College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ECVO). On their website, you will find current statistics on the Elo's health. If in good health and well cared for, these dogs can reach an average age of 12 to 14 years, whilst the smaller variety tends to become somewhat older in age.
Diet for Elos is straightforward: give them a good food with a high quantity of meat and free of grain or sugar. Ideally weigh your adult companion every two weeks in order to keep an eye on its weight beneath its medium-length fur. This allows you to adapt its diet effectively should your Elo have gained or lost too much weight. Switches to the food should be made slowly – every day, mix slightly more of the new food into the usual one. This way, you prevent diarrhoea or other intolerance reactions. If you want to give your dog a tasty treat, occasionally give it a chew bone or dried chew item like cattle ears, which will keep it busy and happy.
Sugar-free treats such as dental care snacks make suitable reward snacks. Bear in mind though that little games or cuddles can also be effective treats. Fresh drinking water should always be freely available.
Grooming Elo fur
Keeping Elo fur well groomed requires regular brushing and combing, though generally doesn't have to be excessive. However, you should be consistent so that your dog's fur doesn't get matted. During the spring and late autumn in particular, you're best off brushing your dog on a daily basis, because knots can soon form in its coat during the moulting period. Get your dog used to the grooming routine whilst it is still a puppy. This also helps you reduce the quantity of loose pet hair in your home.
Top tip: shearing your Elo ahead of summer is ill-advised. Its fur can end up damaged and the top coat can fall out. You shouldn't give your Elo a bath at all before its first birthday. You should only do so in adult age when it is absolutely necessary and use a mild dog shampoo.
Exercise to aid relaxation
Although Elos are calm and even-tempered dogs, they need plenty of exercise. Their enthusiasm towards dog sports is limited, but long walks are needed in order to stimulate an Elo. Most Elos don't have a hunting instinct, which can make trips out quite relaxed. Though, there is no guarantee that your Elo will be totally without hunting urges! From one year in age, it can become accustomed to accompanying you jogging or on bike rides, although sport should always be adapted to your dog's fitness level. Although dog sport isn't compulsory to stimulate an Elo, many dogs and their owners do enjoy it and like the variety it brings. Experiment to see what your companion enjoys. Be it agility, learning tricks or dog dancing – go for what you and your four-legged companion enjoy!
Is an Elo right for me?
Elos are adaptable and suitable both for families and singletons who have plenty of time for their dog. Elos don't need entertaining at all times. On the other hand, they do like to spend time with their family as they don't like being alone. These even-tempered dogs can be kept both in a house in the county or in a spacious city apartment. Bear in mind though with apartments on higher floors that your dog shouldn't climb too many stairs. You should also go exploring outdoors on a daily basis with your canine companion.
Do you have children?
Your Elo will love them! They are considered ideal family dogs and will be best friends with children. However, it is important that your offspring have learnt the basic rules on how to treat animals. Nevertheless, you should never leave dogs and children up to a certain age unattended. You should ensure that your Elo can retreat if there is too much hustle and bustle. Elos get on well with other pets, especially if they have introduced as puppies.
Where do I find an Elo?
If you're looking for an Elo puppy, only buy one from an EZFG-recognised breeder who provides necessary paperwork. This is the only way you can be certain that the parent animals meet the regulated specifications. This also ensures that importance has been given to both health and professional training. You can find a list of all breeders with the EZFG, including Germany, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium. There are around 130 breeders in these countries overall. The EZFG can also assist when it comes to rehoming older Elos.
If you're looking for an older dog, there are some you can find in animal shelters. Here you will find numerous hybrids that can very much resemble Elos and win you over with their charm!
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