Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
Photo of adult Elo

What breed springs to mind when thinking of the perfect family dog? When Marita and Heinz Szobries considered this question, they couldn’t agree and each proposed characteristics from several different breeds. So, their solution was to create a new breed that ticked all the right boxes as the ideal family pet. The result of their quest for canine perfection is the Elo, a German breed that first saw the light of day in 1987.

Officially called the ‘Eloschaboro’, this name comes from the letters lifted from the three founding breeds: Eurasier, Bobtail (also known as the Old English Sheepdog, which is now extinct), and Chow-Chow. Happily for us, the Eloschaboro’s name is shortened to the more manageable ‘Elo’.

The breed is still in its infancy, and as such the name is heavily protected in the same way as a trademark or copyright. Nobody can breed an Elo or use the name without the express permission of the Elo’s founding organisation. Owners fortunate enough to have an Elo, boast of an obedient, playful, and loyal dog that needs a reasonable amount of exercise and is good with children.

About & History

Marita and Heinz’s priority was to breed a dog with a reliable, friendly character, rather than a canine that looked a particular way. To obtain this they started out by crossing Eurasiers and a breed they call Bobtails (but is more familiar to us as the Old English Sheepdog). They then selected the pups with the best character and health, to take the breeding program forward to the next generation.

Given the lack of Eurasier dogs, the Szobries’ recruited other similar breeds into the breeding program to keep the gene pool broad. Ultimately, nine breeds were used, including the Chow Chow, Samoyed, and Dalmatian. The result is an active, medium-sized dog with something of a Spitz-type look, which varies quite a bit in appearance but has a character that is arguably second to none.


Elo Large Photo

When a breed is created with an emphasis on good temperament, then uniformity of looks takes second place. This is reflected in Elo dogs which have certain physical traits in common, but where a deal of variation is acceptable.

As a rule, the Elo is a medium-sized dog with a long muzzle and a slightly foxy appearance. His body is longer than he is tall, and he has a long, thickly furred tail that is often carried resting on his back. As you would expect from a dog with Samoyed, Old English Sheepdog, and Eurasier in his heritage, the Elo has a very thick coat due to a plush undercoat, with medium length outer hair. When it comes to colour, pretty much anything goes with a combination of white with black, brown, grey, or red being acceptable.

Character & Temperament

The Elo’s character is best described as happy, playful, and obedient. This is nothing less than you would expect from a breed whose purpose is to be a great family pet. However, these endearing traits of loving people and their attention are balanced against still having the needs of a dog for plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.

Indeed, an Elo that is confined indoors for long periods of time is going to get bored. Their ancestors were all working breeds and the Elo retains something of this active nature and the need to be pleasantly tired at the end of each day.

A slightly more tricky side to their character is a tendency to roam, which coupled with a love of digging can make for an escape artist. With this in mind, be sure to have a securely fenced garden and it’s wise to use a lead or longline when exercising the dog in open spaces.


Photo of Elo puppy

The Elo loves people and is highly attentive to them, which makes a promising combination when it comes to training. Owners enthuse about the breed’s willingness to please and obedience. However, as with any dog, no matter what their breed, it’s important to motivate the dog using reward-based training methods. In addition, daily training is important which continues throughout the dog’s life.

Be aware of the Elo’s tendency to roam and work on those recall skills. In the absence of a rock solid recall, the wise owner uses a longline so that their dog gets a sense of freedom whilst remaining under control.


Although the focus was on creating a dog with a great character, the founders were also careful to breed from healthy parents to reduce the risk of breed-related health disorders. To a certain extent, this was a success. However, one study does show us that the vast majority of Elo dogs are related (even if somewhat distantly) to each other. This may have implications further down the line if recessive genes start to resurface when distant relations are mated.

Happily, for the moment the Elo appears a healthy breed with the main health issues being:


Distichiasis is the equivalent of having an extra row of eyelashes. Whilst this doesn’t sound a hugely bad thing, those lashes grow pointing towards the cornea (surface of the eye.) This means every time the dog blinks, lashes rub against the cornea causing a similar sort of irritation to having dust in the eye. Distichiasis hairs can be removed but it requires magnifying loupes and special micro-equipment, so referral to a vet specialist ophthalmologist is necessary.

Hip Dysplasia

A common problem associated with many dog breeds, hip dysplasia refers to having poor hip anatomy. Instead of having round femoral heads that move smoothly in the acetabulum (the receptive cup part of the pelvis), the hip joints are block shaped and sit shallowly in the cup.

This makes for bone knocking against bone as the dog moves, which leads to inflammation of the joint lining. In the worst cases, the dog can be lame from a young age, and in considerable pain. Even minor cases run the risk of developing premature arthritis, with the associated effect that has on quality of life.

To protect the hips, it’s important not to over exercise an Elo whilst he’s still actively growing. In addition, feed a good well-balanced diet that provides everything needed for healthy bones, and consider adding in a nutraceutical supplement, such as chondroitin and glucosamine to help protect the joints from damage.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Elo is an active dog rather than a couch potato. He’s best suited to an active family who are committed to getting outdoors and being energetic. The Elo has a natural urge to dig, which means he’s not an ideal dog for keen gardeners. However, this instinct can be assuaged with plenty of daily exercise. The moral of the story being that a well-behaved Elo is one that gets lots of walks.


The Elo doesn’t require professional grooming, however, he does need regular brushing. He has a double coat, consisting of short or medium-length outer hairs, with a soft but thick undercoat. The latter hales from the Chow Chow and Samoyed side of the family tree, which are both breeds that are notorious for shedding and the Elo is no exception.

Neglect to brush him daily and you’ll pay the price with hair-bunnies drifting around the floor and soft-furnishings reupholstered in Elo fur. On the plus side, the thick coat means he can cope with cold weather and shouldn’t be bathed too often as this disrupts the natural oils in his coat.

Famous Elos

Although a niche breed that is barely known outside their native Germany, the Elo clearly has devoted followers. To understand their obsession, check out Elo dogs on Pinterest.


The Elo breed is closely protected and dogs of this name cannot be bred without the consent of the founding society. Also, with the breed being so very young (founded in 1987), the main focus is on maintaining purity, rather than diversifying with outbreeding. All of this means it’s going to be some time before we see Elodoodles trotting down the street.

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