- The Swedish Vallhund’s coat has harness markings, bands of light color running down the sides from the shoulders. Some nicely marked Vallhunds have a mask of lighter hair around the eyes, on the muzzle, and under the throat, contrasting with the head color.
- Within a single Swedish Vallhund litter, puppies can have natural bobtails or the traditional long Spitz tail.
AKC group: Working Dogs
UKC group: Herding Dogs
Average lifespan: 12 to 15 years
Average size: 22 to 35 pounds
Coat appearance: Dense, Harsh and Rough, and Thick
Coloration: sable pattern of gray to red or combinations of colors in various shades.
Best Suited For: Families with children, active singles and seniors, houses with yards
The Swedish Vallhund is an ancient, national dog breed of Sweden and may date back to the 8th or 9th century. Swedish Vallhunds originated in the county of Västergötland, which lies just south of Vänern. Here the small dog proved to be excellent for watching, guarding and herding. The breed dates to the Viking settlement of England and is thought to have played a part in the development of the modern Welsh Corgi and the Lancashire Heeler. According to the American Kennel Club, another theory of the breed’s origin is that during the eighth or ninth century “either the Swedish Vallhund was brought to Wales or the Corgi was taken to Sweden, hence the similarities between the two breeds”.
The Swedish Vallhund is related to larger spitz dogs and moose hunting dogs of Scandinavia. Large dogs of this spitz-type have been found buried with their masters in stone-age settlements in Scandinavia. The skeleton of a Swedish Vallhund is remarkably similar to that of the modern Norwegian Elkhound, another breed of spitz dog.
The Swedish Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1943, making the Valhund a popular pet in both Sweden and Britain. The dogs were first brought to the United States in 1983, and the American Kennel Club recognized the Vallhund in 2007. Today he ranks 142nd among the breeds registered by the AKC.
The Swedish Vallhund dates back to the Vikings who used these short, sturdy animals to herd cattle. Like their Viking friends, Vallhunds are strong and fearless, and their owners believe these dogs have no idea they are so small. They are friendly, spirited and eager to please, they get along well with children and can be trusted around other household pets, though they won’t hesitate to chase strange dogs and cats.
Vallhunds can be used as farm dogs and are truly in their element around livestock. Vallhunds individual personalities vary from dog to dog – some are more outgoing while others are more introverted, but all Vallhunds are loyal companions who make an excellent addition to families with active lifestyles.
The Swedish Vallhund lives an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years. The health issue most associated with this dog breed is progressive retinal atrophy, a genetic disease that causes blindness in both eyes.
The Vallhund’s short legs belie his agility and speed. He corners like a race car and is an excellent agility competitor. He is sturdy and muscular and packs a big punch for his size.As a herding breed, he is bred to move flocks long distances. Even if he doesn’t do that for a living anymore, he still needs daily exercise in the form of a long walk or hike or training for a dog sport such as agility. If he gets the activity he needs, the Vallhund is happy in any environment, from city condo to country estate.
With his short legs and long back, the Vallhund can be prone to back injuries if mishandled. Because their skeletal development is not yet complete, avoid letting puppies jump on and off furniture. Don’t pick them up without supporting both the front legs and the rear end. The Vallhund has a weather-resistant coat designed to withstand the harsh elements of Sweden, but that doesn’t mean he’s an outside dog. He is highly people-oriented and should never be shunted off to the backyard with little human interaction.
The Swedish Vallhund will do okay in an apartment if it is sufficiently exercised. This breed is very active indoors and will do okay without a yard.
As herding dogs, Swedish Vallhunds are independent thinkers and can be a tad bossy. They prefer to do things on their own time, so a lot of patience is required when training this breed. Positive reinforcement and lots of treats will ensure a responsive Vallhund. Once consistent leadership is established, they take well to training and enjoy learning new tasks.
After beginning obedience training is complete, Swedish Vallhunds should graduate to advanced training and if possible, involved in tracking and agility classes. This is one “old dog” that likes to learn new tricks, and training should continue throughout their lives.
The Swedish Vallhund was bred to be a herding dog so they are a fairly active and energetic breed. These dogs tend to thrive when given a job to do and they are excellent at a number of dog sports including obedience, agility trials, herding, flyball, and tracking. This dog requires a long walk every day to meet his exercise requirements.
Despite their high energy level, Swedish Vallhunds only need a moderate
amount of exercise to maintain health and happiness. They are adaptable dogs who can thrive on a ranch, in a home with a yard, in an apartment or condominium. They should be walked daily, and if they don’t have a yard to play in at home, should be allowed to run in a park at least once a week.
Vallhunds need a lot of mental stimulation so that they don’t get bored. As with other breeds who have roots as farm dogs, they like to stay busy. They excel in agility training and advanced obedience. If not properly exercised physically and mentally, Vallhunds can become anxious and destructive when left alone.
The Vallhund has a medium-length double coat. Double-coated dogs shed, so expect to find hair on your clothing and furniture. Brush the coat once or twice a week to remove dead hair and reduce the amount of loose hair floating around your house. The only other kind of grooming you need to do is to trim the hair on the footpads.
The rest is basic care: Trim his nails as needed, usually every week or two, and brush his teeth regularly with a vet-approved pet toothpastefor good overall health and fresh breath.
Children And Other Pets
Vallhunds usually love children, but their herding instincts can motivate them to nip at a youngster’s feet or ankles. They can learn quickly, however, that this behavior is not permitted. As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party.
Teach your child never to approach any dog
while he’s eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child. Vallhunds are usually friendly toward other pets in the household, including cats, so long as they have been socialized with them from an early age. They enjoy having a second or third dog in the family to play with, especially another Vallhund.
Is the Swedish Vallhund the Right Breed for you?
Moderate Maintenance: Regular grooming is required to keep its fur in good shape. No trimming or stripping needed.
Minimal Shedding: Recommended for owners who do not want to deal with hair in their cars and homes.
Easy Training: The Swedish Vallhund is known to listen to commands and obey its owner. Expect fewer repetitions when training this breed.
It will need daily exercise to maintain its shape. Committed and active owners will enjoy performing fitness activities with this breed.
Not Good for New Owners: This breed is best for those who have previous experience with dog ownership.
Not Good with Kids: In isolation, this dog breed might not be the best option for kids. However, to mitigate the risks, have the puppy grow up with kids and provide it with plenty of pleasant and relaxed experiences with them.
Did You Know?
Though the Swedish Vallhund resembles a Corgi, you can see differences in the head and coat pattern.