Swedish Vallhund

Saved from extinction in the 1940s, this cute canine has certainly made a comeback! Read all about the Swedish Vallhund in today’s guide below!

swedish vallhund in the garden

Height: Male 12.5-13.75 inches, female 11.5-12.75 inches
Weight: 9-16 kilos
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Pedigree? (registered with the KC?): Yes, this breed is registered with the Kennel Club.

Positives and Negatives

Find out the pros and cons of the Swedish Vallhund below:

Pros:

  • Great family pets and loyal companions
  • Excellent watchdog
  • Low grooming needs
  • Easy to train

Cons:

  • Prone to separation anxiety
  • High prey drive
  • Prone to weight gain
  • Heavy shedders

swedish vallhund behind flowers

Overview

Swedish Vallhunds are a member of the Spitz family. This group represents dogs with dense fur, curly tails, pointed ears, and muzzles. A Swedish Vallhund is a purebred dog and is rather healthy.

Despite this, breeders should still carry out health tests on parents before producing any Swedish Vallhund puppies.

Many believe the Swedish Vallhund has links to the Welsh Corgi due to their strikingly similar looks. Both were in existence during the Viking period and it is during this time some believe the breeds are thought to have crossed paths.

Today, despite their looks these dogs are considered to have no relation.

Swedish Vallhunds are prone to weight gain so their food intake should be monitored. Treats should be avoided where possible when rewarding good behavior. Their coats are waterproof and won’t require heavy grooming maintenance.

These canines like the sound of their own voice and will use it to interact with their owner.

To prevent the barking from becoming excessive teach the dog the quiet command. Swedish Vallhunds are different individually. Some may be more vocal, others may be more energetic. Tailor training and daily exercise to the dog’s needs.

swedish vallhund face side view

History

The Swedish Vallhund originates from the county Västergötland, in Sweden and dates back to at least the 8th century. Scandanavian dogs are believed to have traveled to British shores alongside Vikings.

Swedish Vallhunds are descendants of these dogs. The Viking canines are thought to have cross-bred with the Welsh Corgi during their time in Britain. Swedish Vallhunds are descendants of moose hunting dogs and larger Spitz breeds.

In Sweden, the breed is known as Västgötaspets. It means ‘small spitz of the West Goths’, an area in Sweden. In their native land, these canines were used as a working farm dogs. They would hunt vermin, herd livestock, and made excellent watchdogs.

Swedish Vallhunds would also drive away strange dogs.

In the 1930s the Swedish Vallhund came close to extinction. One man, in particular, Count Björn von Rosen, was responsible for reviving the breed in the early 1940’s.

He put out an advert searching for more information on the breed and received a response from Karl-Gustav Zettersen. Together they searched the country for the best dogs of the breed.

The canines used to revive the breed came from the West Gothia area in Sweden. It didn’t take long for the Swedish Kennel Club to officially recognize the Swedish Vallhund in 1943.

In the 1970s, the Swedish Vallhund was imported into the UK by Elizabeth Cartledge. Shortly after in 1984, the Kennel Club registered the breed. Swedish Vallhunds were the 157th breed to be recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2007.

Personality

Swedish Vallhunds are loyal, alert, eager to please, friendly, playful, and loving. Although independent, this breed can still suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time.

Calm and gentle indoors, despite their energetic side, Swedish Vallhunds are generally relaxed.

swedish vallhund on grass

This breed is adaptable to lifestyle changes and would follow its owners to the ends of the earth if they could! Swedish Vallhunds are suitable for a variety of living environments such as the city, countryside, and small homes.

It is recommended this canine has regular access to a garden.

Recommended: A Bichon Frise crossed with a Maltese produces the hybrid we know today as the Maltichon.

Are Swedish Vallhunds Good with Strangers?

Swedish Vallhunds are protective over their families. For this reason they are wary of people they don’t know. As a natural watchdog, strangers will be barked at.

However, this breed isn’t known to respond with aggression, provided they have had the right socialization. If their owner welcomes the stranger so will the Swedish Vallhund.

Are Swedish Vallhunds Good with Children?

Yes, this breed gets along well with children and makes a perfect little playmate. Their robust stature reduces their likelihood of sustaining injuries during play.

Due to the breed’s prey drive, smaller children could be chased and nipped.

For this reason, smaller kids should never be left alone with the Swedish Vallhund. Like most dogs, it is better for this canine to be raised with children from puppyhood.

Are Swedish Vallhunds Ok with Other Dogs?

In their previous working life, this breed would drive away strange dogs. As a result, they can become dominant or territorial with dogs they don’t know. These pooches can grow up with other canines and cats in the household.

Other cats on the street will be seen as prey and thus, fair game!

Exercise

This breed should receive up to one hour of exercise each day. Some Swedish Vallhunds are more energetic than others. As they’re prone to weight gain they should receive vigorous play for at least fifteen minutes out of the day.

Unlike some of the other working breeds around today, Swedish Vallhunds are classed as active herding dogs. In their working life they would follow their flocks’ long distances. This is why Swedish Vallhunds adore long walks.

Despite the recommended exercise time, this breed wouldn’t say no to extra time outdoors!

Dog sports are a great way to keep the Swedish Vallhund happy! They excel in agility, herding, nose work, flyball, tracking, obedience, and rally!

As working farm dogs these canines will also need mental stimulation. Mind games such as puzzles, hide and seek, and treat finding are all ways to do this.

swedish vallhund chasing a lure in a race

Recommended next: Wire Haired Dachshund puppies love to dig. Read our guide about them.

Health

Check out the below health issues that could affect the Swedish Vallhund:

  • Patellar Luxation- The patellar (knee cap) temporarily dislocates out of place before relocating back into positions. Affected dogs may run on three legs before quickly returning back on all fours.
  • Hip Dysplasia- Poor development of the hip joint, causes the ball and socket to rub and grind. Symptoms include pain, inflammation, swelling, and overtime arthritis will form.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy- Also known as Retinopathy, this degenerative condition affects the photoreceptor cells within the eye. Dogs will experience a loss of vision at night before experiencing total blindness.

Intelligence & Training

Thankfully, the Swedish Vallhunds’ eager to please attitude makes them a pleasure to teach! They are intelligent although not the smartest in the dog world.

As an active herding breed, certain behaviors such as nipping, chewing, and herding will need to be curbed.

Positive reinforcements work best with the Swedish Vallhund. As this breed is eager to please, affection should be given as a reward for good behavior. Food treats should be kept limited as the Swedish Vallhund is prone to weight gain.

swedish vallhund on snow

Clicker training has been recommended for this breed. It’s also a good way to keep the Swedish Vallhund mentally stimulated. The click is used as a way to let the dog know they have done something correct.

At the start of training, dogs should be rewarded when they hear the click. Eventually, the click becomes the reward itself.

Early socialization is important to prevent the Swedish Vallhund from becoming anxious, shy, or nervous. Group puppy classes are a great way to meet new people and dogs whilst learning commands.

Introduce the dog to new places and environments where they can experience a range of new sounds, people, and animals.

Recommended: The Pomsky is a cross-breed known commonly as a ‘designer dog’.

Grooming

Swedish Vallhunds have a thick, weather-resistant coat. These dogs will shed all year round and will also blow out their coat twice a year. Don’t be surprised if you find clumps of fur covering your home!

A thorough brush at least once a week is needed. Ensure the brush reaches right down to the skin by gently pressing down. The natural oils protect and nourish the coat between baths.

Metal combs, slicker, and pin brushes are the most ideal tools to use. The coat won’t need trimming and should never be shaven.

swedish vallhund standing on stones

Baths should be given every three months minimum. Although double-coated dogs like the Swedish Vallhund can last longer. Show dogs will need more frequent washing.

The thick fur of the Swedish Vallhund will need to be blow-dried.

Make sure ears are cleaned weekly to remove any debris from the ear canal. Nails should be filed or trimmed every fortnight to prevent overgrowth. Teeth should be brushed at least three times a week.

However, vets recommend this is done daily.

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