Country of Origin: Sweden
Size: Small-Medium, Small but powerful with a long Body
Dogs 33-35 cms at withers
Bitches 31-33 cms at withers
Ratio of height to weight at the withers and length of body should be 2:3.
Weight: 11.5-16 kgs
Grooming Requirements: Usually low, but high during shedding.
Exercise Requirements: Medium – small dogs with a herding background
Dog Type: Working / Herding Dog
Most suited As: Family Pet
Also known As: Viking dog, Västgötaspets
Expected Life Span: 14-18 Years
The Swedish Vallhund is a small yet powerful, brave yet friendly, alert and intelligent herding dog. Originating in Sweden as working dogs over 1000 years ago, they are known to be hardy and robust, with almost no inherited health issues more common in more modern breeds. They are used in Sweden still as working dogs though rarely so in Australia likely because of our much warmer climate, and larger cattle stations being more suited to larger legged and thinner coated herding breed. In Australia the Swedish Vallhund is more commonly seen as a family pet than a working dog.
They are substantial dogs, strong for their size with a long muscular body. They are relatively short dogs with averaging only 33cm at the withers and with a height to weight ratio of 2:3. Their faces are attentive and alert, accentuated by permanently pricked ears. They have a two layered coat – harsh, close and tight top coat topcoat covering a thick, soft and woolly undercoat.
Coat colour can be steel grey, greyish/brown, greyish/yellow, reddish/yellow, reddish/brown. The exhibit darker guard hairs on back, neck and sides of body, with lighter hair of the same colour most often seen on the muzzle, chest, throat, belly, buttocks, feet and hocks. White marking in place of these lighter colours are sometimes seen and are acceptable though are less preferred in the show ring.
Tail length will vary as some breeding lines now tend toward a very short tailed or even absent tail. Historically longer tailed dogs routinely had their tails docked to emulate this tailless look, however tail docking is now only used in Australia for health as opposed to cosmetic reasons so longer tailed Swedish Vallhunds are now seen more often.
The Swedish Vallhund is typically a happy, playful energetic dog. Their natural herding instinct is strong and they seek to incorporate this into games and play. They are not proud and strong, have a strong sense family and will often see themselves near the top of it, responsible for the safety and security of their humans.
They are not aggressive by nature, but are protective and vocal. Should strangers enter your yard, expect your Swedish Vallhund to announce them, and should another dog be perceived as a threat to his property…. Your Swedish Vallhund is typically fearless in meeting such threats. This breed is a known vocal communicator – expect to hear barks of joy and pleasure, or warning, of greeting…. indeed they are a very chatty breed.
Early socialisation is important to harness this energy, herding tendencies and strong protective traits so your puppy learns appropriate use of these positive traits. They will bond well with other animals that it sees as part of its family and most often with other dogs outside its family if introduced to them in a non threatening manner.
Originating in Sweden where they are still known as Västgötaspets, their ears and tail clearly show them to be spitz type dogs. Bred as flatlands cattle herding dogs it is thought the breed was developed as far back as the 7th century.
As with many breeds developed for working purposes rather than a standard, the breed developed into an exceptionally hardy breed with almost no know genetic problems. This even though the popularity of the breed plummeted in the early 20th century with the breed rescued by two Swedish dog enthusiasts, Karl-Gustav Zettersen Count Björn Von Rosen who were able to start a breeding program and though starting the program from only a handful of breed dogs, were able to continue the breed with its hardy constitution intact.
The Swedish Vallhund is a relative newcomer to Australia, gracing our shores for the first time in 1981.
Care and grooming
Relatively low maintenance dogs, especially for a dual coated breed as their coat is water resistant thus discouraging mud and dirt. Even when wet, they are surpringly lacking that typical “dirty wet dog” smell. Coat should be brushed at least once a week.
They will moult in Spring, and sometimes also in Autumn. During this moulting period it is important to groom them daily to prevent matting of this moulting fur which can irritate their skin and will also make them appear unhealthy.
Known Health Problems
No known health problems which is remarkable considering the small gene pool used to create and maintain the breed which shows starting from exemplary stock when starting a breeding program is so beneficial.
Not only are they hardy and with no known health issues, they are exceptionally long lived with expected life spans over 14 years with some animals living much longer. If you want a friend for life, a Swedish Vallhund is a breed that will go closer to providing that than many others.
Swedish Vallhund Organisations in Australia
No club information listed
Swedish Vallhund Organisations in the UK
Swedish Vallhund Breeders UK, Breed Clubs, Swedish Vallhund
Did we miss your organisation? Let us know. Contact Us