(aka: Swedish Cattle Dog, Swedish Shepherd, Vasgotaspets, Viking Dog)
Swedish Vallhund Description
The Swedish Vallhund is a small, low to the ground but sturdy dog. The head is rather long with a muzzle that looks square when viewed from the side, with a well defined stop. The nose and lips are black. The teeth meet in a scissors bite. The oval, medium sized eyes are dark in color. The ears are rather mobile, and firm from the base to the tip.
The tail is either naturally long, stub, or bobbed, but is also sometimes docked. Note" docking tails is illegal in most parts of Europe. The neck is long and muscular. The legs are short, but powerful. Dewclaws are sometimes removed. The oval shaped feet are medium in size pointing straight ahead. The dog has a tight, harsh, medium length outer coat with a soft, dense undercoat. Coat hairs are slightly longer on the neck, chest, and the back of the hind legs. Coat colors include gray, red-yellow, red-brown and gray-brown. May have a small amount of white markings. The dogs can have a well-defined mask, with lighter hair around the eyes, muzzle, and under the throat.
The Swedish Vallhund is a responsive and even-tempered companion. It is intelligent and affectionate. He loves attention and instinctually craves leadership. Owners are never disappointed in his multi-faceted ability or his spontaneous sense of humor. Extremely active and devoted little dogs. Be sure you are this dog's pack leader to avoid Small Dog Syndrome, human induced behaviors where the dog believes he is above humans in the pack order.
Dog's who do not clearly know their place in the pack can be untrustworthy with children, may begin to guard, bark obsessively, become wary of strangers, and be dog agressive with other dominant dogs. Properly socialize this dog, providing rules he must follow, and limites to what he can and cannot do, to avoid over-protective behaviors. They sometimes try to herd people by nipping at their heels, although they can be trained not to do this. The Swedish Vallhund makes a good alarm dog, but should be told to quiet down after they have already given off their warning bark. This breed makes a great companion and can be used for herding and ratting. They also make excellent show and obedience dogs.
The hard, tight, medium-length coat is easy to groom. Comb and brush with a firm bristle brush, and bathe only when necessary. This breed is a average shedder.
Originating in the Vastergotland plains of Sweden, the Swedish Vallhund is claimed as the Viking Dog. They are thought to be at least a thousand years old. Because the Swede heavily resembles the Welsh or Pembroke Corgi, some consider them to be in the blood of the Vallhund. The Corgi area was certainly visited by Vikings, thus giving some weight to the theory. Once known as the Vikingarnas Dog, this breed was in danger of extinction in the 1930s.
Thanks to dedicated fanciers, the leader being Count Bjorn von Rosen, a comeback was made for this breed. They were used mainly for herding cattle and sheep, but served as an all-purpose breed. Surprisingly, until 1948 the breed did not obtain any kind of recognition by a kennel club, and was only recognized as a breed by the Swedish Kennel Club. The Vallhund was taken to England in the 1970s, and initially to the United States in the '80s. Marilyn Thell bred the first litter of Swedish Vallhunds in the U.S. in 1986 from her Jonricker Kennel. By 1984 the breed received British Kennel Club recognition.The Swedish Vallhund was recognized by the AKC in 2007.
An intelligent little breed, the Swedish Vallhund does well in obedience training. Typically easy to housebreak and train, this breed would make a good herding companion. Can also be used for watch dogging if proper training takes place. Gentle hand is required for this breed. The best method of training for a Swedish Vallhund is positive training.
Some health problems that are occassionally seen are cleft palate, cryptochidism, hip dysplasia, luxating patellas and retinal dysplasia.