Other names: Wisigoths Spitz, Västgötaspets, Swedish Cow Dog, Wolf Corgi
The Swedish Vallhund is an energetic, jolly, friendly and smart small-medium dog breed. Originally used to work on Swedish farms as a herder and ratter, the breed has become a popular family companion dog due to its loyal and affectionate temperament. While this cheerful breed certainly makes for a great pet, potential adopters should be aware that it’s a lively breed which requires plenty of exercise and mental stimulation.
Key facts about the Swedish Vallhund
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Origins and history
The Swedish Vallhund used to be known as the ‘Viking Dog’ because, according to Swedish records, it was brought to Sweden over a thousand years ago by (you guessed it!) Vikings. Many also believe the Vikings travelled to Wales with this breed, which then contributed to the evolution of the much-loved Corgi, hence the similarity. The breed was generally used to work on farms for herding, ratting and guarding, but slowly gained popularity as a companion dog.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 5 - Spitz and primitive types
Section 3 : Nordic Watchdogs and Herders
Physical characteristics of the Swedish Vallhund
Female : Between 11 and 13 in
Male : Between 12 and 14 in
Female : Between 20 and 31 lb
Male : Between 20 and 31 lb
Red-brown, grey, grey-brown, red-yellow, grey-yellow and other variations of the same shade.
Type of coat
The eyes are dark brown.
The Swedish Vallhund is extremely similar in appearance to the beloved Corgi. This breed is long and short yet fairly stocky and robust. The head is long, with a defined stop and square muzzle. The eyes are oval-shaped and dark, while the medium-sized ears are relatively large, erect and pointy.
Good to know
Interestingly, Vallhunds are born with different tail lengths - in fact, some even have no tail whatsoever!
The Vallhund is very affectionate, loyal and devoted to the people it loves. With that said, it’s normally warm and friendly towards pretty much anyone it meets!
Energetic and jolly, the Swedish Vallhund loves getting involved in games and activities. It also has a fantastic sense of humour and is sure to have you in fits of giggles!
This breed is active, energetic and chirpy, requiring plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. While we wouldn’t necessarily describe it as calm, it can be chilled-out and docile within the home providing its needs are met.
This is a highly intelligent breed which learns quickly. It is very good at nose work, obedience and tracking.
The Swedish Vallhund was originally bred to work on the farm, and as such, still holds quite a high prey-drive. This breed must be kept on a lead around wildlife and livestock, unless you’re absolutely certain it’s obedient enough to come back to you when called.
Fearful / wary of strangers
This breed is super friendly around strangers who are accepted into the home by its family, but may be wary of those who enter its territory unannounced.
The Swedish Vallhund really just wants to please its master, to whom it is particularly attached.
Behaviour of the Swedish Vallhund
Although the Vallhund will tolerate short amounts of time alone if accustomed to it gradually, this vocal breed is likely to become a nuisance barker if left alone for too long, too frequently. This dog can be prone to separation anxiety.
Easy to train / obedience
This is a smart dog who understands quickly what is asked of it, but as always it is important to establish yourself as a leader from the get-go. Start training the Vallhund while it’s still young, using plenty of positive reinforcement.
This dog barks very little and is quite unobtrusive.
Tendency to run away
The Swedish Vallhund does have a relatively strong prey-drive and may chase at the first sight of prey. It will be necessary to keep this breed on a strong lead in areas with livestock and wildlife unless extremely well-trained. Strong fencing is also recommended.
This clever and energetic breed does seem to get bored easily, which can lead to destructive behaviour such as chewing and barking.
Greedy / Gluttony
Treats will be a good motivator for a positive education.
This fearless breed will alert its family to intruders without hesitation, making him a fantastic watchdog.
This is a great first choice but beware, this is not a common breed and it may be difficult to find it outside of its home country.
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Swedish Vallhund in a flat
Although they can adapt to living in a flat or apartment, it will become even more important to get out and about for walks and activities on a daily basis. This dog is better suited to a house with a garden.
Need for exercise / Sporty
The Swedish Vallhund is an active dog, and although small, loves to live an active lifestyle. This breed should receive at least an hour of exercise every single day, but would happily do more. Walking, hiking, jogging, swimming, sports, flyball, obedience and agility training are all great options!
Travelling / easy to transport
This breed is on the smaller side of medium breeds, making it relatively easy to transport.
Swedish Vallhund and cats
The Swedish Vallhund can tolerate cats within the home, but must be socialized with them from a young age to ensure a peaceful relationship. This dog may be tempted to chase unfamiliar cats which enter its territory.
Swedish Vallhund and dogs
This breed tends to enjoy having another dog to play with in the household, especially one of the same breed.
Swedish Vallhund and children
The Swedish Vallhund, with its playful nature, tends to adore children.
Swedish Vallhund and the elderly
The Swedish Vallhund may suit elderly owners who have experience of training dogs and who still lead an active lifestyle. However, this breed is likely to be too energetic, lively and independent for some elderly owners.
This breed is fairly hard to come by in the UK. If you come across a litter, you’re likely to be looking at a cost of between £400 for a Non KC Registered dog, and £1,000 or more for a KC Registered pup. Looking after a dog of this size typically costs between £50 to £80 a month, including food, medical/insurance, and incidental expenses.
The Swedish Vallhund does shed, so you’ll need to brush it regularly to ensure your house doesn’t get absolutely covered in fur. Twice a week is a good starting point. The rest is normal canine care. Trim the nails if needed, clean the ears every couple of weeks, and brush the teeth as often as possible.
This breed is a moderate shedder.
Nutrition of the Swedish Vallhund
Feed the Swedish Vallhund a high-quality dog food which is appropriate for its current age. If your dog is particularly active or works on a farm, it might suit an active breed formula.
Health of the Swedish Vallhund
The Swedish Vallhund is generally healthy, but is particularly prone to a genetic eye disease which can cause blindness. The average life expectancy for this breed is 13 years.
Strong / robust
Despite its short legs, the Vallhund has a strong, stocky body and is known to be fairly robust.
The Swedish Vallhund prefers cold weather to extremes of heat. Provide cold water and shade when the weather warms up.
Originating from Sweden, the Vallhund is used to cold climates and, thanks to its thick, double coat, tolerates bitter weather very well.
Tendency to put on weight
Even though this isn’t a large dog, remember it requires quite a lot of exercise to keep in shape.
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Hip dysplasia