Also known as the Swedish Cow Dog , the Swedish Vallhund is a small dog breed that worked as a farm dog. This intelligent dog is energetic, athletic and has a pleasant personality.
Origin & History
This small dog breed’s name means herding or shepherd dog . He is believed to have descended from the dogs belonging to the Vikings. What is known for sure is that this Spitz breed was used as a farm dog in Sweden for jobs like herding livestock, killing vermin and as a guard dog. Locally named the Vastgotaspets , the Vallhund was recognized by the Swedish Kennel Club in 1943. The United Kennel Club and American Kennel Club registered the breed in 1996 and 2007 respectively.
The Vallhund is of medium size and looks like a Welsh Corgi (Cardigan and Pembroke). They are however not genetically related. This dog has a sturdy and muscular body. He has a wedge-shaped head with erect medium sized ears, short legs and a tail that can be long, bobbed or stubby.
The Vallhund has a double coat with medium length hair. His soft undercoat is covered by a harsh topcoat. The coat colour is a sable pattern of grey to red or a combination of colours in various shades.
The dog usually has a mask of light fur in the following areas:
- Around the eyes
- On the muzzle
- Under the throat
- Rear end
- Lower legs
Darker fur can be seen on the dog’s sides, back and neck. There is a distinct light-coloured harness marking on his back.
Size & Weight
The Vallhund stands at 11 inches (30 to 34cm) at the shoulder and weighs 22 to 35 pounds (9 to 14kg) when fully grown.
Character & Abilities
The Swedish Vallhund is friendly and affectionate. He is fun loving and entertaining. He gets a kick out of making people laugh and comes up with games to create a lively atmosphere for his family.
Curious with an independent streak, the Vallhund is also brave and loyal. If the home or family is under threat, he will bark an alert, making him a good guard dog.
The Vallhund loves children but his herding instincts can cause him to nip at their heels when playing. He can be trained not to make this a habit.
When raised together, the Vallhund gets along well with other cats and dogs in the home. The dog will thrive when he has another Vallhund to play with.
Exercise & Nutrition Needs
The Swedish Vallhund needs plenty of daily exercise because he was bred to shepherd animals over long distances.
A long walk a day, taking a hike or participating in dog sports can keep him physically and mentally stimulated.
The recommended daily intake of food for an adult Vallhund is 1 to 1 ½ cups of high-quality dry dog food, split into two meals.
The Vallhund’s double coat needs weekly brushing to remove dead hair and stimulate the production of natural oils that keep the coat healthy.
Show dogs do not need any special trimming and are appreciated in their unkempt natural state.
This dog has pointy ears which are easy to clean. A damp cotton ball can be used to clean the outer ear.
Brushing the dog’s teeth every day is a good foundation for his oral hygiene. This will reduce his visits to the vet for dental cleaning.
Foot care is very important. Regular clipping of the dog’s nails will reduce the risk of breaking and tearing. Proper paw care will keep his feet clean and prevent infection and pest infestation.
Trainability & Intelligence
This calm dog breed is intelligent, highly trainable and great at problem-solving. He loves to learn and has been known to find new ways of playing with his toys.
Training should begin during puppyhood, ideally before the Vallhund is four months old. Early socialization involves exposing the dog to different environments, situations, people, pets, sounds and experiences.
It is important to note that this breed doesn’t respond positively to harsh verbal or physical correction.
The Vallhund needs a kind and consistent instructor who is willing to employ fun activities in the training process.
If the Vallhund is allowed to lead, he will. The trainer should clearly establish leadership so the dog doesn’t test his boundaries.
The Vallhund is agile and fast. He can excel in dog sports like herding, agility, flyball, obedience, rally, nose work and tracking.
Living Conditions & Adaptability
The Vallhund is adaptable to any home environment. He might be a nuisance barker and needs to be trained to limit and obey commands to stop to keep him from disturbing the neighbours.
Because of his special herding skills, he would be an excellent all-purpose dog on a farm or ranch.
Even though the Vallhund has a weather-resistant coat, he should not be left to live outside. He loves being with his family and will be unhappy if he is denied daily human interaction.
If this dog is left alone frequently, he suffers separation anxiety and resorts to mischief like excessive barking.
His short legs make it difficult for him to walk in the snow.
Health & Life Expectancy
The Vallhund’s short legs and long back make him susceptible to back injuries. It is recommended to handle him carefully by supporting his front legs and rear end.
During his lifetime, he should not be allowed to jump on or off high places like onto a vehicle or furniture. Dog steps and ramps can help to prevent falls and injuries.
The breed is generally healthy but is predisposed to progressive retinal atrophy which can develop into night blindness.
The average lifespan of the Vallhund is 15 years.
The Vallhund is a highly people-oriented dog breed. With a high energy level, he is suitable for active and experienced dog parents. Friendly and highly intelligent, this versatile breed requires early socialization, training and exercise to be a well-rounded companion.
Adopting a dog is an important step with important considerations, one of which is whether the dog breed matches your needs and lifestyle.
Our team at All The Small Dog Breeds have compiled informative small dog breed descriptions to help you identify the right companion for your home.