Swedish Vallhund History, Personality, Appearance, Health and Pictures

Swedish Vallhund

Also known as the Swedish Cattle Dog, the Swedish Herder Spitz or, in its homeland, the Vasgotaspets or Vasgota-Spitz, this breed was once called the Vikingarnas Dog because of its supposed Viking origins. Its Swedish name of Vasgotaspets translates as "Spitz Dog of the West Goths". The name Vallhund means simply "Farm Dog". Its original function was as a heeler, controlling the herds of cattle in Sweden, especially in the Vastergotland region in the south-west of the country.

History

This sturdy little dog, with its wolf-like coat colouring and its alert, pricked ears, is superficially reminiscent of the Welsh Corgi, and some believe that the resemblance goes deeper. There are two rival theories. Corgi owners affirm that ancestors of their working dogs were pillaged, taken back to Scandinavia, and there developed into the Vallhund. Owners of the Swedish Vallhunds, inevitably, claim that the ancestors of their dogs were taken to Wales by Vikings and left there, where, over the centuries, they developed into Corgis. Although, with the scanty evidence available, it is hard to choose between these two theories, the Viking connection itself does seem to be firmly established.

In addition to driving the herds of cattle, the Swedish Vallhund was also employed to catch vermin on the farms and act as a watchdog. Despite its usefulness, it nearly became extinct in the 1930s, but was saved for future generations by the efforts of Count Bjorn von Rosen and a group of dedicated breeders. Its numbers gradually rose again as it found favour both as a show dog and as a household companion. It was recognized by the Swedish Kennel Club in the 1940s and by the Kennel Club in London in the 1980s.

Note: This breed has sometimes misleadingly been called the Swedish Shepherd or Swedish Sheepdog. Although it has occasionally been employed to herd sheep, this is not its main function.

Appearance

Two types of Swedish Vallhund still exist. One type is heavier, usually with a slightly off-standing coat that is longer on the neck but not so long as to form a mane. The other type is more slender, more elegant, with a longer neck and a coat that lies closer to the body.

The height at the withers should be within 12-13 inches/30-34 cm. Small, low, muscular, yet powerful and energetic, the Swedish Vallhund has a long, straight body; short, wide loins; a broad rear gently sloping downward; a long, deep chest; a wedge-shaped head; very dark brown oval eyes; pointed prick ears; and a tail that, if present, is docked very short. An abundant, soft woolly undercoat is covered by a medium-length, hard, close-fitting outercoat that is gray in color, and usually darker on the back and withers.

Temperament

Extremely brave, vigorous, and an enthusiastic worker despite its size, the Swedish Vallhund is loyal and obedient to its master, doting on praise but definitely wary of strangers.

Care and Exercise

Only occasional brushing is needed when appropriate, but as it loves exercise and constantly keeps moving, a large yard to run free in would be best.

Puppies and Training

The mother well cares for her four to eight puppies per litter, and they are comfortable around people and easy to raise.

Gallery of Swedish Vallhund