Everything You Need to Know About the Swedish Vallhund Dog Breed

If you’re looking for a unique and fascinating canine companion, then the Swedish Vallhund might be perfect for you! This breed has an interesting history, distinctive physical characteristics, and a loyal temperament that can make it an excellent addition to your family. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the Swedish Vallhund breed, from its history to its health and lifespan. Let’s get started!

A Brief History of the Swedish Vallhund

The Swedish Vallhund is an ancient breed with a fascinating history that dates back to the Viking Age. It was originally bred in Sweden as a cattle herding dog, and its name loosely translates to “shepherd dog of the Swedish farmers.” Over time, the breed’s numbers dwindled, and it was nearly extinct by the middle of the 20th century. However, thanks to the efforts of dedicated breeders, the Swedish Vallhund was recognized by the Swedish Kennel Club in 1943, and it has since experienced a revival in popularity around the world.

Origins in Sweden

The Swedish Vallhund’s origins in Sweden can be traced back to the 8th or 9th century, where it was used by farmers to herd cattle and other livestock. Its small size and agility made it well-suited for working on rocky terrain, and its distinctive bark helped it communicate with other dogs and its human handlers.

Swedish Vallhunds were an integral part of farming communities in Sweden, and they were often treated as members of the family. They were known for their loyalty and intelligence, and they were skilled at protecting their owners and their property.

The Viking Connection

The Swedish Vallhund has a unique connection to the Viking Age, as it is believed that the breed was brought to England by Viking raiders in the 9th century. There, it interbred with local dogs and contributed to the development of the Welsh Corgi, which has a similar appearance and herding abilities.

The Viking connection is still evident in the breed today, as Swedish Vallhunds are often depicted wearing Viking helmets and other traditional Viking garb in popular culture.

Recognition and Revival

The Swedish Vallhund was first recognized by the Swedish Kennel Club in 1943, and it has since gained popularity in other parts of the world, such as the United States and the United Kingdom. Although still considered a rare breed, the Swedish Vallhund has a dedicated following of owners who appreciate its unique history and charming personality.

In recent years, the Swedish Vallhund has gained recognition in the world of dog sports, and it has excelled in agility, obedience, and herding competitions. Despite its small size, the Swedish Vallhund is a versatile and capable breed that can excel in a variety of activities.

Today, the Swedish Vallhund is still used as a working dog in some parts of the world, but it is also a beloved companion and family pet. Its friendly and outgoing personality make it a great choice for families with children, and its intelligence and trainability make it a popular choice for obedience and agility enthusiasts.

Physical Characteristics of the Swedish Vallhund

The Swedish Vallhund is a small to medium-sized dog that has a distinct, fox-like appearance. Here are some of its key physical characteristics:

Size and Weight

Adult Swedish Vallhunds typically weigh between 20-35 pounds and stand around 12-14 inches tall at the shoulder. They have a sturdy, muscular build that reflects their work ethic as herding dogs. Despite their small size, they are known for their endurance and agility, which allows them to keep up with larger dogs and cover long distances with ease.

Swedish Vallhunds are also known for their unique body shape. They have a long, low-slung body that is slightly longer than it is tall. This gives them a distinctive silhouette and allows them to move quickly and easily through rough terrain.

Coat and Colors

The Swedish Vallhund has a double coat that consists of a short, dense undercoat and a longer, harsher topcoat. This coat is designed to protect them from the harsh weather conditions of their native Sweden. They shed moderately year-round, with heavier shedding occurring twice a year during seasonal changes.

They come in a variety of colors, including gray, sable, and black. They may also have white markings on their chest, feet, and tail tip. The coat color can vary greatly between individuals, with some having a solid color and others having a mix of colors.

Unique Features

The Swedish Vallhund has several unique physical features that set it apart from other breeds. One of the most distinctive is its “bobtail,” a naturally short or naturally docked tail that gives it a playful and alert expression. This tail is not only cute but also serves a practical purpose. It allows the dog to turn quickly and maneuver easily in tight spaces, making it an excellent herding dog.

It also has “wolflike” markings on its face and a wedge-shaped head that resembles that of a fox. This gives it a fierce and intelligent expression that is both striking and endearing. Their ears are erect and slightly pointed, adding to their alert and curious appearance.

Overall, the Swedish Vallhund is a unique and charming breed with a distinctive appearance that is sure to turn heads. Their physical characteristics are not only aesthetically pleasing but also serve important practical purposes, making them excellent working dogs and loyal companions.

Temperament and Personality Traits

The Swedish Vallhund is a beloved breed that is known for its unique personality and temperament. They are a small, spitz-type dog that has a big personality. Here are some of its key temperament and personality traits:

Intelligence and Trainability

The Swedish Vallhund is a highly intelligent breed that is quick to learn and eager to please their owners. They are known for their problem-solving abilities and can be trained to do a variety of tasks. They excel in obedience training and can also participate in activities such as agility and herding trials.

However, their intelligence can also lead to boredom and destructive behaviors if they are not given enough mental stimulation. It is important to provide them with plenty of toys and activities to keep them busy.

Energy Levels and Exercise Needs

The Swedish Vallhund has moderate energy levels and requires daily exercise to stay healthy and happy. They enjoy activities such as long walks, hikes, and playing fetch in the backyard. They also love to run and play, so a fenced-in yard is ideal for them to burn off their energy.

They are a versatile breed that can adapt to different living situations. They can do well in apartments as long as they are given enough exercise and mental stimulation.

Socialization and Friendliness

The Swedish Vallhund is a friendly and social breed that typically gets along well with other dogs and children. They are loyal and affectionate with their families and love to be included in all activities. They are also known for their sense of humor and will often make their owners laugh with their silly antics.

However, they may be reserved or suspicious of strangers, so early socialization and exposure to different people and environments is essential. This will help them develop into well-rounded and confident dogs.

In conclusion, the Swedish Vallhund is a wonderful breed that is full of personality and charm. They make great companions for families and individuals who are looking for an intelligent and loyal dog that loves to have fun.

Health and Lifespan of the Swedish Vallhund

The Swedish Vallhund is generally a healthy breed, but like all dogs, they are susceptible to certain health issues. Here are some of the most common health concerns:

Common Health Issues

Hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and hypothyroidism are some of the most common health issues that affect Swedish Vallhunds. Regular veterinary checkups and preventative care, such as proper nutrition and exercise, can help minimize these risks.

Preventative Care and Regular Checkups

To keep your Swedish Vallhund healthy and happy, it is essential to provide them with routine preventative care, such as vaccinations, regular dental cleanings, and parasite prevention. Regular veterinary checkups, including blood work and other diagnostic tests, can help detect potential health problems before they become serious.

Expected Lifespan

The Swedish Vallhund has a lifespan of around 12-14 years on average.


If you’re looking for a unique and charming canine companion, the Swedish Vallhund might be an excellent choice for you. With its fascinating history, distinctive physical features, and loyal temperament, this breed has captured the hearts of many dog lovers around the world. Remember to provide your Swedish Vallhund with proper preventive care, socialization, and training to ensure a long and happy life together.

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