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Danish Swedish Farmdog

Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021

Danish Swedish Farmdog

The Danish-Swedish Farmdog is an ancient breed from Denmark and Sweden and can be dated back as far as the 1700s but may be even older than that. It was developed to be a multi-talented working dog kept as a watchdog, a companion and an excellent ratter. It has been known by other names such as the Scanian Terrier, Dansk-svensk gårdshund and Old Danish Fox Terrier. It has a life span of 10 to 15 years and is a small sized friendly and laid back pet. It is a recent arrival in the US where it is starting to perform well in agility and flyball as well as lure coursing, earthdog and going to ground.

The Danish-Swedish Farmdog at a Glance
Name Danish-Swedish Farmdog
Other names Scanian Terrier, Dansk-svensk gårdshund, Old Danish Fox Terrier, The Rat Dog
Nicknames DSF
Origin Denmark and Sweden
Average size Small
Average weight 15 to 25 pounds
Average height 12 to 15 inches
Life span 10 to 15 years
Coat type Short and smooth
Hypoallergenic No
Color Black & White , Brown & White , White
Popularity Not yet a fully registered member of the AKC
Intelligence High
Tolerance to heat Average
Tolerance to cold Average
Shedding Moderate – some hair may be left around the home
Drooling Low to moderate – not especially prone to it
Obesity Average – make sure its food is measured and it is properly exercised
Grooming/brushing Low to average – once or twice a week
Barking Frequent – training to stop it on command is needed
Exercise needs High so needs active owners
Trainability Easy for those with experience
Friendliness Very good to excellent
Good first dog Very good – even inexperienced owners should be good with it
Good family pet Very good to excellent with socialization
Good with children Very good with socialization
Good with other dogs Very good with socialization
Good with other pets Moderate to good – needs socialization as sees small pets like hamsters, guinea pigs and birds as prey
Good with strangers Good but wary – will bark to warn of strangers approaching
Good apartment dog Very good if exercise requirements are met
Handles alone time well Moderate to average – can be left alone for short periods but not long ones
Health issues Generally healthy a few usual doggy issues that can come up include eye problems, ear infections and joint dysplasia
Medical expenses $435 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $75 a year for a good quality food and treats
Miscellaneous expenses $195 a year for basic training, license, toys and miscellaneous items
Average annual expenses $705 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $800
Rescue organizations None breed specific, check local shelters and rescues
Biting Statistics None reported

The Danish-Swedish Farmdog’s Beginnings

The Danish-Swedish Farmdog may in fact be as old as a thousand years but with records being few and far between we do know for references and records that they were definitely around in the 18th century. Its names once referred to it as a terrier but in now it is seen to be more a pinscher type. It is also worth noting here that the Danish-Swedish Farmdog is not the same as the Danish Chicken Dog, these are two different breeds. It was once mistakenly published as such and since then many English speaking breeders and websites still mix them up.

Originally from Denmark and Sweden it was developed to work on farms, catch rats and mice, act as a companion and watchdog, help herd cattle for milking and so on. It was also often used in the circus. During the industrial revolution though farms were combined for large scale farming and machines were used a lot more. Farmers had to find jobs in cities and the need for a working farm dog declined dramatically. The dog was facing extinction and it did not help that with no standard for it people were breeding any dogs with it creating mixed dogs.

New Lease on Life

In the 1980s the Swedish and Danish Kennel Clubs came together to work on finding the purebreds that were left, creating a written standard and basically saving the breed from becoming extinct. The saved dog was given the new name of the Danish-Swedish Farmdog and recognized by both clubs in 1987. Today it is still considered by its native countries as a working breed but the small numbers in the US keep it as a companion dog. It is recognized by the UKC and by the FCI but is just in the Foundation Stock Service for the AKC.

Danish Swedish Farmdog

The Dog You See Today

The Danish-Swedish Farmdog is a small sized dog weighing 15 to 25 pounds and standing 12 to 15 inches tall. It looks somewhat like a Jack Russell Terrier and can be mistaken for one. It is compact and has a rectangular shape with a wide deep chest. Its tail can be a natural bobtail or be long. Its head is triangular shaped and small and its skull is a little rounded. Its ears can be folded forward or be rose like and it has powerful jaws. Its coat is short, hard, shiny and smooth and lies close. It is white with tan or brown or black markings, or solid white.

The Inner Danish-Swedish Farmdog


The DSF is a lively, intelligent, sweet and friendly dog which is why as well as being a good worker it makes a great companion and family dog too. It has a lot of personality and is active and curious and very playful. It loves to get attention and to spend time with its family and wants to be included or at the center of family activities. It will perform tricks or act the clown to get that attention too. It is an alert dog and makes a good watchdog so will bark to let you know when someone is approaching or trying to get in. It is not a yappy dog though, it tends to only bark when it feels it is needed.

Even as social as this dog is it still needs to be dealt with firmly so it knows you are the pack leader. It can be fine for new owners as long as you remember to stay confident and clear with your leadership. It is easygoing and should be gentle and calm when not working. It is also quite a brave and confident dog, happy to herd even large animals without concern.

Living with a Danish-Swedish Farmdog

What will training look like?

Training this dog should go fairly well as long as you stay in charge. It is intelligent and quick to learn and eager to please. It enjoys the attention it brings it and performing what it has learned to get praise. It should be given early training and socialization and be taught using positive methods of encouragement, treats and rewards. Socialization will help it with its interactions with other people, animals, places, situations and sounds. It is well capable of going beyond just basic obedience, having been used in the past in circuses it is able to learn tricks and it can also be taught different doggy sports.

How active is the Danish-Swedish Farmdog?

This is a fairly active dog, it has a fair amount of energy and should get at least 60 minutes of two walks a day and some physical playtime with you. Make sure you also include time and activities for mental stimulation. It can join you for a jog if you do that and is happiest when it has something to do. So if it is not being kept as a working dog, as well as giving it enough exercise it will need something to do during the day to keep it busy. When walking it make sure it is on a leash as it will try to run after moving things and other animals. It can live in an apartment if it gets enough outside time but a yard is a nice bonus place to play and explore. Keep in mind though it has strong instinct to dig from its vermin hunting days.

Caring for the Danish-Swedish Farmdog

Grooming needs

As its coat is short this makes it easy to brush and since it sheds a moderate amount most of the year brushing can be kept to once or twice a week. You can expect some hair to be around the home, but it does seasonally have heavy shedding at which times brushing daily is needed and there will be big clumps of hair around. Give it a bath when it needs it only, do not bathe it according to a too frequent schedule as that can damage the oils it needs. However when it is heavier shedding a bath can help with that. Only use a dog shampoo to wash it with, anything else is also something that can damage its natural oils. Thankfully it is said that this dog is odor free so a bad smelling doggy odor should not be a problem.

The dog will also needs its ears cleaned once a week using a dog ear cleansing solution and cotton ball, or a damp cloth. Only wipe where you can reach, never insert anything into the ear. This can cause real damage and greatly hurt the dog. Its nails should be clipped if they get too long, some dogs wear them down a bit with their activity. Use proper dog nail scissors or clippers and do not cut too far down. Their nails are not like ours, in the lower half of them are nerves and blood vessels and should those be cut it will not just hurt the dog a lot it actually causes a fair amount of bleeding. Then the DSF should also have its teeth brushed at least two to three times a week.

Feeding Time

As a small dog it will likely it around 1 to 1½ cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals. That amount can change depending on size, level of activity, health, metabolism and age. It should also have access to water at all times that is kept fresh when possible.

How is the Danish-Swedish Farmdog with children and other animals?

The DSF is good with children and can be trusted with them especially with good socialization and when raised with them. It will play with them, explore and be lively together and is also affectionate and caring of them. Make sure you teach the children how to touch and play kindly. It also gets on well with other dogs but is not so good with other pets, especially smaller ones like rodents and birds. It will want flush them out, chase them and really should either not be homed with them or always supervised if in the same room as them.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

These dogs have a life expectancy of about 10 to 15 years. They are seen as a healthy breed and seems to have less issues than some other dogs. Some usual dog issues that can come up include ear infections, eye problems and joint dysplasia.

Biting Statistics

When reading reports of dogs attacking people in which bodily harm was done over 35 years in Canada and the US, there is no record of the Danish-Swedish Farmdog being involved in any of them. It is not an aggressive breed other than when chasing the small critters it likes to hunt. It is not likely to be involved in anything but the statistics are bound to show little activity when the numbers of dogs are so low in North America. While you can never completely stop a dog from having an off day say there are things you can do as a responsible owner to help. Give it good obedience training and socialization, feed and exercise it well and give it the attention it needs.

Danish Swedish Farmdog Puppy

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The Danish-Swedish Farmdog puppy will cost about $800 from a decent trusted breeder. For a dog from a top show breeder expect to pay a lot more than that. While it can be tempting to speed things up by finding closer and easier sources avoid using puppy mills, backyard breeders or pet stores. If you are flexible on the age of your dog and whether it is a purebred have a look at local shelters and rescues for an adoption fee of $50 to $400. There are so many dogs that need a new home desperate for someone like you to come save them, and they have a lot of love to offer.

Once you have found the dog you are happy with there are then initial costs to consider. It will need some items like a carrier, crate, collar and leash, bowls and such for a cost of about $120. Once you have it home you should make an appointment with a vet for some tests and such. The vet will give it a physical, do some blood tests, micro chip it, spay or neuter it, deworm and give it shots. These will cost about $260.

There are also ongoing costs to be prepared for. $435 a year should cover basic health needs like flea and tick prevention, shots, check ups and pet insurance. Another $75 a year should cover a good quality dry dog food and dog treats. Miscellaneous items, toys, basic training and license will be about $195 a year. This gives a total starting figure annual cost of $705.


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The Danish-Swedish Farmdog is a small, fun, lively and friendly dog that is still used as a working dog in some places in Europe but is also becoming a popular companion. It needs owners who are fairly active and can give it plenty of attention. It is loyal and affectionate and also makes a good watchdog. It will get on well with other dogs and children but will need more help with other kinds of pets and is definitely not to be trusted with hamsters, mice, birds and such.

Featured Image Credit: Kewalin Madsen, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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