Hailing from Sweden, the Swedish Vallhund is an energetic, sweet, and playful dog that may be small in stature, but they are a strong, muscular pooch that’s perfectly suited to herding, the breed’s original purpose. They are often confused for Corgis because they have a similar size and temperament, but they are a unique breed with boundless energy and a cheerful disposition.
Sable, grey, red
Singles, couples, families, apartment living
Energetic, sweet, friendly, intelligent, alert
The Swedish Vallhund is an ancient breed, a dog hailing from Viking heritage that dates back over 1,000 years! The word “Vallhund” translates as “herding dog,” and these dogs were bred expressly for the purpose. They are not that well-known in the United States, but their sweet and friendly personality has seen them gaining popularity in recent years. They are highly active dogs, though, and are happiest when given a job to do. Their small size makes them great for apartment living, but they still require a fair amount of regular exercise to keep them healthy and happy.
If you’d like to know more about this sweet, cheerful, and active pooch, read on for our complete guide.
Swedish Vallhund Characteristics
Swedish Vallhund Puppies
Swedish Vallhunds are energetic dogs and need a great deal of regular mental and physical stimulation, an important consideration if you’re thinking of bringing one of these dogs home. They were bred for herding and are accustomed to having a job to do, so they can easily become bored and frustrated without it, potentially leading to behavioral issues. They are known for being highly vocal dogs too, and they need plenty of training if kept in an apartment.
The Swedish Vallhund may look like a small lapdog, but if you’re looking for a mellow, low-energy pooch to keep you company on the sofa, this is not the breed for you. Keep reading the Swedish Vallhund’s full care guide to know how to take care of your pup for them to grow into happy and healthy dogs!
Temperament & Intelligence of the Swedish Vallhund
Swedish Vallhunds are energetic dogs and need a ton of exercise or must be used as working dogs to keep them healthy, happy, and out of mischief. They are known for their frequent barking, and without proper stimulation, this is likely to increase! This does make them excellent watchdogs, though, and with the right training, their barking habit can be controlled to the point where they’re barking for good reasons only.
These dogs are known for their spirited, cheerful, and outgoing temperament. They are friendly to everyone they meet but have a slightly mischievous side too! They are highly intelligent pooches, and this intellect combined with their high energy means they do best when they are put to work and given a specific job to do or at least exercised frequently. They are independent pooches that are happy to do their own thing around the home, but they enjoy being close to their human family too. They do not do well being left at home for long periods of time. This will cause them anxiety and boredom, but it could also put their barking tendency into overdrive, which could quickly become a problem in apartments!
Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪
Swedish Vallhunds are great family dogs and well-suited to families with kids of any age. Their high-energy, playful personalities are great for children, and they are happy to play in the backyard for hours on end. They are strong pooches that don’t mind handling and have an incredible amount of patience that makes them ideal for families even with small kids. Of course, children should still be taught how to properly interact with dogs to avoid any nipping.
Since Vallhunds were bred for herding, they do have a tendency to nip at the heels of children because they are attempting to herd them the same way that they would with livestock on a farm! This is easily mitigated with good training, though.
Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?
Swedish Vallhunds are not overly possessive or territorial animals and generally get along great with other dogs. This makes them perfect for multi-dog homes because they love to play and interact with other dogs and are rarely aggressive. Of course, socialization is still key. They are herding dogs and may attempt to herd other pets, but they do not have a strong prey drive, so even cats or other small pets in your home are likely to be seen as friends rather than prey.
Things to Know When Owning a Swedish Vallhund
Food & Diet Requirements 🦴
Swedish Vallhunds are small yet powerful and energetic dogs and need a diet that suits their active lifestyle. Generally, 2–3 cups of high-quality dry kibble per day split into two meals is ideal for these dogs, with occasional supplementation of lean meats or canned food for variety. Vallhunds are susceptible to getting overweight and even obese, so it’s vital to not overfeed them or let them free-feed, and high-quality foods free from fillers are also highly recommended.
Food that is specially formulated for small and medium-sized dogs is best, with the right balance of healthy carbohydrates for sustained energy and good-quality protein and fats. Be sure to check the ingredient list of the food that you choose, and make sure that the first listed ingredient is from an animal source to ensure that your pooch is getting healthy, animal-based protein in their diet. As with any dog, make sure they have constant access to fresh, clean water at all times.
Since Swedish Vallhunds were bred for herding, they naturally need plenty of exercise to keep them healthy and happy, though they are not suited to running all day. Physical exercise is important, and they’ll need at least an hour a day, but mental stimulation for these intelligent dogs is vital. These little pooches have a great deal of stamina, so they are great jogging or cycling partners and will love to join their owners on trails or hikes. They’ll also love play sessions in the backyard, and games like fetch, puzzle toys, or dog sports are sure to be favorites with Vallhunds.
Swedish Vallhunds are eager to please and love being around their owners, so they are generally a breeze to train. They will learn as many tricks as you can teach them, and they are fast learners too! That said, they do have an independent streak, so a firm hand, strong leadership, and consistency are essential for training a Vallhund.
Positive reinforcement methods are best with these dogs, and using treats and praise during training is the best method for forming a strong bond with your pooch and getting them to follow commands quickly and consistently. Another vital but often overlooked aspect of training is early socialization, and this makes your dog far less suspicious of strangers and more likely to follow commands in busy, distracting environments.
Swedish Vallhunds are not heavy shedders in general, but they will shed heavily twice a year and need daily brushing to remove any dead hair before it ends up all over your home. They have medium-length, thick double coats that can become knotted if not brushed regularly, but overall, they are low-maintenance dogs when it comes to grooming. It may help to give them an occasional bath every few months, but be sure to use specialized dog shampoos only, or you run the risk of disturbing the natural oils in their coat and skin and creating problems in the future.
Other than that, you need to keep their nails trimmed if they are not wearing down on their own and to brush their teeth once or twice a week to avoid dental issues.
Health and Conditions 🏥
Swedish Vallhunds are healthy, hardy dogs in general, and reputable breeders regularly screen their dogs for any genetic issues. Hip dysplasia and Swedish Vallhund retinopathy, a degenerative eye disease, are the most common health issues with the breed, but these can be screened for and largely avoided by responsible breeders.
Male vs. Female
In general, there are few differences between male and female Swedish Vallhunds. Males may be slightly bigger and mildly more territorial than females, and females are sometimes known to have a bit more of an independent streak, but overall, the two are similar.
If you’re undecided about whether to choose a male or female Vallhund, it’s important to note that the personality of your pooch is far more affected by their upbringing and environment than their sex, so either a male or female Vallhund is a great choice.
3 Little-Known Facts About the Swedish Vallhund
1. They are an ancient “Viking” breed
Swedish Vallhunds have a long history dating back almost 1,000 years, back to the Vikings. At that time, the breed was known as the “Vikingarnas Hund,” or “Viking Dog.” Many experts speculate that the Vallhund was the predecessor of the modern Welsh Corgi or possibly even the other way around. While both breeds are a part of the Spitz family of dog breeds, there may be a blood relation along the line too.
2. They almost went extinct
By the early 1940s, the Swedish Vallhund was almost extinct, likely due to the decrease in dog breeding caused by World War II. The breed was brought back from the brink by two breeders, K. G. Zettersten and Bjorn von Rosen, who took one male and three females and worked diligently to reestablish the Vallhund population.
3. They are often born without tails!
One of the most unique aspects of the Swedish Vallhund is that some of them are born without tails, while others are born with very short tails. In general, Vallhunds can be born with stub tails, bobtails, spitz curl tails, no tails, or even normal, long tails occasionally.
The Swedish Vallhund is a spirited, friendly, cheerful, and active little pooch that makes a great addition to any family. These adaptable dogs are friendly to almost everyone they meet, are rarely aggressive, are easy to train, and are suited for both apartments and farms or small homesteads where they can be put to work. They are known for being vocal, though, and while this makes them great watchdogs, they’ll need consistent training if they live in an apartment. Also, while some Vallhunds have a fairly independent streak, they are not happy to be left at home for long periods.
If you’re looking for a friendly, adaptable, and cheerful pooch that fits well into a family dynamic or gets along great with other dogs, the Swedish Vallhund is a wonderful choice!
Featured Image Credit: Marcel van den Bos, Shutterstock