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|Other names||Swedish cattle dog
|Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)|
The Swedish Vallhund is a breed of dog also known as "the Västgötaspets" in Sweden. In Swedish: Vallhund translates to herding dog. A rare breed, having been saved from extinction during the 1940s, it is believed to have originated over 1,000 years ago. It was developed for use as a drover and herder of cows. The Swedish Vallhund is also known as the Swedish cow dog.
The average height of the Swedish Vallhund, measured to the withers, is approximately 33 cm (12.9 in) for males and 31 cm (12.2 in) for females. They are often strong, with a long body; the ratio of their height to body length is about 2:3. The head of the Vallhund is wedge-shaped, with dark brown oval eyes and pricked ears.
Color and coat
The coat is short and harsh, with a tight topcoat and a soft and dense undercoat. The hair on the foreparts of the legs is a little longer than that on the neck, chest and back parts of the hind legs. Fur colour varies from grey, greyish brown, greyish yellow to reddish brown with darker hairs on back, neck and sides of the body. Lighter hair in the same shade of colour as mentioned above can be seen on muzzle, throat, chest, belly, buttocks, feet and hocks. They have lighter markings on shoulders, also known as harness markings. Some dogs show white to a small extent as a narrow blaze, neckstop or slight necklace, as well as white markings on fore and hindlegs and on the chest. The maximum is 30% white.
Health and Lifespan
The Swedish Vallhund is generally a healthy dog. Its small stature makes it often long lived, with an average life span of 15 years. Its pointy ears mean that, unlike dog breeds with long, hanging ears, ear problems are rare in the Swedish Vallhund. This breed does well in hot climates due to its double layer coat as long as it is provided cool shade and water. This breed does not do well in very deep snow because of its short legs. The Vallhund has an inherited type of progressive retinal atrophy disease in 34.9% of the population, which appears as mild to moderate night-blindness around the age of ten.
The Vallhund can compete in dog agility trials, obedience, Rally obedience, showmanship, flyball, tracking, hiking, and herding events. Herding instincts and trainability can be measured at noncompetitive herding tests. Vallhunds that exhibit basic herding instincts can be trained to compete in herding trials.
The Swedish Vallhund is an ancient, national dog breed of Sweden and may date back to the 8th or 9th century. Swedish Vallhunds originated in the county of Västergötland, which lies just south of Vänern. Here the small dog proved to be excellent for watching, guarding and herding. The breed dates to the Viking settlement of England and is thought to have played a part in the development of the modern Welsh Corgi and the Lancashire Heeler. The Swedish Vallhund is related to larger spitz dogs and moose hunting dogs of Scandinavia. Large dogs of this spitz-type, have been found buried with their masters in stone-age settlements in Scandinavia. The skeleton of a Swedish Vallhund is remarkably similar to that of the modern Norwegian Elkhound, another breed of spitz dog.
- "Hundrasguiden/Svenska-raser" (PDF). www.skk.se.
- The Swedish Vallhund Society (2016). Breed Standard [Online]. Available at <http://www.swedishvallhunds.co.uk/index.asp?pageid=399181> (Accessed 16 April 2016). 
- American Kennel Club - Swedish Vallhund
- Breed Standard - Swedish Vallhund
- Article from the Dog Breed Gallery on Pedigree
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- Darling, L., The Swedish Vallhund (Vastgotaspets): A legacy of the Vikings - Aus. 2005
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