Swedish Vallhund

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Swedish Vallhund
Västgötaspets hane 5 år.jpg
Other names Swedish Shepherd
Country of origin Sweden
Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The Swedish Vallhund (known as "Västgötaspets" in Sweden, after the Swedish county of Västergötland), is a breed of dog. Its name translates to "Westerngothia Spitz Dog". It is still relatively rare, being saved from extinction during the 1940s. It is believed that the Swedish Vallhund originated during the age of Vikings, more than 1,000 years ago. It was developed for use as a drover and herder of cattle.[1]


Swedish Vallhund are athletic dogs. Dog competing in agility
Swedish Vallhund born with a bobtail.

The name vallhund is Swedish for farm dog.


Height for these dogs at withers: Males 33 cm (12.9 in). Females 31 cm (12.2 in). A variation of -1 up to +2 cm is permitted. Weight: No weight standard.[2] They should be strong for their size and have a muscular body. They are quite a substantial dog, with short legs. A unique trait of the breed is that a certain percentage of the puppies will be born with a bobtail, regardless of their parents having tails or not. Some individuals have the traditional curly tail of the Spitz dogs, and some just have a very tiny stump.

Color and coat[edit]

The dog's coat should be short and harsh. The topcoat is close and tight and undercoat is soft and dense. The hair is short on the head and on the foreparts of the legs, while a little bit longer on the neck, chest and back parts of the hind legs. Colour vary from grey, greyish brown, greyish yellow or 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.[3][4]



This breed makes a great companion and can also be used for herding and ratting. They love human attention and are very devoted to their owners. They are a clownish dog, and can be a show-off at times. The Swedish Vallhund is responsive and even-tempered with most people, but they can be wary of strangers and should be properly socialized and trained as a puppy as to avoid over-protective behavior as an adult. They are also known for heel nipping, due to their inbuilt herding traits. They will feel uneasy if their human family is spread out. This is a habit that can either be encouraged for working farm dogs or discouraged in companion pets. The Swedish Vallhund is a "big dog with short legs" and does not have the temperament of dwarf dog breeds. It is calm, balanced and intelligent.


The Swedish Vallhund is generally a healthy dog. Its small stature makes it often long lived. Its pointy ears mean that unlike dog breeds with long, hanging ears, ear problems are rare in the Swedish Vallhund. This breed can do well in hot climates due to their double layer coat and as long as they are provided cool shade and water as you would for any pet. This breed does not do well in very deep snow because of their short legs. The breed has a novel form of progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) studied in depth by Dr. András Komáromy of Michigan State University, along with Professor Hannes Lohi and Dr. Saija Ahonen of the University of Helsinki.


The Vallhund can compete in dog agility trials, obedience, Rally obedience, showmanship, flyball, tracking, 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.[5]


The Swedish Vallhund is a very ancient national dog breed of Sweden and is often dated back to the 8th/9th century. It originated in the county of Västergötland, which lies just south of Sweden´s biggest lake Vänern. Here the small dog proved to be an excellent watch/guard and herding dog. They are known for their use in cow herding. These dogs temperament made them suitable as a working dogs and watch dogs. The breed followed the Viking settlement of England and is thought to have played a part in the modern Corgi and the Lancashire heeler. In turn, 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. An example of this being skeletons remarkably similar to the modern Norwegian Elkhound's build, another spitz-dog related to the Swedish Vallhund.

The Swedish Vallhund is also known as the Swedish cattle dogs.



  1. ^ "Hundrasguiden/Svenska-raser" (PDF). www.skk.se. 
  2. ^ Breed Standard - Swedish Vallhund
  3. ^ American Kennel Club - Swedish Vallhund
  4. ^ Breed Standard - Swedish Vallhund
  5. ^ Hartnagle-Taylor, Jeanne Joy; Taylor, Ty (2010). Stockdog Savvy. Alpine Publications. ISBN 978-1-57779-106-5. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Serpell J., The Domestic Dog, Its Evolution. Behaviour and Interactions with People. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. 1995.
  • Hubbard Clifford. L B., Dogs in Britain; a Description of All Native Breeds and Most Foreign Breeds in Britain. London, MacMillan. 1948
  • Swedish Kennel Clubs Magazines Special number:"Hundsport Special" 5/86
  • Gascoigne.Nicky., The Swedish Vallhund. Dalsetter Designs. Wakefield. UK. 1989
  • Bayliss. J., A Study of the Swedish Vallhund (Västgötaspets) A Pictorial History - Owners' Hand Book. Eng. 2007.
  • Darling, L., The Swedish Vallhund (Vastgotaspets): A legacy of the Vikings - Aus. 2005

External links[edit]