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Swedish Vallhund Dog Breed [Nutrition, Exercise, History, and MORE]

swedish vallhund

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Despite their short legs and small size, the Swedish Vallhund is a dedicated working dog that thrives when herding and doing agility courses. This is a dog breed with a lot of energy, intelligence, and spirit in a small body, making it the perfect fit for most active families. 


The Swedish Vallhund is a friendly breed that loves to play, goof around, and bond with all members of your household, including pets and children. The Swedish Vallhund can occasionally be stubborn, requiring some training to get rid of bad habits. Let’s find out if this dog is right for you! 



Swedish Vallhund Dog Breed Characteristics

This dog breed is energetic and work-driven, which can be surprising considering the dog’s small size. The Swedish Vallhund’s long and low body is perfect for herding. This is a sturdy and fearless dog with a unique appearance that wins people’s hearts all over the world. 



small dog running on grass



Swedish Vallhund Dog Breed Size

The Swedish Vallhund is considered a small-sized dog with a sturdy Spitz build. Spitz-type dogs originated from various regions, but they are generally well-suited to cold regions. Other Spitz-type dogs include the German Spitz, Laika, Husky, and Shiba Inu. 


The Swedish Vallhund’s average height is about 12 inches. Swedish Vallhunds typically weigh 20-30 pounds.



The Swedish Vallhund is compact and sturdy with a deep chest. It has a muscular back, shoulder, and legs. This breed’s movement should look effortless since it requires endurance and agility to herd properly.



The length of this breed’s tail can vary from bobbed to long. All tail types are acceptable for shows, including docked and natural. Many Swedish Vallhunds have curled tails, which is expected of Spitz breeds.



The American Kennel Club describes this breed’s head as “rather long and clean.” Their skull is broad and almost flat. The muzzle is square.



The Swedish Vallhund’s eyes are medium-sized and oval-shaped. They often have dark brown eyes with black around the rim. 



This breed has medium-sized ears that are pointed and pricked. This is also common for Spitz-type breeds.



Swedish Vallhund Dog Breed Personality

The Swedish Vallhund is considered a working dog, so you can expect energy and intelligence. This dog breed is known for its lively spirit and goofy personality, similar to. 


The dog’s interesting body shape makes it incredibly agile, allowing it to turn corners quickly. The Swedish Vallhund thrives with a family that loves to stay active. This can include simple playtime or organized activities like agility courses, herding fields, obedience trials, or flyball competitions. 


The Swedish Vallhund brings a lot of positive energy to your home. They love to play with family members of all ages. These pooches are goofballs and clowns that will find ways to entertain you whenever possible. Vallhunds are also intelligent, so they’ll quickly figure out the best way to get your attention.


The Swedish Vallhund is very friendly and is known to react excitedly to meeting new people and dogs. But at home, they are alert watchdogs. Vallhunds will even let you know when a cat is across the street, or a mail carrier is approaching. 


Speaking of alertness, this breed loves to bark. Being quick to bark makes the Swedish Vallhund an effective security system, but it can also be frustrating for families who want some peace and quiet. The Swedish Vallhund loves to tell you about everything they see, and these dogs can be vocal throughout the day. 


Related: How to Stop Dog Barking When Left Alone [CBD Can Help]



Swedish Vallhund Dog Breed Exercise

As previously mentioned, the Swedish Vallhund needs exercise. This is not a good dog breed for an owner that calls themselves a “couch potato.” A lazy lifestyle will clash with this dog, which requires plenty of playtime and walks to be healthy and happy. 


A simple walk is acceptable for the Swedish Vallhund. They’ll enjoy a stroll around the neighborhood, and they’ll also appreciate a more challenging hike through a nature trail. Always make sure your dog is on a leash so that it doesn’t run off to “herd” other animals or people. 


It shouldn’t herd strangers, but the Swedish Vallhund thrives when engaged in work-like activities. This is simply a dog that loves a good task. Consider signing your dog up for activities that keep it thinking and moving. Some of the most popular options for canine sports are: 


  • Agility courses
  • Herding fields
  • Obedience training
  • Flyball competitions


You should also consider treibball. Originally developed in Germany, treibball was created specifically for herding dogs that don’t have access to sheep or other livestock. Here’s how it works: the dogs herd large, inflatable balls to a specific goal area, listening to voice and hand commands along the way. 


For herding dogs, this is a lot of fun because of the physical and mental challenges it poses for the dog. Treibball may also improve communication between you and your Swedish Vallhund. 


The first thing to do is look up the rules of treibball so you can start training and practicing with your furry friend. For more information, the American Treibball Association has everything you need to get started! 



Swedish Vallhund Dog Breed Training

As you can probably tell, the Swedish Vallhund thrives in a learning environment. However, there may still be some challenges. 


The Swedish Vallhund is a herding animal. These dogs are bred to think for themselves. That means that your Swedish Vallhund is likely an independent thinker with its own goals and ideas. But with the right attitude and training, you can easily get your dog’s respect. 


The important thing is to start early. Right when you bring your Swedish Vallhund puppy home, you should start training them. Even at eight weeks old, this breed is very capable of learning tricks and commands. Early training will ensure that your puppy is open to your commands and isn’t overly headstrong when it becomes an adult. 


Many Swedish Vallhund owners have their puppy attend obedience training and “kindergarten classes” when they are as young as 10-12 weeks. These puppy training classes will help your dog learn the training basics (and teach you how to handle your pooch). These courses are also great for socialization. 


Remember to be firm and consistent. Confidence is key for your getting your dog to listen properly. Swedish Vallhunds also respond to more positive training that includes praise, play, or treats. Recognize and reward good behavior rather than punishing wrongdoings.


It’s also essential to work with your dog’s unique breed traits. This ensures that your Swedish Vallhund feels connected to the training and finds it rewarding. As you train, keep in mind this breed’s love of problem-solving and creativity. Incorporate puzzles and challenges into exercises!


How to Stop Excessive Barking

Swedish Vallhunds are known for being very vocal and love to hear their own voice. They will warn you about everything they see, even if it’s just a falling leaf or a squirrel near your living room window. 


A lot of people have trouble getting dogs to stop barking. Some believe it’s a natural behavior that can’t be stopped. Others are unsure how to use positive reinforcement to curb such commonplace behavior.


Here are some crucial things to remember while training, according to the Humane Society


  • Never yell at your dog to be quiet (it will seem like you’re barking along with them).
  • Remain positive throughout the training sessions.
  • Everyone in your household must abide by the training rules. If the dog’s barking is corrected by one family member but ignored by another, your furry friend will be confused, and the lesson will take much longer to learn.


Remove the motivation behind your dog’s barking. Dogs usually bark because they get a “reward,” like seeing a cat or a squirrel run away. If your dog often barks at critters outside, close your curtains or put your pet in another room to remove the “reward.”


If your dog barks for attention, simply don’t give them attention when they bark. During their barking session, don’t pet them, talk to them, or even look at them. Your attention is the reward in this scenario. Give your Swedish Vallhund a treat (consider a CBD dog treat!) once it is quiet. 


Dogs will also bark when confined in a room or crate. If your dog starts barking when you put them away, turn your back and ignore them. Once they finally stop barking, turn around, praise them, and give them a treat! Your dog will start to catch on, learning that silence is met with praise.


How to Stop Herding Behavior

The Swedish Vallhund’s instinct is to herd. This may become frustrating if your dog starts nipping at people’s heels or chasing your cat around. While it’s important to remember this is your dog’s natural response, you can still find positive methods for getting them to stop herding.


Prevention is essential when it comes to limiting herding. Avoid putting your dog in situations where it can herd. For example, a Swedish Vallhund may have a hard time resisting the urge to herd if it is left alone in a yard with a cat.


Observe your dog and see what prompts them to herd. But also watch the reactions of the people and animals they herd. They could be adding fuel to the fire with their behavior. For example, a cat that responds by darting away will encourage your Swedish Vallhund to continue its behavior. 


You should also provide herding activities to satisfy your dog’s urges. Tug-of-war is an excellent method, as it teaches the animal self-control when it comes to nipping and biting. Your Swedish Vallhund should also get plenty of mental stimulation at home with toys and games, as well as proper exercise. 


Teach your dog to fetch by listening to commands rather than simply throwing a ball. A well-trained herding dog should obey commands like “sit” and “stay,” even as a beautiful tennis ball sails into the distance.


Before your dog has mastered its self-control, remember to keep them on a leash whenever you’re in public or around smaller animals. 



spitz dog swimming in pool



Swedish Vallhund Dog Breed History

Unlike many dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club, the history of the Swedish Vallhund is somewhat a mystery. 


Vikings from Scandinavia raided areas of Britain between the 8th and 11th centuries, ultimately settling throughout. As a result, many Scandinavian places around the British Isles have traces of Viking influence, including the animals. The Vallhund is thought to be a cross between Scandinavian spitz dogs and Welsh Corgis. 


Exactly when the breed was developed is unknown. It’s also not certain whether the Vallhund was bred with a Corgi or if a breed that the Vikings brought with them became the Vallhund. Dog lovers will never know for sure. 


However the Swedish Vallhund got its start, it has since become known as a cattle dog around farms in western Sweden for hundreds of years. They were known as Swedish Cattle Dogs for a while. The breed’s tasks included herding cattle, scaring off predators, and providing watchdog services. Despite their popularity around farms, the Swedish Vallhund remained relatively unknown outside of that community.


The Swedish Kennel Club finally recognized the breed in 1943, and it became a popular pet throughout Sweden and Britain. The breed was first brought to the United States in 1983 but wasn’t recognized by the American Kennel Club until 2007. 



Swedish Vallhund Health Problems

Swedish Vallhunds are a generally healthy breed, but they are prone to certain genetic disorders like all purebred dogs. Always pick puppies from a breeder that can offer health guarantees. These responsible, registered breeders often screen their dogs for conditions and disease before breeding them. 



A common condition found in Swedish Vallhunds is retinopathy, a degenerative eye disease that results in vision loss and sometimes ends in blindness. Areas of the retina become unattached between 11 and 16 weeks of age. Retinopathy is usually inherited. 


Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a common skeletal condition that’s usually seen in larger dog breeds, but it can also occur in smaller breeds like the Swedish Vallhund. 


The condition causes the ball and the socket in your dog’s hip joint not to fit correctly. Instead of sliding smoothly when your dog moves that leg, the ball and socket grind together. This results in the deterioration of the joint. They can even lose the function of that joint if left untreated. 


Hip dysplasia is usually a genetic condition, although exercise (either not enough or too much) can also play a role. Symptoms include:


  • Limping
  • Refusing to use stairs
  • Lethargy


If you think your dog has hip dysplasia, consult your veterinarian. You can also provide your dog with CBD, a non-psychoactive compound that can ease joint irritation. CBD interacts with your dog’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which mitigates their overall well-being. 


Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation is a fancy term for “dislocation.” It’s a condition where the knee cap rides outside the femoral groove when the knee is flexed. This results in discomfort and sometimes loss of function. 


Patellar luxation is one of the most common orthopedic conditions in dogs. About 7% of puppies are diagnosed with it. It often affects smaller breeds, like the Swedish Vallhund, although it can appear in some larger breeds as well. In half of all cases, the disease affects both knees. 


If you notice that your dog seems sick or lazy, it’s important to contact a veterinarian immediately. A vet can help you catch conditions early so that you can treat or manage the issue with minimal discomfort for your furry friend.



How to Care for a Swedish Vallhund

The most important thing to remember about Swedish Vallhunds is how much energy this small dog has! This breed was created to work on farms all day long, so regular exercise and mental stimulation are crucial care requirements. Some excellent ways to provide these necessities to your dog include:


  • Walks
  • Hikes
  • Agility training
  • Herding
  • Treibball
  • Fetch
  • Obedience training


Once your pooch is tired, you’ll notice that it is much more well-behaved (and quiet) at home. 


Teaching your Swedish Vallhund tricks is a great source of exercise and obedience training. It’s also an excellent opportunity to bond with your pet! This breed is highly intelligent and will enjoy clicker training


Swedish Vallhunds can be strong-willed in certain instances, but fun, positive training will make them eager to participate. Since a bored dog is more likely to be destructive, a good training routine may also save your home from chewed furniture or torn pillows.


Have a variety of toys in your home to keep your pet stimulated and happy. Also, make sure you have a comfy bed for them to rest on. If you’re comfortable with your dog being on your bed or couch, consider adding a ramp so that they don’t injure themselves jumping up and down.



Nutrition and Feeding for a Swedish Vallhund

Swedish Vallhunds need about 1 to 1.5 cups of high-quality food per day. Good dog food has proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. Make sure the protein source is from an animal like cow (beef) or lamb. It shouldn’t be a “meal” like chicken meal, as these are factory leftovers that are often unhealthy. Dogs also need fats and carbohydrates to stay active and energetic. 


Veterinarians recommend that you split your dog’s daily food intake into two meals. Give them half their food in the morning for breakfast and the other half at night for dinner. Smaller meals are healthier for dogs, allowing for easier digestion. They also reduce side effects of gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, stomach pain, and vomiting. 



Coat Color And Grooming

Swedish Vallhunds have medium-length hair. It’s sometimes considered “harsh,” meaning it’s a bit rougher and wirier. The undercoat is soft and dense. Neither coat should be woolly or curly. 


The breed standard also states that the Swedish Vallhund should have a sable (dark) pattern in a combination of grey and red colors. A lighter color should be on their chest, belly, and feet. The dog’s back, neck, and sides should be darker shades. 


The Swedish Vallhund benefits from weekly brushings. They should also be bathed occasionally to keep them smelling good and ensuring their coat stays pretty and healthy. You might need to bathe them more frequently during shedding seasons. The Swedish Vallhund sheds year-round, but its hair loss is especially heavy in spring and fall.



sweet canine with pointed ears



Children And Other Pets

Swedish Vallhunds are known for their friendliness towards everyone in the household. This dog is gentle and friendly with children and other pets, though socialization training can make them even more amiable.


An untrained Swedish Vallhund might try to herd your other pets, including cats and smaller dogs. Herding can include light nipping, and while the dog doesn’t mean any harm, the light biting may startle some skittish animals. It’s essential to stop this behavior as soon as possible, preferably when the canine is still a puppy.


Once they are appropriately trained, this breed loves being around other pets. Expect to see your Swedish Vallhund excitedly approach other pets with a warm and curious attitude.



Rescue Groups

Because of their stubborn behavior and herding instincts, new dog owners who don’t know how to train their pets properly might find the Swedish Vallhund challenging to care for. Luckily, rescue groups can take dogs from owners that can’t care for them anymore. These rescue groups are dedicated to rehabilitating dogs and preparing them for their next home. 


4 Lucky Dogs Pet Rescue is a group in Florida that focuses on herding and working dogs. Country Livin’ Pet Rescue is a small group in Georgia specializing in saving and rehabilitating herding dogs. AB Herding Dog Rescue will rehabilitate and find new homes for dogs bred to herd, including the Swedish Vallhund. 



Breed Organizations

The Swedish Vallhund Club of America (SVCA) has been registered with the American Kennel Club since 1998, thanks to the support of Swedish Vallhund breeders. By September 2004, the Swedish Vallhund participated in AKC agility events, obedience trials, and herding exhibitions. 


The SVCA was created to help promote the breed throughout North America. They organize events for the Swedish Vallhund breed in various states, including herding trials. 



More About This Dog Breed

Despite their mysterious past and newness to the North American dog scene, Swedish Vallhunds swiftly become a popular breed for active families that love goofy, intelligent dogs. Today, the Swedish Vallhund is ranked 142nd among all the breeds registered by the AKC. 


Swedish Vallhunds are sweet, loyal, protective, and always looking for ways to entertain you. And with their unique appearance and agility abilities, it won’t be hard! 


Related: Small Dog Breeds 101: An Enormous Guide About Bite Sized Pups

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