Swedish Vallhund Dog: A Loyal and Energetic Companion

Learn about the Swedish Vallhund dog breed and why they make excellent pets. Discover their history, personality traits, and care requirements.

History of the Swedish Vallhund Dog

Explore the origins of the Swedish Vallhund dog breed and how they were used in ancient times.

Origins in Sweden

The origins of the Swedish Vallhund dog breed can be traced back to the Viking Age in Sweden, where they were highly valued for their herding and guarding abilities. Known as the "Vikingarnas Hund" or the "Hund of the Vikings," these compact yet muscular dogs were used by Swedish farmers to help manage their cattle and sheep. They were also excellent hunters, with a keen sense of smell and agility, making them a versatile addition to any household. Despite nearly going extinct in the mid-20th century, dedicated breeders revived the Swedish Vallhund, and today it is a popular companion and show dog. The Swedish Vallhund's rich history in Sweden makes it a beloved breed by those who recognize their many talents.

Herding and Ratting Abilities

Swedish Vallhunds have a natural aptitude for herding and ratting, which comes as no surprise given their roots as working dogs. These pups are skilled at moving livestock and other animals, and their small and agile bodies enable them to navigate rough terrain with ease. Their sharp senses and alert temperament also make them excellent ratters, capable of quickly detecting and eliminating rodents. In fact, these abilities have been honed over centuries; for example, it's said that the Vikings used Vallhunds to protect their food stores from rats during their long voyages. Their herding and ratting capabilities are a key part of the Swedish Vallhund's identity, and are still highly valued today by dog enthusiasts around the world.

Association with Viking Culture

The Swedish Vallhund dog breed has a strong association with Viking culture, as they were believed to be a trusted companion to the Vikings during their invasions. These small, sturdy dogs were used for various tasks, such as guarding farms, herding cattle, and hunting rodents. Due to their agile nature and quick reflexes, they were also utilized for catching vermin on Viking ships. The Vallhund's loyalty and fearlessness made them an indispensable part of Viking families and an integral part of Viking legends. Even today, Swedish Vallhunds continue to draw inspiration from the fierce and persevering Viking culture, and their unwavering loyalty and boundless energy make them a wonderful breed to have as a companion.

Personality and Temperament

Discover the Swedish Vallhund's personality traits and why they are known for being loyal and energetic companions.

Intelligent and Trainable

Swedish Vallhunds are intelligent and trainable dogs that enjoy learning new tricks. They have sharp minds and can easily pick up on commands, making them an excellent choice for training. In fact, Vallhunds are known to have a diverse vocabulary and can learn up to 200 words or phrases. Their eagerness to please their owners also makes them highly trainable with positive reinforcement techniques. With consistency and patience, they can excel in obedience training, agility, and even search and rescue work. Overall, Swedish Vallhunds are not only intelligent but also highly trainable and capable of performing a variety of tasks.

Alert and Watchful

The Swedish Vallhund is an alert and watchful breed, always keeping an eye on their surroundings. They possess a sharp intellect and an innate curiosity, making them highly trainable dogs. Despite their small size, they have a big bark that they use to alert their owners of any potential danger. With an acute sense of hearing, the Vallhund is always quick to alert their owners to any incoming visitors or sounds. Their watchful nature makes them excellent guard dogs, yet they remain loyal and loving companions. Their high energy levels and quick reflexes also make them great at herding and agility activities. Overall, the Swedish Vallhund is a wonderfully intelligent, alert, and watchful breed that makes for an excellent family pet.

Affectionate and Playful

Swedish Vallhunds are affectionate and playful dogs that will easily warm up to their owners and become loyal companions. They are known for their energetic personalities and love to play, making them excellent pets for active families. These dogs have a diverse vocabulary of barks, whines, and growls that they use to communicate with their owners and other animals. Whether it's playing fetch in the backyard or going for long walks, the Swedish Vallhund is always ready to have fun and be active. Their affectionate nature is often displayed through cuddles and nuzzles, and they enjoy being close to their owners. Overall, the Swedish Vallhund's affectionate and playful temperament makes them a great addition to any household.

Physical Characteristics

Learn about the Swedish Vallhund's appearance, size, coat color, and grooming needs.

Medium-Sized and Sturdy

The Swedish Vallhund is a medium-sized breed that boasts a sturdy and muscular build. Standing at around 12-16 inches in height and weighing between 20 to 35 pounds, these dogs have a compact frame that is built for agility and endurance. They have a wedge-shaped head and triangular ears that stand upright, adding to their alert and attentive appearance. Their thick, double coat can be found in shades of grey, sable, and red, and it requires regular brushing to keep it in good condition. Although they do shed moderately, grooming the Swedish Vallhund is relatively easy. Overall, their physical characteristics make them an excellent choice for those seeking an energetic and loyal companion that can keep up with their active lifestyle.

Wedge-Shaped Head and Pointed Ears

The Swedish Vallhund dog breed is known for its unique physical characteristics that make it easy to distinguish from other breeds. One of the distinctive features of this dog is their wedge-shaped head, which tapers towards the nose. This feature is complemented by their erect, pointed ears that give them a keen and alert expression. The head and ears are proportional to their body size, which is medium to small in stature. The Swedish Vallhund has a double coat that is weather-resistant and sheds minimally, with a tight, short topcoat and a soft, dense undercoat. They come in a range of colors including grey, red, and sable, with various shading patterns. While their grooming needs are relatively low when compared to other breeds, regular brushing and occasional baths are required to keep their coat clean and healthy.

Reddish-Brown or Gray Coat

One of the Swedish Vallhund's most recognizable features is its reddish-brown or gray coat. This double-layered coat is short, dense, and weather-resistant, and requires minimal grooming. Despite its resilience, regular brushing is still recommended to remove loose fur and maintain the coat's shine. The Vallhund's coat can come in a variety of shades, ranging from a dark mahogany brown to a light gray. This breed is medium-sized, with a lean and muscular body that is roughly square in shape. Its distinctive wedge-shaped head and pricked ears add to the breed's unique appearance. Given its energetic nature, this dog thrives in an active, outdoor environment and would make an excellent companion for families who enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and swimming.

Moderate Shedding and Minimal Grooming Needs

One aspect that makes the Swedish Vallhund a popular breed is their moderate shedding and minimal grooming needs. These dogs have a short and dense coat that does not require much maintenance. They shed twice a year, during which the owner may need to give them a thorough brush to remove the dead hair. However, other than this, routine grooming, such as bathing or trimming, is not necessary. This is ideal for busy owners who prefer a low-maintenance companion. Nevertheless, it is essential to keep an eye on the Vallhund's nails, teeth, and ears to ensure they stay healthy. When trimmed regularly to prevent overgrowth, their nails will not become a problem. Additionally, their teeth should be brushed twice a week to earn a healthy mouth and prevent cavities. Odds are, a simple wipe down of their ears once a week will be enough to keep them in good shape.

Training and Exercise Requirements

Find out how to properly train and exercise your Swedish Vallhund to keep them mentally and physically healthy.

Positive Reinforcement Training

Positive reinforcement training is the recommended technique for training your Swedish Vallhund. These intelligent dogs respond well to praise and rewards, and it is essential to utilize a diverse vocabulary when positively reinforcing good behavior. Instead of repeatedly using the same verb, vary your praise phrases to keep your pet engaged and learning. It is also important to avoid overusing the same noun to maintain interest and attention. As you train and exercise your Swedish Vallhund, provide consistent positive feedback, and avoid using punishment or negative reinforcement. This type of training encourages good behavior, strengthens the bond between dog and owner, and keeps your pet mentally and physically healthy.

Games and Activities for Mental Stimulation

Keeping your Swedish Vallhund mentally stimulated is essential for their overall wellbeing. One way to achieve this is by playing games and engaging in activities that boost their mental agility. Teaching them new tricks, such as "play dead" or "fetch," can be enjoyable for both you and your pooch. Hiding treats around the house or backyard is another fantastic option, as it forces them to rely on their sense of smell to locate their prize. For even more mental stimulation, consider puzzles. There are many brain teasers and puzzles, like maze toys, available that are specifically designed for dogs. By incorporating games and activities like these into your everyday routine, you can help fulfill your Swedish Vallhund's need for mental activity and keep them happy and healthy.

Adequate Daily Exercise

Swedish Vallhunds are energetic dogs that require adequate daily exercise. Depending on their age and size, they should be given at least 30 minutes to an hour of exercise daily. A variety of activities can be included in their routine, such as walking, running, playing fetch, and agility training. To keep your Swedish Vallhund mentally stimulated, change up their exercise routine regularly. Taking them to different locations, such as hiking trails or dog parks, can also be a great way to keep them engaged and active. Adequate daily exercise is crucial for maintaining their physical and mental health, while also preventing destructive behavior that can result from a lack of stimulation.

Health Concerns

Learn about the potential health problems that may arise in Swedish Vallhunds and how to prevent them.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a common genetic condition that can affect Swedish Vallhund dogs. This condition occurs when the hip joint does not develop properly, causing pain and limited mobility. Symptoms of hip dysplasia may include limping, difficulty standing up or climbing stairs, and reluctance to play or engage in physical activity. To prevent the development or worsening of hip dysplasia, it is recommended to maintain a healthy weight for the dog, to exercise regularly, and to provide a comfortable and supportive bed for sleeping. Additionally, pet owners should schedule regular veterinary check-ups to monitor for potential hip dysplasia and to discuss any concerns with their veterinarian.

Eye Disorders

When it comes to Swedish Vallhunds, there are several eye disorders that dog owners should be aware of. The breed is prone to developing cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and glaucoma. Cataracts are a cloudiness of the eye lens and can result in partial or complete blindness. PRA is a degenerative disease that affects the retina, leading to eventual blindness. Finally, glaucoma is a condition where fluid cannot drain properly from the eye, leading to increased pressure within the eye. If left untreated, this can lead to severe pain and blindness. Regular eye exams with a veterinarian can help detect any issues early on. Additionally, ensuring your dog's diet is well-balanced and providing them with plenty of exercise can help prevent these conditions from developing.


Obesity is one of the most common health concerns observed in Swedish Vallhunds, much like other dog breeds. The issue arises when the dog’s weight exceeds the standard range, affecting their overall health and well-being. Overfeeding and lack of exercise are contributing factors to weight gain. If you notice your Swedish Vallhund gaining weight rapidly, adjust their food portions, and introduce a regular exercise regimen. Inadequate physical activity, coupled with obesity, increases the risk of joint-related issues and other medical problems. Therefore, it’s essential to monitor your dog's weight and ensure they are not overweight. With a little care and attention, you can prevent your furry friend from becoming obese and ensure they lead a happy and healthy life.

Feeding and Nutrition

Get tips on what to feed your Swedish Vallhund to keep them healthy and satisfied.

High-Quality Dog Food

One of the most important aspects of caring for your Swedish Vallhund is ensuring that they receive proper nutrition. High-quality dog food should be a top priority for their diet to keep them healthy, happy, and full of energy. When selecting dog food, consider the ingredients used and aim for a brand that utilizes quality proteins, such as chicken, turkey, or lamb. Fruits and vegetables should also be included in your dog's diet for essential vitamins and minerals. Additionally, it is recommended to avoid food with artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors. By providing your Swedish Vallhund with top-notch nutrition, you can ensure they maintain their active and energetic lifestyle for years to come.

Serving Size and Frequency

When it comes to feeding your Swedish Vallhund, it's essential to understand their unique dietary needs. As an active breed, they require a balanced diet that includes high-quality protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. The serving size and frequency will depend on factors such as age, weight, and activity level. A general rule of thumb is to provide two meals per day, consisting of 1-2 cups of dry kibble each. It's crucial not to overfeed your Swedish Vallhund, as they are prone to obesity, which can lead to numerous health issues. Additionally, make sure fresh water is always available to keep them hydrated throughout the day. By providing your Swedish Vallhund with a well-balanced diet and proper meal schedule, you can help them maintain healthy weight and optimum energy levels.

Treats and Table Scraps

When it comes to Swedish Vallhund's treats and table scraps, it's important to keep a few things in mind. As an active and energetic breed, they need a balanced diet that includes protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Treats should be nutritious and low in calories to prevent obesity. For example, apple slices, carrots, or small pieces of cooked chicken or turkey can make great treats, and they also provide vitamins and minerals. Avoid feeding your Vallhund table scraps that are high in fat, sugar, or sodium, as they can cause digestive problems or obesity. Regularly monitor their weight and adjust their diet as necessary to keep them healthy and satisfied. By providing them with nutritious treats and avoiding unhealthy table scraps, you can help ensure that your Swedish Vallhund maintains a long and healthy life.


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