BREED SPOTLIGHT

Breed Spotlight: Swedish Vallhund

Four Minutes Oct 17, 2022

Swedish Vallhund: Quick Stats

Lifespan: 12 – 15 years

Weight: 20 – 35 lbs.

Height: 11 ½ – 13 ¾ inches

Do I shed?: Yes, excessively

Personality: Brave, energetic, sweet, playful

Common health problems: Obesity, retinopathy, hip dysplasia

Swedish Vallhund: How Do I Look?

Rugged, graceful, and sturdy. Those three words best describe the Swedish vallhund. Originally bred as herding dogs, their short legs are strong and graceful while running after cattle or other livestock. A full-grown Swedish vallhund stands just under 14 inches tall from the shoulders, rarely weighing more than 35 pounds.

Swedish vallhunds are members of the Spitz family. Spitzs are dogs bred for harsh Arctic conditions so they have thick, fluffy coats. Swedish vallhunds are the smallest of the family, but are stocky and have wolf-like features such as pointy ears, long snouts, and bushy tails. With all of those features put together, you get a healthy, beautiful animal who’ll love you forever.

Coat Type and Colors

Swedish vallhunds have a medium-long double coat that consists of a thick undercoat and a soft top coat. Their coats are thick and fluffy, especially around the neck and front legs, creating a halo-like effect. Most have white or cream underbellies that are peppered with color throughout their coats.³ You can find these lovely animals in three colors: sable, red, and gray.

Shedding and Grooming

Like all members of the Spitz family, the Swedish vallhund sheds heavily, so these dogs are not a hypoallergenic option.⁴ Expect to comb and brush your dog daily to remove dead hair. Bathing should happen at least once a month or more to keep their coats healthy. Nails should be trimmed monthly to prevent overgrowth.

Ears

Swedish vallhunds have small, pointed ears that are always alert. A Swedish vallhund’s ears should be cleaned weekly to avoid the buildup of dirt and bacteria. Without proper care, their delicate ears can become easily infected.

Drooling Level

Swedish vallhunds aren’t known to be heavy droolers. If your Swedish vallhund is drooling excessively, consult your veterinarian.

Swedish Vallhund: Personality Traits

What My Adoption Bio Would Say:

I’m looking for loving companions who will play with me to my heart’s content. Need a working dog? I have the best herding instincts around. I promise to be the best pup for many years.

Behavior

A Swedish vallhund’s temperament can be described as loving, adaptable, and playful. After centuries of working alongside cattle farmers, today’s Swedish vallhunds are intelligent animals who are as cheerful in suburban backyards as they would be on a modern farm. Early socialization is key as some members of the breed are wary of new people.

Trainability

Pet parents will find their Swedish vallhund easy to train compared to other breeds. These dogs want to work with you so they thrive when given a job to focus on. Use positive, reward-based training methods or clicker training to get the results you want.

After you’ve mastered the basics, consider entering your pup into dog sports competitions. Swedish vullhund’s agility skills are enviable in the sporting world. With diligent training, you might have a winner on your hands!

Exercise Needs

As you can imagine, Swedish vallhunds need plenty of exercise. If you’re looking for a partner for your morning walk, this is your dog! Pet parents should expect to spend at least an hour walking these pups every day.⁴ Some vallhunds have less energy than others, so they may be OK with a few rounds of fetch with shorter walks. No matter what, keeping their body and mind engaged is key to keeping these pups healthy.

Good With Kids?

Children will find a forever friend in a Swedish vallhund. They have a sense of humor and are eager to please their human companions. This combination makes them good family dogs that will fill your home with laughter.

Good With Other Pets?

Swedish vallhunds aren’t known for being aggressive toward other animals. They can, however, be aloof toward other dogs or cats. Take the time to socialize with your dog early on and be patient.

A common issue is Swedish vallhunds attempting to “herd” and chase other animals in your home.⁴ If you notice this behavior, take your vallhund for a walk or engage them in a puzzle or even a snuffle mat. Keeping them exercised and well trained will allow harmony into your home.

Barking Level

Categorized by their unique vocalization, Swedish vallhunds are known to be noisy. Their barks sound like a “yelp,” very high-pitched and intense. They have keen senses from their days herding livestock, so this may be bad for folks living in apartments. Training your dog when to bark and why they should bark should correct this issue.

Swedish Vallhund: Facts

The Swedish vallhund is possibly the oldest member of the Spitz family, a group of dogs bred for harsh winters. Like their cousins the Akita and the Chow Chow, Swedish vallhunds are an ancient breed that likely spent their early days aboard Viking ships. Ancient Swedes valued these dogs for their loyalty, resilience, and intelligence on their farmland to protect livestock from bears and wolves.

In 1942, Bjorn von Rosen and K.G. Zettersten partnered to save this breed from extinction.³,⁵ Thanks to their efforts, the Swedish vallhund is now recognized in the United States, Britain, France, and many other countries. They created a healthy animal that has original canine behaviors such as easy births, a high tolerance for change, resistance to diseases, and high intelligence.⁵ You can count on a Swedish vallhund to be a versatile, reliable family companion.

Common Swedish Vallhund Mixes

Swedish vallhunds are a relatively uncommon breed in the United States with only a handful of breeders across the country.⁶ As a result, there are very few mixes floating around.

The two most common mixes are:

Keep your eyes peeled, however. You may find a Swedish vallhund mix at your local shelter.

Swedish Vallhund Health Problems

Swedish vallhund is historically a healthy breed. There are very few genetic issues. Three common Swedish vallhund health issues are:³,

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Retinopathy
  • Obesity

The good news about these diseases is that they’re often treatable.

How Pet Insurance Can Help Swedish Vallhund

Pet insurance is a great option for pet owners to offset the cost of many conditions that can impact their Swedish vallhund. Investing in dog insurance can save you thousands on wellness checks, vaccinations, and even specialty dog food.

Retinopathy

Retinopathy is a catch-all term that describes the progressive breakdown or atrophy of the retina.⁷ Sometimes atrophy is caused by diabetes but, for Swedish vallhunds, progressive retinal atrophy is a genetic disorder that can present itself in puppyhood. Right now, there isn’t any effective treatment for retinopathy, which means the vision loss will lead to specialized care for your dog.

Retinopathy can lead to blindness if left untreated. Luckily for pet parents, the way pet insurance works, breed-specific disorders can be covered by MetLife.¹,² Signing your puppy up early for pet insurance before it is considered a preexisting condition can save you heartache if retinopathy shows up later in your dog’s life. Get a free quote now to see if insurance makes sense for you.

Protect your Swedish Vallhund

Enroll in 3 Easy Steps

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal, or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

³ “Swedish Vallhund,” American Kennel Club

⁴ “Swedish Vallhund,” Wag!

⁵ “Breed History,” Swedish Vallhund Club of America

⁶ “Breeders List,” Swedish Vallhund Club of America

⁷ “Disorders of the Retina, Choroid, and Optic Disk in Dogs,” Merck Veterinary Manual

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