Swedish Vallhund: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care

History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Standing side profile of a Swedish Vallhund

Liv Oom / EyeEm / Getty Images

The Swedish vallhund is a small-medium herding dog breed from Sweden that has a short but thick double coat, which comes in a grayish to reddish color. These dogs have a long, low body much like a corgi. Their head is wedge-shaped with upright, triangular ears and oval eyes. They can have any tail length, from no tail to a long one. Overall, the breed is athletic and active, as well as a cheerful and loving companion.

Breed Overview

Group: Herding

Height: 11.5 to 12.75 inches (female), 12.5 to 13.75 inches (male)

Weight: 20 to 35 pounds

Coat: Short double coat

Coat Color: Gray or red with/without white markings and/or sable

Life Span: 12 to 15 years

Temperament: Active, alert, affectionate

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: Sweden

Characteristics of the Swedish Vallhund

Swedish vallhunds generally have a sociable and sweet temperament. A high energy level also helps to shape their personality, as they prefer to be busy and love to play.

Affection Level High
Friendliness Medium
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly Medium
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark Medium
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Swedish Vallhund

The exact origin of the Swedish vallhund is unknown, but its history goes back at least 1,000 years to the time of the Vikings. It is a sturdy spitz-type dog that people used for both herding and guarding property, as well as for companionship. 

It’s thought that when Vikings raided areas of Britain, they either brought their vallhunds with them or brought early versions of the Welsh corgi back to Sweden, which accounts for the similarities between the modern breeds. The vallhund is also related to larger Scandinavian spitz-type dogs, including the Norwegian elkhound

The Swedish vallhund is still a rare breed around the world. It wasn’t until 1986 that the first vallhund litter was born in the United States. And the American Kennel Club didn’t recognize the breed until 2007.

Swedish Vallhund Care

Plan to spend some time each day providing exercise and mental stimulation for your dog. Fortunately, grooming is fairly straightforward for Swedish vallhunds. And they generally take well to training, which should begin at a young age.

Exercise

Like most herding breeds, the Swedish vallhund has a ton of energy. Providing enough daily exercise and mental stimulation is key to keeping a vallhund happy and well-behaved. Aim for at least one to two hours of exercise per day. Some good activities for Swedish vallhunds include walks, jogging, hiking, and fetch. Dog sports, such as agility and herding, can help to challenge them mentally as well as physically.

Be sure to keep your Swedish vallhund on a leash or in a securely fenced area when outside. The breed's herding instinct can cause it to want to chase moving objects, including cars, which can be dangerous.

Grooming

The Swedish vallhund’s coat stays relatively clean. Plan to thoroughly brush once a week to remove loose fur and prevent tangles and mats. Expect periods of higher shedding twice a year, often in the spring and fall. During this time, there will be a lot of loose fur coming out of that thick coat as the dog sheds its undercoat. A daily brushing will help to keep the fur under control.

Bathe your dog roughly every month, and check its nails monthly to see whether they need a trim. Also, look in its ears weekly for any abnormalities. And aim to brush its teeth daily.

Training

Swedish vallhunds generally want to please their human companions. They are extremely intelligent and highly trainable. It’s best to start training and socialization when they are young to prevent bad habits from forming. Always use positive-reinforcement methods as opposed to harsh corrections. Be clear and consistent, and your dog should pick up on what you’re asking fairly quickly.

Moreover, Swedish vallhunds are moderately open to meeting strangers and other dogs. Having positive experiences with people and dogs from a young age can help to boost their comfort and confidence. 

Swedish vallhund puppy in grass
ValerijaP / Getty Images 

Common Health Problems

The Swedish vallhund is generally a healthy breed. But it is prone to some hereditary health issues, including: 

Swedish vallhunds as pets illustration

The Spruce / Emilie Dunphy

Diet and Nutrition

Always make sure your dog has access to fresh water. And feed a quality canine diet that’s nutritionally balanced. It’s typical to feed two measured meals per day to ensure your dog is eating the right amount. Swedish vallhunds can become overweight easily due to overfeeding. So you should always discuss the type of food and the amount with your vet, and regularly monitor your dog’s weight.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Swedish Vallhund

The Swedish vallhund is a relatively rare breed, so it might be hard to find one. Check local animal shelters and rescue groups, and see whether they have a breed wait list you can get your name on. If you're looking for a puppy from a reputable breeder, expect to pay around $800 to $2,200.

For further information to help you find a Swedish vallhund, check out:

Swedish Vallhund Overview

Pros
  • Intelligent and generally easy to train

  • Typically affectionate and sociable

  • Good for active owners

Cons
  • Can shed a lot, especially seasonally

  • Needs lots of exercise and mental stimulation

  • Herding instincts can cause chasing and nipping

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Before bringing home a Swedish vallhund, make sure the breed is right for your lifestyle. Do thorough research by reaching out to breed owners, rescue groups, reputable breeders, and veterinary professionals. Try to spend some time around Swedish vallhunds if possible.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

FAQ
  • What's the difference between a Swedish vallhund and a corgi?

    The Swedish vallhund and the corgi share similarities in appearance, and the breeds are related. But vallhunds generally have longer legs than corgis, and their bodies aren't as long or stocky.  

  • Are Swedish vallhunds good family dogs?

    Well-trained and socialized Swedish vallhunds can be good for homes with children. However, their herding instinct creates a tendency for them to nip at heels, so they should always be monitored around kids.

  • Are Swedish vallhunds good apartment dogs?

    Swedish vallhunds are adaptable to different living situations. As high-energy dogs, it’s best that they have access to a home with a yard. However, they might be able to live in an apartment as long as they get out enough each day for exercise. 

Article Sources
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  1. Swedish Vallhund. American Kennel Club.

  2. Swedish Vallhund Puppies and Dogs. Adopt a Pet.