The Swedish Vallhund
- How long have you been breeding Swedish Vallhunds, and what first attracted you to the breed?
- Can you describe what genetic diversity means today in Swedish Vallhunds when all have descended from only a small handful of dogs rescued in the 1940's?
- Do Swedish Vallhunds have a problem with incorrect bites?
- When selecting a Swedish Vallhund with a desirable correct gait, what should you be looking for in body structure?
- What do you feel in order of importance are the main hallmarks of the Swedish Vallhund?
- Can you name the best dog or bitch, not owned by you that you have seen in the breed?
- When living in the UK everyone thought I ought to have a Swedish breed (being Swedish myself). I didnt even like them at first. But somehow they appealed by being a large dog in a small shape. Lives well with other breeds. The character, the convenient size (without being small), very versatile. Have had them since the 80s.
- I do not think there is too much change from what we saw in that beginning. It started like a small tree and the branches has grown and spread from this trunk to a very positive and healthy stem/lineage of Vallhunds. Some of the types are still the same but of course fashion has put its mark. I feel the breed has been in very good hands and very little interbreeding is done, bar a few, at least in Sweden/Finland where the Scandinavian kennels are keeping a very close eye on interbreeding and health status.
- Absolutely not!! Obviously it isn't unheard of and will sometimes appear when too closely bred.
- Not too short in loin. Not a good long back, incorrect croup. Too low to the ground. Too short in neck. Bad angulation.
- The character which involves attitude ( "I'm going somewhere" "I'm busy") without it, he is just another dog. He must not be shy or nervous. Balance and strong bone without being too heavy. Must never be light boned and/or snipey. Correct front legs. Correct harsh coat, colour and its desirable markings. Without it he is just another breed. A level topline.
- There are far too many fantastic dogs bred by others I do not like to name just one.
Anita Whitmarsh, Svedala, Sweden.
- Valkrista Swedish Vallhunds birthed their first litter on 19th January 1997, a litter of 4 dogs and 2 bitches. Of these, one bitch and two dogs still survive healthily. My first experience with the breed at all, came through sighting a photo of Ian and Lesley Gray's glorious foursome in Graham Meadows' book displaying details of all types of dogs ever bred in NZ. Once seen, never to be forgotten and an essential addition to this country women's compendiums of treasures.
- Genetic diversity means exactly the same within a small gene pool as it does in any other gene pool of genetic material. It consists of concerned and careful breeders searching through the pedigreed material that they have access to, and making the best advised decision on what risks to take and which are just too great. There is plenty of room for the true breeder to make great decisions within these limitations. To enhance this aspect, the more user friendly breeders are to each other, and the more willing to share their treasures, the greater the hope for massive success for the future of the breed involved.
- In my considerable experience, the Swedish Vallhund down under, has no particular problems with their bite.
- Correct gait in any animal stems from correctness of the way the body is put together. An SV with the correct egg-shaped chest, straight backline, and sufficiency of breadth fore and rear will take you well down the track.
- To me, temperament is everything. An alert loving little dog who bonds to his people in such a way that he/she is prepared to move heaven and earth to please them, is my dog, and both he and she are all Vallhunds. Their athletic capabilities are unsurpassed and once you put a handle onto that, the world is your oyster as a dog sport person.
Rose Madsen, Valkrista, New Zealand.
- My involvement with the Swedish Vallhund commenced in 1993 when, at the time I was looking for a smaller breed to show and was approached and asked to assist with the promotion of the breed in Australia. I found the breed to be quite different in temperament to my previous 2 breeds, English Setters and Border Collies. The Swedish Vallhund is very much a thinking breed with strong pack, family, and a great deal of character, which I find very appealing.
- Since the breeds redevelopment in the 1940's, approximately 18,000 dogs have been bred throughout the world. Therefore the breeds gene pool is still relatively small. The Swedish Vallhund is generally a long life healthy breed with few health problems. In order for breeders to maintain, not only type, health, bob tail gene and longetivity, genetic diversity can not be over emphasised. Myself and a number of diligent breeders have worked on a database for the breed which contains most dogs that have been registered and known health issues that have arisen as well as inbreeding coefficencies of breeding pairs. The information contained on this Database enables breeders to make more informed, intellegent breeding selections and hopefully decreasing health risks. Genetic diversity is not a simple task within a limited gene pool, it requires breeder and international cooperation.
- The breed in general does not have an incorrect bite issue. You are more likely to see dogs with incorrect dentition such as missing pre molars than an overshot or rye bite. The other issue you are more likely to see is a scissor bite but not necessarily an ideal scissor bite. The bite should be a set on square scissor bite, to obtain this the dog should have a strong under jaw. Not only will this give the dog an ideal bite but also its blunt wedge shape head and bite strength to enable it to efficiently nip the heels of cattle to drive them on.
- Free active, elbows fitting closely to sides, forelegs moving well forward without too much lift, in unison with powerful thrusting hind action. Movement is a co-operation between forequarters and hind. Good angulation facilitates a long stride. Poor angulation shortens stride because the bones meeting at te sholder joint and hip are steeply set, forming joints with wide angles. Balance facilitates good foot timing. Bones need to be in balance to work in unison. For example, the length of shoulder should correspond with the length of the pelvis, upper arm length with the length of the second thigh and the length of front pastern to the length of the rear pastern. Due to the slight crook in the fore leg the Swedish Vallhund will have the front legs slant in as much as possible but will not single track, with the rear legs travelling parallel to one another.
Shorter legged breeds do not have a footfall, where the rear leg reaches as far forward as the front paw prints. When the gait is out of rhythm, the hind legs may hop or skip to get into step or break into a gallop. Therefore, shorter legged breeds are best observed at different speeds to determine the balance of front to rear angulations. There are many possible deviations from normal gait caused by either poor conformation or conditioning. Any deviation from the straight-line column of bones during the entire swing of the limb is a fault. Padding is incorrect and energy wasting movement of the forequarters in which the pasterns and feet perform circular, exaggerated motion, turning or flicking outwards at the end of each step.
When toeing-in the forefeet are rotated towards each other and the centre line instead of being in direct continuation with the line of the pastern. Dog's who toe in front usually have poor muscle attachment/ or loose ligaments. Toeing-out involves the opposite rotation of the forefeet. Weaving, also called crossing over, dishing, plaiting, knitting and purling, occurs when, in front or hind quarter motion, the free foot at first swings around the support foot and then forward and inward, eventually crossing the latter's path before setting down on the ground. A dog platting or crossing over in front indicates a lack of drive from the rear as the dog is actually pulling itself along using its shoulders. Frequently a clever handler can conceal cow hocks or bow hocks by deft manipulation when stacking a dog but the fault will be demonstrated on the move.
- Length to height ratio 2:3; Blunt wedge shaped head; pricked ears; Facial markings; Harness markings; Eliptical shaped chest; Curvature from the forearm; scapula & upper of almost equal proportions; Movement Level topline; Natural bobtail
- Fennican Lannen Lokari
Leonie Darling, Dlarah, Australia.
- I have extensive background in animals and animal husbandry being a qualified vet nurse. I established my Swedish Vallhund Kennel in 2003 I was drawn to the ancient little Spitz breed when I discovered how healthy and hardy they were. I liked their size and plucky courage. I liked their easy-care coat, cheerful disposition and I liked a quirk of the breed that throws naturally occuring subtailed/no-tailed examples as well as dogs exhibiting the full spitz curled tail.
- Looking after diversity today and out crossing is really important. Dismissing a whole line for a minor reason is throwing the baby out with the bath water. Breeders run the risk of bottle necking the gene pool if they do not continue out crossing and striving to weave lines back into their breeding programme. To do this effectively I advise paying attention to interbreeding and coefficients. There is a publicly accessible database available to all breeders at www.svpedigrees.com where coefficiencts can be calculated instantly on site. Also a privately held database exists at www.dlarah.com where co-efficients can be calculated on application to the site owner. Line breeding should not be dismissed however as it is a very useful tool in knowledgeable hands for setting type. However outcrossing and throwing the genetic net wide will help ensure the on gowing health of the breed into the future.
- They have done in the past when the prevalence of wry bites was quite noticeable worldwide. Careful breeding and paying attention to this has significantly reduced this issue. It is much less common now. However breeders need to be on guard and watchful with animals they intend to breed from. Dogs must have correct bite and full dentition.
- A dog that has been well built will move well. The key to that movement is balance and correct bone structure complimented with well-formed muscle. Like all working dog breeds includes a 45-degree angle lay of the shoulder blades. Complimenting that front and working in unison should be a well built back end with correct hindquarter angulation. When the dog is balanced and in possession of both a correctly assembled and angled front and back, he will drive powerfully from the rear reaching comfortably into a long stride that doesn't see the feet lift high off the ground. This action will create a evenly timed footfall and deliver less stress, wear and tear on the body.
- Count Bjorn von Rosen, and Karl Gustaf Zettersen the Swedish gentlemen credited with saving the breed in the 1940's were adamant that the Swedish Vallhund should always "Look like Grandfather's Dog". This is highly applicable today and essentially refers to type. A Swedish Vallhund should be easily recognisable as a Swedish Vallhund. The second thing that the founding breeders pressed home as vital was coat. Dogs should always have a short, hard, double-layer coat. It should not be soft or open. For me personally as a breeder a beautiful rise to the neck and strong head with a correct expression is important. I strive to breed type, and pay attention to balanced structure seeking to breed a well-built dog. But I have to say I love correct expression and well-defined markings. All of this should be a packaging of a dog that has sound temperament, confidence and courage.
- Yes I can. Although I will say there are so many very good dogs and bitches that may be seen today and from decades passed. Too many to name, and its hard to pick just one favourite. However I particularly like Skogsrovarens Claes. Claes is an attractive and very nice example of the breed to my eye. I would be proud to ever breed a dog like him. A photo of him may be found on the Skogsrovarens Kennel website. http://hem.passagen.se/skogsrovaren/
Peta Dowle Barahwolfe
- We have been involved in Vallhunds since the late 1980s. We had the rare privileged to be mentored by Sheila Haddon of the renowned Norsled Kennels! We were attracted to their versatility and the fact that this breed can be handled in the obedience and show ring by children. Our very first Vallhund Norsled Sonny was trained and handled to his CD title by our (then) 10 year old daughter Ebony.
- This is a subject that is discussed and dissected whenever Vallhund enthusiasts get together, for me it means using as much of the genetic material available, in a responsible and educated manner of course don't just look to the show ring, we need to the siblings of the "great" dogs, in Sweden pet owners are encouraged to have their dogs breed assessed and health tested, this gives Swedish breeders a much broader pool to draw from. Sound thinking in my opinion. What I find annoying is people who hog lines, it is detrimental in any breed but for a breed like ours it is downright irresponsible.
- No, in all my years in this breed, bites have not been an issue. More important is to monitor for missing teeth, something that has slide under the radar here, especially when most judges and breeders concentrate on scissor bites.
- A balanced dog who is constructed correctly, well set shoulders set at the correct angle, with a strongly muscled thighs and well angulated hocks. I look for a stable topline when a dog is on the move. I hear the tament "a dog has to be able to do what it is bred for, it needs to have the stamina to work all day" This is a Vallhund, I doubt that Vallhunds in Sweden are required to work all day and every day, so a Vallhund needs to be able to do other things to earn his keep, such as ratting so I would assume his flexibility is an issue not only in the herding area but in the barn as well.
- When this breed was resurrected from extinction the founders were adamant that they should look like the dogs on the farms, not glamorised and gussied up for the show ring. It is testament to the Swedish Guardians of this breed that we can go back to those days and see the same dog today as was around them!! I like most people in this breed just love to see a good head, for me an honest open expression and a strong under jaw with the correct amount of stop and a nice oval eye with good depth of colour is a joy. This breed comes with and without a tail, breeders who only have tailed dogs in their breeding programme are doing the breed a disservice, I believe they should look to why they came to breed Vallhunds in the first place. But if I was asked for just one point that is of utmost importance, I would say temperament, when it all comes down to the baseline, in this day and age we have to live with our dogs and we need to be able to take them out and about. I hear breeders talking about "working" temperament, using this as an excuse for hyper dogs who need constant stimulation to keep them happy. Working temperament in my book is doing what is asked when it is needed, then being able to slot into the routine of the home or farm and be a part of the family.
- For me there are two.. Aust CH Norsled Balzac a grand dog who still showed and won (Royals) at the age of 13, a dog who inspired many Australian Vallhund fanciers and Int,Sw,N and Fin CH Svedala Ludwig Lodjur who can be seen at http://www.svedala2u.se/galleries.htm
Sharon Donaldson Ausled
- I have been breeding Swedish Vallhunds for 15 years starting in 1995. I first saw a picture of this facinating breed in a small dog book in England in the 1950s and fell in love with them. I didn't see them until twenty years later in Australia when I was able to establish a kennels first in Queensland and then in South Australia.
- The "small handful of dogs rescued" were very genetically diverse coming from a number of different lines. Because the Swedish Vallhund is a very ancient breed they have a very strong genetic pattern. The breed has been carefully bred in Sweden so that the diversity has been maintained as much as is possible. Careful breeding with unrelated dogs will continue to maintain this strength and diversity. If problem genes are not there from the original dogs then problem genes will not be passed on unless careless breeding allows mutations to occur. Part of the genetics of this breed is the tail development - the tail may be present or absent and the tail length may vary from a stub through a short tail to a full length tail. As the tail is a recessive genetic condition it is important not to breed only for tails as this will limit the genetic diversity and may lead to the exclusion of certain possibly linked genetic materials.
- In general Swedish Vallhunds possess a normal scissor bite. In all my breeding I have only seen one slightly undershot jaw.
- All Vallhunds move in a slightly different way. It is important to remember what these little dogs were used for - Farm work including rounding up the cattle, vermin catching, digging, jumping, running etc. The back legs need to have suitable backwards extension with the front upper limbs of sufficient length to allow the legs to wrap around the barrel chest and then drop straight to the ground.
- The main hallmarks of the Swedish Vallhund in order of importance: A friendly and outgoing temperament. Vallhunds should get on with any other dog, not be aggressive or scared and indeed be a little aloof with other animals. Body with a straight top line and 2/3 front shoulder height to length of body. Upright pricked ears set well on the wedged shaped head with a medium stop held well up above the front shoulders.
- Ch Norsled
Pacific. This dog received more than
enough points to be a Grand Champion long before grand champions were even
thought of. He was bred by Sheila Haddon
of Norsled Kennels and was owned by Star trek Kennels in Victoria. "Arizona" as he was known was
awarded Best of Breed at numerous Melbourne Royal Shows. He received a medal from Sweden for his
contribution to the public's knowledge of the breed and featured in
publications in a number of places including Japan.
Christine Robertson, Kloval, Australia.