His temperament is watchfull, intelligent, active, eager and very loyal. A Swedish Vallhund is a thinking dog who is happiest being with his 'people'. He likes a job or interesting things to do. This is why dog sports such as agility and obedience are so good for them. They make excellent trackers for they have a very good nose and the drive to stick to task. They thrive working stock, or playing all day with children.
Coat and Colour
They have an easy care coat. Short and hard and not dissimilar in feel to that of a Labrador Retriever. Swedish Vallhunds though have a coat made up of a 'double layer'. There is a softer woolly undercoat and a slight longer over layer of guard hairs. Colours vary from several shades grey through to red Although the red colouring is more rare in New Zealand. Most Swedish Vallhunds carry no white, or minimal white. Others have a handsome white chest (shirt front) or white facial blaze.
The breed standard allows for a 'light necklace' of white. More than a third of a Swedish Vallhund being white is considered a breed fault. These examples should not be breed from and can not be shown. However it is important to understand that this amount of white is simply a natural variation of coat colouring and dogs with significant areas of white coat make very acceptable pets.
Swedish Vallhunds only need a brush once a week to remove loose hairs. And daily brushing through their 3 - 4 week moult adjusting to their summer coat. Particularly attractive is their wolf type facial markings and shoulder harness. Swedish Vallhunds have low doggy-odor. That isn't no-odor, but their significant lack of dog smell is something often commented on. They do not need regular bathing as they are self care, dry dirt will fall from coats and the natural oils in their coat serve them well.
Are Some Tail Docked?
The other most visually noticeable aspect of the breed is that some have a tail, or stub of a tail and others have no tail at all. There are no Swedish Vallhund breeders tail docking in New Zealand. It is a quirk of the breed that 51% of them are born with out tails. This genetic quirk is special aspect that has been kept and preserved by breeders.
The breed does not do well as an only dog home alone all day while his people work. An under stimulated and bored Swedish Vallhund will quickly become a boredom barker. Individual Swedish Vallhunds will be prone to barking also, this is stoppable with correction and providing and interesting and stimulating life. Also the other significant thing to watch for is heel nipping. As their natural herding trait is bred into them, some puppies will find the running legs of little children irresistible to chase and will nip and tug at trouser legs. This is easily corrected but must be stopped. Not all puppies will react this way, but if they do you must correct a puppy. Growl at them and let them know instantly that this is a no-no. Inhibit this behaviour early if you see it so that it never becomes a problem. . As they are very intelligent and easily trained it is not a difficult problem to solve.
Getting the Decision Right.
Do your research, contact breeders, ask questions. If you have never met a Swedish Vallhund and have been attracted by the description or a photograph, make sure you get to meet an adult Swedish Vallhund before your commit to getting a puppy. Ask to meet the Dam (mother) and Sire (Dad) if you can. Sometimes it is not easy to meet both. So ask if you can meet the adult dogs from previous litters. A breeder should be comfortable referring you to owners of the pups they have bred earlier. As the typical lifespan of a Swedish Vallhund is between 13 - 16 years it is worth taking the time early on to do your homework.
Socialisation is important as a puppy. The more your puppy has done and met in terms of new experiences, the better they will be as adult family pets. Ensure that before they are 16 weeks that they have been for a few car rides, met cats, the postee and other aspects of your regular life. Ask the breeder what they will be doing to socialise the puppy for the first 8 weeks of life. Sign up for puppy kindy classes, and basic obedience training. A well trained dog is a happy dog.
If you are going to go ahead with getting a puppy, we hope you fall in love with the breed. They are a special, rare and exciting little dog, full of character and courage. Perhaps if you decide also to join the Swedish Vallhund Club we will get to meet you at one of our gatherings. We certainly welcome you to our community. Know that your club is an email or phone call away from support and advice.
Swedish Vallhunds do not always make good 'first dogs', or ideal dogs for people not prepared to make some effort in socializing and training their new puppy. With inherited breed traits to herd, which may include nipping at running heels (be they cows or kids ankles) - and a natural, sharp intelligence, Swedish Vallhunds can turn their watch-dog bark into a persistent bark if left to be come bored. Some also have a natural inclination to be vocal and bark to 'voice their opinion'.
Most of the breed is born with tendency towards a confident, alert and easy-going nature. But as with personality variations in humans, dogs can be born with a tendency towards being anxious, and lacking confidence. These dogs will need greater support, and investment of time/training/money to turn your puppy in to a good family pet. Take your time to research the breeder and parents of the puppy you want to take home. This is good advice for any dog breed, but especially important for the Swedish Vallhund.
good breeder or breed knowledgeable guidance a Swedish Vallhund can be
raised to be fearful of strangers, children, bark incessantly, have a
prey drive that translates to stock worrying, chasing cats, and killing
chickens, rabbits etc. These dogs can be inadvertently raised to be
uncomfortable in most situations other than at home with their own
family, and may be frantically unhappy when you leave them home alone.
This is a rare and worst case scenario, but has happened.