Swedish Vallhund (Västgötaspets)
The Swedish Vallhund is a tenacious and sturdy working dog, which was originally bred in Sweden to operate as a herder and ratter. This breed is characterised with a well-balanced and extremely vigorous temperament. Thanks to its universal friendliness it usually makes a fabulous companion dog.
The Swedish Vallhund’s ancestry can be traced back more than thousand years ago to the era of the Vikings. It’s still debatable whether the Swedish Vallhund descended from the Welsh Corgi or vice versa. Nonetheless it’s commonly believed that the early breed members were imported to Wales during the VIII or IX century or it was the Corgi that was brought to Sweden. However it was developed the Swedish Vallhund bears an uncanny likeness to the Corgi so their kinship is fairly obvious.
The breed members worked on Swedish farms for hundreds of years helping their owners to herd and drive cattle. It was also responsible for vermin control and earned the reputation of a highly skilful ratter and mouser. The all-purpose Swedish Vallhund guarded framer’s houses and excelled in the role of a watchdog. Until the World War I the breed remained a widespread and popular working dog across its homeland.
The war years proved to be disastrous for the breed and by 1942 it was on the verge of extinction. Fortunately the dogs’ sad fate attracted attention of a dog fancier, Count Bjorn von Rosen. He managed to locate few pure-bred specimens and began the gradual process of restoring the breed.
In the 40s of XX century the Swedish Vallhund was formally recognised by the Swedish Kennel Club under the name Svensk Vallhund. Vallhund literally means «herding dog». The standard was rewritten in 1964 and the breed’s name was changed to the Västgötaspets, after the Swedish province Västergötland. Initially it found its way to England in 1974 but the dog lovers in the United States got to know the Swedish Vallhund only in 1983. The American Kennel Club (AKC) granted its official recognition to this dog in 2007.
Nowadays the Swedish Vallhund still preserves its status of a rare breed although it’s relatively well established in Sweden, Britain, Finland, Norway, and Australia. The dog usually performs with flying colours in various canine sports but most of breed members are kept for companionship.
The Swedish Vallhund is a mischievous, frisky, strong and brave medium-sized dog, which enjoys living in a family environment. This even-tempered dog with winning personality adjusts well to any life style as long as it receives enough care and attention from its master. It’s extremely fond of its special people and demonstrates boundless loyalty to them. This breed is fine with children although it’s essential to invest proper efforts in the dog’s socialisation. Small kids shouldn’t be left alone with this dog because of its rambunctious nature.
Friendly and companionable Swedish Vallhund treats all strangers as potential friends rather than enemies. At the same time this dog is endowed with enough sensitiveness to detect threat to its territory or master. And its fairy moderate size won’t prevent it from defending its human family with reckless fearlessness. That’s why it commonly makes a great guardian. It’s also perfectly suited for the role of a watchdog because of its superb alertness. Be mindful this breed is predisposed to excessive barking and without early obedience training this habit can become a serious problem.
The Swedish Vallhund likes playing and socialising with other dogs and usually prefers to share its life with several other canines with resembling temperament. Nonetheless this dog can show aggression towards another dog of the same sex. It’s prone to perceive all other familiar pets as cattle and will persistently try to herd them by chasing them and grabbing by their hind legs. Cats are especially intolerable of such behaviour so make sure to train away your Swedish Vallhund from this tendency.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· eye problems;
· vitreous degeneration;
· canine hip dysplasia;
· patellar luxation.
The Swedish Vallhund requires minimal maintenance. Its double coat repels water and dirt as well as reliably protects this dog from the hostile weather. Weekly brushing is more than enough to keep it in a neat condition.
This breed sheds its undercoat during three weeks, between winter and spring, so its master should switch to daily brushing during these periods and approach this procedure with more diligence. The rest is basic care, which consists of regular teeth brushing, nails trimming and occasional bathing.
The Swedish Vallhund is an easy-trainable breed because of its natural intelligence and willingness to please. Actually with appropriate training techniques and commitment there are virtually no commands it can’t learn. It’s worth to know though that this dog fully matures only by the age of four years so the trainer should exercise patience and indulgence to its occasional mischiefs.
The Swedish Vallhunds’ training will give the best results only if the dog recognises the dominative position of the trainer. That’s why he should handle this dog firmly but fairly and resort only to reward-based methods. Because this breed tends to become over-protective the obedience training plays the crucial role in its up-bringing.
The Swedish Vallhund is a clever and energetic dog, which needs lots of physical and mental exercises to stay healthy and satisfied. This dog likes to have some meaningful job to do and can become very destructive and disobedient if its natural curiosity remains unsatisfied.
The breed loves spending time outdoors and will be happy to have a regular chance to play and roam in a safely enclosed yard. Sizeable amount of intense physical activity is essential if you want your Swedish Vallhund to live a long and happy life although it can get by with a daily brisk walk of an hour long.