Swedish Vallhunds

The low-slung Swedish Vallhund resembles his Corgi cousins, but he is a distinct breed that has existed for some one thousand years. In his homeland of Sweden, the Vallhund served as a valued farm dog used to herd livestock by nipping at their heels. He has many good qualities, including his size and easy-care coat, but do your research to find out if he’s the right breed for you.

Traits, Personality and Behavior

This is an energetic, playful dog with a loving personality. He's always looking for pats, hugs or treats from everyone he meets, and he gets along with children and other animals. The Vallhund enjoys creating games to entertain himself and his people.

Because of his herding background, he has a watchful nature and will bark to ward off varmints or alert you to the presence of someone at the door. Teach him when it's okay to bark and when it's not so that he doesn't become a nuisance barker.

Be prepared to keep the Vallhund busy. He's active and excels in dog sports, especially agility, herding, flyball, obedience, rally and tracking. If you're not into organized dog sports, he'll enjoy going for long walks or hikes.

Early, frequent socialization is essential to prevent a Vallhund from becoming overly suspicious or fearful of anything new or different. Purchase a Vallhund puppy from a breeder who raises the pups in the home and ensures that they are exposed to many different household sights and sounds, as well as people, before they go off to their new homes. Continue socializing your Vallhund by taking him to puppy kindergarten class, visits to friends and neighbors, and outings to local shops and businesses.

Begin training as soon as you bring your Vallhund puppy home. Use positive reinforcement training techniques such as praise, play and food rewards. He learns quickly and will respond to kind, consistent training.

The Vallhund has a medium-length double coat. Double-coated dogs shed, so expect to find hair on your clothing and furniture. Brush the coat once or twice a week to remove dead hair and reduce the amount of loose hair floating around your house. Other grooming needs are regular nail trims, ear cleaning and tooth brushing.

While you might think of him as an outdoor dog, nothing could be farther from the truth. A Swedish Vallhund should certainly have access to a securely fenced yard, but when the family is home, he should be in the house with them.

Health Issues Common to Swedish Vallhunds

All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don't walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

That said, Swedish Vallhunds are a pretty healthy breed in general. Some health conditions that have been seen in the breed are hip dysplasia, patellar luxation and eye diseases.

Ask the breeder to show evidence that both of a puppy's parents have hip scores of Excellent, Good or Fair from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals; an OFA patella clearance; and certification from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation that the eyes are healthy.

6 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Swedish Vallhund Puppy

Don't ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store or Internet site that offers many breeds and popular mixes, or that ships with no questions asked. If you buy a puppy from these sources, you'll be more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to house-train puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.

Find a good breeder who will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. A list of breeders can be found on the website of the Swedish Vallhund Club of America; choose one who follows the SVCA's guidelines.

Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.

Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health problems in Swedish Vallhunds aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Swedish Vallhund can live to be 10 to 12 years old, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.

Puppy or adult, take your Swedish Vallhund to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.

Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with "puppy lemon laws," be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Pet Insurance for Swedish Vallhunds

Pet insurance for Swedish Vallhunds costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Swedish Vallhunds are much more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace dog insurance offers full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Swedish Vallhunds are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Swedish Vallhund is when he's a healthy puppy. You can't predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can't get when you need it the most.