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Swedish Vallhund - Breed Description

The Swedish Vallhund is an ancient breed of dog from the Spitz group of dogs. They were used as all purpose farm dogs in the flat cattle country of Sweden and mostly found in the West and Southern provinces. With their short legs, agility and speed, they are ideally suited to cattle herding on the small Swedish farms.

The appearance of the Swedish Vallhund is a medium sized dog of about 33cms (13), with a slightly longer body than tall, he is well-muscled, powerful and robust, with a keen alert attitude. The topcoat is medium short, harsh but closely fitting with a soft woolly undercoat, providing weather and water resistance.

The colour of the coat varies from light to dark shades of grey or reddish yellow with lighter shades found on the cheeks, throat, belly, buttocks, feet and hocks. A hallmark of the breed is its distinctive and most desirable lighter facial mask, although a dark mask is acceptable, and harness markings near the shoulder and upper arm. Eyes should be dark brown, oval in shape denoting a gentle, soft but alert expression.  Nose black.

The tail is a distinguishable feature, with many puppies being born without a tail or with a short stump, while others may be born with varying lengths through to a full tail.

To fully convey the temperament of the Swedish Vallhund is difficult with one not fully understanding the extent of this breeds personality until you are owned by one. They have a strong herding instinct with a natural ability to herd. It is not unusual for their owners to find their dogs coming in behind in an attempt to drive them along. The breed has a sense of humour, with a happy disposition and is important that he/she be included in the family activities enjoying being a principle character. The Swedish Vallhund is a willing positive, honest worker who is easy to teach, is proud, open, frank and unafraid.

The Swedish Vallhund is happiest when playing with other Swedish Vallhunds, with the play often appearing to be rough and noisy, yet rarely hurting themselves. This breed needs mental and physical stimulation and is most comfortable when there is a plethora of activity around their surroundings or an array of activities for them to participate in. The breed is very astute and miss little of what is going on in their environment, they are very much a thinking breed, mental stimulation is extremely important for this intelligent breed.  They require freedom but also strong willed requiring a steady hand with training commencing at an early age.

The breed gets on well with other dogs and children. They are low maintenance with a water resistant coat that repels dirt or mud and do not have a doggy odour.

The dog is larger and more masculine looking than the bitch, but both should be strong and capable of doing a good days work.

The preferred  height for Males is 33 to 35 cm (13 to 13.75), Females 31 to 33 cm (12 to 13). Weight: 11.4 15.9 kg (25-35lbs).

The Ideal Swedish Vallhund Proportions (illustration by Margaret Davidson from the breed specialist book. The Swedish Vallhund: A Legacy of the Vikings, Leonie Darling) ©Leonie Darling


The Swedish Vallhund is primarily a robust healthy breed. The average life span of the breed is approximately fifteen years, with the oldest official recorded age being twenty seven years.

It is important, prior to purchasing a puppy to ensure you have done your research on the breed and the breeders within the breed, check the breeders credentials, ensuring the breeder undertakes health checks on their dogs such as hip scores and eye tests. Ask to look at the sire and dam if possible to determine the temperament of the breeding stock.

  The Swedish Vallhund Colour

The colour description of the Swedish Vallhund in the breed standard is as follows: Grey (originally called Steel grey), greyish/yellow, greyish/brown, reddish/brown, reddish/yellow with darker guard hairs on back, neck and sides of body, lighter hair same shade of colour as mentioned above is desirable on muzzle, throat, chest, belly, buttocks, feet and hocks. Instead of these lighter shades, white markings are acceptable, but never in excess of one-third of total colour. Eye colour: Very dark brown. Nose Colour: Black 

The Swedish Vallhund is one of the breeds of dog with unusually pronounced agouti hair; with most colour descriptions denoted in the breed standard being agouti.

Some Examples of Colour


Swedish History

By the 1940's the breed had almost become extinct, thankfully, two Swedish dog enthusiasts, Karl-Gustav Zettersen, a Swedish school  teacher  in Vara, a small town in South West Sweden and a breeder of the Scottish terrier and Count Björn Von Rosen, a well known Terrier Judge, took up the cause to save the breed.     

In the summer of 1942, Karl-Gustav Zettersten noted an advertisement in a newspaper from Count Björn Von Rosen, who was wishing to meet with owners of what he described as 'bob tailed Västgötaspets' Karl-Gustav Zettersten made contact with Count Björn Von Rosen, explaining his interest in this breed and would help in the search to find specimens.


The Swedish Vallhund first arrived on Australian soil in January 1981 when Sheila and Dennis Haddon, migrated to Western Australia, bringing with them  Norsled Foxy and Norsled Balzac.


The first dog to arrive on Canadian shores in the latter part of 1993 she was Ebba imported from Sweden by Ulla Gamberg.


According to the Finnish Kennel Club's statistics, the first Swedish Vallhund who came into Finland in 1964 and was a red male named Lille-Bror.


The first Swedish Vallhund to enter France was Västgötgårdens Alex from Sweden in 1989.


The first Swedish Vallhunds into the Netherlands were Rödagardens Elof and a bitch named Scarlet brought in by Nina Swaab in 1978. 

New Zealand

The lady to first import Swedish Vallhund into New Zealand was another Mrs Cartledge she brough in Ryslip Fabian "Puffin" in 1975 and Maiden Duncliffe "Margo" in 1976. 


The first Swedish Vallhund to enter Switzerland was Tomtemors Gram from Sweden in 1983 brought in by Dorothea Schinz-Graf.

United Kingdom

The 1st  dog introduced to the UK was in 1974,  Snäckans Kickan brought in by Mrs Elizabeth Cartledge.


The breed's history began in 1985 - 1986 when Mrs Marilyn Thell, imported four dogs, they were Starvon Glenby, Repetas Julia of Starvon, her daughter Starvon Hopeful and Starvon Isadora.

In more recent years the Swedish Vallhund can now found in a number of other countries, including Japan, Portugal, Germany, Bermuda, Spain, Slovenia, Norway, Demark and Italy.

Conservation efforts are being made to preserve rare bloodlines!


With only 4 lines left - 2 being extremely rare, we believe it is vital to protect the 2 rare lines for the future of the breed.  While still health testing, hip scoring, annual eye examinations and DNA profiling , we are working on a breeding programme that will see these lines expanding back into the very limited gene pool.



A matriline is a line of descent from a female ancestor to a descendant via a line of females. A matriline can be drawn from todays females all the way to the females of the foundation stock: from daughter to mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and so on.

Mitochondria are the power plants of the cell: They supply cell with energy.  In addition to that, mitochondria have their role in regulating the cycle, growth and death of cells.  In a Matriline, the mitochondrial DNA (mt DNA) has descended from a mother to a daughter.  Males also inherit mtDNA from their mother, but they cannot pass it on.  Offspring inherits mtDNA always from the mother, and the genes of the father do not affect mtDNA in any way.  If the matriline is broken, the mtDNA of that line is lost.

There are only two matrilines left among Swedish Vallhunds.



A patriline is a father line, or a sire line as it could be called in the dog world. A patriline is a line of descent from a male ancestor to a descendant via line of males: a sire, his sire and his sire, and so on. Males Y chromosome descents in the patriline.

Out of these 13 patrilines, 11 have died out

Today, there are only two intact patrilines: Mopsens and Tjappos.   Tjappos line is hanging by a thread. If Tjappos patriline disappears, there is only one version of chromosome Y and the DNA it contains left in the breed

Credit: Halla Seppala, Konnunkoden Swedish Vallhunds (Finland)




The rare 6% Tussi Matriline is only present in NZCH Trendam Busy Being Fabulous - Imp Aust., Vallarity Hopscotch & Vanaheim You Sexy Thing With Rhakantra, Ascalon Secret Squirrel 

The rare 1% Tjappo Patriline is only present in NZCH Vallarity Foxtrot Bravo, Aust. & NZCH Bodeneis Foxy Folkmar - Imp Finland, Vallarity Hip Hop Hillbilly &  Vallarity Highland Fling, Torvall Laird Of The Glen, Vallarity Rockabilly Rebel


We have 5 the only breeding Swedish Vallhund's to carry these rare bloodlines in NZ. 

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