CKC Standard (PDF)
FCI Standard (MS Word Document)
I first became aware of these charming little dogs when my sister Jennifer was helping me search for a suitable "next" breed for me when Jim and I got married and were living in Texas (I wanted a sturdy dog, suited to agility, but it had to be relatively small). Jennifer found the Swedish Vallhund in Dogs In Canada magazine, the breed seemed to be what I was looking for, and I started to investigate further. I liked what I found, and contacted a few breeders to learn more. One of those breeders was Cindy Kinsgley of Osafin Swedish Vallhunds in Austin, Texas. Cindy invited us to come and meet her and her dogs at a show in Round Rock (at Triple Crown Dog Academy), so we did. Little did we know at the time that Cindy would become a great friend and very helpful coach for my first steps in the conformation ring, and that Triple Crown Dog Academy would become a very familiar place for shows.
We also traveled to New Mexico to meet Bonnie Conner at Skyview Swedish Vallhunds, and Bonnie also became a good friend, mentor and show buddy. By this time I'd met almost a dozen Vallhunds (not bad for a pretty uncommon breed), and had completely fallen in love with them.
Then, when I was in Toronto, staying with my family one summer, Bonnie put me in touch with someone just north of Toronto who had a litter coming up, I contacted her, met up with her at a show, spent some time visiting with her and her dogs, and eventually brought home my very first Vallhund from her (Rakki). That person was Ulla Gamberg of Vastgota Swedish Vallhunds, and Ulla has become a great friend and breed mentor to me. In 2008, Ulla entrusted us with Nina, who is a charming little pup with a wicked sense of humour and a play growl as loud as Rakki's.
My involvement with this breed has brought me all kinds of good things: increased knowledge, increased skill as a dog trainer, opportunities to develop websites and become a published writer, but probably best of all are the people I've met and forged friendships with.
Swedish Vallhunds are herding dogs, which means they tend to have a lot of energy and need a job to do, but as long as they get enough exercise (mental and physical), they are lovely dogs to live with. They can also be a bit barky (as is common in herding breeds, which use their voices as well as their bodies and teeth to move animals much bigger than themselves). They are very intelligent, loving and easy to train and most are very eager to please and love to work with you. They get along well with other dogs as a general rule and make great obedience and agility dogs. They do really like to have something to do with their time, so they're not always the right dog for someone who wants a total couch potato that they never have to do much with. Vallhunds want to be part of everything, and we swear sometimes that Rakki watches everything so intently that he must be on some kind of fact-finding mission for the Great Vallhund Takeover Conspiracy (my dad calls him "the office manager", since Rakki's always got to be supervising everything).
Swedish Vallhunds are recognized by a number of kennel clubs in North America, including the American Kennel Club, Canadian Kennel Club (CKC, where they are in the Herding group), the United Kennel Club (UKC, where they are in the Herding group), the American Rare Breed Association (ARBA, where they are in the Spitz group) and the International All Breed Canine Association (IABCA, which does German-style shows where each dog is given a written critique). I have shown my Vallhunds in all of these venues, each is a little different, all are fun, and many of us Vallhund fanciers have found ourselves educating the judges at our shows about our breed (have to stay honest, they suspect you might be pulling their leg if you tell them that of course, YOUR dog is a perfect example!).
The fact that the Swedish Vallhund is not a well-known breed brings some challenges to showing. For one thing, it's very rare for some judges to put up a breed they don't know very well ("put up" is dogshow talk for "give a ribbon to"), which means that even in a group class where your dog is the best example of its breed, you might not get a ribbon. The fact that Rakki won a group third in his first show floored me, when the judge walked up to me and said "this is my group third" I was flabbergasted (for a more in-depth discussion of dog showing, please see my article "Showing For Newbies" in the Articles section). Showing a rare breed also means you have something of an obligation to learn your breed standard (which I think you should really do anyway), so that you can answer any questions the judge may have if at all possible (for example, many Herding group judges are familiar with the two Corgi breeds, which are longer and lower than Vallhunds should be, you should be able to tell the judge that the ideal height-to-length ratio for a Vallhund is 2:3).
The Swedish Vallhund became a fully-recognized breed in the American Kennel Club Herding Group in June of 2007.
With AKC recognition, and the fact that these are small, attractive, useful little dogs, I feel we need to be very aware that we might see a boom in popularity and be cautious of the pitfalls that popularity often entails. We need to take seriously our responsibility to safeguard the health, temperament and conformation of this breed, and be careful to keep our eyes on the whole picture.
I am a member of the Swedish Vallhund Club of Canada and the Swedish Vallhund Club of America. In fall 2007, I was honored to be elected Vice President of the Swedish Vallhund Club of America for two years, and was elected to the Board again as a Director in September 2009. I write the quarterly Swedish Vallhund breed column for the AKC Gazette. I also wrote an article on the breed for Dogs In Review magazine.