The Swedish Vallhund dates back to the Vikings who used these short, sturdy animals to herd cattle. Like their Viking friends, Vallhunds are strong and fearless, and their owners believe these dogs have no idea they are so small. They are friendly, spirited and eager to please, they get along well with children and can be trusted around other household pets, though they won't hesitate to chase strange dogs and cats. Vallhunds can be used as farm dogs and are truly in their element around livestock. Vallhunds individual personalities vary from dog to dog – some are more outgoing while others are more introverted, but all Vallhunds are loyal companions who make an excellent addition to families with active lifestyles.
Despite their high energy level, Swedish Vallhunds only need a moderate amount of exercise to maintain health and happiness. They are adaptable dogs who can thrive on a ranch, in a home with a yard, in an apartment or condominium. They should be walked daily, and if they don't have a yard to play in at home, should be allowed to run in a park at least once a week.
Vallhunds need a lot of mental stimulation so that they don't get bored. As with other breeds who have roots as farm dogs, they like to stay busy. They excel in agility training and advanced obedience. If not properly exercised physically and mentally, Vallhunds can become anxious and destructive when left alone.
As herding dogs, Swedish Vallhunds are independent thinkers and can be a tad bossy. They prefer to do things on their own time, so a lot of patience is required when training this breed. Positive reinforcement and lots of treats will ensure a responsive Vallhund. Once consistent leadership is established, they take well to training and enjoy learning new tasks.
After beginning obedience training is complete, Swedish Vallhunds should graduate to advanced training and if possible, involved in tracking and agility classes. This is one “old dog” that likes to learn new tricks, and training should continue throughout their lives.
Vallhunds, like other farm dogs, are excellent watchdogs. They sound the alarm that uninvited people or animals are on the horizon, which can get out of hand if not nipped in the bud at an early age. Proper socialization is important, so that the Vallhund doesn't become mistrustful of all strangers. They will also bark if left alone for long periods of time, so apartment and condo dwellers should take this into consideration before adopting a Swedish Vallhund.
While they get along fine with children, Vallhunds can exhibit dominance over small children, and they have been known to attempt to herd groups of kids. Because their herding behavior involves the nipping of heels, playtime should always be supervised.
Vallhunds also love to chase anything that moves, no matter the size. It can be a bird, squirrel, cat, dog, bike or even a car. Vallhunds should not be left off leash unless they are in a fenced in area, both to protect other animals and to protect the dog from running into traffic or otherwise getting injured.