Swedish Vallhunds were originally bred as general purpose Farm dogs. Traditionally they have been mainly used for taking cattle out to pasture, but some can also be used to work sheep, goats and geese.
They are often thought of as ‘heeling’ dogs, which herd by working close up to livestock and moving cattle by nipping at their heels.
In fact they are far more versatile than that! Properly trained, some Vallhunds are capable of fast, wide ‘outruns’ to gather and fetch Sheep and are happy to 'head' livestock. They can make useful 'farmers companions' doing chores with their owners, especially in a ‘Smallholding’ situation.
Not all Swedish Vallhunds have maintained their Herding Instinct, which is an inherited trait.
We feel it is vital to the Breed that the herding instinct is maintained and used.
Since 2009 Loki and Megan have regularly trained and worked a variety of flocks of sheep from 3 to 70 in number, in various settings. Where we live in the UK cattle are managed very differently to stock in Sweden, so we have been wary for the safety of our Vallhunds of working them with cattle who are not regularly worked by a dog. However they have proved extremely effective with Lincolnshire Red Steers.
Tilly was introduced to sheep in 2011 when 4 months old and is showing great potential, she had time out from herding to produce a lovely litter of 7 pups in September 2013. She and Loki also particularly enjoy the challenge of goat herding!
Freki Pup, Tilly's daughter, showed interest in ducks at 12 weeks, graduated to geese and at 6 months old it was as if someone suddenly switched giant 'ON!' button in her Herding Brain! We are taking her training slowly, allowing her to gain experience with very 'dog broke' sheep, with minimal instruction in her first year, so that she can develop her instincts.After a year the notion of 'stop!' on the far side of sheep was introduced, resulting in her then casting out suprisingly wide for a 'heeling' breed..... A work in progress!
Herding Pictures - Click to Open in a Lightbox
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