Dogs have a long and revered place in Swedish history, being used as loyal working animals since before the time of the Vikings. Some Swedish breeds have a history dating back as far as 1,000 years ago; numerous archeological digs unearthed remains of high-status members of society buried with their canine companions. This indicates the reverence and importance endowed to these animals, as they were priceless companions for protection, work, and most importantly, companionship. The Swedish breeds have ancient roots and a revered place among dog breeds. We put together this list of the 10 officially recognized Swedish breeds to give a brief overview of these beautiful animals.
1. Swedish Vallhund
One of the most popular breeds to emerge from Sweden, the Vallhund is also one of the oldest, with evidence of their origins dating back over 1,000 years. They were bred as working dogs for herding and droving cattle, earning them the nickname of “Swedish Cow Dog.” They almost went extinct in the early 1940s due to the influx of farm machinery and other herding breeds, but careful breeding saved them and revived their popularity.
2. Swedish Lapphund
The Swedish Lapphund is a Spitz-type breed and has been used mainly for hunting and as loyal guard dogs traditionally, but they are now popular companion animals. They are commonly referred to as the “Black Beauty of Norrland” with their thick and dense black coat. These dogs are tough and energetic animals that thrive when given a task to perform.
3. Smaland Hound
The Smaland Hound originated in Sweden in the 16th century and is thought to be the oldest native scent hound in the country. They are the smallest of the Swedish Hounds and are among the rarest, with only around 60 puppies registered annually. They form strong bonds with their owners, and require a great deal of exercise, making them unsuitable for apartments.
4. Swedish Elkhound
Also known as the Jamhundt, the Swedish Elkhound is a spitz-type breed used mainly for hunting and sled pulling. They are calm and friendly dogs generally but can display dominance at times with other dogs and have a powerful prey drive. They are high-energy dogs that require a huge amount of exercise to keep them out of mischief.
5. Hamilton Hound
These dogs were bred as hunting and scenting dogs with a powerful work ethic. They are strong animals with the stamina to match the best of the scenting breeds, and they are just as friendly and gentle too. That said, they are headstrong and stubborn at times, and it takes an experienced dog owner to properly train one of these dignified dogs.
Also known as the Nordic Spitz, this breed originated as a working and hunting dog. They are not large dogs by any stretch of the imagination, but they are as fearless and tough as they come. They are also agile, rugged, and full of stamina, built to navigate the harsh and cold terrain in the northern parts of Sweden.
7. Schiller Hound
Known in their native Sweden as Schillerstovare, these scenting dogs were used primarily as hunting companions, but they have since become popular family companions too. They form extremely strong bonds with their owners and are wary of strangers, making them more suited as a one-person dog. This fierce loyalty makes them temperamental around both other family members, as well as other dogs.
These short-legged scent hounds were bred to be scenting dogs and trackers for hunters but make friendly and gentle family dogs too. They can be stubborn and strong-willed and will need a firm hand in training. They are high-energy hounds that need a great deal of regular exercise, and their alert and loyal nature make them ideal watchdogs.
9. Danish-Swedish Farmdog
These energetic little pooches are intelligent and highly trainable, and they were traditionally used as ratters and hunting dogs. The breed was recognized in Sweden and Denmark in 1987, and the two countries agreed on the name together, with both regions having developed the breed for hundreds of years. While they are adept working dogs, they make great family animals too.
10. Gotland Hound
A versatile hunting and scenting dog, the Gotland Hound is one of the oldest Swedish breeds. The Swedish Kennel Club wanted to reduce the number of breeds in the 1920s, and this led to the near extinction if the Gotland Hound, with only around 20 remaining in 1980. The breed lived on, but they are still incredibly rare, with fewer than 200 in existence today.
Bonus Breed: The Dalbo Dog
This now-extinct breed originated in Sweden as far back as 1,700 A.D. but sadly went extinct around 1870. They were bred to protect livestock from wild animals and thieves and were known for their courageous nature. It is thought that an eruption of rabies in 1945 contributed to their extinction, as well as the Swedish Famine of the 1860s.
Featured Image Credit: Robert Nyholm, Shutterstock