Swedish Dog Breeds [8 rare dog breeds you never heard of from Sweden!]
Swedish dog breeds have played a huge part in Swedish history. Thousands of years ago, these highly valued dogs were originally bred to protect, work, and serve as companions. Swedish breeds are distinct in their looks and temperament and are considered national treasures in Sweden.
Here are Eight of the most popular Swedish dog breeds.
What is the National Dog of Sweden?
The National Dog of Sweden is the Swedish Lapphund.
Nordic Spitz Dog
Norrbottenspets or Norrbotten Spitz. This Swedish bred dog originated as a hunting and working dog breed.
The breed got its name from the northeastern region of Sweden called Norrbotten. Although the origin of the breed isn’t known, it’s thought to be of German and arctic ancestry.
Norrbottenspets were close to extinction until the 1960s when the breed was brought back to its normal numbers.
Today, the Nordic Spitz is a popular companion dog breed in Sweden.
Nordic Spitz Size
Norrbottenspets are compact, small to medium-sized dogs. Their height is anywhere from 17 to 19 inches and they weigh between 24 to 33 pounds.
Nordic Spitz Features
They have typical wolf-like features that include:
- Pointy ears
- Prick ears
- Wedge-shaped head
- Almond-shaped eyes
- Thick, dense double coat
- Deep chest
- Feathery tail
- High tail carried above their back
Nordic Spitz Colors
The Norrbottenspets come in all colors but they typically have white on red, yellow, cream, black, or tan markings. The breed standard is yellow or red.
Nordic Spitz Characteristics
This breed is smart and energetic with a curious nature. These energetic dogs get destructive if they’re bored.
They exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy. Although they’re even-tempered, some people say this breed doesn’t tolerate children bothering them.
Norrbottenspets are fearless, barking loudly when strangers are around. Today, they’re used to hunting.
They may or may not get along with other pets depending upon their socialization with the pets.
Things you Didn’t Know about the Nordic spitz
- They can be very daring
- They can live up to 15 years
- They have a unique appearance
- They tend to b excitable
- They’re been called “cunning”
Even-tempered and determined, the Drever makes a loyal companion. They are a Swedish breed originating from a Westphalian Dachsbracke, a breed that was brought from Germany to Sweden in the early 1900s.
During the 1940s two different sizes of Dachsbracke existed. Then in 1947, during a contest, the larger of the two was given the name Drever.
In Swedish, “drev” means a type of dog hunt. The Drever was officially recognized by the Swedish Kennel Club in that same year.
Drever Dog Size
The Drever hound is a short-legged hound with a long body. They range in height from 12 to 15 inches depending if they are male or female. Weigh is from 31 to 35 pounds.
Drever Dog Features
They have short fur with hanging ears typical of hounds and a short tail.
Drever Dog Colors
This breed is tri-colored in black and white, red and white, or fawn and white.
Drever Dog Characteristics
These hounds were bred to hunt and track, but they are gentle family dogs. The Drever has a stubborn streak and can be strong-willed, so they need firm leadership combined with regular exercise.
They can make good watchdogs, but they’re not aggressive.
Things you Didn’t Know about the Drever Hound
- They’re free of hereditary genetic health problems
- They’re very adaptable
- Even tempered
- Prone to back injuries
- Ear infections
Swedish Vallhund Dog
The Swedish Vallhund is one of the oldest breeds in Sweden. This ancient breed boasts a heritage that dates back at least one thousand years!
Early in history, this herding breed was also called the Little Viking Dog due to their crossbreeding of Welsh Corgi and Scandinavian Spitz dog breeds in the 8th and 11th centuries when the Vikings raided Britain.
This breed earned the nickname of Swedish Cow Dog due to its ability to herd and drive cattle.
As a working farm dog, they were nearly driven to extinction in the 1940s due to an influx of other breeds and the rise of modern farm machinery.
Fortunately, the Swedish Count Bjorn Rosen and K. G. Zettersten stepped in and helped save the Swedish Cattle Dog. Today, the Swedish Vallhund is recognized and bred all over the world.
Swedish Vallhund Size
This is a short and long dog that usually stands about 11 to 13 inches tall and weighs 20 to 35 pounds as an adult.
Swedish Vallhund Features
The Swedish Vallhund is often mistaken for a Corgi. Although these two breeds could be distant family members, the two breeds have different personalities and histories.
The Swedish Vallhund’s physical features include:
- Pricked ears
- Short legs
- A wedge shaped head
- Long, strong body
- Dark brown oval eyes
- Various tail lengths at birth
- Short top coat
- Dense undercoat
Swedish Vallhund Colors
Their colors vary from gray to grayish brown, reddish-brown with a darker back, neck, and sides.
They also have lighter markings on their shoulders called “harness markings.” Some Swedish Vallhunds have a white blaze on their head, neck or hind legs, or chest.
Swedish Vallhund Characteristics
The Swedish Vallhund are friendly dogs and have outgoing personalities. They’re very smart and love to compete in agility trials, hiking, and herding events.
Vallhund owners enter their dogs in showmanship events and fly ball games. Needless to say, this breed needs to be busy and mentally stimulated to stay happy.
They are good family dogs, safe for kids, and get along well with other dogs if socialized early on.
Things you Didn’t Know about the Swedish Vallhund
- Their name means herding dog
- They are born with different tail lengths
- Their faces are put on stamps in many countries
Swedish Vallhund Health Issues
- Prone to hip dysplasia
- Eye disease that causes blindness – Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Swedish Vallhund Puppy Price
You can expect to pay between $1500 and $2500 for a Swedish Vallhund puppy depending on the breeder you purchase from.
Learn more about the Swedish Vallhund at the Swedish Vallhund Club of America website.
Swedish Lapphund Dog
The Swedish Lapphund is the national breed of Sweden. This beautiful dog is called the “Black Beauty of Norrland” because of its thick black coat.
They’re hunting dogs, faithful watchdogs, and also great companion dogs. Centuries ago, the Swedish Lapphund was a hunting dog and reindeer herder.
It’s a rare breed with little information about its history. Today, there are less than 2,000 Swedish Lapphunds in the world.
This breed was originally bred in Lappland, by a nomadic group called the Sami.
It’s the oldest of Sweden’s nine dog breeds and a member of the Spitz family of dogs that include Siberian Huskies, Akitas, and Alaskan Malamutes.
Swedish Lapphund Size
They stand anywhere from 16 to 20 inches with the male dogs standing a couple of inches taller than female dogs. They typically weigh around 42 to 46 pounds.
Swedish Lapphund Features
- Long Double Coat
- High Energy
- Easy to Train
- Eager to Please Their Owner
Swedish Lapphund Colors
This Swedish breed has a long, thick coat that can be black or brown. They sometimes have a white crest on their chest.
Swedish Lapphund Characteristics
Swedish Lappies are affectionate, with a moderate to high energy level. It’s recommended they get at least 60 minutes of exercise every day.
They’re good with family and children, but they should be watched around smaller kids because of their tendency to nip at the heels due to their strong herding instincts.
They get along well with other dogs and cats, especially if they’re been raised with them. Swedish Lapphunds make great guard dogs because they’re so alert and suspicious.
Things you Didn’t Know about the Swedish Lapphund
- They have a weird sounding bark
- They very rare
- They’re prone to diabetes
- They dislike hot weather
- The’re high maintenance dog
Smaland Hound Dog
Another authentic Swedish breed is the Smaland Hound. This dog originated in Sweden around the 16th century. The Smaland Hound breed is thought to be the oldest native scent hound in Sweden.
This breed gets its name from Smaland, a southern part of Sweden. During the period of the Swedish Empire during the war, soldiers returned home with a variety of hounds.
These hounds had been bred with local spitz breeds. Their offspring is today’ Smaland hounds. Originally used as hunting dogs, the Smaland hounds hunted foxes, squirrels, rabbits, and birds.
Smaland hounds are recognized by the American Rare Breed Association (ARBA) which is a kennel club for owners of dog breeds that are not recognized by the American Kennel Club.
Smaland Hound Size
They have a small stature for a hound weighing between 30 and 40 pounds and growing to 17 to 21 inches tall.
Smaland Hound Features
Smaland Hounds have large heads with small rounded ears that hang flat against the sides of their head, wide nostrils, and a black nose.
Smaland Hound Colors
This breed is similar to a Rottweiler in its coat color. They have a medium-length topcoat with a short, dense undercoat.
Coloring is mostly black with some tan markings but some Smaland hounds can be amber or reddish-brown in color. They have a muscular square-shaped, compact body.
Smaland Hound Characteristics
This breed is extremely attached to their owner, yet they’re gentle and protective. Smalands are very smart and need to stay busy or they can become destructive.
They require a lot of exercise so they’re not great dogs for small spaces like an apartment or condo. Smalands are good family dogs, safe around kids and other pets.
They’re territorial, making them well suited to being guard dogs and protectors.
Things you Didn’t Know about the Smaland Hound
- Can be hard to train
- Don’t like other pets
- Prone to arthritis
- Prone to eye problems
- Excellent guard dog
Hamilton Hound Dog
The Hamilton Hound inherited its name from the founder of the Swedish Kennel Club, Count Adolf Patrick Hamilton. This breed’s ancestry is linked to English foxhounds and Harriers.
In the United States during the late 1990s, Hamilton hounds were popular service dogs. Today, they’re considered a rare breed with currently only one breeder in the United States.
Hamilton Hound Size
Hamilton hounds are medium-sized dogs with long necks and bodies. They range in height from 19 to 24 inches.
They weigh anywhere from 40 to 75 pounds. They’re well proportioned, strong dogs.
Hamilton Hound Features
Originally bred in Sweden to hunt rabbits and foxes, they became popular as show dogs due to their striking looks.
Hamilton Hound Colors
Their colors are tri-colored white and fawn with a white patch on their head and down their necks and four white paws.
Hamilton Hound Characteristics
Hamilton hounds love being outdoors. They’re high energy, making them great jogging partners. They have a reputation for being lazy and they love hanging out with their humans.
Hamilton hounds are low maintenance but they can wander off because they’re prey-driven.
They tend to do best in colder climates and can’t tolerate long periods of hot weather. This breed is good with kids.
Things you Didn’t Know about the Hamilton Hound
- They don’t like to be alone
- They can live up to 13 years
- They’re the main character in a Swedish folktale
- They’re prone to elbow dysplasia
- Ear infections
- Thyroid conditions
Swedish Elkhound Dog
The Swedish Elkhound is a spitz-type breed of hunting dog. For many years, they were thought to be the same breed as the Norwegian Elkhound.
Then in 1946, the Swedish Elkhound was officially recognized as a distinct breed. Today, they are used for elk hunting and as a sled dog.
Swedish Elkhound Size
They range around 22 to 26 inches in height and weigh anywhere from 56 to 77pounds with females weighing a bit less than males.
Swedish Elkhound Features
They look similar to a wolf and have typical wolf markings.
Swedish Elkhound Colors
They have a multi-colored double coat, a long white muzzle with widely spaced brown eyes. Their tail is loosely curled that hangs down on its back.
Swedish Elkhound Characteristics
Swedish Elkhounds love to please their humans. They’re calm, affectionate and friendly, but sometimes display a stubborn streak.
Because they’re high-energy dogs, they need exercise to keep them out of trouble. They’re smart and get bored easily if they’re left indoors too long.
Because they’re prey-driven, they may try to dominate other dogs and pets.
Things you Didn’t Know about the Swedish Elkhound
- They are easy moving big fellas, bred for the deeper snow and bog areas.
- Dogs of the Swedish military
- The National Dog of Sweden
- They’re prone to hip dysplasia, skin allergies and hearing problems
Schiller Hound Dog
This Swedish dog breed originated in the late 19th century in Germany as a mix between a Swiss hound and a Harrier hound.
It was named after Per Schiller who first exhibited this breed at a Swedish dog show in 1886. The Swedish Kennel Club recognized it as a registered breed in 1907.
Today it’s recognized by the United Kennel Club in the United States and many other minor kennel clubs around the world.
Schiller Hound Size
The Schiller Hound is a medium to large-sized hound used for hunting foxes and rabbits. They have a compact, solid body that’s agile and athletic.
Schiller Hound Features
This breed has a short, rough coat that lays close to its body. They are fast runners.
Schiller Hound Colors
Their colors are mainly black and tan. They have broad-shaped drop ears that sit moderately high on their head. Their long tail is carried in a line while they run.
They have a long, wedge-shaped head with dark brown, almond-shaped eyes.
Schiller Hound Characteristics
This tireless hunting dog thrives on rough terrain and endurance. They’re courageous and tenacious.
They can be gentle but are somewhat aloof and suspicious of strangers. These active dogs are good companion dogs for an on-the-go family as they require plenty of exercise.
Schillers are protective of their family members, patient, and devoted.
Things you Didn’t Know about the Schiller Hound
- Breed enthusiasts nicknamed the Schiller Hound, “the Hunting Dog for the Frozen Land”
- Most popular hunting dog in Sweden
- Prone to hip dysplasia, kidney infections, cherry eye and glaucoma
Are Swedish Dogs Rare?
Swedish dog breeds are not very common and some of them have been close to extinction at times.
Swedish dog breeds have played an important role in the history of the country.
They’ve forged a unique place in Sweden’s heritage as hunters, protectors, sled dogs, and family companions.
These unique purebred dogs have distinct looks, temperament and some are extremely rare.