9 Interesting Facts About the Wolf Corgi

It's believed to date back to the time of the Vikings.

Swedish vallhund
An ancient breed, the Swedish vallhund didn't come to the U.S. until the mid-1980s.

TS Eriksson / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

There's something familiar about the Swedish vallhund. The handsome herding dog certainly resembles its corgi cousin, but there's also something relatively lupine about this low slung dog's appearance. That's why the breed is sometimes known as the "wolf corgi."

But there's so much more to this distinctive dog than its interesting good looks.

Here are lots of other fascinating facts about the ancient breed.

1. They Are Believed to Date Back to the Vikings

headshot of a Swedish vallhund
The Swedish vallhund is also known as the Swedish cattledog. Revaphoto / Shutterstock

It's believed that the Swedish vallhund comes from Sweden, naturally. According to the American Kennel Club, in Sweden it's believed that the breed dates back more than 1,000 years to the time of the Vikings. At that time, the breed was known as the Vikingamas Hund (Viking dog). Some time during the eighth or ninth century, the Swedish vallhund was brought to Wales or the Welsh corgi was taken to Sweden, which is why the breeds seem so similar.

2. They Are a Newcomer to the U.S.

Though the breed has been around for likely a century or so, it's a relative newcomer to the United States. Reportedly, the first two dogs were imported to California around 1985, but weren't bred. That's the same year, according to the AKC, a Rhode Islander of Swedish descent saw Swedish vallhunds while attending the Crufts dog show in England. She researched the breed, then brought two dogs home with her that summer. Two more soon followed and the first litter of Swedish vallhunds was whelped in the U.S. in September 1986.

In addition to Sweden and the U.S., the breed can now be found in the U.K., Finland, France, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Denmark, and Switzerland.

3. They Are Helpful Herders

Portrait Of Swedish Vallhund Standing On Field
Being low to the ground makes herding easier. Liv Oom / EyeEm / Getty Images

Like the corgi, the Swedish vallhund's build makes its herding job easier. Being low to the ground puts the swift dog in a good position to nip at the heels of cattle to get them moving, says the AKC. But at the same time, it keeps him safe from getting kicked in the head. Plus the vallhund is athletic so these swift and smart dogs can dodge flying, sharp hooves with ease. As with all herding dogs, the vallhund doesn't limit itself to herding animals. They can be tempted to round up young children and nip at their heels.

4. They Are Chatty Canines

If you want a quiet canine companion, you may want to look elsewhere. The Swedish vallhund is quite talkative. In fact, the AKC says it is among the world's most vocal breeds, saying the dog's collection of barks, howls and yips has been described as "argle bargle," a phrase meaning, "copious but meaningless talk or writing; nonsense."

Chalk up the dog's chattiness to the breed's watchful and protective nature. They can be trained not to bark all the time, but their tendency is to be alert and tell you when there's something they want you to know about.

5. They Have Lots of Nicknames

In addition to being nicknamed the wolf corgi, the Swedish vallhund is known as "the Västgötaspets" for Västergötland, the county in Sweden where the breed is thought to have originated. This dog is also sometimes known as a Swedish cattledog or a Swedish cowdog, says the AKC. Back in the time of the Vikings, it probably was just known as “Vikingarnas Hund,”or the Viking dog.

Bearing all sorts of names, this photogenic canine has appeared on postage stamps in Sweden, Nicaragua, Russia, Ukraine, Mali, and Tajikistan.

6. They Work and Play

Swedish Vallhund racing fastcat
Swedish vallhunds can excel at sports. GoDogPhoto / Getty Images

Still used as a herding dog in some places, the versatile Swedish vallhund also excels in agility, flyball, obedience and tracking. The breed is considered smart and easy to train.

The AKC calls these pups "zesty" companions, describing them as sociable, cheerful and alert. They're considered hardworking and fun loving.

The Swedish Vallhund Club of America says the dogs have delightful personalities. " Their temperaments are sound, loving, and sweet. They are calm and adaptable, and delight in sharing your life." 

7. They Fought Extinction

According to the Swedish Vallhund Club of America, the breed nearly became extinct in the 1940s, but two men in Sweden formed a partnership to save it. Bjorn von Rosen had worked save several old Swedish dog breeds from extinction. He fondly remembered the Swedish vallhund from his childhood. He teamed up with K.G. Zettersten and the duo searched the country for the best dogs they could find. One male dog named Mopsen and three females named Vivi, Lessi and Topsy became the foundation for their program, resurrecting the breed.

8. They Have Distinct Markings

profile of Swedish Vallhund
The Swedish vallhund is recognized as either gray or red. Capture Light / Shutterstock

The breed has two recognized colors (gray and red) and "harness" markings, which are bands of color that run down the dog's sides from its shoulders. The Swedish vallhund can be born with no tail (called a bobtail), a stub tail, or with a full, curl tail. All Swedish vallhunds have prick ears.

The dogs are between 11 1/2 and 13 3/4 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 20 to 35 pounds. Their lifespan is 12 to 15 years.

9. They're Not Corgis

Although the Swedish vallhund looks a lot like a Pembroke Welsh corgi or a Cardigan Welsh corgi, genetically they're not very closely related. Instead, the breed is actually a member of the spitz family, according to the AKC. That puts him in the same family tree as the Norwegian elkhound, Alaskan malamute, and Finnish spitz.

The Swedish vallhund is a distinct breed that is not as stocky as a corgi. It's body isn't as long as the corgi's and its legs aren't as short.