Danish Swedish Farmdog

Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
 
Photo of adult Danish Swedish Farmdog

A small and compact dog, the Danish Swedish Farmdog, or Dansk-svensk gårdshund, has a comical personality and an impressive affinity for learning. They excel in just about any task set to them, whether it be in the more traditional world of herding and tracking, or in modern-day agility, earthdog trials and flyball. They are agile and energetic, eager to please their owner, and are known for their impressive memories.

Once employed as ratters and watchdogs on small Scandinavian farms, they are now more often kept as much-loved companion animals, who do particularly well with young children. Their placid and compassionate nature makes them the ideal addition to any family that is willing to provide them with ample exercise.

About & History

Originating in Scandinavia in the 1700s, the Danish Swedish Farmdog, known as the Dansk-svensk gårdshund in its homeland, quickly grew in popularity thanks to its versatility and jovial personality. They were acknowledged by farmers for their bravery when fending off larger animals, as well as for their ability to play sweetly with young children and integrate well into family life.

Traditionally used on small farms as ratters, hunters and watch dogs, they were equally prized by the local people for their companionship and even their ability to entertain. In fact, five Danish Swedish Farmdogs formed part of the ‘Circus Benneweis’, a travelling Danish circus, where they performed a number of amusing tricks.

Inevitably, with the advent of new technology and machinery, farmers became less reliant on their dogs, and the popularity of the Danish Swedish Farmdog began to decline. Some believe that featuring in a well-liked local television show called Matador played a role in preserving the breed. Equally, by the 1900s, the breed had become something of an icon in its native countries. A dog as customarily associated with the quintessential Scandinavian farm as the red farmyard buildings, this was not a breed that the Scandinavians were to allow become extinct.

Danish Swedish Farmdogs were mostly found in Eastern Denmark and Southern Sweden, regions separated by the Kattegat strait, and in 1987, Denmark and Sweden jointly wrote their breed standard and agreed on their international name. Due to an error published in Bruce Fogle’s Encyclopedia of the Dog, the Danish Swedish Farmdog is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the ‘Danish Chicken Dog’. This is because a picture of the Danish Swedish Farmdog was printed under the name ‘Danish Chicken Dog’. This error leads to confusion even today.

Having seen the breed in Bruce Fogle’s book, an American breeder, Ms. Melody Farquhar-Chang, decided to import the Danish Swedish Farmdog to California. While she initially thought that she was looking for a Danish Chicken Dog, a Danish breeder was quick to point her in the right direction. She soon imported a female Danish Swedish Farmdog called ‘Agerhonen's Flora Floede-Karamel’ or ‘Flora’. Flora was impregnated using artificial insemination from a Danish stud dog and produced one male puppy called ‘Flora's Han Solo’ or ‘Solo’. In 2003, Ms Farquhar-Chang was one of the founding members of the Danish Swedish Farmdog Club of America (DSFCA). Mainly seen today as family pets, these dogs are also familiar favourites in the competition ring and participate in a huge variety of canine sports and activities.

Appearance

Danish Swedish Farmdog Large Photo

While the Danish Swedish Farmdog may bear close resemblance to the Jack Russell Terrier, they are, in fact, a member of the Pinscher family and are not terriers at all. Sturdy and solid, males will stand at only 32-39cm, while females measure 30-37cm, each weighing between 7 and 12kg.

Their distinctive face is small, and tapers from ears to nose. Their brown eyes are circular and expressive, while their triangular ears flop forward, bordering their face on either side. Their long and deep chest is particularly prominent. Their rectangular and compact body is supported by muscular, straight forelimbs. Their tail may be naturally short or long, carried with a slight curve. Their coat is short and harsh. They may have two or three colours and accepted colours within their coat include:

  • White (which should be the dominant colour)
  • Brown
  • Black
  • Red

Character & Temperament

Remarkably intelligent, the Danish Swedish Farmdog is adaptable and eager to learn. They are full of energy, outgoing, and incredibly friendly and well mannered with everyone they meet. Well-suited for life with children and other dogs, care should be taken with smaller pets, which may be mistaken for prey. Introducing them to a variety of small animals from an early age can improve their willingness to accept them.

Used in the past as guard dogs on farms, they serve as perfectly adequate watchdogs today; their senses keen, they will bark to alert their master of an intruder at the earliest opportunity. Despite their Terrier-like appearance, the Danish Swedish Farmdog does not exhibit many of the undesirable traits associated with Terrier breeds, such as incessant barking, hyperactivity or dog aggression. Having said this, failure to provide an adequate and appropriate outlet for their large amount of energy could potentially lead to undesirable behaviours, such as furniture chewing or garden digging. Plenty of exercise, games, puzzles and chew toys should ensure that the Danish Swedish Farmdog remains calm inside the home.

Trainability

Photo of Danish Swedish Farmdog puppy

The multipurpose Danish Swedish Farmdog can be taught to do just about anything. They love learning and performing new tasks, and are a real pleasure to train, even for the less experienced owner. They respond best to positive reinforcement, and to calm and consistent training.

Not reaching full maturity until about three years of age, they may take longer to mentally develop than other breeds, and patience is required in their early years. They excel in obedience and are renowned for their memories and ability to learn a great number of different tasks.

Health

Known to be robust and healthy, Danish Swedish Farmdogs will usually live into their early teens. It is recommended that breeding parents be screened for orthopaedic abnormalities including:

  • Hip Dysplasia – A potentially life-limiting condition that results from the malformation of the hip joints, resulting in life-long discomfort and mobility issues. Affected animals are managed by modifying their lifestyle, and with a variety of medications, such as anti-inflammatories and opioid pain relief. In some cases, surgery can improve quality of life.
  • Patellar Luxation – A condition affecting one or both knees, in which the knee cap will pop out of position. There are four grades of the condition, with grade four being the most serious. Affected dogs may be seen to ‘hop’, holding one of their limbs in the air for several steps. Surgery may be indicated in the more advanced cases.

Exercise and Activity Levels

This is a dog that relishes all forms of activity and exercise and will never say no to an adventure. A vigorous one-hour a day walk is required at a minimum, and this should be supplemented with a variety of games and activities to keep the mind of the Danish Swedish Farmdog active. Flyball, obedience, tracking and herding are just a selection of the potential events you may select for your Danish Swedish Farmdog to participate in and they are likely to perform very well in whichever discipline you choose.

Access to a large, secure garden is preferred, as this breed enjoy exploring outside. It is advised that the Danish Swedish Farmdog should be kept on a lead if outdoors near small animals, such as cats or squirrels, as their hunting instincts may take over.

Grooming

A particularly low-maintenance breed when it comes to grooming, the Danish Swedish Farmdog will only require infrequent brushing to remove dead fur. As their ears do not stand erect, it is important to regularly ensure their ear canals are free from wax and fur, and cleaning may be required. Introduce routine grooming tasks, such as claw clipping and tooth brushing, from an early age to increase the likelihood of acceptance.

Famous Danish Swedish Farmdogs

Some famous examples of the Danish Swedish Farmdog include:

  • Stolta Ebbas Einride, or ‘Jet’, who won the UKC Championship in 2011.
  • A dog owned by Pia Linell, called Skrrallan, was the only Danish Swedish Farmdog to be an official Swedish rescue dog. Once used to search for missing people in woods and even to rescue survivors from fires, he is now retired.

Cross-Breeds

There are no well-known cross-breeds involving the Danish Swedish Farmdog.

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