The Danish Swedish Farm Dog or the Dansk-Svensk gardshund is affectionately nicknamed the “Rat Dog”. This breed became so popular not only because it was used in Matador, a Danish TV series but also because this little white dog with red, brown or black patches is very much a part of Danish farm scenery as a tractor pulling a plow and the thatch roofed houses are.
This breed was primarily bred to be a versatile all purpose farm dogs. These dogs were called the rat dogs because of their penchant to dig the burrows of rodents. This dog shares with the cat the task of ridding stables and barns with mice and rats. These are exceptional hunters that keep foxes away from chicken houses. This dog would not hesitate to dive into a fox hole to chase the fox. The dog has performed various farm chores, have herded cattle and have guarded the farmer’s property. Being quite small, the dog does not have an imposing and an intimidating appearance. Nevertheless, the dog deters intruders with its bark.
Because of the active and the lively temperament as well as the intelligence that makes the dog learn a variety of cute tricks, the dog has been used to perform circus acts. In 1920s, these farm dogs performed in the Circus Benneweis, the largest stationary and travelling circus in Denmark. This is a truly versatile dog! Not contented with being farm dogs, hunters and circus performers, the Dansk Svensk gardshund has ventured into rescue work. Skraallan, a Danish Swedish Farm Dog owned by Pia Linnel of Sweden has passed the incredibly hard test to be a certified rescue dog. Skraalan has searched for missing and injured persons in the woods and in the deserts. The dog seems to take fire, gunshots and the noise of machines in stride. The dog rescues fire victims by wearing boots made of heat repelling material in order to walk over glowing hot coals.
A Dansk-Svensk gardshund is a little dog with a big personality. In its country of origin these dog are mainly used in the farms though they are noted to be excellent house companions. In USA, the breed is commonly seen inside the homes being the lively, playful, affectionate pets.
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The Danish Swedish Farm Dog is often mistaken as a Jack Russell or a terrier. In fact some people classify the breed as terrier because of the dog’s resemblance to a Fox Terrier. However this breed is actually a Pincher. A Dansk Svensk Gardshund takes about three years to fully develop physically. By then the dog would still be a small sized breed but it would have a compact rectangular body, a deep broad chest and well boned and well muscled sturdy limbs.
This dog has a small triangular head, a slightly rounded wide skull and a muzzle that tapers to the tip of a nose that takes the color of the patches on the dog’s coat. The jaws are strong and well developed incisors meet in a scissor or pincher bite. The eyes have an attentive and gentle expression. Rose or button ears fold forward. A Danish Swedish Farm Dog can either have a long or a naturally stumpy tail. Tail that is set rather low is carried straight forming a small curve or a sickle.
This breed has a predominantly white hair with a combination of variedly shaped black, brown tan and shades of fawn patches. The odor free shiny short coat lies flat and smooth to the body.
A Danish Swedish Farm Dog makes a wonderful home companion because of the balanced and lively personality of the breed. This is a playful, affectionate and vivacious breed. This dog enjoys being with the family, at ease to stay in the car, in the couch or lie under the chair of the master. This dog craves attention and would hate to be alone. The dog is gentle with children. Full of energy, the dog would play with the kids and when the day is over would quietly creep and slid under the covers on the master’s bed if allowed to do so.
This dog is friendly with other dogs. The friendliness however does not extend to hamsters, cats, birds and other smaller pets. The dog is a ratter and posses the instinct to point and flush smaller animal it considers as prey. Training is therefore imperative as a farm dog that is not trained will train the owner instead! Positive training reinforced with treats and a lot of verbal praises must be started while the dog is still a puppy. Being intelligent and having the desire to please, these dogs learn easily. They can learn tricks and commands in no time. This is why this breed has been used in circus acts. These dogs are smart and known to have outstanding memories. It is very unlikely that a farm dog would forget what was already learned.
A Danish Swedish Farm dog would do well in an apartment given that this dog is not a yapper and it is unlikely that the neighbors will be disturbed. This breed is relatively quiet indoors and as long as they are taken on daily long walks their exercise requirements will be satisfied. However, a home with a large yard would be more suitable. Remember that these dogs are working dogs, accustomed to having a chore where they can utilize their physical and mental abilities. This breed would require about 1 hour of vigorous exercise daily. If a yard is not available, allowing the pet to participate in some dog sports would ensure that their exercise requirements are provided.
A Danish Swedish Farm Dog’s coat is easy to groom. This breed has a short coat that sheds dirt easily. The coat does not need to be brushed daily. This farm dog shed lightly throughout the year but seasonally sheds heavily. During the heavy shedding period, daily brushing with a rubber brush is necessary to remove dead hair and to accelerate the shedding process. The coat is touted to be odor free, still owners can decide how often the dog will be bathed. Trim the nails regularly and brush the teeth 2 to 3 times a week.
The Danish Swedish Farm Dog is a very old breed whose history dates back to the 1700s where the breed is commonly found in Denmark and Sweden as well as in Great Britain, France and Germany. It was speculated that these farm dogs were the favorites of Vikings. Archeological findings of small boned dogs believed to be farm dogs were found in Normandy, a place in France where Danish Vikings took land and settled.
This breed originated in Denmark and Sweden. During the early times, the small but compact farm dogs that has a predominantly white coat with patches of black, brown or fawn and noted for its versatility was not a recognized breed. This all purpose farm dog that has outstanding capabilities to herd cattle, that has the agility to catch mice and rats, that has the courage and the tenacity to keep foxes away from chicken houses as well as the balanced temperament that made it an outstanding home companion was known under several names. This dog was called Danish Fox Terrier, Scanian Terrier, the Rat dog or simply farm dog. This breed however is classified as a pincher and not a terrier.
Progress and industrialization made an impact on the population of the breed. Large scale farming became the trend. Because small farms were combined into bigger units the farm dogs became redundant until the breed faced extinction. Before 1980, standard for the breed is non-existent. All white dogs that have black, brown and fawn patches were lumped as farm dogs. Selective breeding is not practiced. A dog that is good in catching rats will be mated with a good tempered dog regardless of breed.
In 1985, the committee for national and forgotten breeds of the Danish Kennel Club made a joint effort with the Swedish Kennel Club to revive the breed. A search for the remaining farm dogs was launched. The search was a success. Hundreds of farm dog owners responded. A standard was written and the two clubs agreed that the breed is more of a pincher than a terrier. In 1987, the Danish Swedish Farm Dog was born!