A Scandinavian breed, the Danish Swedish Farmdog has served for centuries as a versatile working dog on farms and a beloved family companion. The breed’s history traces back to the 1700s; when they were found most commonly in Denmark and Sweden where they originated, but they were also present in Great Britain, France, and Germany. Breed historians believe that the Danish Swedish Farmdog existed in regions far from home because they traveled with the Vikings, who favored these farm dogs. Archaeological findings found in Normandy and France; both locations that were once subject to Viking invasion, support the theory. Over the centuries, the breed has been known by a variety of names and has been referred to as Danish Fox Terriers, Scanian Terriers, Skaansk Terriers, Rat Dogs, or Farm Dogs. The Swedish Kennel Club (SKK) asserts that the name Skaansk Terrier comes from the place the breed is believed to have originated; Skaane, a region in southern Sweden. They are similar in appearance to Fox Terriers and to Jack Russell Terriers, but the Danish Kennel Club (DKK) and the SKK both agree that the breed should not be in the Terrier category, but should actually belong in the Pinscher group.
Widespread throughout Sweden and Denmark when small family farms were the norm, the Danish Swedish Farmdog served as a watch dogs, herder, fox hunter, ratter, companion, and even entertainer. Despite their size, they had no fear of herding large animals. They kept foxes away from the chicken coups and cleared the barn and home of vermin. When done with their jobs, they reveled in playing with the children and being part of their human family. These bright dogs were also used in circus acts because of their ability to quickly learn tricks. In the 1920s they were used in the largest stationary and traveling circus in Denmark, called the Circus Benneweis.
But when small family farms began to disappear, as the farming industry was consolidated into large industrial operations, many farming families moved into towns to work in factories, lessening the demand for Danish Swedish Farmdogs. The loss of its traditional role resulted in the breed’s numbers to dwindling to the point of near extinction. Some believe that had in not been for a Danish TV series in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, called “Matador” featuring a Danish Swedish Farmdog, that the breed may have been forever lost. A popular TV show, it served to keep fondness for the breed alive, and may have contributed to the decision of the DKK and the SKK to join forces in 1985 to save the breed. The clubs advertised to find any remaining good quality specimens and were surprised when hundreds of Farmdog owners responded. The two clubs drafted the first standard for the Farmdog and implemented systematic breeding programs. Through their efforts they not only kept the Danish Swedish Farmdogs alive, but enabled them to gain official recognition in 1987. At that time, they were given the formal breed name of Danish Swedish Farmdog (sometimes written as Danish/Swedish Farmdog).
They are sometimes confused with the Danish Chicken Dog, thanks to mistakes in the English language publication of Bruce Fogel’s Encyclopedia of the Dog, which mixes up the Old Danish Chicken Dog, the Old Danish Pointer, and the Danish Swedish Farmdog. The Danish Swedish Farmdog and its photo are listed under the name Old Danish Chicken Dog, a name by which it was never known. The actual Old Danish Chicken Dog breed is listed as the Old Danish Pointer. Many English language websites perpetuate the error.
In fact, two American women, independent of each other, became interested in what they thought was the Danish Chicken Dog after seeing the photo and reading about it in Fogel’s book. In 1996 Melody Farquhar-Chang began her search for one; a Danish breeder she contacted informed her that what she was interested in was actually called the Danish Swedish Farmdog. It was 1998 when Brita Lemmon of Seal Beach, California became enamored by the breed through Fogel’s book. She was able to search for a breeder (and straighten out the mistaken identity) through the Internet (not in widespread use two years earlier when Ms. Farquhar-Change began her search). Ms. Lemmon worked with one of Denmark’s well known breeders, Lilian Christensen. In 2000, Ms. Lemmon brought over Gonzo’s Folmer, called “Vago”, the first breeding male, imported from Denmark.
In 1998, Ms. Farquhar-Chang imported Algerhonen’s Flora Floede-Karamel, DKCH, ARBACH, (called Flora), from Denmark to her Kennel Flora in Cupertino, California. Flora was the first breeding female Danish Swedish Farmdog brought to the United States. In March, 2001, Flora gave birth to the first Danish Swedish Farmdog puppy born in the United States. The puppy, Flora’s Han Solo, known as “Solo”, (the only one in the litter) was produced via artificial insemination, from a male dog in Denmark. Flora had two more litters in 2002 and 2003, each of which produced six puppies. These litters were the result of natural matings, which occurred in Denmark. In 2003 Solo sired the first litter (consisting of three puppies) of Danish Swedish Farmdogs conceived in the United States.
Kennel Flora imported Gonzo’s Hannah in 2001; she produced two litters in 2003 and 2006, with three puppies in each. Both Flora and Hannah are retired from breeding. The kennel currently has two breeding females and one female (Flora’s Morning Glory, called “Milly”), who is too young to breed. Flora’s Ollaliberry, known as “Target”, was mated to Pacific Rim’s Bernalia Dot, or “Dottie”, and produced a litter of three puppies in 2010. Matilde’s Ruby gave birth to her first litter of five pups in 2011.
Many of Kennel Flora’s dogs participate in sporting competitions. Solo, Flora’s Matilde, also known as “Tilly”, Flora’s Lady Eva Anelise, known as “Anna”, Flora’s Maverick, called “Mav”, and Flora, who is fourteen years old, all participate in flyball. Target is a top USDAA agility dog. Flora, Hannah, and Ruby race in the North American Flyball Association (NAFA) and United Flyball League (U-FLI) events; Milly is training to join them. Kennel Flora is committed to maintaining the breed’s working characteristics and prefers to place their puppies in active families, particularly those who plan to keep their dogs involved in organized dog sports.
In 2000, Helene Riisgaard-Pedersen, a Dane living in Wyoming, was looking for the type of dog she remembered from her childhood in Denmark. Ms. Riisgaard-Pederson and her American husband, Butch, were truckers for Allied, a company that in 2000, decided to allow truckers to bring dogs along. They began to research for the right breed to match their lifestyle which entailed long hours of driving and interacting with a variety of people in their homes, as well as with their children and pets. They had almost given up when Helene remembered the Farmdogs from her childhood; a bit of research revealed the breed to be the right fit for them. In December 2001, the couple picked up Javika’s Princesse Madeline, called “Maddy”, from a breeder in Denmark. In April, 2003, they went to Sweden to fetch Kikka, Maddy’s half sister. Helene Riisgaard Pedersen and her husband started Kennel Little Denmark in Cheyenne, Wyoming. For several years the couple drove their truck as a team, taking their first three dogs, Maddy, Kikka, and Sussi along on the road. Eventually Helene elected to not go on the road with Butch to devote more time to their dogs and their kennel.
Ms. Farquhar-Chang, Ms. Lemmon, and Ms. Riisgaard-Pedersen, who had been put in touch with each other by the Danish breeders, communicated through emails about their shared interest in and passion for the Danish Swedish Farmdog. Their communications and friendship led to the formation of the Danish/Swedish Farmdog Club of America (DSFCA). The DSFCA was established in 2003. The three women comprised the founding board of directors and drafted a mission statement and a code of ethics. In 2004 Sally Frankel created the club’s first website, and remains webmaster to this day; she also formed a Yahoo forum group for U.S. Farmdog owners.
The DSFCA remained in contact with the Danish breeders from whom they had originally imported their dogs, keeping them informed regarding the club’s activities. In 2004, the women showed their dogs in Hayward, California at an American Rare Breed Association (ARBA) show. The Danish breeders urged the Danish breed club, Dansk/Svensk Gaarhund Klub (DSKGK) to recommend that the DKK accept ARBA as a valid registration in the U.S. for U.S. born Danish Swedish Farmdogs. The DKK agreed and Kennel Flora’s third litter, by Gonzo’s Hanna, became the first of the breed born in the U.S. with ARBA pedigrees. (One of Hanna’s puppies was bought by Sally Frankel, who had also bought Flora’s Lady Eva Annelise (Anna)).
The DSFCA was incorporated in Delaware in 2006, becoming the official breed club in the United States. That same year they added two more board members, Carol Lemmon and Bruce Feller. Melody Farquhar-Chang served as president of the board of directors from 2006 until 2010.
September 2nd, 2006, the club held its first specialty event in Longmont, Colorado. The board brought over a well known judge from Sweden, Lars Adeheimer, to judge and critique the entries. After the initial membership drive in the summer of 2007, membership totaled thirty-three. Many joined as charter members, paying higher dues that allowed the DSFCA to hold its second annual specialty event on November 10th, 2007, in Claremont, California, in conjunction with the ARBA’s Hollywood Classic dog show. This time the club brought over Wolf Braathen, a Danish judge. On November 11, 2007, the DSFCA held its first annual general meeting for members at the Villlage Grill in Claremont. These two specialty events have allowed Danish Swedish Farmdog owners from across the country to meet in person. The success of the events has also strengthened the credibility of both the DSFCA and the U.S.-born Danish Swedish Farmdogs, in Sweden and Denmark.
In 2010 Helene Riisgaard Pedersen and her husband Butch made a radical change in their lives. The couple and their dogs moved to Denmark and currently reside in the countryside of Ringsted, about an hour’s drive from Copenhagen. Their kennel was the second one in the U.S. to breed registered Danish Swedish Farmdogs, and is now located in Denmark. Today they have four females of the breed that live with them: Maddy, Kikka, Sussi, and Nikki. All of the puppies bred at Kennel Little Denmark have pedigrees from the Danish Kennel Club (DKK). They are members of the Danish Breed Club (DSGK) and the Swedish Breed Club (RDSG), as well as remaining charter members of DSFCA.
Paul Jensen and his wife and family live in Lincoln, Nebraska, and own Kennel Danasa. In 2004, Paul found Kennel Little Denmark on the Internet (the kennel was still located in the U.S. at the time) and contacted Helene about acquiring a Danish Swedish Farmdog. Paul’s father is from Denmark and when Paul read about the breed in 1998, he thought it was a great match for his family—active outdoors, calm and affectionate inside the home. Helene put him on a waiting list for one of hers, cautioning him he might have to wait two years for a dog. But she surprised him with a call a few months later, on April 11th, 2005. She told him that a male puppy from Kennel Javika, in Denmark, would be available in two weeks. Paul picked up Javika’s Terkel (born February, 2005), called “Tukko”, on April 22nd, 2005. In February of 2006, Paul flew to Halden, Norway to Kennel Amandas, owned by Inger and Osvald Asmundsen, to pick up a female of the breed, named Amanda’s Anna, born November, 2005. Amanda’s Anna gave birth to Danasa’s My kelley’s Stitch in Time on October 15, 2009. The father was Javika’s Terkel. Unfortunately, Amanda’s Anna died unexpectedly on December 30th, 2011.
Danish Swedish Farmdogs are recognized by the Federacion Cynologique Internationale (FCI). The first official FCI standard was accepted March 2, 2009. On January 13th, 2011, the Danish Swedish Farmdog was accepted as an AKC Foundation Stock Service breed. Since the U.S. has so few Danish Swedish Farmdogs, it is important that they have pedigrees which are recognized world-wide. The AKC is the only U.S. dog club with world-wide recognition. AKC pedigrees will enable Farmdogs born in the U.S. to compete in Conformation events in any other FCI member countries, as well as to be bred with Farmdogs from any other FCI member countries.
On February 19th, 2011, a Danish Swedish Farmdog won the United Kennel Club (UKC) Championship for the first time. (The UKC recognized the Danish Swedish Farmdog in 2008.) The Champion is from Sweden; his name is Stolta Ebbas Einride, also known as “Jet”. He had been attending UKC Confirmation shows during the year prior to winning. Jet was able to get placements in the Terrier Group for his three competition wins, since he was the only Danish Swedish Farmdog in the show.
A Danish Swedish Farmdog named Skraalan, who resides in Sweden and is owned by Pia Linnel, has become a certified rescue dog, which involves passing an extremely difficult test. Skraalan is unfazed by gunshots, fire, or noisy machines and has searched for the missing and injured in woods and in deserts. This dog has also been employed to rescue people from fires, donning boots made of heat repellant material so that the dog can cross over hot coals. If Skraalan is any indication, it is no wonder these dogs are referred to as little dogs with big personalities.
Most Danish Swedish Farmdogs are owned as family or companion dogs today. However, as much as this breed enjoys the attention and affection of humans, their need to expend physical energy and use their skills, remains strong. They are fast, sure-footed, and able to jump high, and they still retain both their hunting instinct and their acute sense of smell. Therefore, these dogs love to participate in and excel at various dog sports and competitions. Some of these events include: Pulling, Earthdog Trials, Frisbee, Swimming, Tracking, Rally-O, Splash Dogs, Freestyle, Camping, Herding, Hunting, and Hiking. They also serve as Therapy Dogs, Tail Wagging Tutors, and in Search and Rescue operations—in addition to their role as human companions.
The Danish Swedish Farmdog is a small, compact dog with a slightly rectangular body shape. The ratio of height (measured from ground to withers) to length is approximately 9:10. Their depth of chest compared to their height is about 1:2. Since they are a working breed, no weight standards are provided. The height for males of this breed should fall between 13 1/2 and 14 1/2 inches; for females between 12 1/2 and 13 3/4 inches. These heights are approximate and may vary by 3/4 of an inch, more or less.
They have smooth, harsh coats with short hair that lays flat and close to their bodies. White is the dominant coat color, with patches in variations of black, tan, brown, and fawn. These patches may be of various sizes and color combinations. Their coats may have tan markings or flecking in other colors.
Their triangular shaped heads are slightly small in proportion to their bodies; the skull is broad and slightly rounded with a well defined stop. The muzzle is a bit shorter than the skull; from the side the nosebridge is straight. The well developed muzzle narrows gradually toward the nose, without looking snipy. Nose color is always similar to the color of the patches on the dog’s coat. Cheeks are pronounced; jaws are strong and close in a scissors bite over even, well developed incisors. A Pinscher bite is acceptable. This breed has medium sized eyes that are somewhat rounded, with a lively and kind expression. Dogs with black patches have dark colored eyes; dogs with yellow or liver brown patches may have eyes a bit lighter in color. Their medium sized ears are rose or button. If they are button ears, the tips lie close to the cheeks. In either ear type, the fold lies just above the skull.
Their medium long necks are strong and arch slightly, without throatiness. The forechest is well defined and the shoulders are oblique. The long, deep chest has well sprung ribs. The short, broad loin is somewhat arched; the croup is a bit rounded. The belly has a slight tuck up. The tail, which is not set too high, may be long or naturally short, as in a stumpy tail. The dog should carry it straight, but with a slight curve, sickle-like.
The upper arms are oblique; the forelegs are straight and parallel. Their strong pasterns are springy. The hind legs are parallel and muscular, with well angulated knees and hock joints. Their back upper thighs are broad. The Danish Swedish Farmdog’s small feet are oval and not tightly knit. Their gait is parallel and free.
Danish Swedish Farmdogs are smart, affectionate, and playful. Even though they are similar in appearance to the Jack Russell Terrier, their temperament is different. This breed is energetic and outgoing like the Jack Russell, but gentler and quieter and not prone to the dog aggression often found in Terrier breeds.
The Danish Swedish Farmdog makes a great pet for the active family. They are known for being lively outdoors, but calm indoors, yet this breed is still far from passive in the household. They want and need to interact with their families and enjoy being the center of attention. They are comical, fun pets, who love children and are generally always ready to play with them.
They do require a lot of exercise, as well as time in wide open spaces outdoors. They need a minimum of one hour a day of interactive activity with their human family or owner and also a daily pack walk or jog. Since they are bred to be versatile working dogs, they need jobs or tasks to do; participating in one on one sporting activities or competitions with their owners will satisfy this need.
They are intelligent and quick to learn tricks; in fact, they are known for having long memories, but training them still requires consistency and patience on the owners’ part. This is because the breed matures more slowly than other similar breeds of dog (it takes three years to reach full physical and emotional development). Therefore Danish Swedish Farmdogs have extended stages of stubbornness, chewing on things, mischievous behavior, and even possible problems with marking. Along with patience, providing chew toys, playing with your dog, and maintaining consistency in training will help control these behaviors. In addition to consistency, training should begin while the dog is a young puppy and should be positive and reinforced with both treats and verbal praise. Not properly training this breed of dog will result in the dog running the household.
The Danish Swedish Farmdog is friendly to other dogs, but not so much to cats, birds, or other small pets. When not in an enclosed area, they should be leashed so that if they spot what they regard as prey (such as a small, moving animal) they do not take off in pursuit, heedless of traffic.
They make good watchdogs, because they are alert and bark only when warranted. Since they are not yappy dogs, they can live in an apartment without disturbing the neighbors, but they will need to be given sufficient exercise. They are more suited to life in a home with a large, enclosed yard. They also do well, living in the countryside.
The Danish Swedish Farmdog does not require much grooming. Their short coats repel dirt and their coats are odor free, so they should only be bathed when necessary. Always use mild soap to prevent damage to their protective coat. Normally a wipe down with a damp towel should keep them clean. They do shed year round, with only one heavy shedding season. During that time, use a rubber brush daily to remove dead hair and reduce amount of that sloughs off onto floors and furniture. Keep their nails trimmed; brush your dog’s teeth two to three times per week.
Danish Swedish Farmdogs have a lifespan of approximately ten to fifteen years. These dogs are exceptionally hardy and healthy, suffering from no known breed specific genetic issues.
However hip testing of Danish Swedish Farmdogs is mandated in Sweden, even though the test is controversial in both Sweden and Denmark. A few kennels in the U.S. hip test breeding pairs. Kennel Flora does so and also supports and promotes veterinary health screenings of the knee and patella, in accordance with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).