Saarloos Wolfdog

Aini, female. Kennel: Elenya Narmo

FCI-Standard N° 14 / 03.06.2009 / GB

SWEDISH VALLHUND (Västgötaspets)

TRANSLATION: Renée Sporre-Willes in collaboration with Jennifer Mulholland.

ORIGIN : Sweden.


UTILIZATION : Herding Heeler.

CLASSIFICATION F.C.I.: Group 5 Spitz and primitive types.
Section 3 Nordic Watchdogs and Herders.
Without working trial. FCI-Standard N° 311 / 22. 01.1999 / GB



ORIGIN : The Netherlands.


UTILIZATION : The Saarlooswolfdog was not bred with any aim for a particular utilization. He possesses qualities which enable him to be a faithful and reliable companion and house dog.

CLASSIFICATION F.C.I. : Group 1 Sheepdogs and Cattledogs (except Swiss Cattledogs).
Section 1 Sheepdogs.
Without working trial.

BRIEF HISTORICAL SUMMARY : Leendert Saarloos (1884-1969) loved nature and also loved dogs. However, he found that dogs had become too humanized and intended, as a lover of the German Shepherd Dog, to breed the natural qualities back into this breed in order to produce a better working dog. For this reason he crossed the German Shepherd Dog male, Gerard van der Fransenum, a dog of classical Prussian type, with Fleuri, a female wolf which originated from the Siberian branch of the European type (1932).
Breeding back to the father gave him a basic population of animals with one quarter wolf’s blood. During the course of the following experimental phase with strict selection, a new breed, the « European Wolfsdog » evolved.
As selected animals of this new breed gave good service as guide dogs for the blind, they were at first regarded as suitable for this work. Due to the increase in the proportion of wolf blood, however the useful ability, inherited from the original ancestor, Gerard, became gradually lost and it became obvious that the breed was neither well suited to being a working nor a guide dog. The legacy of Leendert Saarloos, not a working dog, but a dog with attributes close to nature, was recognized as a breed in 1975. At that time, the breed was named « Saarlooswolfhond » in honour of its founder. Honour to him to whom honour is due.
Since then the « Nederlandse Vereniging van Saarlooswolfhonden » (Netherlands Society for the Saarloos Wolfdog), has represented the breed’s interests, including the following new breed standard.

GENERAL APPEARANCE : The Saarlooswolfdog is a strongly built dog whose outer appearance (body build, movement and coat) are reminiscent of a wolf. His construction is balanced and he has quite long limbs without giving the appearance of being long-legged. The different secondary sexual characteristics are pronounced in dogs and bitches.

IMPORTANT PROPORTIONS : The Saarlooswolfdog is longer than its height. The upper jaw and skull have a relation in length of 1 to 1 to each other.

BEHAVIOUR /TEMPERAMENT : A lively dog, bursting with energy, with evidence of a proud independent character. He obeys only of his own free will; he is not submissive. Towards his master he is devoted and reliable to a high degree. Towards strangers he is reserved and somewhat suspicious. His reserve and wolf-like wish to flee in unknown situations, are typical for the Saarloos Wolfdog and should be retained as typical qualities of the breed. When strangers approach the Saarlooswolfdog, they should have some understanding for the behaviour of this dog, for his reserve and wish to flee, qualities which he carries as his inheritance. A forced, undesired approach by a stranger can lead to an overwhelming desire to flee. The suppression of this inclination, for instance through lack of freedom in a dog kept on a lead, can make his behaviour appear nervous.

HEAD : The head should give a wolf-like impression and its size should be in harmonious relation to the body. Seen from above and from the side, the head is wedge-shaped. The line from the muzzle to the well developed zygomatic arch is very characteristic. Together with the correct shape and position of the eye, this line gives the desired wolf-like appearance.

Skull : The skull is flat and broad. Exaggeration in respect to width must be warned against as this affects the typical wedge shape. The occiput and the eye socket must not be noticeable. The superciliary ridges should merge with the skull in a flowing line.
Stop : The transition from the strong muzzle to the skull must form a slight stop.

Nose : Nose leather well pigmented. Bridge of nose straight.
Lips : Well closed. Tight fitting.
Upper jaw : Must not appear coarse compared to the skull. Too coarse a muzzle disfigures the typical wolf-like shape.
Lower jaw : Not conspicuous.
Jaws/Teeth : Upper and lower jaw are well developed and have a strong and complete scissor bite which is also acceptable in the shape of a very close fitting scissor bite.
Eyes : Preferably yellow, almond shaped. Set slightly oblique, not protruding and not round, with well fitting lids. The expression is alert, reserved but not anxious. The eye is a very typical characteristic of the breed which emphasizes the desired wolf-like appearance. The desired expression is only achieved by a light eye. A great deal of value must be placed on the colour, shape and correct position in skull. With an older dog, the yellow eye colour may darken but the original disposition to a yellow colour should be maintained. Disposition to brown colour is less desirable. The eye socket merges into the skull in a flowing line : An eye socket that is too pronounced together with a pronounced superciliary arch and a marked stop are undesirable.
Ears : Medium size, fleshy, triangular with rounded tip. Hairy on inside. The ear is set on at the level of the eyes. The ears are very mobile and express the emotions and feelings of the dog. Not desired are ears too pointed or set on too high. Ears set too far apart laterally, disfigure the head in its typical appearance and are therefore less desirable.

NECK : Dry and well muscled, merging with the back in a very flowing line. Just as flowing is the line from the throat to the chest. The neck can, especially with a winter coat, be adorned by a beautiful collar (ruff). The skin of the throat is minimal and not conspicuous. It is typical of the Saarlooswolfdog that at a relaxed trot, head and neck form an almost horizontal line.

BODY : The Saarlooswolfdog is longer than its height.
Back : Straight and strong.
Ribs : Normally sprung.
Chest : The flowing line of the brisket reaches, at the most, to the elbows. Chest and distance between legs, seen from the front, appear moderately broad. Too massive a chest should be avoided as it disturbs the outline which typifies this steady trotter. The outline is rather slim and very wolf-like.
Lower line : Taut and lightly tucked up.

TAIL : Broad and profusely coated at set on reaching at least to the hocks. Appears slightly low set, which is often accentuated by a slight depression at the set on. The tail is carried lightly curved in sabre shape or almost straight. It may be carried slightly higher in excitement or when the dog is trotting.


FOREQUARTERS : Legs are straight and well muscled. Bone is oval in cross-section and not too coarse. Legs rather show a certain grace in relation to body.
Shoulder-blade : Sufficiently broad and long. Normal angulation of about 30° to the vertical, not exaggerated.
Upper arm : Same length as shoulder-blade; angulation between shoulder-blade and upper arm normal, not exaggerated.
Elbows : Close fitting to thorax without being pressed close. Due to the curve of the ribs and the correct position of the shoulder and the upper arm, the distance between the front legs is moderately broad.
Front feet : Harefeet, well muscled and arched with strongly developed pads.
This, together with the strong carpal joints and the lightly sloping pasterns, are responsible for good flexible, springy movement. When standing, slight outward turn is permitted.

HINDQUARTERS : Normal position of pelvis. Due to low tail set on, which is often accentuated by a slight depression, the pelvis, however often appears to be placed more obliquely. The angulation of the hindquarters is in balcance with the angulation of the forequarters. The light movement, typical of the breed, is very dependant on the correct angulation of stifle and hock. The slightest deviation prevents this typical movement. Slight cow-hocks are permitted when standing.
Upper thigh : Normal length and breadth, strongly muscled.
Stifle : Angulation not exaggerated.
Hock joint : Angulation must not be exaggerated. Bones and muscles permit optimal stretching of hock joints.
Hocks : Sufficiently long (not short), medium slope.
Hind feet : Well developed and well arched.

GAIT / MOVEMENT : The Saarloos Wolfdog is a typical untiring trotter, which can easily cover great distances at his own pace. He barely tires by his natural movement and is reminiscent of the wolf. The Saarloos Wolfdog differs greatly from other breeds through his very specific light-footed movement. The correct forward movement is very dependent on different details in the construction of the body; above all, the correct angulation of the different limbs, is of great influence. At a free unrestricted trot, the Saarloos Wolfdog carries head and neck at almost horizontal level : in this position, the position of the eyes and the wedge shape of the head are particularly characteristic. At an untiring trot, which is the movement typical of the breed, the dog shows no great reach of the limbs because this, as well as too much drive, would spoil the light-footed movement which is a model for energy conserving movement.


HAIR : The summer coat differs greatly from the winter coat.
In winter the undercoat predominates mostly, which together with the guard hair of the topcoat forms a profuse coat, covering the whole body and forming a distinct collar (ruff) round the neck. With the summer coat, the guard hair of the topcoat predominates. Temperature changes in autumn and winter can have a great influence on the undercoat; but the dispostion to this should always be present. It is essential that the belly, the inside of the upper thighs and the scrotum are covered by hair.

COLOUR : Coat colours are :
• From light to dark shaded black-game colour, so called wolf-gray.
• From light to dark shaded brown-game colour , so called « bos »-brown (Bos = forest).
• From light creamy white to white.
• Pigment of nose, eye rims, lips and toenails should be black in a wolf-gray and white Saarloos Wolfdog. In « bos »-brown or cream white dogs it should be liver coloured. The coat is pale on the whole underside of the body, on the inner side of the limbs and at the back of the breeches.
The wolf-gray as well as the « bos »-brown Saarlooswolfdog show a dark colour on the outside of the limbs. They should also have an expressive mask.

Height at the withers : Varies in the Saarloos Wolfdog.
Male dogs : From 65 to 75 cm.
Bitches : From 60 to 70 cm.
Slight deviations upwards are permissible.

FAULTS : Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.
• Too round, protruding eyes.
• Too pronounced eye sockets so that the superciliary ridges do not merge with the skull in a flowing line. This often occurs with a pronounced stop and too round eyes.
• Ears set on too high and or pointed ears.
• Ears pointing too far outwards.

• Too deep, too short.
• Curly tail. Tail carried over back.
• Too coarse in bone.
• Not sufficiently intense colours are less desirable.
• Formation of a dark saddle due to poor distribution of dark hair.

• Aggressive or overly shy.
• Coat colour other than those permitted.
• Any form of aggression.

Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.

N.B. : Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

BRIEF HISTORICAL SUMMARY: The Swedish Vallhund is considered to be an authentic Swedish breed although uncertainty still exists as to the relationship with the type like the Welsh Corgi. Whether or not the Vikings brought Corgi-type dogs back from the British Isles to Sweden or Västgötaspets-like dogs from Sweden to Britain will never be solved. But modern research believes that the Västgötaspets is of Swedish origin. Regardless of the breed’s origin, credit for its recognition goes to Count Björn von Rosen. In the early 1940’s von Rosen was told that this old type of herding dog still existed and an investigation took place in the County of West Gotha. Particularly in the planes of Vara specimens of homogeneous type where found; few in numbers but enough to start breeding. Breed type was well established without loosing the working ability.

GENERAL APPEARANCE: Small, low on legs and sturdy. Appearance and expression denote a watchful, alert and energetic dog.

IMPORTANT PROPORTIONS : Ratio of height at withers to length of body 2:3. The height from lowest part of chest to ground never to be less than 1/3 of the height at withers.

BEHAVIOUR/TEMPERAMENT: Watchful, energetic, fearless and alert.

HEAD: Clean cut and fairly long. Skull and nose bridge parallel.

CRANIAL REGION: Viewed from above as well as from the side, moderately broad and tapering evenly towards the nose.
Skull : Almost flat.
Stop : Well defined.

Nose: Black.
Muzzle: When viewed from the side, is rather blunt cut and only slightly shorter than the skull.
Lips: Well fitting and tightly closed.
Jaws/Teeth: Lower jaw rather blunt cut and strong, but not prominent. Perfect and regular scissors bite with complete, even and well developed teeth.
Eyes: Medium size, oval in shape and dark brown.
Ears: Medium size, pointed, pricked and ear leather is hard from base to tip, smooth-haired and mobile. Length of ear should slightly exceed the width at base.

NECK: Long and strongly muscled with good reach.

Topline: Back level, well muscled.
Loin: Short, broad and strong.
Croup: Broad and slightly sloping.

Chest: Long with good depth. Fairly well sprung ribs. When viewed from the front, the chest is oval, from side, elliptical. It reaches two-fifths of the length of the forelegs and, when viewed from the side, the lowest point of the chest is immediately behind the back of elbow. Sternum visible but not excessively pronounced.

Underline and belly : Belly slightly tucked up.

TAIL : Two types of tails occur, long and all variations in length of naturally short tail. In both cases all variations of carriage are permitted as there is no norm for the carriage.

LIMBS: With strong bone.

Shoulders: Long and set at an angle of 45 degrees to the horizontal plane.
Upper arms: Slightly shorter than the shoulders and set at a distinct angle. Upper arms lie close to ribs, but are still very mobile.
Forearms: When viewed from the front, slightly bent, just enough to give them free action against the lower part of the chest.
Metacarpus (Pastern): Elastic.

HINDQUARTERS: Parallel when viewed from behind.
Thighs: Broad and strongly muscled.
Stifle: Well angulated.
Lower thighs: Only slightly longer than the distance from hock to ground.
Hock joint: Well angulated.
Metatarsus (Rear pastern): Of moderate height.

FEET: Medium sized, short, oval, pointing straight foreward with strong pads, tightly knit and well knuckled up.

GAIT/MOVEMENT: Sound, with good reach and drive.


HAIR: Top coat of moderate length, hard, tight and lying close to body, undercoat is soft and very dense. The coat is short on head and foreparts of the legs, may be longer on neck, throat, chest and backparts of the hindlegs.

COLOUR: Grey, greyish brown, greyish yellow, reddish yellow or reddish brown. Lighter hair in the same nuance of colour as mentioned above can be seen on muzzle, throat, chest, belly, buttocks, feet and hocks. Darker guard hairs visible on back, neck and sides of the body. Lighter markings on shoulders, so called harness markings, and light cheek markings are highly desirable.
White is permitted to a small extent as a narrow blaze, neck spot or slight necklace. White markings are permitted on chest, fore-and hindlegs, but white socks may not extend above upper half of leg.

Height at withers: Males 33 cm (ideal height)
Females: 31 cm (ideal height)
A tolerance of 2 cm above or 1 cm below these heights is permitted.

FAULTS: Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.
• Too low to ground.
• Stop not well defined.
• Snipy muzzle.
• Lack of two P1 or one P2.
• Light eyes giving wrong expression.
• Ears set too low.
• Chest too deep or too shallow.
• Too wide in front.
• Steep shoulders.
• Too short in upper arms.
• Over angulated hindquarters.
• Lack of harness- or cheek markings.

• Short or rounded skull.
• Short muzzle.
• Lower jaw receding, narrow or weak.
• Pincer bite.
• Lack of molars (M3 not taken into account).
• Roach back.
• Soft coat and stand off coat.
• Coat too short or too long.
• Lack of undercoat.
• White markings exceeding 30% of base colour.
• Height severely diverging from the ideal height.

• Aggressive or overly shy.
• Over or undershot bite.
• Blue eyes, one or both.
• Hanging ears or semi-erect ears.
• Long, curly coat.
• Black, white, liver brown or blue coat colour.

Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.

N.B.: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

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