History and use
This Swedish sheep and guard dog is also called 'heeler'. This refers to the nipping at the heels of unwilling cattle. The 'spets' is a shortlegged dog. This makes sure the dog can easily avoid a kick from a rebellious cow. The Västgötaspets is known to be a great family dog if offered suitable challenges.
Socialisation and raising
The Västgötaspets is a true working dog. This means he needs to be socialised well by both breeder and owner. Take extra care about dealings with children, strangers and other dogs. Let the pup become acquainted with moving stimuli like bikers, joggers, scooters, cars etc. Prevent a successful hunt. A Västgötaspets is easily bored. Training therefore needs to be short and varied. A bored Västgötaspets is an unhappy Västgötaspets that will quickly develop bad habits like gnawing furniture or frequent barking. If the Västgötaspets is your first dog we advise you to train with an expert using a positive reinforcement method. Electric collars, harsh voices or yelling, impatience, punishment or ignoring will only make things worse. The Västgötaspets is not meant to be left alone a lot.
The Västgötaspets is very quick to pick up new things and takes a lot of initiative. This means he's a fast learner but can also get into trouble easily. Raising a Västgötaspets often means preventing problems and rewarding good behavior. This can be done with food rewards or toys but also with playing (ball) games. The advantage of the last method is that you also satisfy his need for physical activity and stimulate his habit to cooperate.
Care and health
The fur of a Västgötaspets has to be brushed and combed weekly. The fur has an under layer and a top layer. When shedding, it's mostly the under layer that's letting go. An extra brush with a special brush is definitely a recommendation.
Some dogs have long nails because of their leg position or old age. Please keep an eye on the nails, especially the dewclaws.
To prevent plaque, brushing teeth can be a recommendation, but not every dog produces a lot of plaque. This depends on the acidity of his saliva and his diet. Giving him a big bone every now and then also may help remove it.
There are few breed specific health issues known but we advise everybody to listen to knowledgeable breeders and breed fanatics and to seek advice when needed at your local breed association. Unfortunately, as with any breed, food intolerance, HD, epilepsy, heart disease, fertility problems, eye diseases and other dog-related illnesses can be found among the Västgötaspets.
The Västgötaspets has a lot of endurance for such a relatively small dog. He generally loves to walk for hours. However, running next to a bike, running through heavy sand, walking up and down stairs and intensive physical sports or acrobatics are very taxing for a low legged dog. Treibbal, swimming, searching or activities that involve his sensitive nose are very appropriate alternatives. If there are other Västgötaspets near you they will become best buddies because the Västgötaspets loves company. Do take care to provide enough mental stimulation in and around your home. For example, games that involve solving 'problems'.