One Breed, Two Countries

Though Denmark and Sweden are both Scandinavian countries, they have two different languages  (Danes can’t understand Swedish, and Swedes can’t understand Danish), didn’t always get along (there was that whole Dano-Swedish War thing in the 17th century), and have different cultures. Residents of one country will say that residents of the other are stuck-up and boring” whereas the citizens of the other will proffer a shoulder shrug and concede that “Danes and Swedes are just different,” and leave it at that.

There is something, however, the two countries have in common, and that is the fearless little all-around dog found on family farms throughout Sweden and Denmark. Serving as a ratter, watch dog, companion and herding dog,  the dog went by different names that included the Danish Fox Terrier, Rat Dog, Farm Dog, and Skaansk Terrier, the latter a reference to Skaane, a region in southern Sweden where the Swedish Kennel Club asserted the breed originated. Interestingly, until a few decades ago, the small farmer’s dog was also known aDanish Pincher. Go figure.

Sadly, the other thing the two countries had in common was the near extinction of this dog. When farming became an industry, family farms began to vanish, and there was no longer any need for an all around dog. Had it not been for “Matador,” a popular Danish TV series in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s  in which one of these dogs appeared, its breed it might have been lost for all eternity. The show kept the breed in the public eye, and just might have contributed to a meeting of minds between the Danish Kennel Club and the Swedish Kennel Club which publicized their quest in 1987 to find good quality examples of the dog.

Hundreds of owners responded, and yes, there was quite a bit of surprise at this turnout!

The two clubs wrote a rough draft for the first breed standard, and agreed upon a name: Dansk-Svensk Gårdshund – the Danish Swedish Farmdog, likely the only breed we know of whose name reflects “ownership” by two sovereign nations.  The breed gained official recognition in 1987, and when the World Show was held in Copenhagen in 1989, some 50 Danish-Swedish Farmdogs were exhibited. In another show of mutual cooperation, the breed has the honor of being the national breeds of both Sweden and Denmark.

The Federacion Cynologique Internationale (FCI) accepted the first official FCI standard in 2009, and two years later, the American Kennel Club accepted the breed into its Foundation Stock Service.  As of 2017, it was estimated that there were more than 2,000 Danish-Swedish Farm Dogs in the world, a good resurgence of a breed that was nearly lost to time.

Image shared with consent of the AKC


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