The Vallhund’s Fluffy Gene

From the Swedish Vallhund’s AKC breed standard: Medium length hair, harsh; topcoat close and tight. Undercoat is soft and dense. Hair is short on the head and the foreparts of the legs and slightly longer on neck, chest and back parts of the hind legs. Dogs are to be shown in an untrimmed, natural state. Faults include wooly, curly, or open coats. Fluffy coats (longer hair on body and furnishings, with ear fringes) are a serious fault.

Yes, there is a gene for long coats in the Swedish Vallhund, and it’s called FGF5.  That it is an autosomal recessive gene means that dogs with a correct hard, doubled layer short coat may still be a ‘carrier’ of the long coat,  and may pass that gene on to puppies without themselves having a “fluffy” or incorrect long coat. It takes two parents each carrying the long coat gene to produce puppies with long fluffy coats, and our inference from source material is that the percentage of carriers in the breed population is low enough not to be considered a threat to the breed. As far as we can tell, there are no health ramifications with long coated Vallhunds, but “Fluffys” as these dogs are known, have a very full, woolly coat with almost no coarse topcoat hair, not wholly practical in a working breed.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a photograph we can use to illustrate the long coated Vallhund, but if someone has one they would allow us to share here, we’d gladly give full photo credit.

Image: Swedish Vallhund by Pablo Romero

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