Sometimes, the best answer to a threat to your well-being isn’t a gun, a knife or even your fists.

Sometimes, the best answer has fur, barks ferociously, and gets along well with children and your loved ones, but knows how to turn up the heat when it’s go-time.

Montana-based Svalinn was one of the first companies in the civilian market to recognize this, and years later, it shows in the quality of their products: protective dogs.

The company, founded and operated by veterans of the US military, is named for the Norse mythological shield of ancient lore which is said to protect the Earth and its numerous inhabitants from the heat and fires of the Sun... and that’s exactly what Svalinn dogs are — a shield.

Originally founded in Kenya as Ridgeback USA, Svalinn offers civilian customers some of the most highly-trained canines in the world for personal protection and companionship. These dogs hail from a similar concept as the pooches various armed forces units use today, known military working dogs.

Svalinn dogs are trained to be extremely agile and athletic (Photo Svalinn)
Svalinn dogs are trained to be extremely agile and athletic (Photo Svalinn)

MWDs capitalize on a slew of innate abilities, including athleticism, aggression, and sense, to do things that humans could only dream of doing. However, MWDs are typically bred and trained only for military life and wouldn’t easily fit into a civilian environment in their prime years.

That’s where Svalinn rises to the occasion with its dogs, which are trained to meet and surpass the standard the military uses with its MWDs.

While the military, as well as law enforcement agencies, tend to stick to certain breeds and pedigrees of dogs, Svalinn takes a different approach by cross-breeding to ensure their animals have the best traits of each of their three primary breeds: the Belgian Malinois, German Shepherd, and Dutch Shepherd.

These dogs, themselves the progeny of Svalinn-trained dogs, are put through an intensive build-up regime at the company’s 170-acre facility near Livingston, Montana — which includes a 30,000 square foot development area.

Svalinn dogs are a mix of Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherds, and German Shepherds (Photo Svalinn)
Svalinn dogs are a mix of Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherds, and German Shepherds (Photo Svalinn)

Using positive reinforcement, as well as a plethora of other techniques, these dogs are conditioned to live alongside humans, protect and defend their principals should the need arise, but also serve as loving and family-friendly companions wherever they are homed.

At the core of the development area is the Phoenix. Essentially a massive collection of obstacles, tables, pipes, and other structures, the Phoenix enables Svalinn dogs to be trained “off the ground” where they’re least comfortable with their footing, to build confidence, strength, and thinking skills.

In a similar vein to the story behind its namesake, the Phoenix is deconstructed and rebuilt on a regular basis to vary up the course and ensure dogs are exposed to a variety of scenarios.

Though the overwhelming majority of Svalinn’s hardware, including the Phoenix, tends to come from within, the company also places its faith exclusively in Gunner Kennels, their preferred kennel for transporting dogs or just giving them some well-earned downtime in-between training cycles.

Gunner Kennels makes one of the strongest canine carriers in the world — a perfect match for these durable dogs. (Photo from Gunner Kennels)
Gunner Kennels makes one of the strongest canine carriers in the world — a perfect match for these durable dogs. (Photo from Gunner Kennels)

One of the key ingredients in Svalinn’s success in producing and fielding over 200 dogs as of 2017 to scores of clients is the company’s trainers, all of whom are developed in-house.

The company’s recruiting requirements for its trainers and handlers are seemingly very simple — candidates should not have any prior experience with other training houses, they need to love animals, and possess a strong work ethic.

Once they’re qualified as trainers with the company, these matured handlers are easily counted among some of the most proficient and capable in their industry, empowered with a diverse skill-set.

Svalinn dogs feature the best qualities and traits from German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds, and Belgian Malinois (Photo Svalinn)
Svalinn dogs feature the best qualities and traits from German Shepherds, Dutch Shepherds, and Belgian Malinois (Photo Svalinn)

When a client buys a dog from Svalinn, the company sends a representative who not only personally delivers the canine to the client but also puts the client (and their family) through a 5-day training program with the dog as part of the homing process.

Of course, the quality of the product Svalinn affords its clients does come with a significant price tag, but also a 5-year health warranty and the assurance that the company stands behind each and every one of its dogs, which are checked upon annually and thoroughly backstopped by the company.