The Icelandic Sheepdog is a Northern Spitz-type dog, small to medium in size, with the characteristic thick double coat, curly tail, and pricked triangular ears. The coat may be long or short, but is always thick and waterproof. The large nose is black, as are the lips. They have a rectangular build, being slightly longer than they are tall. They often have double dewclaws on the back legs. Coat colors may be red, tan, golden and black with a variety of different markings. There is a distinct appearance between male and female specimens.
The Icelandic Sheepdog is the beloved national dog of Iceland, and is the only native dog breed of that country. It has been featured on stamps. They were probably brought with the first Vikings settlers around 874-930 AD. The dog adapted well to the harsh weather and living conditions and became indispensable herding sheep, cattle and horses. The Icelandic Sheepdog was once at risk of extinction, but has increased in popularity, though the numbers are still small.
The Icelandic Sheepdog is friendly, outgoing, and intelligent. They have a friendly, gregarious personality without a hunting instinct. They are prone to be vocal barkers as they were bred to communicate with and direct livestock as well as their people. They make good watchdogs by alerting owners of newcomers but are not unwelcoming. They are confident, hardy and lively. This dog does not like to be alone and may suffer from separation anxiety. They get along with children and other pets.
Breed Club Links: Icelandic Sheepdog Associaton of America, Inc.
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Photo courtesy of Sara Björk.