BaxterBoo Blog
April 16, 2013

Meet the Breed: The Icelandic Sheepdog

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Overview:

  • Height: 12"- 16”
  • Weight: 20-30 pounds
  • Historical function: Herding sheep, cattle, and horses; companion
  • Modern function: Herding, companion
  • AKC classification: Herding (recognized in 2008)

Physical Characteristics:

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. 

History of the Breed:

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. 

Temperament:

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.

  • Best suited for: Active families who are willing to let this dog participate in as many family activities as possible.
  • Preferred living conditions: This dog does well in cooler climates. Prefers to have a job or activity such as agility training.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: This breed sheds moderately as well as two heavy seasonal sheds. Brush regularly and bathe rarely to keep the waterproof qualities.
  • Exercise needs: Daily walk or jog required for this active dog.
  • Life expectancy: 12 years.
  • Health concerns: Generally healthy.

Breed Club Links: Icelandic Sheepdog Associaton of America, Inc.

BaxterBoo.com Perfect Pairings: Dog Agility Starter Kit

Have any stories about an Icelandic Sheepdog? Please share!

Photo courtesy of Sara Björk.

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