Dogs for Sale and Eurasiers for Sale
The Icelandic Dog
History, Characteristics and Description
History of the Icelandic Dog
Icelandic Sheepdog is one of the oldest breeds in the world.
It is descended from the ancient Nordic Spitzdogs and was taken to Iceland
by the Vikings, together with their sheep and horses, more than 1,100 years
ago, and is Iceland's only native dog. The dogs were of vital use
to the Icelandic people, thus demanding the utmost in character,
frugality and health in their breeding.
In the early 1900's a viral epidemic was responsible
for nearly wiping out the Icelandic sheepdog. It was thought
that the disease was probably distemper. Over time it became apparent
that the Icelandic Sheepdog was in danger of becoming extinct.
In 1969 a group of Icelanders concerned about this possibility, formed
the Icelandic Kennel Club expressly to ensure the continuation of the breed.
While visiting Iceland in March, I went to the
Hundaraektarfelag Islands, which is the official registering body, where
I was told that the number of Icelandic sheepdogs in Iceland has declined
to 350. The breed is represented in a number of European countries
but still quite rare in North America.
is a very special breed. The Icelandic Sheepdog can be used
as a working dog but at the same time is an excellent family dog and pet.
We feel privileged to own these dogs and will do our best to breed to preserve
their unique characteristics and wide range of colours. Their
affectionate nature and intelligence are clearly evident.
of the Icelandic Dog
Icelandic Sheepdog is an extremely affectionate dog. It requires
close contact with humans to mature fully and is an ideal family dog.
It is particularly good with children, but also interacts well with other
In Iceland when used as a working dog (usually
with sheep but sometimes with horses), it learns quickly and remembers
well. It "drives" rather than "herds", barking at running animals.
It is an intelligent dog, therefore easily trainable. It does
well in agility and obedience.
It has a good mothering instinct, with average
litters 3 - 5. We have 3 breeding females and all have been
Agility is one of the foremost characteristics of the
Description of the Icelandic Dog
The Icelandic Sheepdog is extremely healthy and strong.
There are two types, medium and longhaired. Their coat is double,
thick and therefore water repellant, which helped it survive Iceland's
harsh nature. It keeps its vitality up to a high age.
15 years is not an uncommon lifespan.
Average height is 15" - 20", measured at the shoulder.
Adult height is reach by 8 months. Weight averages
25 - 30 lbs. Females are traditionally smaller than males.
Its ears should be erect; its tail bushy and carried over its back.
It is mature at approximately 18 months and requires close contact with
humans to mature fully.
This breed has a very wide range of colours, with
most dogs being tri-colour. Usually a single colour predominates,
which covers the spectrum from cream through to black, usually with a white
chest, white legs, white blaze and white tip on tail. The most
common colour is a reddish to golden brown with white markings, these markings
often edged with black.
Dew claws usually occur on both front and hind
legs. According to the standard, they are mandatory on the
hind legs and it is preferable for them to be double.
Traditionally the dew claws on the hind legs were used by the dogs during
the annual sheep roundup in the fall where the dew claws gave dogs an extra
boost when climbing in high terrain to reach sheep.
The Icelandic sheepdog interacts very well with children
of all ages, thus making it an ideal family pet, as shown by pictures taken with