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History and character.

The Icelandic sheepdog is not a new kind of breed but still a very rare one.
In fact the Iceland Sheepdog is one of the oldest breeds in the world.
In the Netherlands there where in 1999 counted some more than about 400 and worldwide about 4000 .. 5000 registered Icelandic sheepdogs.
One of the first breed discription is dated in 1570 (by Dr. Caius) who discribed the dog as a kind of "Pomeranian" dog.
The dog looks like a Pomeranian but actually he looks more like the Finnish Spitz with his pricked ears.
Also this dog is dicribed as a small german sheepdog and thats not sofar from the truth because it is actually used as a sheepdog for many years on Iceland.
Its clear that the dog belongs to the polar breeds, looking to his thick soft coat and the curly tail who lays on his back..
Most likely is that The Iceland Sheepdog is descended from the ancient Nordic Spitz dogs.
The Vikings brought them on their open boats to Iceland more than 1100 years ago, as they did with their sheep and horses.
The Iceland Sheepdog is a working dog, and now as then, the dog assembles sheep that graze in the open landscape all summer and is also used to work with horses.
There are no beasts of prey in Iceland, so there has been no need for a fierce dog.
The Iceland Sheepdog is good tempered and can be trusted with all kinds of other animals.
Its a medium sized dog (male dogs 42-48 cm/16-18.5 inches, bitches 38-44 cm/15-17 inches) weights about 13-18 Kg and has a soft water repellent coat which needs not much brushing and is absolutely smell free.
The dog takes care of his coat itselves and with the right food his coat will always looks glossy.
The varity in colour of Icelandic sheepdogs makes that they are very different in their looks.
From totally black to almost white and with all kind of brown variations are possible as long as there is one color is clearly dominant present as the maincolor of its fur.
The black & tan color is a well-known varity.
It is important for the breed that all those varities maintain to exist because thats typical for the breed.
It's not proven yet but it seemes that the darker types have more temperament than the lighter ones.
The Icelandic Sheepdog is sensitive, very obedient and extremely affectionate.
It likes to be with people and likes it to get his attention as much as he can and is extremely affectionate.
Also a very sensitive and intellegent dog who will do just great with your kids or other animals like cats and even horses....
Not only the family but also strangers will not be met in agressive behaviour but with kindnes.
That does not mean that the dog wont bark if strangers come on your property...he will bark loudly but wont show any agressive behaviour against the stranger, just warning you someone is coming to visit you, it's all part of their herding nature.
The dogs are very clever and trainable, they understand quickly want you want or dont want hen to do.
Also the breed is extremely healthy and strong both physically and psychically.
A lifespan of 15 years is quite normal for this breed and normally you wont see the vet except for the yearly needed vaccinations.
In short: with a Icelandic sheepdog you would get a middle sized dog which will have normally a very good health.
A very pleasant member of your family which will suprise you many times by his kindness and intellegent.
A dog which is because his size and character ideal for many families.

Text: © 2001 L. de Haan
Photographs: © 1999 M.M.A. de Haan-Spekle


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