History of the Icelandic Sheepdog.
The Icelandic sheepdog very much resembles dogs found in graves in Denmark and Sweden from about 8000 B.C. Dog imports to Iceland were limited and from 1901 even forbidden.
In 1650 Sir Thomas Brown wrote "To England there are sometimes exported from Iceland ... a type of dog resembling a fox ... Shepherds in England are eager to acquire them!"
Plague and canine distemper destroyed over 75% of the breed in the late 19th century, leading to a ban on the importation of dogs to Iceland. The purebred Icelandic sheepdog was again bordering extinction in the late 20th century and in 1969 the Icelandic Dog Breeder Association was stablished to preserve the breed, among other aims.
With the foundation of the Icelandic Kennel Club in 1969 the main purpose was to watch over the Icelandic Sheepdog. The dog was seen as part of Icelands cultural heritage, and work is now being done to encourage sound breeding, and to seek out "new" dogs in remote locations.
With app. 5000 individuals registered worldwide, mainly in Scandinavia and northern Europe, the Icelandic Sheepdog is not a numerous breed, but is no longer on the brink of extinction. The most typical specimen of the breed are to find in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.
By chance the Iceland Sheepdog came to Europe on exhibitions for Icelandic Horses, specially in Germany. In 1970 Mr Faber of Fityamyri Stable imported Iceland Sheepdogs together with the horses to Holland. He bred with them but did not register them into the Dutch Kennel Club (Raad van Beheer). Only after Mrs. Ans Beer-Schell imported Iceland Sheepdogs in 1985 and 1986 from Denmark and Germany they were entered into the registry of the Dutch Kennelclub. Today Mrs. Ans Beer is an authority about the Iceland Sheepdog and from her kennel "frá Thytur Stadir" come most of the dogs and a lot of breeders in the Netherlands breed with dogs from her kennel.