The Icelandic Sheepdog is a descendants of dog breeds, that were brought to Iceland by Viking Settlers very long time ago, approximately in the year 900. The Icelandic Sheepdog became indispensable farm worker, livestock protector and sheep herder. One of their specialization was to watch the sky and keep sheep safe from birds of prey. And even today, Icelandic Sheepdogs are known for watching the sky and bark at birds.
2) Almost extinct
If there was a dark times in the history of Icelandic Sheepdogs, than it was the 19th century, when plague and canine distemper killed over 75% of the Icelandic Sheepdog population, which led to ban import of foreign dogs to Iceland in the beginning of the 20th century. In the 1950s, it is believed that there was only few dozens of purebred Icies. That changed in 1969, when the Icelandic Dog Breeder Association was established with the goal to preserve the breed. Luckily, today, the breed is not on the verge of extinction.
On the first sight, you can probably guess, that the Icelandic Sheepdog is a Spitz. It is a type of a nordic herding spitz and it does have the typical Spitz like characteristics, such as curled tail, erect ears and fox like appearance. The Icelandic Sheepdog has a gentle and intelligent expression and confident and lively bearing. The average height is around 44 cm, which is 17 inch and the typical weight is between 25-30 pounds, which is 11-14 kg.
The Icelandic Sheepdog is not only excellent sheepdog and farmdog, they also make amazing lively family companions. These dogs are very intelligent, sociable and cheerful and its almost impossible to be bored with them. They are also quick learners and they are capable of learning a lot of different trick and commands. The Icelandic Sheepdog just loves human companionship and they are also good playful partners for older kids. This is extremely affectionate dog towards its family. On the other hand, they might be alert and suspicious towards strangers, but they should never be agressive without a reason.
5) Dog sports
The icelandic sheepdog is a very active breed that needs plenty of outdoor exercise to stay healthy and happy. If you combine the high energy with their intelligence and eagerness to please, you get a great adept for various dog sports. Naturally, the Icelandic Sheepdog is great at herding trials, but they are also very good at agility, coursing, obedience trials or rally.
6) Double Dewclaws
According to the breed standard, the Icelandic Sheepdog must have at least single dew claw, but very often, they have doubledewclaws on each hind legs. Those dew claws have a purpose, because they give the dog a better grip on the slippery rocks and in the snow.
The Icelandic Sheepdog comes in two different coat types, long and medium. No matter what coat type they have, it is always very dense, thick and extremely weatherproof coat which is protecting them from the harsh climate of Iceland. The tail tends to be very very bushy. All colors are permitted, but often times you will see this dog in different shades of tan, ranging from cream to reddish brown; chocolate brown, gray; and black
If there is one disadvantage of owning the Icelandic Sheepdog, than its defintely the constant shedding. Their dense doublecoat sheds all year long and very heavily seasonally. You can minimize the shedding by daily brushing, but its impossible to stop it. Other than that, this is very clean dog and they do not have much of the typical doggy odor. Just like with all dogs, you should regularly check their eyes, ears, teeth and nails and clip them or clean them if needed.
Icies are pretty big barkers. They bark on birds, they bark on moving objects, they bark on strangers near their property and they bark when they just want something. They were using barking when herding in the past and it is natural thing for them. But just because they like to bark, it does not mean they are good property guards. They are just too friendly for this purpose.
The Icelandic Sheepdog has a good lifespan between 12-15 years. Just like all dogs, they can sometimes suffer from some health issues. Those include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, distichiasis or cataracts.