The Icelandic Sheepdog came to Iceland with settlers and was used to watch and herd sheep, cattle and horses. Breeds of dogs that resemble the Icelandic Sheepdog can be found in neighboring countries, but blood analysis of Icelandic dogs has shown that the Icelandic Sheepdog has its origins in the Nordic countries (Stefán Aðalsteinsson 1998:79; Stefán Aðalsteinsson 2005:9).
The Icelandic Sheepdog is a Nordic herding Spitz, slightly under medium sized with prick ears and a curled tail. Seen from the side the dog is rectangular. The expression is gentle, intelligent and happy. A confident and lively bearing is typical for this dog. There are two types of coat, long and short, both thick and extremely weatherproof. There is a marked difference in appearance between the sexes.
The Icelandic Sheepdog is a hardy and agile herding dog which barks, making it extremely useful for herding or driving livestock in the pastures, in the mountains or finding lost sheep. The Icelandic Sheepdog is by nature very alert and will always give visitors an enthusiastic welcome without being aggressive. Hunting instincts are not strong. The Icelandic Sheepdog is cheerful, friendly, inquisitive, playful and unafraid. A confident and lively bearing is typical for this dog.
Ideal height: Dogs 18″; Bitches 16 ½”.
Several colors are permitted but a single color should always be predominant. The predominant colors are: various shades of tan, ranging from cream to reddish brown; chocolate brown, grey, and black. White always accompanies the predominant color. The most common white markings, which are often irregular, are a blaze or a part of the face, collar, chest, socks of varying lengths and tip of tail. Lighter shading often occurs on the underside of the dog from throat to tip of tail. On tan and grey dogs, a black mask, black tips to the outer hairs and even occasional black hairs often occur. Black (tri-color) dogs have a black coat, white markings as mentioned above and traditional markings in any of the various tan colors on the cheeks, over the eyes (eyebrows) and on the legs. Patches of the above colors on a white background (pied) are permitted.
Learn more at the Icelandic Sheepdog Association of America.