Featured Breed : Icelandic Sheepdog
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Icelandic Sheepdog

Life Span: 12 to 15 years

Litter Size: 3 to 6

Country of Origin: Iceland

Size: The Icelandic Sheepdog is just shy of being a medium-sized dog. Males stand about 18 inches at the shoulder, females stand 16.5 inches. Weight is in proportion to height, ranging from about 20 to 30 pounds.

Coat: They have either a shorthaired or longhaired, weather-resistant double coat with a straight or slightly wavy topcoat and thick, soft, dense undercoat. The coat color includes chocolate brown, gray, black, and various shades of tan, ranging from cream to reddish brown. White markings always accompany the predominant color, usually a blaze or partially white face, collar, chest, socks, and tail tips.

Character: The Icelandic Sheepdog is an alert, friendly, sociable, affectionate and intelligent dog. They are vigilant, brave, and attentive but they have a tendency to be hard on them and can also be, at times, quite stubborn. Visitors will always receive a warm and enthusiastic welcome from the playful, unafraid and mildly aggressive Icelandic Sheepdog. However, this dog values his self esteem. Faced with a larger and stronger dog, the Icelandic Sheepdog is not one to yield or stand down.

Appearance: Icelandic Sheepdogs have sturdy, medium-sized Spitz-like frames covered in thick coats that can be either short- or long-haired. Their arched heads have strong, compact muzzles, dark eyes, black noses and prick ears. Its strong neck and rectangular body lead down to a curled tail. The Icelandic Shepherd can be found in black, gray, chocolate and various shades of tan.

History: 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.
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 ( HRFÍ) was established to preserve the breed, among other aims.


Health Issues: Icelandic sheepdog can suffer from a variety of health conditions. While these may be common medical conditions, the dog will not necessarily develop the following: hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, Distichiasis, and hereditary cataracts.

Temperament: 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.

Care: The Iceland Sheepdog requires occasional brushing as this will minimize loose and dead hair. Dew claw nails must be regularly trimmed. Bathing should only be done when absolutely necessary.

Training: In terms of training, the Icelandic Sheepdog is smart as a whip, which can work both ways; they can pick up bad habits quickly if they think they are doing the correct thing. If training is correctly done the first time, however, the dog is relatively easy to train if the correct methods are used. Due to their gentle nature, they don't respond well to aggressive training techniques.

Activity: The Iceland Sheepdog breed is not recommended for apartment living. They require an inordinate amount of exercise, activity, and family interaction. The Iceland Sheepdog requires a rural setting with room to roam and a job to do.

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