Icelandic Sheepdog - Breed and Grooming Tips

Icelandic Sheepdogs are one of the 50 or so northern breeds from around the world classified as spitzes. The breed’s “spitziness” is expressed by a dense coat, foxy face, pointed ears, and a bushy, curling tail. Icelandic Sheepdogs, standing no higher than 18 inches at the shoulder, are just under what we’d consider medium sized. They come in several predominant colors, always accompanied by white markings. An endearing trait is the facial expression: friendly, happy, always looking as though there’s no place they’d rather be than with you.

A Look Back: The Icelandic Sheepdog first came to Iceland with settlers and was used to work sheep, cattle and horses. Breeds resembling the Icelandic Sheepdog are found in neighboring countries, but blood analysis of the Icelandic dogs has shown that the Icelandic Sheepdog has its origins in the Nordic countries (Stefán Aðalsteinsson 1998:79; Stefán Aðalsteinsson 2005:9). In the spring of 1983, blood samples from 56 Icelandic Sheepdogs were analyzed to investigate the origins of the breed. The results confirmed that the Icelandic Sheepdog is related to a Finnish breed, the Karelian Bear Dog. The Karelian Bear Dog originated in Russia and is one of the so-called "Laika dogs," but these dogs have erect ears and a curly tail (Stefán Aðalsteinsson 2005:9; Stefán Aðalsteinsson 2004:26). These results indicate that the Icelandic Sheepdog came to Iceland from Norway. But the relation to the Karelian Bear Dog indicates that the dog came to Norway from the east, just like the Icelandic cow (Same references).

Right breed for you? The AKC’s written standard for the breed says the Icelandic “will always give visitors and enthusiastic welcome.” If anything, this might be an understatement. One writer notes, “The Icelandic not only gets along with people—he truly enjoys them.” The breed’s happy, extroverted quality makes them useful as hospital therapy dogs. Icelandics are very trainable and, given their agility and athleticism, they excel at many dog sports and activities. On the downside, they shed, they bark, and they’re exceedingly scarce outside of Iceland.

Source: American Kennel Club


Coat & Grooming: Regular weekly grooming with a pin brush and comb as well as the occasional bath will keep them clean and looking their best. Grooming can be a wonderful bonding experience for you and your pet. Their strong fast-growing nails should be trimmed regularly with a nail clipper or grinder to avoid overgrowth, splitting and cracking. Their ears should be checked regularly to avoid a buildup of wax and debris which can result in an infection. Teeth should be brushed regularly.

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