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The Icelandic Sheepdog Shop

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Icelandic Sheepdog Breed Summary

Affectionate, Loving, Loud, Intelligent and Energetic

These dogs, as you may have guessed, are a native breed to Iceland! In fact, they are the only breed in the world to originate from Iceland (probably because it's so cold). It's believed that Vikings brought ancestors of the Icelandic Sheepdog to Iceland during the 9th century where they were used to protect and guard livestock, especially lambs, who were often taken by birds of prey. They were very nearly extinct by the 1950s where there were only about 50 left in the world! They have since grown in number and popularity, with over 800 in the USA alone! They became a recognized breed in 2010.

Kennel Club Group Herding
Lifespan 12 - 14 years
Height (at the withers) Males and Females 16.5in - 18in
Weight Males and Females 25lb - 30lb
Coat Double, thick coat that is also waterproof
Color Black, Gray, Brown, Cream, Fawn, Silver, Pied or Brindle
Eye color Brown
Common health issues Patellar Luxation, Distichiasis, Hip Dysplasia
Other Names Icelandic Spitz, Iceland Dog, Íslenskur Fjárhundur, Islandsk Farehond, Friaar Dog, Canis Islandicus

Affectionately nicknamed the Icie, these guys are anything but cold! These guys are extremely affectionate and loving in nature, warm to even the strangest of stranger. They do however love the sound of their own voices, whether they be barking at birds, alerting their families or seeing or hearing generally anything! For this reason, they need to live somewhere remote away from complaining neighbors where they can bark to their hearts content. They are also very intelligent which means that training is a fairly easy task and they can learn and pick up on things very quickly. They do not respond well to harsh treatment and need lots of positive reinforcement when being trained. They are a very energetic breed and love to take part in lots of games, performing particularly well in competitions and dog sport!

The Icelandic Sheepdog is the only known breed that originated in Iceland. Theory is that the Vikings brought this breed’s ancestors to Iceland in the 9th century. His original job was to protect the flocks of sheep, especially the lambs from large birds of prey. It is suggested that the Icelandic Sheepdog came into Iceland from Norway as graves have been discovered in Norway and Sweden containing dogs that resemble the Icelandic Sheepdog. He is related to the Karelian Bear Dog and that gives evidence that the Icelandic Sheepdog came to Norway from somewhere in the east. 

In the late 19th century, the Icelandic Sheepdog almost became extinct from a plague of canine distemper with over 75% of the Icelandic Sheepdogs dying from this disease. This led to a ban on the importation of dogs into Iceland, imports were limited and then banned in 1901. In the late 20th century, the Icelandic Sheepdog was once again close to extinction with around 50 being left In the 1950s. In 1969 the Icelandic Dog Breeder Association was formed to help preserve the breed and there are now more than 800 Icies in the United States alone.