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Nýlendu  Icelandic Sheepdogs

Strength in this Growing Population

Icelandic Sheepdogs

Originally published in AKC Gazette, Dec. 2011 edition,   Used with Permission

The Icelandic Sheepdog Association of America (ISAA), the AKC parent club for the breed, held its National over the July 4th weekend in Mt. Vernon, Washington. The ISAA invited two international judges to provide educational seminars and to judge. One of those judges, Drs. Wilma Roem, who judged the B group, was asked to share her impressions of the National, which was her first trip to the USA.   

“I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of several dogs, and some were excellent.  While not all were excellent, of course, it was encouraging to see such strength in this growing population.  I see that you have varied, healthy breeding stock available here from a number of lines and countries. This is an extremely important factor in developing future generations of dogs that meet the breed standard for type, temperament, working ability and health, while maintaining genetic diversity, which is our goal.

One of my favorite discoveries was finding the stud list on the ISAA website. It includes a summary of the number of litters and puppies that the stud already has and this is very exciting. I would like to implement this someday at home on our club’s site in the Netherlands.

When participants asked what could be improved, one simple matter of grooming or preparation stood out.  People should remember that this is a working breed from a harsh climate.  The coat of the Icelandic Sheepdog should be able to protect the dog from rain, wind and cold.  Therefore, I look for an outer coat with harsh hairs that cover the dogs like a rain/windbreaker and a soft undercoat that keeps them warm.  

Such a coat does not need to be washed; some brushing alone will keep it in the best shape.  Washing destroys the protective properties, opening up the outer coat so the rain will get through.  As a judge, I want to be able to see that the coat is really protecting the dog. Therefore, dogs that have been recently washed will be marked down in the evaluation.

I want to thank the ISAA for their invitation to the USA.  It has been such a great pleasure to judge at the ISAA National and to have the opportunity to provide educational seminars on genetic diversity and color.  It was an incredible experience, seeing the dogs and meeting the people that are doing such great work to promote and protect the breed in this country.  While we have met each other during ISIC (Icelandic Sheepdog International Cooperation) meetings previously and talked about the breed a great deal, I am so pleased to have been able to see with my own eyes what wonderful work the ISAA is doing for the breed.  I am so impressed by the fantastic results I have seen this weekend.

Furthermore, I have enjoyed meeting so many AKC judges who were interested in learning more about this breed, which was just recognized by the AKC in 2010. Some of them made incredible efforts to learn everything they could, and that is really encouraging. Judges that understand and like the breed are vital in supporting the breeders and the breed club to do what is best for the breed.”  

Thank you very much for inviting me!”

FCI Judge Wilma Roem, Drs., Netherlands

For more information, visit the Icelandic Sheepdog Association of America’s illustrated standard found at www.icelanddogs.com.

Donna R. McDermott, MPPA


By FCI Judge Wilma Roem, Drs., Netherlands