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Nýlendu  Icelandic Sheepdogs

T Icelandic Sheepdog, Íslenskur fjárhundurhe Icelandic Sheepdog is Iceland´s only native dog.  It is part of Iceland's national heritage and a treasure which should be safeguarded and bred to the FCI/AKC standard keeping it true to Iceland no matter what country it resides in.  It came to Iceland with the Viking settlers and has over the centuries adapted to Iceland's climate and rugged terrain and the hard struggle for survival. It is loyal, cheerful and friendly, an ideal family-dog.

The Iceland Sheepdog is a typical Nordic Spitz, having pricked ears and curled tail.  Seen from the side while standing the dog is rectangular, longer than high.  There are two types of coat, long and short, but always thick and water-repellent.  When seen from behind the hind legs are straight, parallel and strong.  Thighs are broad and well muscled.  Well-developed double dewclaws are highly desirable.  The Icelandic Sheepdog is lively, friendly, inquisitive and courageous.  Their expression is gentle, intelligent, and happy.  The ears are very mobile and movement is brisk, and the breed is known for its endurance.  

The dog is a hardy and agile herding dog which barks, and is extremely useful for herding or Icelandic Sheepdog, Íslenskur fjárhundur moving livestock to and from pastures.  In Iceland the dog is very adept at finding lost sheep in the mountains. The Icelandic Sheepdog is by nature very alert and will always give visitors an enthusiastic barking welcome without becoming aggressive. The Icelandic Sheepdog is cheerful, friendly, inquisitive, playful and unafraid.  This dog will get easily attached to the family and to individuals, and will follow their people everywhere if they can   They are extremely clever and trainable.  They learn quickly, remember well, and love to show their tricks.

The Icelandic Sheepdog came to Iceland with Viking settlers in the ninth century.  There are references to the dogs in many of the Icelandic Sagas, dating from 900AD.  By the middle ages, the Icelandic Sheepdog had become a sought after export, mostly going to England.

The aristocracy and ruling classes there found the dog a favorite as a family pet.

 Icelandic Sheepdog, Íslenskur fjárhundurThe Icelandic Sheepdog appears in English literature such as William Shakespeare's Henry V ("Pish for thee, Iceland Dog! Thou prick-eared cur of Iceland!"; Act II, Scene I). In 1650, Sir Thomas Brown wrote: "To England there are sometimes exported from Iceland... a type of dog resembling a fox.... Shepherds in England are eager to acquire them!"

In the beginning of the 20th century the Icelandic Sheepdog was almost extinct, but a group of breeders worked together to save this breed.  Thanks to them the breed is not in danger anymore of becoming extinct.

The Icelandic Sheepdog does very well in canine performance such as obedience, agility, flyball and herding, they are also being used as therapy dogs and for rescue and tracking.

Although the Icelandic Sheepdog is a wonderful dog, it is not a dog for everyone.  They use their voice (Bark) quite a bit, they are working dogs and need plenty of exercise, they don't do well left alone they have a strong need for companionship.  This is not a breed that does well when crated for long periods of time.  If you have the time to spend with them, and the room for them to run, you will have a very special friend.

Photo credit: Ágúst Ágústsson.

Íslenski fjárhundurinn

The Icelandic Sheepdog

The Icelandic Sheepdog Breed Standard contains the most basic and important information about the Icelandic Sheepdogs´ general appearance and details.

Article by Guðrún R. Guðjohnsen

Article by Mark Watson, about the Icelandic Sheepdog

Article by Jean Lanning

Some thoughts from owners of the Icelandic Sheepdog

More about the Icelandic Sheepdog

The AKC Breed Standard

A living Piece of Icelandic Art

A Short History of the Iceland Dog

Intelligent and Companionable

Stories of the Icelandic Sheepdog

To read more about the History of the Icelandic Sheepdog, please visit Eyjahunda Icelandic Sheepdogs. Donna McDermott had an Interview with Sigríður Pétursdóttir, International Judge and the savior of the Icelandic Sheepdog. Click Here for the Interview.

The Icelandic Sheepdog has guarding instincts and will sound the alarm by barking.


Articles about the Icelandic Sheepdogs

AKC Gazette Breed Columns

Iceland’s only native dog

The Icelandic Sheepdog, is thought to be one of the oldest breeds in the world and was brought to Iceland with the first Viking settlers (AD 874-930).

The Icelandic Sheepdog is cheerful, friendly, inquisitive, playful and unafraid. confident and lively bearing is typical for this dog.