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Icelandic Sheepdog

Group: Working Dogs (Group 5)
Club: Working Dog Club Of Victoria Inc (Group 5)
Contact: Mrs Julie Burnett
Phone: 9557 3905

Brief History
The Icelandic Sheepdog is an ancient Scandinavian breed, dating back to the Vikings. The Icelandic Sheepdog is Iceland’s only native breed. They were brought over in the Viking Longboats with the first settlers (AD 874-930).

The original job of the Icelandic was to drive down the sheep for the winter from mountainous regions and rough terrains. They have the ability to seek out livestock buried or lost in snow, barking to alert the farmers to stray livestock. They work independently and by instinct, rather than following a master. The breed almost became extinct in the 1900’s and major efforts were planned to save this ancient native dog.

Average Life Span
When considering a dog, please realise that you are taking it on for its lifetime.
The average life span is 12 to 16 years.

They are alert, tough and enduring, agile, inquisitive, unafraid and exceptionally friendly and an enthusiastic greeter.

General Breed Description
The Icelandic Sheepdog (often referred to as the “Icie”) is medium sized, has the classic Nordic Spitz type, with prick ears, tail curled over the back and the body is rectangular in shape with good body substance. Icelandic Sheepdogs should have dew claws on all four feet. This is an important breed requirement as the dewclaws (extra toes) provide extra traction when driving sheep down through the rough terrain. The breed comes in two coat types, short and long, both double, thick, and weather resistant.

There are several colours, fawn and red in various shades ranging from cream to reddish brown, grey shaded, chocolate brown in various shades and black, but white must always accompany the predominant colour and white should never be totally dominant. This is because the Icelandic Sheepdog should be visible when working, especially when in poor light and poor conditions, so as to always be able to be seen.

Coat and Care Requirements
The thick double coat requires a weekly brush and comb and bathing every few weeks.  As with any double coated breed, they will shed coat twice a year, and at this time, more regular grooming is required to remove the excess hair.

Height: Males 46cms, Females 42cms.

All breeds have individual health issues. When speaking to breeders it is recommended you enquire about the breed’s health and what health testing the breeder does. The Icelandic Sheepdog is generally a healthy breed, however health conditions do occur occasionally. Breeding stock should be eye tested by an Opthalmologist and Hip Dysplasia (HD) scored.

This is a wonderful breed for the right person. They are suited to a home environment with a large back yard and plenty of room for them to run. They are vocal dogs and those who want a quiet breed should look further. The Icelandic Sheepdog is best suited to active owners, who would like to participate in sports and activities from agility to therapy. This is an energetic breed, requiring both mental and physical stimulation daily. This is not a breed to be left in a backyard all day, they like to be at the heart of family life. Positive reinforcement training always works best for this breed as they do not respond well to harsh training methods. They are a rare breed in Australia at this time, so finding an Icelandic Sheepdog may prove rather difficult.

In Conclusion
Now you know a little more about this breed. If you have decided this is the dog for you and wish to investigate further, please contact the Breed Club or Dogs Victoria. They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog events where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the breed and its needs. With any breed of dog, it is important to research and determine suitability for your lifestyle before committing to a puppy which will be a part of your family for many years to come.

Whilst many breeds are recommended for families, it is imperative that when children are with dogs they are supervised at all times. Basic obedience training is a vital part of dog ownership.

Dogs Victoria is about the responsible ownership of all dogs and in particular the preservation of pure breeds.

Link to Dogs Australia Breed Standard:

Registered Breeders

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