Icelandic Sheepdog Breed Magazine - Showsight

“THEY ARE EXCELLENT WITH CHILDREN, even when children are not part of their normal household.”

Icelandic Sheepdog “Galdur” chasing a sheep. (Photo by Judi Vittetoe)

First and foremost, Icelandic Sheepdogs must be treated as members of the family. Th ey are very attached to their humans— frequently following their family members from room to room. Th ey are excellent with children, even when children are not part of their normal household. Sociable and outgoing, they will enthusiastically greet everyone that arrives at the door, often with significant voice. While this can be an overwhelming experience for the visi- tor, the dogs respond well to training and their exuberance can be channeled or redi- rected. Th e doorbell is not the only thing that will prompt their bark. Th ey will let you know that the UPS truck is in the

neighborhood or that the kids next door have made it safely home from school. As such, they are excellent watchdogs; but this breed cannot be considered a guard dog. Th ey lack natural aggression and are not suited for that type of work. In general, the dog can be considered “soft,” and they will respond better to positive reinforcement than to firm corrections. Too loud of a voice or too sharp of a correction can cause the dog to withdraw and set training back. Developed as excellent all around farm dogs, they have retained those character- istics. Traditionally, they worked flocks of sheep in Iceland, where there are no native large predators. Due to the rough terrain,

however, the dogs were frequently called upon to locate stray sheep and reunite them with their flock. As a result, these dogs are used to making their own assessments— and their own decisions. As such, they are highly intelligent and are extremely suc- cessful in a variety of companion pursuits such as agility, rally, therapy work, herd- ing, treibball, nose work and many other activities after the right training. Th at said, left on their own, they will make their own fun or become quite depressed—and can bark out of loneliness and frustration. For these reasons, they do not make practi- cal pets for those whose houses are empty most of the day.


Icelandic Sheepdog “Berit” enjoying a winter day. (Photo by Peg Johnson)

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