Icelandic Sheepdog Breed Magazine - Showsight

“An extremely playful breed, the dogs will play happily with their humans and other dogs. SOME ICELANDIC SHEEPDOGS ARE NATURAL CLOWNS AND ENJOY SILLY GAMES; others are more serious, but still outgoing and social.”

Th erefore, they will blow their undercoats and require a certain amount of daily brushing at those times. At other times of the year, a weekly brushing will be suf- ficient. Keep in mind that the coats are meant to be weatherproof and excessive washing can alter the natural oils and lay of the coat. Another breed trait is the presence of double dewclaws, which aid the dogs on Iceland’s uneven and often frozen terrain. As with all dogs, proper nail maintenance is important and can- not be deferred to ensure the health of the dogs’ feet. Overall, the Icelandic Sheep- dog is considered a very healthy breed, and the clubs are careful to monitor hip and eye health. An extremely playful breed, the dogs will play happily with their humans and other dogs. Some Icelandic Sheepdogs are natural clowns and enjoy silly games; oth- ers are more serious, but still outgoing and social. Th ey will require a regular walk or jog, once old enough, to expend their nat- ural energy. I have also found that regular exercise helps lessen reactive barking. As active as they are outside, Icelan- dic Sheepdogs are very adept at settling down indoors. While they may play or wrestle for a few minutes a couple of times a day, right now my dogs are hap- pily asleep under my desk as I type, and they have been for quite a while—despite construction going on outside the win- dow. (It should be said that they were much more amenable to settling down

after they were allowed to meet and greet the workers.) Despite having survived nearly a mil- lennia in Iceland, by the mid-20th century, this wonderful breed was near extinction. Th anks to the e ff orts of a few enthusiasts in Iceland and overseas, a concerted e ff ort was made to save this unique and special breed in the 1950s. Th is work continues today under the auspices of ISIC, the Ice- landic Sheepdog International Coopera- tion (, a consortium of parent breed clubs and their represen- tatives from several countries devoted to cross-border cooperation for the preser- vation of the Icelandic Sheepdog. Th e population is still so small that it is vital that prospective puppy buyers and breed- ers remain faithful to the international standard for the breed in order to ensure the future of the Icelandic Sheepdog. As the AKC parent club for the breed in the US, the Icelandic Sheepdog Association of America has a breeder approval program and promotes the recognized internation- al standard for the dog. Th eir website at contains a wealth of information on everything from history to temperament to puppy listings.

BIO Jill Johnson is the current Member- ship Secretary for the Icelandic Sheepdog Association of America. She lives in Boi- se, Idaho with her two Icelandic Sheep- dogs—one a retired AKC Grand Cham- pion—and both beloved house pets.

Jill Johnson with Icelandic Sheepdog “Ziggy”. (Photo by Allison McLean Photos,

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