About Icelandic Sheepdogs

From the Canadian Kennel Club breed standards:

CKC Iceland Sheepdog Breed Standard

Origin & Purpose

The Iceland Sheepdog is Iceland’s only native dog. It was brought to
Iceland with the first Viking settlers (AD 874 – 930). The Iceland
Sheepdog and its method of working adapted to the local terrain,
farming methods and the hard struggle for survival of the Icelandic
people over the centuries, making it indispensable in the rounding up of
livestock on the farms. The Iceland sheepdog’s popularity has increased
over the last few decades and, despite the fact the breed is still very small
in numbers, it is no longer considered to be in danger of extinction.

General Appearance

The Iceland Sheepdog is a Nordic herding Spitz, slightly under medium
sized with prick ears and a curled tail. Seen from the side the dog is
rectangular; the length of the body from the point of shoulder to point
of buttock is greater than the height at withers. The depth of the chest
is equal to the length of the foreleg. The expression is gentle, intelligent
and happy. A confident and lively bearing is typical for this dog. There
are two types of coat, long and short both thick and extremely
weatherproof. There is a marked difference in appearance between the


The Iceland Sheepdog is a hardy and agile herding dog which barks,
making it extremely useful for herding or driving livestock in the
pastures, in the mountains or finding lost sheep. The Icelandic
Sheepdog is by nature very alert and will always give visitors an
enthusiastic welcome without being aggressive. Hunting instincts are
not strong. T he Iceland Sheepdog is cheerful, friendly, inquisitive,
playful and unafraid.


Ideal height is:
Dogs: 18 inches (46 cm). and Bitches: 16 inches (42 cm).

Coat & Colour

Coat: Double coat, thick and extremely weatherproof

There are two variants

Short haired

The outer coat of medium length, fairly coarse, with a thick, soft
undercoat. The hair is shorter on the face, top of head, ears and front of
legs, longer on the neck, chest and back of thighs. The tail is bushy and
the hair length is in proportion to the coat.


The outer coat is longer than the above, fairly coarse, with a thick, soft
undercoat. The hair is shorter on the face, top of head, ears and front of
legs, longer behind the ears, on the neck, chest, behind the forelegs and
back of thighs. The tail is very bushy and the hair length is in proportion
to the coat.

Colour: Several colours are permitted but a single colour should always
be predominant. The predominant colours are:

• Various shades of tan, ranging from cream to reddish brown.
• Chocolate brown.
• Grey.
• Black.

White always accompanies the predominant colour. The most common
white markings, which are often irregular, are a blaze or a part of the
face, collar, chest, socks of varying length and tip of tail. Lighter shading
often occurs on the underside of the dog from throat to tip of tail. On
tan and grey dogs a black mask, black tips to the outer hairs and even
occasional black hairs often occur. Black (tricolour) dogs have a black
coat, white markings as mentioned above and traditional markings in
any of the various tan colours on the cheeks, over the eyes (eyebrows)
and on the legs. Patches of the above colours on a white background
(pied) are permitted. White should not be totally predominant.


Strongly built with close fitting skin. Skull slightly longer than muzzle.
Triangular when seen from above or the side. Skull: somewhat domed.
Stop: clearly defined though neither steep nor high. Nose: black, dark
brown in chocolate brown and some cream dogs. Muzzle: well developed,
nasal bridge straight. Muzzle slightly shorter than skull.
Tapering evenly towards the nose to form a blunt triangle when seen
from both above and from the side. Lips: black, close fitting, dark
brown in chocolate brown and some cream dogs. Cheeks: Flat. Bite:
scissor bite. Complete dentition. Eyes: of medium size and almond
shaped. Dark brown. Slightly lighter in chocolate brown and some
cream dogs. The eye-rims are black. Dark brown in chocolate brown
and some cream dogs. Ears: erect and of medium size. Triangular with
firm edges and slightly rounded tips. Very mobile, reacting sensitively to
sounds and showing the dog’s mood.


Moderately long and muscular with no loose skin. Slightly arched and
carried high.


When seen from the front the forelegs are straight, parallel and strong.
Normal angulation. Shoulders: oblique and muscular. Dewclaws: may
be double. Forefeet: slightly oval toes well-arched and tight with welldeveloped


Rectangular and strong. The length in correct proportion to height and
in harmony with general appearance. Level, muscular and strong.
Loins: broad and muscular. Croup: moderately short and wide, slightly
sloping and well muscled. Chest: long, deep and well sprung. Belly:
only a slight tuck up.


When seen from behind the hindlegs are straight, parallel and strong.
Normal angulation. Thighs: broad and well muscled. Dewclaws: welldeveloped
double dewclaws are desirable. Hindfeet: same as forefeet.


High set, curled over and touching the back.


Displays agility and endurance with good driving action covering the
ground effortlessly.


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault
and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be
in exact proportion to its degree.

• A solid black mantle or saddle on any of the various tan coloured dogs.
Serious Faults
• Lack of dewclaws.
• Yellow eyes.
• Round protruding eyes.
Note: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully
descended into the scrotum.