The Icelandic Sheepdog is one of the many spitz-like breeds. It is smallish in size, with pointy erect ears that rotate to pick up the slightest sounds from almost any direction. The high-set, fluffy tail of this breed curls tightly over and touches its back. When looked at from the side, Icelandic Sheepdogs are muscular and rectangular in shape. Their facial expression is kind, intelligent and happy, which is accentuated by the dark rims around their beautiful, almond-shaped eyes. This breed should have dewclaws on all four legs. Dewclaws are rudimentary first digits (toes) found on the inside of most dogs’ lower front legs, unless they have been removed shortly after birth. In some breeds, like this one, they also occur on the inner hind legs. Double dewclaws on the rear legs are preferred in Icelandic Sheepdogs.
Size and Weight
Male Icelandic Sheepdogs should stand 18 inches at the shoulder, and females should be just over 16 inches in height. Males should look like males and be easy to distinguish from females. The boys are usually taller, heavier and more masculine than the girls, which tend to be smaller and more noticeably feminine and refined.
Coat and Color
Icelandic Sheepdogs come in two types: short-haired and long-haired. Both varieties are dense, double-coated and largely weatherproof. Their undercoat is uniformly thick and soft. The outercoat will be either short or long, depending on the variety. It can be straight or slightly wavy and usually is somewhat coarse. In both lengths, the hair is shorter on the dog’s face, ears, top of the head and front of the legs, and longer on the neck, chest and back of the thighs. Icelandic Sheepdogs have a longer ruff of hair around their necks, although it is not as dramatic as the full mane found on some other double-coated breeds.
Icelandics come in a range of colors and markings, including combinations of brown, chocolate, red, gold, beige, cream, tan, grey and black. A single color should always predominate. White markings usually are present somewhere on the dog. Most of the time, white is found on the muzzle or another part of the face, or on the collar, chest, lower legs and/or tip of the tail. The dog’s belly is usually lighter than its back or sides. Many Icelandic Sheepdogs also have black facial masks and black hair tips. Patches of colors on a white background, called “pied” markings, are permitted in this breed.
Icelandic Sheepdogs shed their thick undercoat about twice a year. They require regular brushing during those times to manage the abundance of hair that will quickly pile up anywhere they sit, sleep or lay. Brushing and combing should also be done routinely throughout the year to prevent their thick coats from becoming matted. This also will help to keep their beautiful coats healthy, shiny and slick. Owners of Icelandics should trim their toenails and provide routine dental care much in the same way as for any other breed. A veterinarian or vet tech is the best one to teach owners how to safely trim nails and brush teeth. More aggressive dental cleaning and scaling can be done under sedation or general anesthesia at a veterinary hospital.