Icelandic Sheepdog Breed Standard
Contact: Icelandic Sheepdog Association of America (ISAA), Donna R. McDermott, [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
The Icelandic Sheepdog is a Nordic herding spitz, slightly under medium size with the pointed muzzle, erect triangular ears, dense coat and curled tail typical of the Northern breeds.
This is essentially a herding dog that evolved over many centuries in the harsh Icelandic climate. The coat should be very weather-resistant and of good quality. It is thicker and longer around the neck, forepart of the shoulders and chest, forming a ruff that is more profuse in the male than the female. The rump and hind legs down to the hocks are also covered with thicker, longer hair forming the characteristic breeches or trousers. The double coat consists of a short dense undercoat, with longer guard hairs growing through it forming the outer coat, which may be of either medium or long length. It may be straight or moderately wavy.
Seen from the side, the dog is rectangular; the length is in proportion to height and in harmony with general appearance. Lips should be slightly curved up at the corners of the mouth, giving the characteristic smile. There should be a strong neck and back, straight front legs and especially strong loins. The normally angled shoulder and upper-arm should match the rear angulation. The chest is deep with well-sprung ribs. Hindquarters should be particularly well-developed, stifles well-bent. The plumed tail may be tightly or loosely curled and may be carried upright over the back or rest flat on it.
A loving companion dog, the expression is gentle, intelligent and happy. A confident and lively bearing is typical for this dog whose alert carriage presents a picture of strength, agility, dignity, beauty and grace, which are all evident in the eyes, ears and tail.
There is a marked difference in appearance between the sexes. Males are larger and masculine without coarseness or aggressiveness. Females are feminine without over-refinement or softness of temperament. Both are compactly built, balanced with good substance and have a smooth gait.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Size: The fully matured ideal male at 18 inches is considerably larger-looking than the mature ideal female at 16.5 inches; both are measured from the top of the withers to the ground. While correct size is important, it should not outweigh correct type. Weight is in proportion to height. Proportion: The length of the body from the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttocks is slightly longer than the height from the top of the withers to the ground. Substance: Icelandic Sheepdogs are strong and compactly built with proportionate bone and muscle structure.
Triangular when seen from above or the side, strongly built with close-fitting skin and clean cut; longer from occiput to tip of nose than it is broad at widest part of the skull. Expression is lively, keen, intelligent, friendly and alert. Skull is slightly longer than muzzle. Cheeks are flat.
Eyes: Medium-size, alert, expressive and almond-shaped. Irises are brown. The eye rims are black or brown.
Ears: Strongly erect, triangular, with slightly rounded tips and of medium size. They are very mobile, reacting sensitively to sound and showing the dog's mood. When alert, they are upward-standing, parallel, and open toward the front. When relaxed or showing affection, the ears may lay back.
Skull: Slightly rounded on the top with a natural furrow extending well up the forehead.
Stop: Well defined but not too abrupt.
Nose: Black or Brown.
Muzzle: Well-developed with a nasal bridge extending straight from the stop and gradually tapering toward the tip of the nose to form a blunt triangle when seen from both above and from the side. The length should not exceed the length of the skull.
Lips: Black or brown, close-fitting.
Bite: Complete dentition with a scissors bite.
Neck, Topline, Body
Neck: Well-set, moderately long and muscular with no loose skin below muzzle or on throat. Slightly arched and carried high, may appear shorter in males with a heavier ruff.
Body: Rectangular and strong. The length of the body from the point of shoulder to point of buttock is greater than the height at withers.
Back: Muscular, strong and level.
Loins: Broad and muscular, narrower than the rib area, females allowed to be slightly longer than males.
Belly: Only a slight tuck up just behind the ribs.
Croup: Moderately short and wide, slightly sloping and well-muscled.
Tail: High set, curled over and touching the back; the amount of the curl may vary from an arch to a double curl; may be vertically or horizontally oriented.
Chest: Long, deep and well-sprung. Brisket well-developed, extending to the elbow.
When seen from the front, the forelegs are straight and parallel. Normal angulation: Length from the elbow to ground is slightly more than the distance from the elbow to the top of the withers. Shoulders are muscular. The legs are moderately spaced and strong with elbows close to the body and turned neither out nor in. The pasterns are strong and flexible with a slight slant. Bone is strong without being heavy, always in proportion to the overall size of the dog.
Feet: Slightly oval toes well-arched and tight, with well-developed pads, toes may point outward slightly. Single dewclaws are present, may be double.
When seen from behind, the hindlegs are straight, parallel and strong with normal angulation. Thighs are broad and well-muscled.
Feet: Slightly oval toes well-arched and tight, with well-developed pads, toes may point outward slightly. Well-developed double dewclaws are desirable; single dewclaws are acceptable. Dewclaws touching the ground are acceptable.
Double coat, thick and extremely weatherproof.
The undercoat is thick, soft, dense and shorter than the outer, longer coat of guard hairs growing through.
The outer coat may be straight or slightly wavy and comes in two variants described below. The hair is shorter on the face, top of head and back of ears; longer on the neck, chest and back of thighs. There may be longer tufts growing in front of the ear openings. There is a pronounced ruff around the neck, especially in the longer-coated dogs, which is more noticeable on dogs than bitches. The hair on the legs should be smooth and short in front with feathering behind on the front legs and "pantaloons" on the hind legs. The tail is bushy, and the hair length is in proportion to the coat. Males carry more coat than females. In the show ring, presentation in a natural, unaltered condition is essential. Specimens where the coat or whiskers have been altered by trimming or clipping shall be so severely faulted as to be effectively eliminated from the competition.
Hair Length: There are two variants.
Medium-haired: Outer coat is of medium length; it may be fairly coarse or smooth, with a thick, soft undercoat.
Long-haired: Outer coat is longer than the above, also with a thick, soft undercoat.
Open Class may be divided by coat length.
Several colors are permitted, with a single predominant color. The predominant colors are: shades of tan (ranging from cream to reddish brown), chocolate brown, gray, black. White markings should always accompany the predominant color. The most common white markings, which are often irregular, are a partly or completely white face, a blaze, a collar or part collar, irregular chest markings, socks of varying lengths, tail tip. On tan and gray dogs, a black mask, black tips to the outer guard hairs, some black or sable hairs scattered on the back or body often occur. Black tricolor or chocolate tricolor dogs have white markings as mentioned above and may exhibit traditional tan colors over the eyes (eyebrows), on the cheeks, and/ or on the legs. Pied dogs are white with patches of any of the above colors. Fault: A solid black mantle or saddle on any of the various tan-colored dogs.
Clean, agile, bold, brisk and well-balanced, with good reach and drive. The tail should remain curled over the back.
Temperament is of primary importance in Icelandic Sheepdogs. It is a hardy and agile herding dog that barks, making it extremely useful for herding or driving livestock in the pastures and in the mountains or finding lost sheep. Hunting instincts are not strong. The Icelandic Sheepdog is outgoing, cheerful, intelligent, inquisitive, playful, yet gentle and unafraid. Although it is not a watchdog, it will bark an enthusiastic welcome to announce the arrival of any visitor. It learns new tasks quickly and is eager to please. It is an affectionate companion and outgoing with both people and other dogs.
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault, and the seriousness of the fault should determine the penalty. Solid colors should be penalized.
A solid black mantle or saddle on any of the various tan-colored dogs.
Severe fault: The coat or whiskers have been altered by trimming, clipping.
Dewclaws missing on all four legs.
Effective July 1, 2008