Painting by Hans Gude (Nationalgalleriet, Oslo)
The Icelandic Sheepdog is a large dog in the body of a small dog.
This means that it is a dog of great self-esteem and great determination. A very enduring dog, capable of solving many different tasks. A dog that will not nescesarily yield to a larger and stronger dog.
It has for centuries been bred on its abilities, rather than for its good looks. Iceland is a large, rural og sparcely inhabited country. Despite the impression left by the many bloody accounts in the Sagas, there has been litlle or no need for a fierce and aggressive watchdog, and you have been able to concentrate on other important abilities:
Guarding instincts, and the will to sound the alarm by barking.
Protecting the sheepflocks and newborn lambs against birds of prey, hence its characteristic ability to observe and bark at everything that approaches from above.
The dog will want to protect little domestic animals like colts and lambs, but still be interested in hunting litlle rodents.
And the dog will act as a living fence around the premises that he considers to be the territory belonging to his family.
A sure sign of appreciation: The Icelandic Sheepdog
appears on this 1980 Icelandic stamp.