Welcome to Blackstar Icelandic Sheepdogs


Icelandic Sheepdogs are wonderful, companionable, intelligent, healthy, biddable dogs.  I find them extremely focused on their family.  They are lively, cheerful dogs.  They want to give affection to everyone. After falling in love with the Icelandic horse,  I wanted to experience their dogs also.  The experience has been very rewarding to say the least.

The Icelandic Sheepdog is very affectionate and expressive with a 15 yrs + lifespan.   They are delightful and usually have smiles on their faces.  They love people. These dogs need to be part of a family and not a kennel or backyard dog.  They are very focused on their humans, wanting to please.  They don’t like being alone for extended periods.  The puppies require close contact with humans to fully mature. 
The first year is very important to establish the foundation of it’s character. This is not the dog for you, if you don’t want one that requires your presence.  Their pack is more important than running off.  If they run after a squirrel or rabbit, they are quick to return back. They have high energy and are very quick learners.  Being a working dog and need to be able to run when you can give them the chance. Icelandic Sheepdogs are excellent family dogs who are very watchful.  In Iceland they are guardians of the sheep herds, keeping the ravens and hawks away from the lambs.  They are astutely aware of large birds.

“ … The Icelandic Sheepdog is cheerful, friendly, inquisitive, playful and unafraid …” – The AKC Breed Standard for the  Icelandic Sheepdog, Temperament Section.

Their coats seem to repel dirt.  They require very little bathing and brushing.  My dog’s coats don’t mat and they don’t have a strong “dog” aroma.  They shed once a year and if female, between heat cycles.  They come in many different colors, loamwhite or “lheirvit”, being very rare.  These dogs seem to have retained their ancestral wolf-like ways of communicating through body language that is diminished or lost in other breeds. 

The Vikings conquered the new world between the years 800 and 1100, settling down in Iceland.  They took their horses, sheep and dogs with them. These dogs belonged to a keestype dog and were the ancestors of the ISD as well as of the Norwegian Buhund, Vastogotaspets, Finnish Laphund, Finish Spitz, etc. The ISD stayed relatively pure until the 16th century because of Iceland’s isolated location.

In the 16th century they were crossed with European breeds (border collies) as regular trading was established. These crosses brought diseases with them.  In the early 1900s distemper nearly wiped out the breed.

Lundehunds and Icelandic Sheepdogs are related, coming from the same ancestors. They have flexible necks and limbs and usually stretch out on the floor with their rear legs.  Most have double dew claws on both rear feet but several have them on all four feet.  Icelandics can catch birds, squirrels, mice, rabbits, etc.  They stalk them like cats.

In 1937 while traveling around Iceland, Mark Watson found a number of pure ISDs but when he returned in the 1950s, he mentioned that they had almost disappeared.

The ones he found were A-typical due to the crossings with European breeds.  Only in remote areas and valleys in the Northern part of Iceland, did he find a few examples of pure ISDs and took them back to England to breed them in cooperation with Pall A. Palson in Iceland.  In 1956 the first breeding standard from 1898( other sources say 1905) was established and thanks to Mark Watson, accepted by the FCI.

To see Lundehunds in action:  Lundehund

Updated September 2014                                                   music Gong by Sigur Ros