ICELANDIC SHEEPDOG - Draft– 18 March 2006

General Appearance – 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 lion-like ruff which 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, fox like in appearance, 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 and any suggestion of unsound stifles or
cowhocks should be penalized. 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 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 adequate bone and muscle.

Head – 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 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 dark brown but may be lighter brown in
chocolate brown and cream dogs. The eye-rims are black, or brown in lighter colored dogs, and tight.
Disqualification: yellow eyes.
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 the dog is alert, the orifices turn forward and the outer edges are vertical. When relaxed or showing
affection, the ears may lay back
Skull – Slightly rounded on the top with a shallow furrow extending well up the forehead.
Stop – Well defined but not too abrupt.
Nose – Black in cream, tan, black and white, gray, and tricolor dogs. Noses may be brown in chocolate brown,
some tan and some cream dogs.
Muzzle – Well-developed with a nasal bridge extending straight from the stop and gradually tapering towards 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, a  slightly shorter muzzle is acceptable.
Lips – Black, close fitting lips are preferred; lighter brown lips are acceptable in chocolate brown and cream dogs.
Bite – Complete dentition with a scissors bite.

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 and strong, with a level back.
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 body, the amount of curl will very from an arch to a double curl; may be
vertical or horizontal oriented.
Chest – Long, deep and well sprung. Brisket well developed, extends approximately to the elbow.
Forequarters – When seen from the front the forelegs are straight and parallel. Moderate 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.
Forefeet – Slightly oval toes well-arched and tight, with well-developed pads. Single dewclaws are present, may be
double.  Disqualification: lack of dewclaws.
Hindquarters – When seen from behind the hindlegs are straight, parallel and strong with normal angulation.
Thighs are broad and well muscled.
Hindfeet – Slightly oval toes well-arched and tight, with well-developed pads. Well-developed double dewclaws are
desirable, single are acceptable. Disqualification: lack of dewclaws.

Coat – 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 curly or wavy and comes in two variants described below. The hair is
shorter on the face, top of head, 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 “trousers” on the hind legs. The tail is bushy and the hair length is
in proportion to the coat. Males carry more coat than females.
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.

Note: In the show ring, presentation in a natural, unaltered condition is essential.  There is no trimming of the
whiskers or body coat.

Color – 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 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, socks of varying lengths, tail tip. On tan and grey dogs a black mask, black tips
to the outer guard hairs and black hairs scattered on the back or body often occur.  Black 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.  White should not be totally

Gait – Clean, agile, bold, brisk and well balanced, with good reach and drive.  The tail should remain curled over
the back.   

Temperament – Temperament is of primary importance in Icelandic Sheepdogs. It 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. Hunting instincts are not strong. The Icelandic Sheepdog is 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.

Faults – 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.

Disqualifications – Lack of dewclaws; Yellow eyes.  Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioral abnormalities
shall be disqualified.

This draft has been submitted to the Icelandic Kennel Club (DIF) for their review.
Eligible breeds can compete in all venues of obedience, tracking, agility, and rally. To become eligible the breeds must
have the following:
1. A minimum of 150 dogs with three generation pedigrees recorded in the FSS®
2. A national breed club with members in at least 20 states
3. An AKC approved breed standard

The breed currently meets the first two items and the standard is the remaining item to comply with.

1. Then the ISAA members must vote to approve the ISAA AKC standard and constitution
2. Once the ISAA members vote approval, , then it goes to the AKC to have their BOD approve it, and then it becomes
the official AKC breed standard, and at that time the rules of when and how often a standard can be changed comes
into effect, currently that is every five years.

The ISAA can redo the standard as much as need until the breed is accepted

The AKC does require that the breed standard follow the AKC format but the ISAA as the parent club controls the
standard.  The AKC wants a certain format followed and some words needed to be changed to the more common terms
used by the AKC standards and judges.
Draft of the AKC Breed Standard