Beasts Of Iceland: The Icelandic Sheepdog - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Beasts Of Iceland: The Icelandic Sheepdog

Beasts Of Iceland: The Icelandic Sheepdog

After a trip around the Golden Circle, you—our tourist reader—might be wondering: “How the hell does any animal survive on this godforsaken mid-Atlantic rock?” It’s a fair question. With a lack of vegetation, a merciless climate, and generally inhospitable conditions, Iceland isn’t an easy place for any living creature to survive.

That said, there are a number of cool fauna in the country. So, let’s meet the…

Icelandic Sheepdog

Woof woof. Who’s there? Icelandic sheepdog. Icelandic sheepdog who? Icelandic sheepdog so cute you’ll love me forever.

It’s the dog of the Vikings, the original settler of Iceland, and an animal that embodies all the requisite traits needed to survive on a barren rock that is constantly trying to kill you. They are short, hardy, have a waterproof coat and quite a loud bark. They also live for around 12 years, which coincidentally was the average lifespan of an Icelander until 1972.

And as such, sheepdogs have lived with us from day one, herding our sheep, biting our naughty children and warming our beds during the 364 days of winter. There is even reason why they bark so much; since the only predator that seriously endangers our lambs are eagles, the dogs, like the flak artillery of London, barked the Blitz away.

But the lovely fella hasn’t always had it dandy. In the late 19th century, plague and canine distemper almost wiped out the breed, killing over 75% of the total population. Thankfully, now they are thriving, so owning one has gone from a distant possibility to an absolute must. Woof-hoo!


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