|Icelandic Sheepdogs and Herding
The Icelandic Sheepdog is a very interesting Herding Dog. It is a loose eyed, upright herder, who will use Voice to help control the flock. They do not naturally find balance easily but they are great drivers and very natural boundry tenders.
In order to understand why the Icelandic Sheepdog Herds the way it does, it helps greatly to understand how it developed it herding ablitiy in Icealnd, and for that you need a few facts about Iceland. Icelandic Sheep are a very low flocking breed of sheep, and they normally are sent up into the "hills" for the spring/summer to graze on their own, as there is no natural preditors in Iceland, other then the Raven.
In the spring, Men on Horseback with the dogs in tow move the sheep up into the hills, in the older days, as fencing is still quite new in Iceland, the ISD was used to keep the home Hay meadows free of the sheep or horse coming down to graze.
|In the fall, Men on Horseback with the dogs head back into the hills to round up the sheep, its very much worth noting that the dogs are not the main herders of the flock, that would be the men on horseback.
The dogs are sent up to work alone into the hills to push the sheep down the sides of the hills to the valley's where the men then group the sheep together and take them all to the big stone pens. The sheep are pushed into the center and then the men, catch each sheep one at a time and chcek their ears for special notches and cuts that show what farm they belong to and they go into a small stone pen, think of it as a large pie with stone outside smaller slices an a big round pen in the middle. The dogs are not working in the pens.
|So that means that the dogs are really only "Sheepdogs" for a few weeks in the spring and fall.. I personally think it would much more fair to say that the Icelandic Sheepdogs Breed is a well-rounded Farm Dog.
Having said that, a few of things above help in explaining some of the most typical ISD thinking.. the first being all prey birds in the sky are bad.. if your icelandic is looking at the sky and barking the odds are good if you look hard enough, there is a hawk or eagle etc
Icelandic Sheepdogs bark.. they love to bark an run at moving objects, this can include other dogs, sheep, horses, or more sadly cars or bikes etc..
Icelandic Sheepdogs a wondeful trackers, they love to use their noses, and do very well at finding lost sheep in the snow, there are stories of them finding them under up to X feet of snow.. In keeping with more recorded data, Icelandic Sheepdogs have done very well in Search and Rescue training in Europe, and I have no doubt that they could do the same here in North America. There are a number of dogs in Tracking Training.
The Icelandic Sheepdog while not a natural herding dog in a driven sense like a border Collie are a very smart an active breed of dogs that if given a chance and training can learn to adapt to whatever you are looking for in your small farm needs. There are ISD all over N.A. that have learned to Herd the sheep in all different kinds of land conditions. There are ISD that are used on Cows in both the US and Canada. A number of folks also are now using their ISD to help bring in their herds of Icelandic Horses.
|We were the first kennel in Canada to start doing Herding Temperment Testing on our litters and we now have Data on all our litters to date. This allows us a very good understanding when combined with both our own observations as a breeder and with the results of the Puppy Temperment Test Results.
We have clearly found that some of our lines are much more herding prone, with a larger number of their offspring clearly as puppies and proven out as adults have much more natural herding/working abliity. While we don't want to create to much drive for the average Family home in N.A. we do want to work toward keeping that natrual ability alive and well in our breeding lines and hopefully in the breed in Canada.
We are very pleased to see that in one of our lines, that we have 3 generations of active and willing herding Icelandic Sheepdogs on the farm at this point.
As we have our own duck and sheep flocks, we are able to see the dogs work on the farm in a daily way, having said that we have also taken Herding Seminars, Day Seminars and even one Three Day Course and a number of our dogs are formally CKC Herding Instinct Tested to date.
We also have some lines that have lovely puppies that are not natural herding dogs and they are just as much loved pets, and in some cases, it can in fact be easier in certain placements of the puppies for them to not be as natural "On"
If you are looking to work your ISD in any of the Dog Sports, Herding, Agility, Rally-O or Tracking, then I would be pleased to speak with you in regards to finding the right puppy to fit your needs and your home.
Yes, that itty bitty baby Black Pup, nicknames Mightly Mouse who just HAD to get her turn in the round pen with the ducks at the tender age of six weeks, it indeed Ch Greenstone Black Pearl
We will continue to update and grow this page..
|Want to try herding with your Icelandic Sheepdog?
If you own your own flock of sheep or ducks, then I would recommend taking some Herding Clinics and looking around to see if you can find a herding club in your area.
There are a number of Herding Titles that you can earn with your Icelandic Sheepdog in CKC and Other Clubs.
Two of the Top Sites in Canada for all your Herding Needs!