Hans-Åke Sperne; FCI Judge & Breed Expert

With Warm Regards from Sweden

By Hans-Åke Sperne, FCI Judge & Breed Expert

Edited by Donna R. McDermott, MPPA

 It was an honour to judge the Icelandic Sheepdog Association of America’s 2nd National in Washington State during the 1st weekend of July, 2011. It was a pleasure to present the Icelandic Sheepdog (ISD) educational seminars about conformation and structure for club members/breeders and judges. It was exciting to see ISDs from the US and Canada and to compare them with ISDs from “my Nationals” in other countries.

The hospitality and friendly curiosity about the ISD that I met among judges and club members was truly inspiring. Educational initiatives, like this from the ISAA, are very important to secure the correct type of ISDs in the future.

 The quality of type among the best ISDs at the ISAA National was high. I had several excellent examples of the breed that exhibited important breed details such as rectangular profile, strong nicely shaped heads, correct expression in dark eyes, good bone, coat and feet. The best ISDs were of the same type quality as in other countries. The BOB and BOS were of excellent type, the male also exceptionally well muscled.

 There are still structural matters to improve. Far too sloppy croups and very flat briskets with narrow fronts and unstable movement has shown up more frequently worldwide during the last decade and is something to keep in mind when breeding and judging. The ISD is rectangular and the length is a “composition” of a long brisket and a short loin. However, it was satisfying to see that very cow hocked or very out toed back legs, which has been a problem for years, has improved and was not common among the dogs at the National.

 The ISD is to be bred and judged from the breed typical conformation and behaviour which separates this specific breed from all other Spitz dog breeds. Even though not short legged, the sense of an ISD should be that it is “closer to the ground than to heaven”. Strong bone and body but not “heavy”, high carried, strong “triangular head”, pronounced stop, trustful, dark eyes, erect well set, medium sized mobile ears, level top line and a high set curled tail is correct. Normal angulations and balanced movements, well developed feet and straight top coat with thick, soft undercoat create the “picture” of an excellent ISD. When such an ISD behaves typically, without fear or aggression, it is worth its’ champion title.

 You are lucky to have quite a number of ISDs of this type. It is a good start for your future breed type preservation; much better than breeders had in other countries 25 years ago!

 I am grateful to the ISAA for your intense pioneer work around the ISD, especially concerning the breed standard and breed education. Your membership in the Icelandic Sheepdog International Cooperation (ISIC), will guarantee our common international breed perspective.

My gratitude to AKC having accepted a breed standard, based on the original standard issued by the Icelandic Kennel Club, approved by Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI). Many thanks to the AKC judges who generously shared interesting judging experiences with me. Thanks also to the conscientious breeders and dog owners who joined my classes and entered the National.

It was an honour to meet you all!  Good luck in your important task, breeders and judges alike, to preserve the correct type of ISDs.


(In October, 2008 during the annual Breeding Seminar in Copenhagen, Denmark, the ISAA was admitted by vote of the FCI ISD clubs. ISAA is the first official
Icelandic Sheepdog breedclub outside the FCI which has been recognised by the ISIC breed clubs. This is one of my personal proudest accomplishments as president of the ISAA.)

 To read the AKC Gazette on line: http://www.akc.org/pubs/gazette/digital_edition.cfm