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The animals of Iceland

You likely already know that cruise travel to Iceland may put you in contact with whales and puffins, but what about some of the less dramatic animal species?

You likely already know that cruise travel to Iceland may put you in contact with whales and puffins, but what about some of the less dramatic animal species? Iceland is famously sparse in scenery and fauna alike, and those animals you do find can be both dramatic and beautiful - even if only in a quiet and domestic way.

Icelandic sheep

Did you know there are more sheep in Iceland than people? It's true! Some sheep farmers own more than a thousand, and if you journey through the countryside at all, you're sure to see them. Icelandic sheep in particular are small, tough and wooly. You'll see plenty of what they produce for sale, from incredibly warm sweaters to a nice lamb steak.

Icelandic horse

There are more Icelandic horses living abroad than in Iceland, partially for legal reasons. It's not allowed to bring an Icelandic horse back into the country that has left, and it is also illegal to import foreign breeds. If you go to Iceland on your cruise travel, try to meet a few horses, and to go on a riding excursion if you can. The Icelandic horse has five gaits, with the tolt, the fifth, being remarkably comfortable for the rider (unlike, say, a trot or a canter).

Icelandic dog

The unique Icelandic dog is a descendant of animals the Vikings brought from Norway. Compact and thick-furred, this dog breed is often found on farms as a helper to herd sheep or cattle, as it has natural instincts to do so. If you are in rural Iceland, be prepared to see this small but mighty breed of dog everywhere.

Arctic foxes

Arctic foxes predate Vikings in Iceland, and still thrive today. They are an adorable animal, with a coat that changes from brown in the summer to white in the winter. They're difficult to see, both because of their camouflage and because they're naturally quite shy, but keep your eyes peeled and you may get a chance. There are many foxes on the island, so your chances may be better than you think - and some farmers have even begun to breed them selectively for domestic traits.

Of course, you can still get excited about seeing puffins, whales and reindeer, some classic Icelandic animals that many people all over the world come to the country to encounter. Just don't miss the quiet beauty of more domestic or shy Icelandic animal species along the way.

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