Abstract Background: Dog breeds lose genetic diversity because of high selection pressure. Breeding policies aim to minimize kinship and therefore maintain genetic diversity. However, policies like mean kinship and optimal contributions, might be impractical. Cluster analysis of kinship can elucidate the population structure, since this method divides the population in clusters of related individuals. Kinship-based analyses have been carried out on the entire Icelandic Sheepdog population, a sheep-herding breed.