Icelandic Sheepdog

Breed Rating

family friendly:
Dog friendly:
Watch/guard dog:
Affection / Dependance:
Exercise needed:
Space needed:
Tendency to bark:
Grooming Requirements:
Tendency to bark:
Grooming Requirements:

Breed Attributes


Breed group: Herding    Type: Pure Breed    Talent: , , ,


Size: Medium     Weight: 20-35 lbs     Fur length: Long    Ears: Pointy    Fur type: Straight    Fur Color: 3 Colors, Black & White, Brown & White, Dark Brown / Chocolate, Gray / Salt & Pepper, White / Cream


Life Expectancy: 10-12 years    Rarity: Common    Availability: Easily available    Climate: Good for every climate.

Breed Details


The Icelandic Sheepdog is the one and only dog breed native to Iceland. This ancient dog is believed to have originated from the dogs that were brought by Vikings with them and hence it is called as Vikings dog. Other names for this breed are Iceland Spitz, Iceland Dog, Friaar Dog and Islenski Fharhundurinn. It is a Spitz type that is mainly used as sheep herding dog.

This slightly under medium size dog stands between 16.5 to 18.5 inches and weighs between 20-35 lb and is classified in two varieties based on coat type. One type of Icelandic Sheepdog has longer coat and the other type has a shorter coat. It. The dog has strongly built head with tight skin and slightly doomed and longer than muzzle skull. Well developed muzzle has a straight nose bridge and tapers to large black nose that can also be brown in chocolate brown or cream colour dogs. Dark brown medium size eyes are almond shaped. Erect, triangular and very mobile ears are of moderate size with slightly rounded tips. Slightly arched and moderately long neck is muscular and blends smoothly into the rectangular body. Back is level, broad and muscular and chest is deep, long and well sprung. Belly is slightly tucked up and high set tail curls over, touching the back. It comes in either a long coat or short coat coloured in tan, reddish-brown, chocolate, grey, black, with white as a required prominent color.

The dog appears gentle, intelligent and happy with a confident and lively bearing that is typical of this breed. This dog is recognized by all major kennel clubs including AKC, FCI, UKC, CKC and others.


This breed is found in different colours but one single colour should always be predominant. Predominant colours include various shades of tan, ranging from cream to reddish brown; chocolate brown, grey, and black. White always accompanies the predominant color. White markings are seen on face, chest and feet. Black masks are often seen in tan and gray dogs.


The Icelandic Sheepdog comes in two types of coats. One is longer and other is shorter. Both coats are water resistant and coarse. Both types have same type of undercoat that is soft and thick. In both lengths, the hair is shorter on the face, top of the head, ears and front of the legs and longer on the neck, chest and back of thighs.


Always cheerful, friendly, enthusiastic and inquisitive, the Icelandic Sheepdog has a typical confident and lively bearing. It is an alert and hard working dog that is very useful in herding, driving and finding lost sheep but does not have strong hunting instincts. With its keen sense of smell, it can locate a lost sheep in the snow storm when visibility is very poor. For its excellent sense of smell, the dog is very useful in search and rescue operations. A tireless worker, the dog is most happy when assigned some task to do. It can get along well with other dogs and pets in the family. As a family pet, this breed is very friendly, loving and loyal to its family. The dog is very playful with children, making an excellent playmate. With a gentle and kind nature and love for humans, specially children, these dogs have been very successfully used as companion and therapy dogs, more so for autistic children. While this is a outdoor working breed, the dog has evolved into a very human oriented family pet that can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for even shorter period of time. Not suitable for owners who are out all day. This dog needs constant human interaction to be happy and lively. Though friendly and non-aggressive and hence a poor guard dog, the Icelandic Sheepdog will make a very alert watch dog with its alert nature and loud bark. The Icelandic Sheepdog makes an excellent companion dog that will endear all with its gentle, loving and playful demeanor.


This breed will need brushing two to three times a week to keep the coat clean. It sheds its coat twice a year and frequent brushing will be needed to accelerate shedding process.


As an intelligent and obedient breed, the Icelandic Sheepdog should not pose much problems when it comes to training. A firm yet gentle trainer should use positive training methods to train this dog.


A working dog by nature, the Icelandic Sheepdog is happiest when assigned some task to perform. It is an energetic dog that needs lots of physical stimulation. For this reason, this dog is best suited to rural or suburban life style where the dog can play and run in large open spaces. It is not suitable for apartment life due to high requirements for exercising and its loud barking.

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