Icelandic Sheepdog - A Herding Dog

Icelandic Sheepdog is a herding dog and was used to herd sheep, protect lambs from vultures. Their habit of looking at the sky and barking at the birds is still intact. They are also said to be companion of Vikings. Although they do not have hunting history, they are fearless and courageous dogs.

They are alert and enthusiastic to work as watch dog and they also have great sense of direction. In olden days farmers used to search their lost sheep with the help of this dog. They are typical Spitz type dog breed and are called as Icelandic Spitz.


They are friendly and amicable dogs and gets along with other animals pretty well. But they should be kept away from birds for an obvious reason. They form strong attachment with family members as a result they make wonderful family dog.

Training the dog is easy as they willingly want to learn new skills. They adore kids and are exuberant around them. The dogs lack aggression to be guard dog. They greet strangers with warm heart. The dog loves his family and wants to be around them every time.


This dog is the only known Iceland breed. It is believed that Vikings brought the ancestors of this breed to this country. The original job of the breed was to protect the lambs from wild birds. Experts believe that the dog is somewhat related to Karelian Bear Dog and this breed came to Iceland from Norway.


It is not a popular breed despite being sweet and loyal to humans. Icelandic Dog Breeder Association is taking steps to preserve the breed and acknowledge it to many people.

Icelandic Sheepdog Facts & Characteristics

  1. It is a Nordic breed that came to Iceland because of Viking settlers
  2. It is a lively, cheerful, curious and entertaining dog
  3. Life expectancy of this breed is 12 – 15 years
  4. The dog is 42 to 46 cm tall
  5. It weighs around 9.1 – 14 kg
  6. The dog was used to herd sheep and protect lambs
  7. The dog has a thick double coat and it sheds excessively
  8. Average price of the dog is $800 - $1000 USD
  9. It is a suitable breed for kids. It tends to be playful and patient around them
  10. The dog doesn’t like to be home alone and needs human companionship
  11. It is energetic dog that requires a great deal of physical exercise
  12. The dog is moderately easy to train
  13. It makes excellent watch dog but not reliable guard dog.


It is similar in appearance to spitz-like breeds. The dog is small but has sturdy body. It has triangular shaped small ears that are set atop its head in erected position. The dog has a typical spitz-type tail. Its tail is bushy, plump and curved over its back.

The dog has rectangular body which is muscular and solidly built-up with no over exaggeration of any bodily features. The dog has dewclaws on its legs and arms. Eyes of the dog are expressive and medium sized. Overall expression on its face is gentle, kind and sweet.


Size and Weight

Ideal height of the male breed should be 18 inches tall and female should be 16 inches tall. Male breed should have masculine and massive personality. Female breed should have refined body and feminine like features. Weight of the breed should be 9-14 kg irrespective of gender.

Coat and Color

The breed has two varieties of coat- short hair coat and long hair coat. Both the coats are thick, waterproof and weather resistant. Outer coat should be rough, coarse and long or small depending upon the type. Inner coat should be dense, soft and smooth.

Hair of the dog is shorter on its face and front legs than rest of the body. The dogs comes in varieties of colors and marks like- chocolate, gold, beige, brown, tan, grey, red, cream and black. They also come in combination color but one color should be dominant.


  1. Personality - It is a happy and loyal breed that craves for human companion. The dogs are bold and have an outgoing personality. They have confident demeanor and are naturally alert and attentive even at the time of sleeping. They have an incredible work ethic and their desire to work alongside human is quite high. They are especially fond of kids. They will strive hard to be their four-legged best friend and playmate. The dog become enthusiastic on seeing new people. It welcomes guest by wagging its tail.
  2. Behavior - The dog is cheerful but is prone to separation anxiety. Their herding instincts are still intact but do not have high prey drive because they have no hunting history. The dogs were used to protect and herd sheep rather than to hunt. They are extrovert and are not shy or reserved with strangers. The dog can be barky while working. It gets along with other pets in home very easily. Inside home, they remain calm and composed but once they are out they turn out to be rambunctious in nature.
  3. Activities requirement - Work keeps the dog happy. Provide the dog some sort of task to keep them busy. The dog should be given opportunity to run freely. It loves playing and jumping in snow. They even love to play with other dogs. The dog excels in obedience, agility and tracking competition.
  4. Trainability - They are easy to train because they love pleasing humans. They are smart enough to learn skills quickly. Treat, play and appreciation act as catalyst in making them learn new lesson. The dog can be trained by novice owners too.


Being a carnivorous animal dog should be fed meat, bacon, lamb and beef. Its diet should contain fat and protein. Raw egg, coffee, chocolate should never be fed to this dog.


Life expectancy of this dog is 12 – 15 years.

Health Issues

It is not hypoallergenic breed. The dog is hearty and healthy. Only health issues they are prone to are dry skin, patellar luxation and cataracts.


The dog sheds heavily. Brush its coat daily followed by combing to reduce the locks of hair.  Brushing its teeth daily will keep it away from dental problems. Check its ear weekly for the signs of irritation or wax build up. The dog is naturally clean, bathe it only when necessary.


They are active and energetic dogs. They do better in house with yard but if you fulfill its daily needs of exercise, it can live happily in apartment too. The dog is suitable for cold climate countries.

Pet Names

  1. Janu
  2. Chunky
  3. Brutus
  4. Salvador
  5. Silver

Things To Consider Before Buying


  1. It is a sweet and affectionate dog that is friendly to every human
  2. The dog makes wonderful watchdog
  3. They are easy to train and can be mold to do any task.


  1. The dog is not hypoallergenic. Asthmatic or allergic people should avoid this pet
  2. It lacks aggression to be effective guard dog
  3. The dog sheds a lot because of its densely thick coat.