The Icelandic Sheepdog is a spitz-type dog breed whose ancestors originated in Norway. They were brought to Iceland with Norwegian Vikings in 874, where they were used mostly as herding dogs. This is why this dog is also known as the “dog of the Vikings.” Quickly the Icelandic Sheepdog became famous because of his profuse coat and these dogs were often exported to England where they were beloved pets of the aristocracy.
FUN FACT: In Icelandic, the breed is called Íslenskur Fjárhundur.
This is a tough and enduring breed, and the breed was made that way by the harsh living conditions (epidemics, cold, hunger periods, etc.) in Iceland. At one point in the late 19th century, the breed was facing extinction when plague and canine distemper destroyed over 75% of the breed, but thanks to the efforts of a few breed lovers, the extinction never happened.
In 1969 the Icelandic Kennel Club was founded with the main purpose of watching over the Icelandic Sheepdog, which is considered to be Iceland’s cultural heritage and beloved national symbol.
16,5-18 in (42-46 cm)
25-30 lb (11-14 kg)
Dog Breed Characteristics
A male dog is 18 inches (46 cm) high at the shoulders and weighs approximately 30 pounds (14 kg). A female dog is a bit smaller, with 16.5 inches (42 cm) at the shoulders and 25 pounds (11 kg).
The Icelandic Sheepdog is a friendly, cheerful, affectionate, and curious dog. This dog loves to have a job to do and is the happiest when he’s active, especially in cold weather. This dog does well at obedience, agility, and other training activities.
Coat and shedding
The Icelandic Sheepdog is a rectangular and strong dog with pricked ears, curled, a bushy tail, and a double, thick, weatherproof coat. There are two types of coats – short-haired and long-haired. Both variations have double coats and can come in various shades of tan, ranging from cream to reddish-brown, chocolate brown, grey, and black (all with white markings). Icelandic Sheepdogs shed a lot and require regular brushing.
It is also a good idea to buy a good vacuum cleaner to keep your home, carpets, sofas, and clothes clean and hair-free.
The rest is basic care – trim the dog’s nails when needed, brush his teeth, and check his ears for any sign of an infection.
FUN FACT: Icelandic Sheepdogs are great at learning things on their own. They can easily learn how to open doors, cabinets, etc.
Icelandic Sheepdogs are loyal to their owners and don’t do very well if left alone for too long. The Icelandic Sheepdog loves to be around his family and gets along great with children, as well as with other dogs. They are friendly toward most animals, except for birds.
True to their heritage, as they were used to protect the flock constantly from birds of prey, most of them retained a habit of watching the sky and barking at birds. Icelandic Sheepdogs love to bark at other sights and sounds too, and some of them are excessive barkers and will bark at literally everything. Discourage unnecessary barking from the beginning. They are alert but aren’t good watchdogs, as they are friendly with everyone.
FUN FACT: Male dogs are usually more easygoing and cuddly than females.
Training the Icelandic Sheepdog is not a problem because this dog is eager to please his human and also learns quickly and willingly. He responds well to positive reinforcement, especially one that includes food rewards.
The Icelandic Sheepdog is a generally healthy breed with a lifespan of 12-14 years. However, they are prone to some health issues that (future) owners should be aware of.
These health issues are
- hip dysplasia,
- patellar luxation (a dislocated kneecap),
- distichiasis (ingrown eyelashes),
- cryptorchidism (an undescended testicle(s)).
Always be careful while buying a dog. It is important to find a reputable breeder that screens his breeding dogs for genetic diseases and is open about his dogs’ health.
Icelandic Sheepdog breeders
The Icelandic Sheepdog is quite rare, so if you desire this beautiful dog, prepare to be put on a waiting list for a puppy.
World Dog Finder team