Dog Breed Information: Icelandic Sheepdog

Icelandic sheepdog lying in front of a red metal wall

The medium-sized Icelandic sheepdog is a with a thick, waterproof, double coat that comes in a variety of colors. This rectangle-shaped spitz-type dog features a fox-like face, a bushy tail that folds over its back, and a rectangular body overall. The tough, active, and sharp breed was created to manage cattle in Iceland's rugged terrain. The kind, loyal, and entertaining Icelandic sheepdog makes a wonderful companion.

Breed Overview


Height: 16.5 inches (female), 18 inches (male)

Weight: 25 pounds (female), 30 pounds (male)

Coat: Medium-length double coat

Black and white, cream and white, fawn and white, gold and white, gray and white, red and white, sable and white, tan and white, or chocolate and white with a variety of markings and occasionally a black mask.

Life Span: 12 to 14 years

Temperament: Friendly, playful, energetic

Hypoallergenic: No

Origin: Iceland

Characteristics of the Icelandic Sheepdog

In general, Icelandic sheepdogs are affectionate and sociable. They may get along with youngsters and other pets and have a tendency to be highly devoted to their family. This breed's disposition is also influenced by high levels of activity, intellect, and a desire to please.

Affection Level High
Friendliness High
Kid-Friendly High
Pet-Friendly High
Exercise Needs High
Playfulness High
Energy Level High
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark High
Amount of Shedding Medium

History of the Icelandic Sheepdog 

The sole native dog breed of Iceland is said to be the Icelandic sheepdog. This unusual type of dog is among the oldest dog breeds in existence. The Icelandic sheepdog is said to have its roots in the spitz-like canines that the Vikings brought to Iceland more than a thousand years ago.

These canines changed and adapted throughout the ages to the hard environment and the requirements of Icelandic farmers and shepherds. They were employed to guard the flocks and herd sheep. They were also devoted and devoted partners.

In the 1800s and 1900s, the breed's population decreased to the point that it nearly went extinct. But supporters of the breed tracked down the last canines and tried to preserve the breed. Even though it is still rare today, it is not in immediate risk of going extinct. The breed was initially acknowledged by the American Kennel Club in 2010.

Icelandic Sheepdog Care

Icelandic sheepdogs require daily mental and physical stimulation in addition to a lot of exercise. Their grooming requirements are rather simple. They often respond favorably to training, which preferably starts while they are still puppies.


An Icelandic sheepdog needs a few hours each day of physical and mental stimulation. Typically, these dogs adore taking lengthy strolls, running, trekking, and other outdoor pursuits. Dog sports like agility and herding, which assist to expend both mental and physical energy, are other activities they might thrive in. Toy puzzles are useful for stimulating children's intellect. An Icelandic sheepdog may grow bored, anxious, overly talkative, or even destructive if they don't get enough exercise.

Additionally, it's critical to keep your dog in a securely secured area when outdoors or on a leash. This breed can dash off after moving objects, including as vehicles and small animals, because to its herding tendency. Develop a strong recall command as well in case your dog ever escapes. These canines are also focused on people. They like to engage in physical activity with their humans rather than spending extended periods of time alone.


This dog's thick double coat should be brushed at least once a week to remove loose hair and avoid mats and tangles. As the dog loses its undercoat in the spring and fall, expect periods of somewhat excessive shedding. You might need to brush every day during such periods to keep up with all the loose fur.

Depending on how dirty your dog gets, aim for once a month for a bath. Every month, check the animal's nails to see whether they need to be trimmed. Additionally, be sure to check your dog's ears at least once each week for wax accumulation, debris, and infection symptoms. As often as possible, ideally daily, brush its teeth.


Early socialization and training are essential to fostering good manners and preventing the development of negative habits. A puppy obedience class will help teach your dog manners around other dogs and people in addition to fundamental instructions.

Since Icelandic sheepdogs don't respond well to severe punishments, only only utilize positive training techniques. Typically, they want to win over their humans. The dog should understand what you want fast because of its high level of intelligence—as long as you are persistent in your training. You may need to spend more time teaching your dog the "quiet" command because this breed has a tendency to bark excessively.

Common Health Problems

The Icelandic sheepdog overall is a healthy dog breed. But it is prone to some hereditary health issues, including:

Diet and Nutrition

Always give your dog access to fresh water. Feed your dog a high-quality, nutritionally balanced meal. To provide sufficient nutrition, it is normal to serve two measured meals each day. However, you should always go over the type of food and the quantity with your vet. Depending on their age, amount of exercise, and other variables, certain dogs require specific meals.

Where to Adopt or Buy an Icelandic Sheepdog

Although it's uncommon, it's not impossible to come across an Icelandic sheepdog at a shelter or rescue organization. Try to get your name added to a breed wait list for a dog that needs a home. In other areas, finding breeders might be challenging as well. For a puppy from a reputable breeder, budget between $1,000 and $1,500, however prices might vary greatly depending on the bloodline and other aspects.

For further information to help you find an Icelandic sheepdog, check out:

  • Icelandic Sheepdog Association of America
  • AKC Marketplace
  • National Icelandic Sheepdog Rescue Alliance

Icelandic Sheepdog Overview

  • Friendly and playful

  • Can be good with kids and other pets

  • Intelligent, quick learner

  • Can be an excessive barker

  • Needs lots of exercise and mental stimulation

  • Goes through periods of high shedding

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Before taking an Icelandic sheepdog home, be sure to conduct thorough study to make sure the breed is suitable for your way of life. To find out more, speak to trustworthy breeders, veterinary specialists, rescue organizations, and breed owners.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

There’s a whole world of potential out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!

  • Are Icelandic sheepdogs good family dogs?

    Icelandic sheepdogs with proper training and socialization can make for excellent family dogs. They generally are devoted to their humans and tolerant of children.

  • Are Icelandic sheepdogs good apartment dogs?

    Due to their high level of energy, Icelandic sheepdogs thrive better in a house with a yard as opposed to an apartment. Additionally, they may be fairly boisterous and will warn you about outsiders, which may annoy nearby residents in an apartment.

  • Are Icelandic sheepdogs rare?

    The Icelandic sheepdog is a rare breed around the world, so it might be difficult to find one at a rescue group or even a breeder. The American Kennel Club didn't recognize the breed until 2010.


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