Icelandic Sheepdog

"Treasure of Iceland"

Photo of Icelandic Sheepdog


The Icelandic Sheepdog is the only dog native to Iceland, having arrived with the Vikings in the 800s. They adapted to the local terrain and farming techniques so effectively that they became indispensable to farmers, and highly desired by the upper classes of several countries, including England and Sweden. The population began to decline in the 19th and early 20th centuries, found mostly on remote farms. The breed has continued on, however, and are becoming popular family pets.


These hardworking dogs are tough and energetic, but don’t be fooled – they are people-dogs. Cheerful, friendly, inquisitive and playful, they are definitely happiest when they have a job to do, such as playing ball, herding, agility and obedience activities. They love children and are calm enough to do well around young kids if they’re well-socialized. They need close human contact, and despite needing vigorous exercise daily, they are then happy to calm down indoors and lay at your feet.


This breed comes in two coat lengths: longhaired, and shorthaired, though the shorthaired variety actually has medium-length hair. Both appear quite fluffy thanks to a thick undercoat beneath their coarse, weatherproof outer coat, and their predominant colors are cream, brown, chocolate, grey and black. They have soft, bushy tails, pricked, triangular ears, and soft almond-shaped eyes. They generally have a friendly expression on their adorable faces.


Barking, herding and chasing have been an important part of their job for hundreds of years, so training is important to make sure none of these normal behaviors become a nuisance. But Icelandic Sheepdogs are smart, so as long as you’re consistent and calm, they will learn quickly – sometimes too quickly for their own good. Keep in mind they were also employed to seek out missing sheep, making them independent learners and problem-solvers, so keep a keen eye out for any new “tricks” that you don’t want to continue.

Grooming & Care

Their double-coats do shed, and they blow them out twice a year, when you’ll find huge tufts of hair everywhere. Brush them weekly all year and daily during their seasonal shed and you will help keep their skin healthy and your house neater. Be sure to trim their dewclaws regularly – since they don’t touch the ground they can grow surprisingly quickly.

Health Concerns

Icelandic Sheepdogs are generally very healthy. They can be prone to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and patellar luxation (dislocated kneecap), as well as a few different eye problems, so do your homework when you choose a breeder.

Famous Icelandic Sheepdog

Ch Kersins Kolrassa Krokridandi was the first Icelandic Sheepdog to win Westminster when they were allowed to compete in 2011.

Ideal Owner
Activity Level 4
Schedule 5
Home 43
Children 10
Experience 51
Quick Facts
Grooming 110
Exercise 60
Challenges Not for the short-tempered, they may take scolding personally and develop distress-barking.
Height 12 to 16 inches
Weight 20 to 30 pounds
Life 12 to 13 years
Home Alone 84
With Kids 21
With Strangers 22
Availability 95

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

© Copyright 2014 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.

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