By Macy Gen Veterinary AssistantMacy Gen Last updated: 18th October 2022

Icelandic Sheepdog


Macy Gen Veterinary Assistant Macy Gen
Last updated: 18th October 2022

The Icelandic sheepdog is a spitz breed, rising to excellence as efficient herding dogs, guarding livestock along the Icelandic countryside. This medium-sized canine has a rectangular body, longish head, almond-shaped eyes, erect ears, broad chest and a curled tail. Sturdy and robust, these dogs make for a useful family pet.

Icelandic Sheepdog Pictures

Quick Information

Other NamesIceland dog, Iceland sheepdog, Icelandic spitz, FriaarI dog, Islenkur Fjarhundur, Islandsk Farehond
CoatLong or short, thick and waterproof
ColorBlack, chocolate, cream, fawn, tan, red, sable, golden, gray, black and white, fawn and white, chocolate and white
GroupHerding, Spitz
Lifespan/ Life Expectancy12 years
Height17 to 18 inches
Weight20 to 30 pounds
Litter size4-8 puppies
Behavioral CharacteristicsFriendly, energetic, extrovert, alert, inquisitive
Good with ChildrenYes
SheddingModerate to heavy
Competitive Registration Qualification/ InformationAKC, FCI, CKC, UKC

1 Month Old Icelandic Sheep Dog Puppies Video


Known as one of the oldest dog breeds worldwide, they have a long history, migrating along with the Viking settlers during 874 to 930 AD, and settling in the region as livestock guardian dogs. Owing to their strong and versatile nature, they were capable of working with ease in the rough terrain of Ireland, gathering the sheep grazing on the hills and returning them safely to their masters. Their sense of smell was so profound that they were capable of identifying their owner’s sheep with ease.

Their numbers declined drastically in the latter part of the 19th century, the main reasons being canine distemper and plague. In the second half of the 20th century, they were almost on the verge of extinction with 50 dogs only remaining. In 1969, the HRFI (Icelandic Dog Breeder Association) was set up for preserving them.

To know the actual roots of the Iceland dogs, blood samples of 56 of them were collected in 1983. Results showed their relation to the Karelian Bear Dog, a breed of Finnish origin.

It attained recognition from the AKC in June 2010 alongside two other breeds, namely the Cane Corso and Leonberger.


These loyal, devoted dogs enjoy the company of their family, loving to follow its owner wherever he goes. It has a versatile temperament unlike most working dogs because whenever indoors it loves lying down calmly near its master’s feet.

Being lively and extrovert, they welcome visitors delightfully by wagging their tails with enthusiasm.

Because of their sociable nature, staying alone for prolonged periods may result in destructive behavior. These playful and fearless dogs are inquisitive about everything around them. They are fascinated in looking at the sky, probably observing birds.

They share an excellent rapport with children, dogs or any other pets. They have a high tendency to bark, which heightens on spotting a bird as they were assigned the task of keeping the livestock out of reach of the winged species.

Since they have a strong herding tendency, it is better to keep them away from rodents and birds.



Since they are highly active, a daily dose of exercise is essential to keep them physically and mentally energized. A long walk, jog, coupled with plenty of playtime in a big fenced yard or garden would suffice. Owing to their high energy levels farms or houses with big yards would suit them well.


Its thick, waterproof, double coat needs to be brushed one or two times a week using a pin brush along with a comb for removing the loose fur. Other hygiene measures include nail trimming and teeth brushing.

Health Problems

Though healthy, some of the common problems that it may be afflicted with include elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, and patellar luxation.


These intelligent and eager-to-please breeds are a trainer’s delight. With patience and positive reinforcement techniques, they would do respond well to training.

  • To control your dog’s barking tendency, try to minimize the triggers that may result in such behavior. Engage your dog in a host of interesting activities to keep him deviated.
  • Give your Icelandic sheepdog obedience training particularly teaching him to follow commands like “Stay”, “Stop”, “Pause”, so that when he gets into a destructive behavior your firm voice may stop him.


Feed the Icelandic sheepdog well with proper dog food alongside a nutrient-rich diet.

Interesting Facts

  • In Iceland, this breed has been portrayed on the postage stamps.

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