Icelandic Sheepdog | Dog Breed Information & Facts – Pictures

Icelandic Sheepdog

Smart, loyal, reliable, unpretentious – all these characteristics refer to the Icelandic Sheepdog, which has firmly taken its place in the hearts of dog breeders. These dogs are famous for their docile nature and ease of care. And they are also very cute and friendly pets, which is important for those who have children in their families.

The Icelandic dog is a tough and agile herding dog, which barks at almost everything to make sure that you are paying as much attention to what is happening, making this extremely useful for gathering cattle in pastures or mountains and finding lost sheep. This is a rustic dog, prone to barking, which makes it especially suitable for driving and herding flocks, both on pastures and on the slopes of the mountains.

Dog sheet Icelandic Sheepdog

Icelandic Sheepdog photos

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Physical characteristics

Externally, the Icelandic shepherd is a robust, strong and well -constructed dog, of medium size (the height at the withers in males is 38 – 45 cm and in females 35 – 44 cm).

The males are more muscular and the females more graceful. The weight of males is 10 – 15 kg and 9 – 14 kg for females.Externally, the Icelandic shepherd is a robust, strong and well -constructed dog, of medium size (the height at the withers in males is 38 – 45 cm and in females 35 – 44 cm).

Males are more muscular and the females more graceful. The weight of males is 10 – 15 kg and 9 – 14 kg for females.


Distinctive features

  • Head: the transition from the front part to the muzzle is pronounced, but not very clear. The muzzle is slightly shorter than the skull. The cheekbones are underdeveloped. Museum with an intelligent and soft expression, characteristic of all spitz.
  • Jaws: the teeth are sophisticated and white. Bite “scissors”.
  • Ears: the ears are medium -sized, triangular shape, erected with good mobility. The end of the ears is slightly rounded.
  • Eyes: eyes are small, almond -shaped. The color of the iris is dark brown.
  • Frame: The box is rectangular format, slightly stretched. The depth of the chest corresponds to the length of the front legs to the elbows. The belly is slightly rolled up. The ribs are significantly arched.
  • Members: The legs are fine, parallel, strong. The joint angles are correct. Oval, arched, fist -gathered legs. The pads are thick and resistant. The profitable toes on the front and rear legs are double.
  • Pelage: the root of the hairs is double, of coarse texture. In short-haired variety, the coat is thick, the outside hair is medium length, the undercoat is soft. In long -haired representatives, the external hairs are longer. The sub-point is thick and soft. Color: various shades of red, gray, black and chocolate brown. Most dogs have white marks on the chest, the muzzle, the tip of the tail on the neck and legs.

Character and behavior

The Icelandic shepherd is a very friendly and extroverted breed. These dogs love human contact and generally love people as such. They have a notion of territorial property, their territorial instincts will encourage the dog to defend his site if it is a private house with a fenced area, or an apartment, but innate conviviality will not allow the Icelandic shepherd to become a merciless real goalkeeper.

This breed perceives foreigners without aggressiveness, often even friendly, even if when the dog is on its territory and realizes it, protective instincts can arise in it. As a result, the dog barks a lot, it is an innate quality, but you can train your pet to be silent on order. The Icelandic shepherd likes his family endlessly, there is generally no training problem.

With children

The Icelandic shepherd is good with children, likes to spend time with them, playing and sometimes feels like a nanny. However, keep in mind that the dog has its own limit of patience, moreover, it is a rather big dog – you should not leave it alone with children under five.

With other animals

The Icelandic shepherd gets along well with other pets, only if they are not rodents. Here, most likely, problems will arise, because, first of all, these small animals for a dog are prey. This dog can friendship with cats, but it is better to do it from an early age.


The breed has a high level of energy, which is understandable given the genetics and past of these dogs, and therefore needs long walks and exercise. This will help avoid destructive behavior at home or depressive states, however, the dog will also need games and activities at home. Spending an hour a day outside is not enough.


Icelandic Sheepdogs are in good health. But in rare cases, the following can be observed:

  • Dislocation of the patella
  • Dysplasia (abnormal development) of the hip and elbow joints;
  • Tendency to eye diseases in older dogs.

Vaccination of the Icelandic dog is carried out according to the vaccination schedule common for all dogs. The most popular vaccination schedule is shown in the table below, but be aware that your veterinarian may suggest another vaccination option.

Life expectancy

The Icelandic Sheepdog lives an average of 12-14 years.


The Icelandic shepherd needs space, long walks with active physical exercises. For this reason, staying in an apartment is not the best option.

The rest of the care is easy:

  • Brush the hairs 2 to 3 times a week.
  • During the moulting period, the coat is combed every day.
  • Bathe if necessary.
  • Brush your teeth 2 to 3 times a week.
  • The nails are cut regularly as they grow back.
  • The eyes are examined daily, washed with a special liquid.
  • 2 times a week, check and clean the ears of dirt and sulfur.

History of the breed

Icelandic Sheepdog, Icelandic spitz, Icelandic shepherd – these are all names of one breed that appeared many centuries ago. There is an assumption that the ancestors of this dog sailed to Iceland together with the Vikings around the 9th-10th centuries. Some dog handlers believe that the breed came about by crossing the Norwegian Buhund with local dogs. In the future, the breed of the Icelandic Sheepdog was formed by natural selection of individuals that were most adapted to living in the difficult climate of those places. Since the indigenous population of Iceland was mainly engaged in farming (and more specifically, raising livestock), the qualities of a shepherd were most valued in dogs.

Traditionally, the duty of herding dogs was to accompany livestock to the pasture and home, to protect them from predators and strangers. The Icelandic dog coped with the duties assigned to him so well that he enjoyed great love of the population.

In the Middle Ages, when cattle breeding began to spread everywhere, The Icelandic Sheepdog was exported to European countries. This animal ws especially loved by UK farmers. In the 19th century, the existence of the breed was threatened. A severe plague epidemic broke out in the country, from which a large number of dogs died. But the Icelandic Sheepdog was saved. After the loss of a large number of these dogs, animals began to be brought into the country from abroad. This led to a decrease in the number of purebred Icelanders. Therefore, in 1901, a ban was introduced on the import of animals from abroad.

Slowly but surely, the breed was revived. In 1969, the Icelandic Kennel Association was formed. And in 1979 – the Icelandic Shepherd Dog Club. The world breed standard was adopted in 1898 in Denmark. Today, the Icelandic Sheepdog is part of Iceland’s cultural heritage. In 2017, the International Organization of Icelandic Shepherd Dogs registered about 16 thousand individuals who live in 11 countries. Most of the Icelandic Spitz are bred in Iceland, Denmark and Sweden.


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