Icelandic Sheepdog

icelandic sheep dog
Icelandic Sheepdog courtesy Laurie Ball-Gisch

Quick Facts

  • Weight: 20 – 30 pounds
  • Height: 12 – 16 inches

The Look of a Icelandic Sheepdog

Icelandic Sheepdogs have sturdy, medium-sized Spitz-like frames covered in thick coats that can be either short- or long-haired. Their arched heads have strong, compact muzzles, dark eyes, black noses and prick ears. Its strong neck and rectangular body lead down to a curled tail. The Icelandic Shepherd can be found in black, gray, chocolate and various shades of tan.


  • Agile
  • Strong
  • Alert
  • Curious
  • Bold

Ideal Human Companion

  • Active singles
  • Families
  • Outdoorsy types
  • Cold-climate dwellers

What They Are Like to Live With

Strong and courageous, the Icelandic Sheepdog has obviously endured centuries of working, guarding and keeping people company in a cold climate. These dogs are curious, intelligent and strong—an ideal helper on farms, ranches and large plots of land. Icelandic Sheepdogs have a warmhearted way with small animals, and a fearsome way with predators. They can also keep the rats away.

Cheerful and happy around the home, Icelandic Sheepdogs form deep bonds with family members. They love being helpful, but most of all they love togetherness and family time. Icelandic Sheepdogs get along very well with children.

Things You Should Know

The Icelandic Sheepdog can live as long as 13 years with relatively few genetic health issues; however, some may develop hip dysplasia, cataracts or a kneecap problem known as patellar luxation.

Grooming either coat length is fairly easy. Brush it regularly, but pay special attention during spring and fall shedding seasons. Make sure it gets a regular walk outside, if not a run, and try not to leave it alone for too long: The Icelandic Sheepdog is a people-oriented dog.

Icelandic Sheepdog History

Originating with the 9th century Viking settlers, the Icelandic Sheepdog is Iceland’s only native dog, but it is believed to descend from a breed found in Denmark and Sweden as far back as 8,000 B.C. Over the centuries, the harsh living conditions in Iceland formed a canine that is tough, durable and helpful to mankind.

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