The Icelandic Sheepdog!

The Icelandic Sheepdog reportedly came to Iceland together with the Vikings and is probably one of the oldest breeds in the world. It goes by several names: dog of the Vikings, Iceland Spitz, Iceland Dog, Friaar Dog and Islenski Fjarhundurinn. Iceland’s only canine breed, this dog is honored in its country by being portrayed in their postage stamps. This Nordic dog is slightly rectangular in shape, with prick ears and a curled tail. His gentle, intelligent and happy expression makes him a favored companion pet.

Some Quick Facts:

Life Expectancy:
11-13 years

Energy Level:

Living Conditions:
Robust outdoor dog, at least needs a yard. No apartments.


Exercise Needs:
Daily walk and yard play.

Breed Group:
Herding Dog


15-19 inches

20-30 pounds

Standard Hair Colors:
White, red, chocolate brown, grey, black, and tan.

National breed club:
Icelandic Sheepdog Association of America

Icelandic Sheepdog Skills

The Icelandic Sheepdog was bred primarily for herding livestock, finding lost sheep and protecting newborn lambs and colts against predators. Today, the Icelandic Sheepdog still works as a herder and occasional hunter (small rodents), but some families treat this happy breed as their family guardian or guard dog (they bark) and companion pet.

Icelandic Sheepdog Personality

The Icelandic Sheepdog is an alert, friendly, sociable, affectionate and intelligent dog. They are vigilant, brave, and attentive but they have a tendency to be hard on themselves and can also be, at times, quite stubborn. Visitors will always receive a warm and enthusiastic welcome from the playful, unafraid and mildly aggressive Icelandic Sheepdog. However, this dog values his self esteem. Faced with a larger and stronger dog, the Icelandic Sheepdog is not one to yield or stand down.

Exercise Needs

The Icelandic Sheepdog requires a lot of exercise. It is best to take these dogs for regular walks and allow them to play and run around without a leash. Do not, however, leave the dog alone as they will see this as a form of punishment.

Living Conditions

This hardy and agile breed is active and barks often thus making him ideal for homes with a large yard and adequate space for running and other outdoor exercises and activities. The Icelandic Sheepdog values his masters and considers them family members. Many would experience certain degrees of separation anxiety when they are left alone.

Grooming Requirements

Like most arctic breeds, the Icelandic Sheepdog has a double layered coat. However, there are two kinds of hair length: short and long. Short haired Icelandic Sheepdogs have a top coat of medium length and coarse hair that hides a thick yet soft undercoat. Long haired kinds just have a much longer top coat. In both cases, as with all double coat breeds, you need to pay special attention to the undercoat, making sure that it gets proper brushing and cleaning. Aside from the color white and red, there are other several predominant colors but the most common ones are chocolate brown, grey, black, and tan.

Health Issues

The Icelandic Sheepdog is a fairly hardy breed. There have been very few reports of congenital and hereditary defects. The breed, however, neared extinction due to canine distemper, but this has been controlled.

If you liked this dog… may also like breeds similar to the Icelandic Sheepdog including Border Collies, Corgis, Norwegian Buhund and the Shetland Sheepdog.


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