Icelandic Sheepdog was brought to Iceland by the Vikings more than 1,100 years ago. Descended from Nordic Spitz breeds, the Icelandic Sheepdog is now considered Iceland’s native dog. The breed was (and still is) used to work the sheep and horses also brought to Iceland by the Vikings.
The Icelandic Sheepdog is a medium-sized dog breed, standing between 16.5 and 18 inches tall with weight in proportion to height. The head is triangular, with medium-sized brown eyes and upright ears. The body is slightly longer than the dog is tall at the shoulder, and the tail is curled over the back. The coat is double with a thick, soft undercoat; there are two lengths of outer coat: medium and long. Colors vary from cream to reddish brown and gray to black. All may have white markings. This coat needs weekly brushing during most of the year, although when the dog is shedding, daily brushing can help keep the hair in the house under control.
Icelandic Sheepdogs are very individual in the amount of exercise they need. Some dogs seem to be content with a daily walk, while others can have endless energy. The breed is playful, and many dogs enjoy agility and flyball. Icelandic Sheepdogs are not aggressive but are watchful and will bark when people approach their territory. Socialization at an early age is important, as these dogs can show aggression to dogs of the same sex.
The Icelandic Sheepdog breed is bright, has strong working instincts, and loves to learn. Training should be firm and structured so the dog learns household rules, but should also be fun. The breed does best in a home where barking will not be a problem. The breed does best in a working or training environment.
Icelandic Sheepdogs make wonderful therapy dogs. They are very good with children and can usually be trusted with smaller pets, although the dog may try to herd both the kids and the other pets. Health concerns include hip dysplasia and cataracts.