Icelandic Sheepdog
Dog Profiles

Icelandic Sheepdog A Playful Herding Dog

Every time I do research for a dog article, I end up wanting to own one.  So this time, it certainly was the case for the Icelandic Sheepdog, a playful herding dog.

The Icelandic Sheepdog is a charmingly friendly and faithful all-around herder of small-to-medium size. A densely coated Nordic spitz-type breed, Icelandics are enthusiastically devoted to their humans.

Icelandic Sheepdogs are one of the many dogs breeds classified as spitzes. The Icelandic gets its spitz qualification by having a dense coat, fox-like face, pointed ears, and a bushy curly tail.  It is of similar  to the Norwegian Buhund, the Shetland Sheepdog, and the Welsh Corgi.

What is a Spitz?

Ever heard the word “spitz” to describe a dog?   Most spitz breeds have a wolf-like appearance that includes pointed ears, almond-shaped eyes, a heavy double coat, and a furry tail curled over its back.

Because many spitz dog breeds live for  in arctic climates, they are bred to suffer in cold weather. They usually come from Scandinavia, Russia, and North America. Spitz in German means pointed which describes the head shape of a spitz-like dog. The shape of its head means longer nasal passages which helps warm the cold air before reaching its lungs. They also have a double fur coat to help keep it warm.

Icelandic Sheepdogs are on the smaller to medium side and average about 18 inches at their shoulders. They come in several different colors, many with white markings. They are friendly, happy and seem to say they are most happy just to be with you.

When the Vikings  sailed west across the ocean and settled Iceland, they brought along their  spitz-type dogs.  The Icelanders used these dogs for herding sheep.  Those dogs became the forerunners of the modern Icelandic Sheepdog. Today, the Icelandic Sheepdog is a treasured national symbol.

Icelandics are extremely good at herding and driving livestock and finding lost sheep.  But, these dogs are not known for hunting. They are very alert without being aggressive. The Icelandic Sheepdog is playful and  generally gets along well with children and other pets.

Because of their athletic abilities, Icelandic Sheepdogs compete in dog agility trials, obedience, [fusion_tooltip title=”Flyball is a dog sport in which teams of dogs race against each other over a line of hurdles, to a box that releases a tennis ball. The ball is caught after the dog presses a spring-loaded pad, they run back to their handlers while carrying the ball.”] flyball,[/fusion_tooltip] tracking, and herding events.  Icelandic Sheepdogs also compete in herding trials.

The Icelandic Sheepdog is very loyal and wants to be around its family constantly. It follows its owner everywhere. Unlike most working dogs, these dogs are calm when indoors and happily lie down at your feet.

Reykjavík is the capital and largest city of Iceland

Diego Delso,, License CC-BY-SA

For more information about the Icelandic Sheepdog:

American Kennel Club (AKC)
Icelandic Sheepdog Association of America, Inc.