Breed Category: Working
Country of Origin: Iceland
Average Size: 40-45 cm (at the withers)
Average Weight: 10-15 kg
Average Life Span: 11-13 years
Grooming Requirements: Low
Exercise Requirements: High


The Iceland Sheepdog is thought to have been brought to Iceland by Vikings in the 7th or 8th century. As of today, it is Iceland’s only native dog breed. It is thought to be related to the Shetland Sheepdog and the Welsh Corgi.

This type of dog has been extremely helpful to Icelandic people, as it is a working dog that is skilled in herding livestock such as sheep, cattle and horses. It is particularly useful in keeping animals from straying on the Icelandic countryside or mountains. Livestock has long been a huge part of the livelihood of many of Iceland’s people, so the Iceland Sheepdog’s ability to keep a herd together and prevent animals from wandering away is crucial.

This breed was near extinction in the late 1800s due to the spread of canine disease, but its numbers are now back within normal ranges. The Iceland Sheepdog has become more popular in recent years, but it still remains largely unknown outside of Iceland.


The Iceland Sheepdog is a medium-sized dog with incredibly thick fur. Its weather-resistant coat can be long or short and both have a soft undercoat. The most common colours for the dog’s coat are various shades of brown, tan, red, black, gray and white. The fur is typically lighter in colour on the chest, belly, tail and feet. Its thick coat is relatively low-maintenance, requiring only brushing to prevent tangling and to reduce shedding.

This dog has a thick, furry tail that curls upward and often rests on the dog’s back. The breed typically has brown eyes, a black or brown nose and large ears that are pricked. Their ears are also extremely expressive and often move in correspondence with the dog’s emotions.

The male Iceland Sheepdog is noticeably larger than the female. The breed averages 40-45 cm in height and 10-15 kg in weight.


The Iceland Sheepdog is a very gentle, affectionate and friendly breed. It does well with new people, children and animals. They play and work with enthusiasm and love to be busy working or playing outside. In addition to herding, the Iceland Sheepdog also excels in agility exercises. This breed is very smart and catches on to new tasks or responsibilities very easily. It may also behave well as a watch dog, as a characteristic of this breed is frequent barking. It should have firm, but friendly training and discipline.

Since the Iceland Sheepdog is a working dog, it is important that it gets plenty of exercise. This can be achieved through walks, runs or extended time spent outdoors. Though it is happiest when it has a job to do, this loyal dog is content to do anything so long as it is with its family. It does not respond well to spending extended periods of time alone.


One benefit of this breed’s low purebred population is that it is very healthy in comparison to other dogs. Like other medium or large dogs, it is susceptible to hip dysplasia.

The average Iceland Sheepdog lives an average of 11-13 years.

Iceland Sheep Dog Organisations in Australia
No club information listed

Iceland Sheep Dog Organisations in the UK
Canadian Icelandic Sheepdog Club

Iceland Sheep Dog Organisations in the US
Icelandic Sheepdog Association of America
Iceland Sheepdog Rescue

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