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Icelandic Sheepdog

Iceland’s only native dog breed


The Icelandic Sheepdog is unique amongst dogs in that it is the only breed native to Iceland. It is believed that the breed’s ancestors were brought to the icy island thousands of years ago (AD 870-930) by Viking settlers, a claim supported by DNA tests that confirm the dogs are most closely related to the Karelian Bear Dog of Norway. For centuries these dogs were used to not only drive sheep, but also to locate sheep in Iceland’s brutal winter snow. In the 18th century, the dogs faced almost total decimation due to a distemper outbreak and taxes placed on dogs. However, in the 1960’s interest in preserving the only dog breed from Iceland increased. Dogs that had been previously exported to neighbouring countries were brought in and used to repopulate the stock. In addition, related Nordic breeds were incorporated to prevent the gene pool from becoming too sparse. Although still a rarity, the breed has slowly rebounded.

Read more about the history of this breed – HERE and HERE

OTHER NAMES – Iceland Dog, Islandsk Farehond, Islenskur Fjarhundur


The Icelandic Sheepdog is usually a very affectionate and happy dog, they love children and gets along well with other dogs. They do not fear strangers, rather they see everyone as a friend; this makes them not the best watchdog, even though they may bark when a stranger approaches their home. They are vocal dogs and will bark, especially at other animals, but consistent training can minimise this behaviour. The Icelandic Sheepdog is very smart and responds well to positive reinforcement when training. They benefit from having a daily routine that includes plenty of playtime and quality time with it’s family. This breed does not like to be left alone so be sure to provide plenty of toys and things to keep them occupied when they have to be alone. This breed is intelligent, and when trained with consistency and patience, this dog learns quickly. It responds well to positive reinforcement with toy and food rewards, a stable routine, and lots of love.


This information is taken from kennel clubs and other reliable sources

PURPOSE BRED FORHerding, Service, Companion
TEMPERAMENTIntelligent, Lively, Friendly
EXERCISE NEEDED1-1.5 hours per day
HEIGHT – MALE46 cm / 18 in (to shoulder)
HEIGHT – FEMALE42 cm / 16.5 in (to shoulder)
COAT TYPELong or Short, Double Coat


  • The herding instinct is strong in these dogs. In the absence of a flock to mind, they have been known to attempt herding cars – which makes a secure fence essential.
  • These friendly dogs thrive on company, and they don’t deal well with being left alone for long periods of time and would ideally love to have someone at home all the time.
  • In the breed’s early days, they were used to keep sheep safe from birds of prey. Today, Icelandic Sheepdogs are still known to watch the sky and bark at birds, or anything else that moves fast and might be seen as a predator.
  • This breed is very active and excessive barking can be normal behaviour, which would rule out an apartment as a suitable home.
  • About 100 Icelandic Sheepdog puppies are born every year in Iceland, so this is a rare breed.


Click the buttons below for more information about this breed


Click on any photos to view them larger and in a slideshow


Here’s a video about Iceland Sheepdogs, you can view the entire playlist of videos about this breed and subscribe to our YouTube Channel by clicking the button below:


Here’s some websites specifically dedicated to this breed, please click to view them. I am not affiliated with any of these sites, they’re just here for further information. Please note I will not advertise breeders on this site and as many websites dedicated to a specific breed are run by breeders, sometimes there’s fewer sites listed here.

Thanks for reading!

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