What Does an Icelandic Sheepdog Look Like?

The Icelandic Sheepdog is a medium-sized dog with a thick coat that helps them withstand cold weather conditions. Their coats usually come in white and another color, such as black, cream, fawn, gold, gray, sable, tan, chocolate, and red.

They have a robust build, a wedge-shaped head and pointed ears, and their tail is usually curled over their back. Their expression is lively and friendly, just like their personality.

How Big Is an Icelandic Sheepdog?

Males stand about 18 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh around 30 pounds. Females are a bit smaller, typically standing 16.5 inches tall and weighing between 20 and 25 pounds.

What Is the Temperament of an Icelandic Sheepdog Like?

Icelandic Sheepdogs are known for being gentle, friendly, and loving. They’re also intelligent and very trainable – but they need a lot of exercise. Puppies are especially full of energy, so be prepared for a lot of activity.

These dogs are herding dogs by nature, so they have a strong instinct to chase anything that moves. That’s why it’s important to keep them on a leash or in a fenced-in area when they’re outside.

How Much Exercise Does an Icelandic Sheepdog Need?

This is a breed that needs a lot of exercise – at least an hour or two every day. If you don’t have the time to walk them, you might want to consider another breed.

Icelandic Sheepdogs are also working dogs, so they need mental stimulation as well as physical activity. A good game of fetch or Frisbee is the perfect way to wear them out.

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Is It Challenging to Train Them?

These dogs are very intelligent and can be easy to train – as long as you’re consistent. They respond best to positive reinforcement, such as treats or praise, so be sure to have plenty on hand when you start training your dog. Like all dogs, they need basic obedience training, but they can also be taught tricks and other fun things.

Will They Get Along with Other Pets?

Icelandic Sheepdogs are generally good with other dogs and pets, but they may try to herd them. If you have another pet at home, introduce them slowly and make sure they have plenty of space for themselves.

Are They Yappy?

These dogs aren’t known for being excessively yappy, but they will bark if they notice something interesting outside or if someone’s at the door. They may not make good guard dogs because of how friendly they are, but they’ll always notify you of a visitor!

The Health and Lifespan of an Icelandic Sheepdog

Icelandic Sheepdogs are a very healthy breed, and as primitive dogs, they don’t have any known genetic health problems. However, like all dogs, they’re susceptible to certain illnesses, such as:

  • hip dysplasia,
  • elbow dysplasia,
  • patellar luxation.

These are joint diseases, which rarely show in dogs that are fed a healthy diet and given plenty of exercise. To reduce the risk, keep your pup at a healthy weight – especially when they’re growing. With proper care, a dog of this breed can live 14 to 15 years.

How to Groom and Care for an Icelandic Sheepdog?

The Icelandic Sheepdog has a thick, double coat that needs to be brushed at least once a week – more often during shedding season. Otherwise, they’re moderate shedders and only require baths when they’re dirty. A slicker brush or metal comb will help with tangles.

Their nails should be trimmed monthly, and their teeth should be brushed two to three times a week using dog toothpaste. As for their diet, high-quality dry food appropriate to their age is all they need. If you’re going to feed them canned food, be extra diligent about their oral hygiene.

Where Can You Get an Icelandic Sheepdog?

If you’re interested in getting an Icelandic Sheepdog, you’ll need to do some research to find a reputable source. It’s quite a rare breed in the USA, so expect to pay between $2000 and $2500 for a puppy, although the price could be higher if the dog comes from a champion bloodline.

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When you’re looking for a breeder, be sure to ask about health testing and the dog’s lineage. Make sure the breeder is affiliated with the American Kennel Club and knowledgeable enough to answer all your questions.

You should also visit the breeder’s facility to meet the parents and see how the dogs are raised. Puppies should be healthy, with bright eyes and clean ears. Their coat should be free of tangles and mats.

Can You Adopt an Icelandic Sheepdog?

If you’re open to adopting an adult dog, you might be able to find an Icelandic Sheepdog in a shelter or rescue group. The cost of adoption is usually lower than buying a puppy from a breeder, and you’ll be giving a home to a dog in need. However, as a rare breed, it may be difficult to find in your area, if at all.

The History of Icelandic Sheepdogs

The breed is a descendant of the dogs brought to Iceland by the Vikings in 874-930, and may be related to the Norwegian Buhund. Icelandic Sheepdogs were used as working dogs on farms, herding sheep and protecting them from birds of prey. They were also used as watchdogs and companions.

Over time, the breed developed into the dog we know today – although they almost became extinct in the 20th century because of epidemics raging on the island. In 1969, the Icelandic Dog Breeder Association was established to save the breed, and they succeeded in rebuilding its population over half a century of efforts. Now, the Icelandic Sheepdog is enjoying a resurgence in popularity.

Is an Icelandic Sheepdog Right for You?

If you’re looking for a dog with high energy, intelligence and plenty of love to give, the Icelandic Sheepdog may be the perfect breed for you. However, they’re not the right fit for everyone.

If you live in an apartment or don’t have a lot of space for a dog to run, the Icelandic Dog is probably not the right breed for you. They need room to roam and plenty of opportunities to burn off their energy.

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They’re said to get along fine with other dogs, but may be happier as the only pet in a household. And, of course, they take well to colder climates – so if you live in a warm climate, this may not be the best breed for you.

Interesting Facts about Icelandic Sheepdogs

Is that all there is to know about these playful herding dogs? We’ve left a couple of facts for the more curious.

  • In 1650, the breed was described by Sir Thomas Brown as ‘a type of dog resembling a fox’, which shepherds in England were eager to acquire.
  • Iceland banned the importation of dogs after 75% of Icelandic Sheepdogs were killed by plague and canine distemper in the late 19th century.
  • They’re also known as the Icelandic Spitz or the Icelandic Dog.
  • They’re the national breed of Iceland, being the only dog native to that country.

Ready to Bring an Icelandic Sheepdog Home?

If you’re interested in bringing an Icelandic Sheepdog home, be sure to do your research. This is a high-energy breed that needs plenty of space to run and plenty of opportunities to burn off their energy. If you can provide that, you’ll have a loyal, affectionate companion for life.

Do you think this breed of dog is right for you? Let us know in the comments! And be sure to check out our other breed guides to help you find the perfect pup.


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