Icelandic Sheepdog

Icelandic Sheepdogs are one of the 50 or so northern breeds from around the world classified as spitzes. The breed’s “spitziness” is expressed by a dense coat, foxy face, pointed ears, and a bushy, curling tail. Icelandic Sheepdogs, standing no higher than 18 inches at the shoulder, are just under what we’d consider medium sized. They come in several predominant colors, always accompanied by white markings. An endearing trait is the facial expression: friendly, happy, always looking as though there’s no place they’d rather be than with you.

  • Personality: Confident, cheerful, sociable; the expression “man’s best friend” was coined for dogs like this
  • Energy Level: Very Active; A true herding dog: lively, inquisitive, and athletic
  • Good with Children: Yes
  • Good with other Dogs: With Supervision
  • Shedding: Seasonal
  • Grooming: Occasional
  • Trainability: Eager To Please
  • Height: 18 inches (male), 16.5 inches (female)
  • Weight: 30 pounds (male), 25 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years
  • Barking Level: Likes To Be Vocal

meet theIcelandic Sheepdog

Did you know?

The breed came to Iceland with the Vikings. It is known as the "dog of the Vikings."

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at aGlance

theBreed Standard

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Download the complete breed standard or club flier PDFs.

  • General Appearance

    The Icelandic Sheepdog is a Nordic herding Spitz, slightly under medium sized with prick ears and a curled tail. Seen from the side the dog is rectangular. The expression is gentle, intelligent and happy. A confident and lively bearing is typical for this dog. There are two types of coat, long and short, both thick and extremely weatherproof. There is a marked difference in appearance between the sexes.

  • Head

    Strongly built with close fitting skin. Triangular when seen from above or the side. Skull - Slightly longer than muzzle and somewhat domed. Stop - clearly defined though neither steep nor high. Nose - Black. Dark brown in chocolate brown and some cream dogs. Cheeks - Flat. Eyes - Medium size and almond shaped. Dark brown. Slightly lighter in chocolate brown and some cream dogs. Eye rims are black. Dark brown in chocolate brown and some cream dogs. Ears - Erect and of medium size. Triangular with firm edges and slightly rounded tips. Very mobile, reacting sensitively to sounds and showing the dog's mood. Faults - yellow or round protruding eyes.

  • Body

    Neck - Moderately long and muscular with no loose skin. The neck is slightly arched and the head is carried high. Body - rectangular and strong. The length is in proportion to the height and in harmony with general appearance. Back - level, muscular and strong. Loins - broad and muscular. Croup - moderately short and broad, very slightly sloping and well-muscled. Chest - long, deep and well-sprung. Belly - Slight tuck up. Tail - high set, curled over and touching the back.

  • Forequarters

    When seen from the front the forelegs are straight, parallel and strong. Angulation - Shoulders are well laid back, oblique and muscular. Dewclaws - Required and may be double. Forefeet - slightly oval, toes well-arched and tight with well-developed pads. Faults - No dewclaws.


  • Coat

    Double coat, thick and weatherproof. There are two types: Short-haired - The outer coat of medium length, fairly coarse, with a thick, soft undercoat. The tail is bushy and the hair length is in proportion to the coat. Long-haired - The outer coat is longer than the above, fairly coarse, with a thick, soft undercoat. The tail is very bushy and the hair length is in proportion to the coat. In both lengths, the hair is shorter on the face, top of the head, ears and front of the legs; and longer on the neck, chest and back of the thighs. 

  • Hindquarters

    When seen from behind the hind legs are straight, parallel and strong. Thighs - Broad and well-muscled. Dewclaws - Required. Well-developed double dewclaws desirable. Hind feet - Same as forefeet. Faults - No dewclaws.





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