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  • Temperament: Friendly, Playful, Inquisitive
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 153 of 192
  • Height: 18 inches (male), 16.5 inches (female)
  • Weight: 30 pounds (male), 25 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 12-14 years
  • Group: Herding Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Icelandic Sheepdog standing facing left
Icelandic Sheepdog sitting facing forward
Icelandic Sheepdog head and shoulders facing forward
Icelandic Sheepdog sitting in three-quarter view

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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About the Icelandic Sheepdog

Icelandics 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. Icelandics, 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.

Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Icelandic Sheepdog

Find a Puppy: Icelandic Sheepdog

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Find Icelandic Sheepdog Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Icelandic Sheepdog should be fed a diet appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) and activity level. Learn about which human foodsare safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet or the dog’s breeder if you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should always be available.

GROOMING

The Icelandic Sheepdog has a profuse double coat, with a longer outer coat and a dense undercoat. Icelandic Sheepdogs shed a fair amount, even more so during shedding season, which occurs twice a year. Weekly brushing—daily during shedding season—will help to remove dirt and loose hair and keep the dog looking his best. Any tangles can be worked out with a slicker brush or metal comb. As with all breeds, the nails should be trimmed regularly, as overly long nails can be painful to the dog.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

Icelandic Sheepdogs enjoy outdoor activities and make great companions on long walks or hikes. Moderate exercise every day will help keep them healthy and happy. This can come in the form of walks and play sessions. The breed also exercises mind and body by participating in canine sports such as obedienceherdingtrackingagilityrally, and other activities that can be enjoyed by dog and owner.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Energetic

TRAINING

Early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended and help to ensure that the Iceland Sheepdog grows into a well-adjusted, well-mannered companion. Icelandics are lively, intelligent, and eager to please, so they are generally easy to train. They don’t respond well to harsh corrections or training methods. They love being the center of their family and are unhappy if they are regularly left alone for long periods of time.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Eager to Please

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Friendly

HEALTH

Icelandic Sheepdogs are generally very healthy dogs. They can be prone to a few health conditions, including hip and elbow dysplasia and patellar luxation. Responsible breeders test their stock for conditions that can occur in the breed. An Icelandic’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs. Regular visits to the vet for checkups and parasite control help to ensure the dog a long, healthy life.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Icelandic Sheepdog
Icelandic Sheepdog
Icelandic Sheepdog
Icelandic Sheepdog
Icelandic Sheepdog
Icelandic Sheepdog

History

About 1,100 years ago, Norse settlers sailed west across the Norwegian Sea to Iceland. These seafaring pioneers set about creating a new Scandinavian country on the otherwise uninhabited island. Among the cultural touchstones they brought from Norway were the Nordic language and a taste for epic literature. Another was the spitz-type dogs the Icelanders used for herding sheep and rounding up ponies, forerunners of the modern Icelandic Sheepdog. Today, Iceland is still distinctly Scandinavian and the Icelandic Sheepdog is a beloved national symbol.

Did You Know?

The Icelandic Sheepdog is AKC's 166th breed.
At the October 2005 Board Meeting, the Icelandic Sheepdog became eligible to compete in AKC Companion Events this became effective July 1, 2006.
The breed is Iceland's only native dog.
At the October 2009 Board Meeting, the Icelandic Sheepdog became eligible for AKC registration, June 30, 2010 and was eligible for competition in the Herding Group, effective June 30, 2010.
At the October 2007 Board Meeting, the Icelandic Sheepdog Association of America will serve as the AKC Parent Club to represent the Icelandic Sheepdog and was approved to compete in the Miscellaneous Class this became effective July 1, 2008.
At the May 2006 Board Meeting, the Icelandic Sheepdog became eligible to compete in AKC Herding Trial classes as Exhibition Only this became effective September 1, 2006.
The Icelandic Sheepdog is also known as: Iceland Spitz, Iceland Dog, Friaar Dog and Íslenskur Fjárhundur
The breed came to Iceland with the Vikings. It is known as the "dog of the Vikings."
The Icelandic Sheepdog has been recorded in the Foundation Stock Service since 1997.
In its country of origin, the Icelandic Sheepdog has been portrayed on postage stamps.
There are two types of coats for the Icelandic Sheepdog: long haired and short haired.
It is thought to be one of the oldest dog breeds in the world.

The Breed Standard

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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Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BLACK & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 019
CHOCOLATE & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 271
CREAM & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 077
FAWN & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 086
GOLD & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 092
GRAY & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 105
RED & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 146
SABLE & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 165
TAN & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 197
WHITE TAN & BLACK Check Mark For Standard Color 220
BLACK 007
CHOCOLATE 071
CHOCOLATE & TAN 072
CREAM 076
FAWN 082
GOLDEN 093
GRAY 100
RED 140
SABLE 164
TAN 195

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
BLACK MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark 002
BLACK MASK Check Mark For Standard Mark 004
CHOCOLATE MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark 043
CREAM MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark 044
GRAY MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark 028
PIEBALD Check Mark For Standard Mark 025
REDDISH BROWN MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark 040
TAN MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark 012
WHITE MARKINGS 014

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