Breed of the Week - Icelandic Sheepdog

The Icelandic Sheepdog is a spitz dog which originates from, none other than, Iceland (and their only native dog)! They were brought to Iceland by the Vikings in AD 874-930 and are believed to be the ancestor of breeds such as the Welsh Corgi and the Shetland Sheepdog. As their name dictates, they were primarily used to herd livestock.

The Icelandic Sheepdog was actually almost on the brink of extinction in the late 19th century, thanks to the plague and canine distemper. In the 20th century the breed faced extinction once more but, in 1969 a group was developed to preserve the Icelandic Sheepdog.

Along with the Cane Corso and the Leonberger, the Icelandic Sheepdog gained AKC recognition in June 2010 and they are now part of the herding group. Before that, the breed had been part of the AKC’s Foundation Stock Service since 1997.

Like many other herding breeds, Icelandic Sheepdogs are extremely intelligent. Although they are on the smaller side, they are tough dogs with a lot of energy. They’ll always do best with some type of job, but again, that is true for almost all herding dogs. They are known for their barking, which is useful for herding, driving and finding livestock. They are alert and cheerful little dogs - and with proper socialization and training – they do great with families, children, other dogs and even other pets!

They are extremely active little dogs! Similar to the Welsh Corgi, the Icelandic Sheepdog is on the smaller side – but they think they’re big! Although they are known for being a bit calmer in the household, they are also known for being a bit needy. They connect well with a family and can sometimes suffer from anxiety if left alone in the home often.

Although they are a hardy and a very healthy breed, it is still important to obtain your Icelandic Sheepdog from a reputable breeder! Responsible breeders strive to breed and raise happy, healthy puppies. Visiting a trustful vet yearly is also extremely important, as well as, a proper diet, grooming and constant exercise. Cataracts and hip dysplasia can show in some Icelandic Sheepdogs.

Grooming can be a bit more time consuming with the Icelandic Sheepdog. They have a very thick, waterproof double-coat which comes in two varieties: short and long. This breed does shed and blows coat usually twice a year. Daily brushing can help keep your Icelandic Sheepdog looking in top condition and can help reduce shedding around the house. It is also important to keep the dewclaws cut since they have no contact with the ground and can grow quite long. If you are showing your Icelandic Sheepdog, lack of dewclaws are a fault. Keeping up with the trimming of the nails and keeping the ears and teeth clean is also extremely important too!

For more information on the Icelandic Sheepdog visit the Icelandic Sheepdog Association of America, Inc.

Looking for gifts featuring the Icelandic Sheepdog? Visit and select Shop by Breed.

Written by Stephanie Teed


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