You are never given the dog you want, but the dog you need.

Fit For A Viking- The Icelandic Sheepdog

Happy Thursday all! The weekend is fast approaching and Miss Xeva and I are back to share with you the new and fascinating breed for our ‘Breed All About It’ series. For those of you that are new, each Thursday we cover a new dog breed- some old, some new- for our readers to enjoy. If you would like to assist in the picking of the next breed that we cover, we have been randomly selecting a country and then a breed that looks interesting, so drop us a line in the comments below and we’ll let you know who got chosen in the upcoming week! This week, we picked Iceland as our destination, and we had a very easy time picking what dog to cover, as Iceland has only one native breed!


The Icelandic Sheepdog is the only native breed to Iceland, brought there by the first Viking settlers between AD 874-930. Quickly adapting to the local terrain, farming methods, and the struggle of daily life, the Icelandic Sheepdog became indispensable to the Icelandic people. This breed proved adept at working sheep, cattle, and horses and became increasingly more valued to those who worked with them.

In the spring of 1983, blood samples from 56 Icelandic Sheepdogs were analyzed to investigate the origins of the breed. The results confirmed that the Icelandic Sheepdog is related to a Finnish breed, the Karelian Bear Dog. The Karelian Bear Dog originated in Russia and is one of the “Laika dogs,” but these dogs have erect ears and a curly tail. These results indicated to researchers that the Icelandic Sheepdog came to Iceland from Norway. They are recognized to be one of the oldest dog breeds in the world, and their popularity is slowly rising as they return from the brink of extinction.


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 rather rectangular in appearance, with the length of the body from the point of shoulder to the rear being greater than the wither height of the breed. The expression is gentle, intelligent and happy, and a confident and lively bearing is extremely typical for this dog. There are two types of coat, long and short, both thick and extremely weatherproof.

As mentioned, this breed has a double coat that is thick and weatherproof and there are two different coat types- short (pictured above) and long haired (pictured below). In the short haired, the outer coat is of medium length, is fairly coarse, with a thick, soft undercoat. The tail is bushy and the hair length is in proportion to the coat. In the long haired variety, the outer coat is longer than the short coat, still fairly coarse, and has 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. In the show ring, presentation is to be in a natural, unaltered condition and any clipping or trimming of the coat or whiskers is severely faulted and is subject to immediate elimination from competition.

Several colors are permitted but a single color should always be primary. The predominant colors are: various shades of tan, ranging from cream to reddish brown; chocolate brown, grey, and black. White always accompanies the predominant color. The most common white markings, which are often irregular, are a blaze or a part of the face, collar, chest, socks of varying lengths and tip of tail. Lighter shading often occurs on the underside of the dog from throat to tip of tail. On tan and grey dogs, a black mask, black tips to the outer hairs and even occasional black hairs often occur. Black, or tri color, dogs have a black coat, white markings, and traditional markings in any of the various tan colors on the cheeks, over the eyes and on the legs. Patches of the above colors on a white background, or pied, are permitted. White should not be totally predominant. A solid black mantle or saddle on any of the tan colored dogs is considered a fault in the show ring.


The Icelandic Sheepdog is a very hardy breed that is agile and energetic. They are talkative, which makes them very useful in driving livestock into pasture, through mountains, or to find lost livestock. By their very natures and abilities, they are a very alert breed. Warm and enthusiastic when they greet visitors, aggression is not a predominate trait, nor is the presence of any hunting instinct. Due to their cheerful, inquisitive, and playful natures, they tend to adore children and get along well with other dogs and animals. They require an owner that is firm and consistent in training and who will give them a job that they can do.


This is a very active breed that needs to be exercised every day. This breed needs to be taken on a daily walk or jog. While out on the walk, one must make sure the dog heels beside or behind them, never in front, as instinct tells a dog the leader leads the way, and that leader needs to be the human. In addition, this breed will enjoy long sessions of play. The Icelandic Sheepdog needs to have close contact to the family. Many of these dogs have separation anxiety problems because they don’t like to be home alone.

Health and Life Expectancy:

The Icelandic Sheepdog is a fairly healthy breed all in all, with very few health issues or concerns that have cropped up over the years. They can live to be around 12 years of age, although as in all breeds, some may live long past this number.

And with that, we are wrapping up this week’s “Breed All About It” series! Again, leave a comment below if you would like us to drop by a country in particular next week and we will be happy to pick a breed from there. Otherwise, we will have to continue randomly dropping in on different parts of the world! Don’t forget to scroll over to that sidebar and click the FreeKibble banner so that you can donate meals to hungry shelter animals!

Have a wonderful day and thanks for dropping by!

Anastasia and Miss Xeva



One response

  1. Very handsome doggies.

    May 23, 2013 at 5:31 pm

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