Icelandic Sheepdog Dog Breed

About the Icelandic Sheepdog

The Icelandic Sheepdog, Iceland’s only native purebred, is a lively, intelligent, and affectionate Nordic breed. Known for its agility, herding abilities, and friendly disposition, the “Icie” has served as a loyal companion and working dog in the island nation for centuries. The breed has a keen sense of duty, which has made it useful for herding and guarding livestock, particularly sheep. The breed has a thick double coat, which helps it thrive in colder climates, and its expressive, cheerful demeanor endears it to families and farmers alike.

AKC Group

AKC Group


Dog Breed Height


16.5 – 18 Inches

Dog Breed Weight


25 – 30 Pounds

Dog Breed Lifespan


12 – 14 Years


Country of Origin Iceland
Bred For Sheep Herding, Companionship
Known For Friendliness, Confidence, Alertness
Popularity Low
Temperament Confident, Friendly, Lively
Activities Herding, Running, Watchdog, Conformation Shows, Dog Sports

History of the Icelandic Sheepdog

The Icelandic Sheepdog, with its cheerful disposition and keen herding instincts, boasts a rich history that is intricately tied to the landscapes and culture of Iceland. The breed is believed to have accompanied the Vikings, specifically the Norwegians, on their journey to Iceland over a thousand years ago. Serving as herding dogs, this breed played a crucial role in the agricultural practices of early Icelandic settlers.

With an ancestry that includes dogs from Scandinavia, the Icelandic Sheepdog was adept at handling the harsh weather conditions and challenging terrain of Iceland. The primary historic role of the dogs was to herd sheep, cattle, and horses, showcasing their versatility and endurance. The breed’s distinctive appearance, characterized by its thick coat, pricked ears, and curled tail, was well-suited for the cold Icelandic climate, providing necessary protection against the elements.

Over the centuries, the Icelandic Sheepdog became an integral part of Icelandic culture and farming practices. Their friendly nature and loyalty to their human companions further solidified their status as beloved members of the community. However, the breed has faced challenges, including periods of disease and attempts to reduce the dog population due to concerns over sheep predation. Despite these setbacks, the breed has persevered, with dedicated enthusiasts working tirelessly to preserve and promote its interests.

Official recognition of the breed came about in the 20th century, with it gaining acknowledgment from various kennel clubs and breed organizations. The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the Icelandic Sheepdog in 2010, a significant milestone that helped to raise awareness and interest in the breed across the United States.

Today, the Icelandic Sheepdog stands as a testament to its rich heritage, embodying the resilience, strength, and companionship that have defined the breed for centuries. Today, the dogs’ role has expanded beyond herding, with many Icies excelling in dog sports, serving as Therapy Dogs, and, most importantly, being cherished as lovable family members. The preservation and celebration of breed’s history remain a priority for breeders and kennel clubs worldwide, ensuring that future generations can experience the joy and companionship of this unique Nordic breed.

General Appearance

Height & Weight

Adult male Icelandic Sheepdogs generally stand about 18 inches tall at the shoulder, while mature females are slightly smaller, typically measuring around 16.5 inches in height.

The weight range for males is usually around 30 pounds, whereas females tend to weigh less at around 25 pounds.

Proportion & Substance

The Icelandic Sheepdog presents a rectangular body, with a length that is longer than the height. These dogs possess a robust and muscular build, reflecting their capabilities as a herding breed and watchdog. The chest is deep, extending down to the elbows, and the ribs are well-sprung. The back is level, muscular, and strong. The breed’s substance is solid without appearing heavy, showcasing a harmonious balance that enables these dogs to move with power and agility.

Coat Texture, Colors & Markings

Texture: The Icelandic Sheepdog exhibits a luxurious double coat that is tailored to withstand the challenging Icelandic climate. The breed presents itself in two distinct coat varieties – long-haired and short-haired. Regardless of the length, both varieties possess a dense, water-resistant undercoat that provides insulation from cold temperatures and protects it from wet conditions. The outer coat is fairly coarse on both varieties. It lies down on the back and forms a mane on the neck and shoulders, features that contribute to the breed’s ability to withstand the island’s harsh elements.

Icelandic Sheepdog Colors

Standard Color
Red & White ee
Black & White ee
Cream & White ee
Gold & White ee
Gray & White ee
Sable & White ee
Tan & White ee
White Tan & Black ee
Chocolate & White ee
Black ee
Chocolate ee
Cream ee
Fawn ee
Golden ee
Gray ee
Red ee
Sable ee
Tan ee
Fawn & White ee
Chocolate & Tan ee

Icelandic Sheepdog Markings

Standard Marking
Black Markings ee
Black Mask ee
Tan Markings ee
Piebald ee
Gray Markings ee
Chocolate Markings ee
Cream Markin