Icelandic Sheepdog

The Icelandic Sheepdog is a dog breeds of spitz type originating from the dogs brought to Iceland by the Vikings. It is of similar type to the Norwegian Buhund and to the ancestor of the modern Shetland Sheepdog. They are still commonly used to herd sheep in the Icelandic countryside.

The Icelandic sheepdog is often described as a large dog in the body of a small dog.


These are the current breed standards:

  • Neck: moderately long, muscular, arched, carried high.
  • Back: level, muscular, strong.
  • Chest: long, deep, well sprung; reaches its forearm
  • Belly: only a slight tuck upwards.
  • Tail: high-set, curled, touching back.
  • Forequarters: straight, parallel, strong forelegs.
  • Forefeet: oval-shaped toes, arched, tight, with well-developed pads.
  • Shoulders: oblique, muscular.
  • Hind legs: one or often two dew claws on each leg.
  • Gait: displays endurance and agility, driving action, covers ground effortlessly.
  • Head: strongly built, close-fitting skin, skull slightly longer than muzzle making it look triangular from side or above.
  • Nose: black, or dark brown in lighter-color breeds.
  • Muzzle: nasal bridge straight, slightly shorter than skull, tapers evenly towards nose to form triangle.
  • Lips: black, close-fitting. sometimes partially pink
  • Bite: scissor.
  • Cheeks: flat.
  • Eyes: medium, almond-shaped, brown, eye-rims are black.
  • Ears: erect, medium in size, triangular, very mobile as they move in sensitivity with dog's moods. very sensitive with hearing
  • Height: male: 46 cm female: 42 cm
  • Color: tan, reddish-brown, chocolate, grey, black, with white as a required prominent color.
  • Appearance from side: rectangular, length from shoulder to base of tail is greater than height at withers.
  • Depth of chest: equal to length of foreleg.
  • Coat: two types: long and short, both thick and waterproof.


Icelandic Sheepdogs are tough and energetic. Hardy and agile, they are extremely useful for herding and driving livestock or finding lost sheep. However, the dogs are not known for hunting. Icelandic Sheepdogs are very alert and will always give visitors an enthusiastic welcome, without being aggressive. Friendly and cheerful, the Icelandic Sheepdog is inquisitive, playful and unafraid. They generally get along well with children, as well as other pets.

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