The Furry Critter Network

Icelandic Dog Breed Description

Back to Canine Breed Menu

Breed Organization

The Icelandic Sheepdog Association of America

Native Country

Other Names
Iceland Hound, Friaar Dog, Icelandic Sheepdog, Islandsk Farehond, Iceland Sheepdog, Islenkur Fjarhundur

Life Expectancy
Approximately 12-15 Years

Litter Size
Average 3-6 Puppies

Breed Group
AKC/FSS - Herding

General Description

The Icelandic Sheepdog had a large nose and black-pigmented lips. The eyes are medium sized and dark brown. The head is arched with a rather compact muzzle. It has sturdy forelegs and double dewclaws that are similar to those of a Lundehund. 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 length of the body from the point of shoulder to point of buttock is greater than the height at withers. The depth of the chest is equal to the length of the foreleg. 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.

Breed Standard

Head: Light and fairly broad. Distinct stop. Fairly short muzzle. Tight lips.
Ears: Broad at the base. Triangular with pointed tips. Carried very erect.
Eyes: Small, round. Dark color.
Body: Strong, fairly short. Not heavy. Strong neck. Broad, deep chest. Belly is well tucked up.
Tail: Moderate length. Thick. Carried curled over the back.
Hair: Hard, moderately long. Longer on the neck, thighs, and under the tail. Short on the head and legs. Lies flat on the body.
Coat: White with fawn, golden, or light fawn markings with black tips.
Size: Dog: 42 to 48 cm (16.5-18.9 in).Bitch: 38 to 44 cm ( 15-17 in).
Weight: 10 to 15 kg (22-33 lb).


This breed is probably descended from the Norwegian Buhund which was crossed with local Icelandic breeds. The Iceland Sheepdog was used to guard sheep and horses. In the nineteenth century, the breed was almost wiped out by distemper, but was saved by breeders in Iceland and England.


This sturdy, hardy dog has a strong personality. He is affectionate and very friendly with people. This alert dog likes to bark, making him a good guard dog. Firm training is required.

This breed is accustomed to living in the great outdoors, therefore keeping him as a house dog is not recommended. The Iceland Sheepdog needs room to run. Regular brushing is required.


Icelandic Sheepdogs can compete in dog agility trials, obedience, rally obedience, showmanship, flyball, tracking, and herding events. Herding instincts and trainability can be measured at noncompetitive herding tests. Icelandic Sheepdogs that exhibit basic herding instincts can be trained to compete in herding trials. Herder, Guard Dog, Pet.


This is a very healthy breed.

Back to Canine Breed Menu

Featured Rescues

"Don't Shop ... Please Adopt"

laptop pro


The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) was the first humane society to be established in North America and is, today, one of the largest in the world.

Our organization was founded on the belief that animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans and must be protected under the law. Headquartered in New York City, the ASPCA maintains a strong local presence, and with programs that extend our anti-cruelty mission across the country, we are recognized as a national animal welfare organization. We are a privately funded 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, and are proud to boast more than 2 million supporters across the country.

The ASPCA’s mission, as stated by founder Henry Bergh in 1866, is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.”

laptop pro


If you can’t find the pet you’re looking for on Petfinder, don’t give up. Some shelters maintain waiting lists for specific breeds, so don’t be afraid to ask! There are also breed-specific rescues for just about every breed, and most of them post their pets on Petfinder. (Petfinder can even e-mail you when a pet that fits your criteria is posted — just click “Save this Search” at the top of your search results page.)

laptop pro

Rescue Me

Jeff Gold, Founder, Rescue Me! Animal Rescue Network

Jeff Gold lives in Watkinsville, Georgia on the same property as Rescue Me's Animal Rehabilitation Center, with 18 rescue animals. Shown with him in the photo to the left are Maggie, Izzie and Cortez. In 2003, after learning there was nobody doing boxer rescue work in Georgia, Gold founded Boxertown, an organization which helped find homes for over 500 boxers during its first two years. Based upon this success, Gold came up with the vision for Rescue Me! ― a network which helps all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals find good homes, anywhere in the world. is also a free service of Rescue Me! and provides the world's largest and most up-to-date directory of animal rescue organizations for all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals, including a comprehensive directory of wildlife rehabilitators in over 150 countries.