Dog Breed

Icelandic Sheepdog

Primary image of Icelandic Sheepdog dog breed
Full Name
Icelandic Sheepdog
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Life Span
12 - 15 years
20 - 45 pounds

Inquisitive, Energetic, Cheerful, Hardy, Agile, Alert

Bred For
Herding. Protecting flocks, especially lambs, from birds of prey.
Family Considerations
Child Friendly

Is the Icelandic Sheepdog good with children? Nearly all dogs enjoy playing with small children, but some can play too rough, or be a bit careless. In some cases dogs can get jealous of small children, or try and "herd" them due to their natural instincts.

Stranger Friendly

Is the Icelandic Sheepdog friendly with strangers? Getting a dog that is friendly with people really depends on what your lifestyle is. Dogs who are more cautious with strangers oftentimes make good guard dogs, which can be a great fit for some owners. If you are social, live in the city, or frequently have guests over, you may want to consider getting a stranger friendly dog.

Dog Friendly

Is the Icelandic Sheepdog friendly with other dogs? Of course this is particularly important if you already have another dog at home. However, it's an important factor to consider as well if you plan on frequently going to the dog park. Otherwise, even a dog who is not automatically friendly with other dogs can be an excellent fit, as they can still be affectionate with their human family.

Likes to Cuddle

Does the Icelandic Sheepdog like to cuddle? All dogs want love, but they have different boundaries when it comes to physical affection. If you plan on frequently having a dog on your lap or pushed up against you, then you should consider whether this breed enjoys that.


Does the Icelandic Sheepdog like to play? All puppies are playful, but as adults certain dogs are more playful. If you have children, or otherwise want to keep your dog active with plenty of play, there are plenty of options of breeds who will be happy to play all day.

Service Dog Ability

Does the Icelandic Sheepdog make a good service dog? When looking to train a service dog it's important to consider how they were historically bred, and if their personality makes a good fit. A service dog must be smart, patient, and obsessed with pleasing their owner. Working dogs are a good fits since service dog 'work' gives them a feeling of accomplishment from doing a job.

Overall Ease of Breed
Ease for Novice

Is the Icelandic Sheepdog good for first time owners? Dogs that are good for first time owners are ones who are easy to train, and are eager to please their owner. Very large dogs, or dogs with very high energy may also not be the best for first time owners since it adds a layer of complexity.

Training Potential

How well can the Icelandic Sheepdog be trained? This rating is about the training potential of the Icelandic Sheepdog. Dogs with high training potential oftentimes are good service dogs, police dogs, and dog show competition dogs. This does not necessarily mean they are the easiest to train, since many will be very intelligent and demanding.

Amount of Shedding

Does the Icelandic Sheepdog shed a lot?

Ease of Grooming

Is the Icelandic Sheepdog easy to groom?

Exercise Need

Does the Icelandic Sheepdog need a lot of exercise?


How smart is the Icelandic Sheepdog?

Amount of Barking

How much does the Icelandic Sheepdog bark? Does the Icelandic Sheepdog bark too much? It depends on your lifestyle, and where you live. Dogs use barking to communicate, keep guard, and alert. A strong bark can be a good characteristic for guard dogs, or flock guardian dogs who need to be vocal.In apartment living you should consider getting a dog who is less vocal.

Guard Dog Ability

Is the Icelandic Sheepdog a good guard dog?

Tolerates Being Alone

Is the Icelandic Sheepdog good at staying alone? Is the Icelandic Sheepdog independent?

Home and Environment Considerations
Good for Apartment Living

Is the Icelandic Sheepdog a good apartment dog? Can the Icelandic Sheepdog live in an apartment without becoming frustrated or destructive? Typically people immediately consider the size of the dog, but energy level and historical habitat are also factors.


How big is the Icelandic Sheepdog?

Tolerates Heat

How much does the Icelandic Sheepdog tolerate hot weather? When is it too hot for a Icelandic Sheepdog?

Tolerates Cold

How much does the Icelandic Sheepdog tolerate cold weather? When is it too cold for a Icelandic Sheepdog?

Potential to Run Away

Does the Icelandic Sheepdog try to run away? Some dogs have natural wanderlust and are escape artists... they will do everything to get out and explore.

Physical Characteristics
General Health

Is the Icelandic Sheepdog a healthy dog? The general health of a Icelandic Sheepdog should be measured not just by how many years they live, but how often they have health issues during their lives. It is important to know which health conditions your breed is prone to- hip problems, eye problems, bloating, and arthritis are all common dog health problems.

Energy Level

How energetic is the Icelandic Sheepdog? Is the Icelandic Sheepdog too energetic for your lifestyle?

Amount of Drooling

How much does the Icelandic Sheepdog drool?

Prey Drive

Does the Icelandic Sheepdog have a large prey drive? Does the Icelandic Sheepdog like to chase birds, cats, and other small animals? Prey drive can be bothersome at the park, but really an issue at home if you have small animals, since this comes as a natural instinct for dogs with high prey drive, to chase cats, birds, etc.


Is the Icelandic Sheepdog atheltic? Is the Icelandic Sheepdog fast and strong?

  • Herding
  • Nordic Watchdog and Herder
  • Icelandic Sheepdog
The Icelandic Sheepdog is a purebred dog that belongs to the Nordic Watchdog and Herder sub group, which falls under the larger Herding dog breed group.
Herding group: The Herding group dogs all share an instinctual ability to control the movement of other animals. They have traditionally been raised on farms to help herd and protect valuable livestock. They are intelligent, and have been bred to treat each day like they have a "job" they must do. Their innate herding ability is such a big part of who they are, that they are known to even "herd" their owners, children, or other small dogs. Some can seem stubborn and even obsessed with their herding, since they take it seriously! They have high expectations, and must be stimulated mentally just as much as physically. The reward to these "high expectations" is that they can be trained very well, and are oftentimes used in competitions. Certain breeds such as the well known German Shepard are also used by Police forces, because of their discipline, intelligence, and ability to be trained.
Nordic Watchdog and Herder sub-group: Nordic watchdogs can be the perfect dog for someone who wants a watchdog but still wants a dog who loves everyone. They are not a big dog, and very loving, but extremely alert, so their ability as a watchdog really comes in the form of keeping watch, rather than protection. Nordic watchdogs would be great in an active family. They are playful, and love to exercise. Nordic watchdogs are a special breed, but not very common, especially in the Americas.

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