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Oct 13, 2022

The Icelandic Sheepdog

The Icelandic Sheepdog

By now you’ve probably realized that Iceland is full of adorable animals such as the extremely popular puffin and the famous Icelandic horse. Another ridiculously cute domestic animal that Icelanders love and adore is the Icelandic sheepdog. Known for their friendly character and a hairdo to rival any 80s beauty queen, these adorable herders are fun-loving and loyal members of their family pack.

Read on for a brief introduction to our very own national best friend.

The Dramatic History of the Icelandic Sheepdog

Arriving with the first settlers in the 9th century, the Icelandic Sheepdog hails from the Norwegian Buhund and other spitz dog breeds like the corgi. They had great stamina and superb traction and were primarily used for herding sheep but soon became a trusted companion in harsh conditions in this isolated island. The breed was badly cut down from disease in the 19th century and was considered endangered in the early 20th century, but vigorous conservation efforts saved this wonderful dog breed.

The Icelandic Sheepdog Build

The Icelandic Sheepdog has a small to medium build with a beautiful double coat that sheds like there’s no tomorrow. They come in a variety of colors but always mixed with white. They have the cutest and bushiest curled tails in the world and that’s just stating facts*. Coupled with that adorable smile and the characteristic pointy ears, they are a joy to look at. They also have an odd feature which is that they’re often double dewclawed, that is to say, they have double dewclaws on some or all of their legs, a desirable feature for a working dog that needs all the traction they can get.

The Icelandic Sheepdog Health

Today, the Icelandic Sheepdog is considered a very healthy and hardy breed. They have only a few health disorders, such as hip dysplasia or eye problems but are vigorously screened by registered breeders for these particular health problems.

The Wonderful Character of the Icelandic Sheepdog

A notable feature of the dog’s appearance is its smile. It does seem like it’s constantly smiling at you and it might well be because its friendly disposition and fun-loving personality seem like bottomless wells of happiness. They are intelligent, confident, social, active and fiercely loyal yet rarely aggressive. Their alert nature makes them excellent guard dogs. They’re not the quietest breed but will instead let out the occasional watch dog bark. They’re eager to please which makes them easy to train and they do need companionship, exercise and some challenging math problems, or at least a little bit of a puzzle.


If you’re thinking about adding an Icelandic Sheepdog to your home be prepared for vigorous shedding from these fun-loving criminals. Add plenty of exercise and cuddles and they will return your love tenfold. For probably obvious reasons, these adorable furballs usually bear very authentic Icelandic names like Freyja, Katla, Koli, etc. so get a copy of the Icelandic Sagas before you name your new fur baby and enjoy what should be approx. 14 years of endless love and happiness.

*2022 in-house survey in PLAY’s marketing team 😊

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