This ancient working breed is Iceland’s only native dog, first brought to the country with the first Viking settlers between 874 to 930 A.D. It is believed to have possibly descended from dogs introduced by Scandinavian colonists and related to the Norwegian Buhund. A Nordic herding type of spitz, it weighs from 20 to 30 pounds and stands between 12 to 16 inches. It has an arched head with a compact muzzle, large nose and black-pigmented lips. It has prick ears, medium-sized eyes that are dark brown in colour and a bushy, curled and high-set tail. There are two types of coat for the Icelandic Sheepdog: the long and the short but both are thick and weatherproof. Colours include tan, reddish-brown, chocolate, grey and black with white as a required prominent colour.
Although it is a working dog useful for herding and driving livestock adapting extremely well to the rough terrains and harsh weather in Iceland, it is not known for hunting. It is hardy, energetic and agile. At home, it is cheerful, friendly and inquisitive, never aggressive even to visitors. They are excellent with children and get along well with other dogs and non-canine pets. They are active dogs that require lots of activity, exercise and close contact to the family. This generally healthy dog lives to about 12 years.