The Icelandic Sheepdog belongs to the Spitz type of breeds; these types of dog are characterised by their thick and long fur, as well as having spiked ears and pointed muzzles. It is common to see the tail coiled and curled over the dog's back with this type of breed. The Spitz type are descendants of the dogs that were introduced to Iceland by the Vikings. In Iceland, they are still commonly used to herd sheep, hence their given name.
Appearance and Physique
The nose is a particularly dominant feature on the Icelandic Sheepdog. Though pointed, the muzzle on this type of dog is quite flattened or compact, a set of blackened lips lining the mouth. The eyes are usually dark brown in colour. In terms of size, the breed is slightly under medium and the dog sports the aforementioned curled tail, arching over - and often touching - the dog's back. The dog may have two types of coat, either short or long, though both types are very thick and offer adequate protection from adverse weather for the dog.
There is a distinct visual difference between males and females of this breed. In addition, size also differs, with males standing at around 18 inches and females at 16.5 inches on average, to the shoulder. In terms of weight, this is proportionate to height, coming in at around 25 - 45 pounds on average for the male, and 20 - 40 pounds for the female.
Personality and Temperament
Due to the nature of the role for which they were bred, Icelandic Sheepdogs are very energetic in nature, being extremely agile. This trait of course serves them well for rounding up and moving groups of livestock. However, it also means that the breed caries these traits into the home. Always very alert, the breed will welcome strangers into the home without showing aggression. This of course impacts on their suitability as a guard dog, but simultaneously, it makes them a great choice as an addition to a family unit. The breed will usually get on extremely well with other children, as well as other dogs.
Owing to the breed's high energy levels, it's essential that they are given adequate exercise every day, for a walk or run. These dogs do enjoy to play, though they are also content when they have some form of job or task to perform.
All of the above means that this dog breed can be susceptible to separation anxiety, when they are given insufficient attention and contact with humans; therefore, they shouldn't be considered an option as an outside-only pet.
As is the case with many energetic and highly-active breeds, one of the most common health issues that Icelandic Sheepdogs can face is hip dysplasia. This can be worse within some family lines, so it's important to take this into consideration when purchasing from a breeder.
Distichiasis can also be a problem, where the eyelashes grow inwardly; this can cause infections and soreness or watering within the eyes. In terms of eye health, the breed can also suffer from dog cataracts, which can cause loss of vision if not treated.
However, the above conditions are all general conditions that can affect any breed of dog. The Icelandic Sheepdog is lucky in that there are no genetic health problems known to be specifically linked to this breed alone.