The Icelandic Sheepdog, considered a Nordic herding spitz, was recognized by the AKC in 2008, making it a newer addition to the organization. The dog has a small to medium build, weighing 20-30 pounds and standing 12-16 inches. The double-coat can be either long or short-haired, and is weatherproof. This breed is a heavy shedder, blowing its extremely thick coat twice a year. The grooming will include a good brushing several times a week.
The Icelandic was bred to work hard outdoors herding cattle and though they can make great indoor pets, they need lots of exercise. They should have a daily long brisk walk or jog along with a fair amount of play. The sheepdog needs to have lots of time with his family, and if left alone for large amounts of time each day, he may develop "home alone anxiety". The Icelandic enjoys being with children, and typically will get along well with other household pets. This breed is friendly, gently and happy. Barking is a technique used to herd sheep and other livestock, so a sheepdog tends to bark when he wants something. If the barking becomes a problem, the dog can be trained to lesson the amount of barking. They tend to like everybody, which makes them poor guard dogs. They are intelligent and can easily be trained. They are happiest with a job to do. The life expectancy of the Icelandic is about 12 years. Some of the more common health issues are: Canine Hip Dysplasia, Patellar Luxation, Cataracts, and Cryptorchidism.
The Icelandic sheepdog was brought to Iceland around 874 AD by the first Viking settlers. They are the only native dog of Iceland. It is thought that the Icelandic Sheepdog may be a relative of the Norwegian Buhund. The AKC has this breed listed in the Herding category.