Icelandic Sheepdogs are hardy, agile, alert and intelligent. Expression is gentle, intelligent and happy. A confident and lively bearing is typical. They drive livestock by barking, and use that talent to advantage as watchdogs. Having evolved in a country without natural predators, however, Icelandic Sheepdogs are not aggressive and have very limited hunting instincts. This breed is very adaptable, equally at home as a family pet or outdoors with livestock. They thrive on human companionship.
The Icelandic Sheepdog is a Scandinavian spitz-type dog. Iceland did not have any dogs present when it was settled in the 9th century, and it is very likely that the original Icelandic Shepherds were some of the “little Viking dogs” accompanying the Vikings. This founding stock is thought to have later developed into other Scandinavian spitz breeds such as the Finnish Spitz and the Norwegian Buhund, other dog breeds which are naturally suited to herding and guard duty. The Icelandic Sheepdog has been highly coveted across Europe, with Sir Thomas Brown writing in 1650: “To England there are sometimes exported from Iceland ... a type of dog resembling a fox ... Shepherds in England are eager to acquire them!”. Efforts have been made to preserve the breed and it is no longer at risk. The breed is recognized as one of the American Kennel Club’s Foundation Stock Service breeds.