Let's talk Icelandic Sheepdog

Say cheeeeeeeese. The first thing you’ll notice about an Icelandic Sheepdog is that their charming expression looks like a smile. With an outgoing personality and gentle manner, this medium-sized dog has evolved to embrace family life. Brought to Iceland by Viking settlers, the breed has a herding history and with their waterproof coats and strong, athletic build, Icelandic Sheepdogs were born to be outdoors. They are the opposite of a couch potato—an Icelandic Sheepdog needs plenty of exercise and will thrive best in a house or on a farm surrounded by nature.

Other names: Icelandic Spitz, Iceland Dog, Íslenskur fjárhundur, Islandsk Fårehund, Friaar Dog, Canis Islandicus

Origins: Iceland

Close-up of Icelandic Sheepdog puppy in black and white
 Drooling tendencies


 Warm weather? Very low
 Grooming needs  Medium  Cold weather? Very high
 Shedding level  Very high  Suited to apartment living ? Very low
 Barking tendencies  High  Can stay alone?* Very low
 Physical activity needs  High  Family pet?* Very high
 Compatibility with other pets  Very high    

* We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.

For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs.

Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.

Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.

All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company. However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

Inline Image 15
Side view illustration of a Icelandic Sheepdog
46 cm Taille
Jusqu'à 14 kg Poids
42 cm Taille
Jusqu'à 11 kg Poids

 Baby age:  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age:  2 to 12 months
 Adult age:  1 to 7 years
 Mature age:  7 to 10 years
 Senior age:  From 10 years

Side view of Icelandic Sheepdog standing in grass


Get to know the Icelandic Sheepdog

All you need to know about the breed

“The more the merrier” is a good way to describe the mindset of an Icelandic Sheepdog. They are most content when next to their humans, preferably burning off some energy outside, and once trained, display a friendly attitude towards other dogs, household pets and children. Having said that, their herding ancestry means that Icelandic Sheepdogs need some supervision around young children, as they will instinctively round them up, like sheep! The breed is rather vocal, which makes apartment living ... a little complicated. However, an Icelandic Sheepdog’s bark is more of a friendly welcome for strangers as opposed to a threat.

You need to keep training an Icelandic Sheepdog fresh and interesting—or you may lose the attention of this free-thinking canine. The same goes for exercise, as the Icelandic Sheepdog is an intelligent and energetic breed. This breed responds well to physical and mental stimulation, so is well suited to an active owner who is happy to engage in tracking, obedience and agility-based exercises.

Icelandic Sheepdogs have a friendly temperament and are very devoted to their family—be aware that they will become anxious or sad if left alone for long periods of time. But with their gentle and playful nature, who would want to be separated from their Icelandic Sheepdog for too long?

Icelandic Sheepdog sitting on rocky hill


2 facts about Labrador Retrievers

1. Labs live for 2 things: playing and food

And not necessarily in that order. But that’s what training is for. There are plenty of great Labrador puppy training videos on the internet - and great trainers locally. The playing helps keep your Labrador in great shape and prevents him from getting bored. You’ve got this!

2. Staying on top of things 

Labrador Retrievers can be prone to certain health concerns, from conditions like hip dysplasia (a reputable breeder will have tested the parents before mating them to help prevent the puppy from having it) to ACL tears - yes, like humans. With recommended exams, a balanced diet and check-ups, most problems can be found early.


History of the breed

There’s a reason Labrador Retrievers are so good on both land and in the water. A direct descendant of the St. John’s Water Dog, named after the capital of the

Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, fishermen used these hard-working dogs to help retrieve their nets and fish from the icy waters of this coastal wilderness. The dogs also kept the fishermen company on what was an isolated, massive and surely inhospitable island. 

However, the answer to “Where do Labradors come from?” isn’t that straightforward. The breed as we know it today is believed to have been established in Great Britain sometime in the early 1800’s. Adventuring aristocrats and returning fishermen brought the Labrador’s ancestor back to England with them, where the dogs found early fame for their hardy constitutions and loyal dispositions.

The Earl of Malmesbury, a clearly forward-thinking man, took notice and deduced, correctly, that the dogs were well-suited to life on the estate. A breeding program was successfully put in place and it is thanks to the Earl and some of his fellow noblemen that the Labrador Retriever breed exists today. Still as comfortable in the water as they are on land, the Labrador Retriever remains one of the most popular dog breeds in the world.

Icelandic Sheepdog lying down in black and white


From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Labrador Retrievers

1. Ears

Medium-sized ears with a round tip that sit upright.

2. Eyes

Almond-shaped eyes that are light to dark brown.

3. Body

Muscular, rectangular-shaped body.

4. Coat

Waterproof double coat, with a soft undercoat and wiry outer coat.

5. Tail

Tail sits high and always curls over to touch the back.

Close-up of Icelandic Sheepdog looking at camera


Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Labrador Retriever

Healthy diet, healthier dog

  • When choosing food for a Labrador Retriever, there are many factors to consider: their age, lifestyle, activity level, physiological condition, and health including potential sickness or sensitivities. Food provides energy to cover a dog’s vital functions, and a complete nutritional formula should contain an adjusted balance of nutrients to avoid any deficiency or excess in their diet, both of which could have adverse effects on the dog.
  • A Labrador Retriever puppy’s requirements, in terms of energy, protein, minerals and vitamins, are much greater than those of an adult dog. They need energy and nutrients to maintain their body, but also to grow and build it. Until they are 15 months old, Labrador Retriever puppies’ immune system develops gradually. A complex of antioxidants - including vitamin E - can help support their natural defences during this time of big changes, discoveries, and new encounters. Their digestive functions are different from an adult Labrador Retriever’s, too: their digestive system is not mature yet so it is important to provide highly digestible proteins that will be effectively used. Prebiotics, such as fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), support digestive health by helping balance the intestinal flora, resulting in good stool quality.
  • It is important to choose a kibble with an appropriate size, shape, and texture to make it easier for them to grasp with their teeth and eat. This growth phase also means moderate energy needs. Large-breed puppies, such as Labrador Retriever puppies, whose growth period is long and intense, are especially susceptible to skeletal and joint problems, including limb defects, bone deformities, and joint lesions. The first part of growth is mainly concerned with bone development, although the muscles also start to grow. Limiting the energy concentration of a food for Labrador Retriever puppies and feeding a correct daily amount will help control the speed of growth and minimise the risk of excess weight. Neutering is a factor in overweight dogs.
  • Concentrations of other nutrients should be higher than normal in a specially formulated growth food. Although the calcium content in the food needs to be increased, large-breed puppies are more sensitive to excessive calcium intake. It’s important to understand then that adding any ingredients to a complete food formulated for the growth phase is at best unnecessary and at worst dangerous for the animal, unless prescribed by a veterinarian. It is recommended to split the daily allowance into three meals a day until they are 6 months old, then to switch to two meals per day. Throughout their life, it is important to avoid feeding Labrador Retrievers human foods or fatty snacks. Instead, reward them with kibble taken from their daily meal allowance, and strictly follow the feeding guidelines written on the package in order to prevent excessive weight gain.
  • The main nutritional goals for adult Labrador Retrievers are:
  • Maintaining an ideal body weight with an adapted calorie content, an increased protein level, and L-carnitine involved in healthy fat metabolism. Labrador Retrievers are well known for being greedy and for their tendency to gain weight. A specially designed kibble shape can also help reduce the rate at which they eat.
  • Helping to support the health of their bones and joints with glucosamine, chondroitin, antioxidants, and EPA-DHA.
  • Helping to preserve the health and beauty of the skin and coat with the enriched provision of essential fatty acids (especially EPA-DHA), essential amino acids and B vitamins in order to support the skin’s “barrier” function
  • Promoting optimal digestibility with high quality protein and a balanced supply of dietary fibre.
  • After 5 years old, Labrador Retrievers will start facing the first signs of ageing. A formula enriched with antioxidants will help maintain their vitality, and specific nutrients, such as chondroitin and glucosamine, will help support healthy bones and joints. Ageing is also accompanied by the modification of digestive capacities and particular nutritional requirements, so food for older Labrador Retrievers should have the following characteristics:
  • An adapted fat and calorie content to help maintain an ideal weight and protein content and L-carnitine to help maintain muscle mass
  • Higher vitamin C and E content. These nutrients have antioxidant properties, helping to protect the body’s cells against the harmful effects of the oxidative stress linked to ageing
  • High-quality protein. Contrary to a widely held misconception, lowering the protein content in food brings little benefit in limiting kidney failure. On top of it, older dogs are less efficient at using dietary protein than younger dogs. Reducing the phosphorus content is a good way of slowing down the gradual deterioration of kidney function
  • A higher proportion of the trace elements iron, copper, zinc, and manganese to help maintain good condition of the skin and coat.
  • A higher quantity of polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) to maintain the quality of the coat. Dogs can normally produce these fatty acids, but ageing can affect this physiological process.
Icelandic Sheepdog standing on snowy rocky outcrop


Caring for your Labrador Retriever

Grooming, training and exercise tips


All about Icelandic Sheepdogs

All about Labrador Retrievers

In a word, yes. They have double coats and that can mean quite a lot of shedding action for dogs like the Labrador. They shed their coats year-round, but even more in spring and winter. Staying on top of brushing – getting them used to twice a week brushing is a good idea – and grooming will help decrease the amount of dog hair clogging the vacuum each week.

Like any dog, your Labrador Retriever didn’t come into the world knowing all the rules. But they are ready and willing to learn and, with some solid lessons, you or a professional trainer can guide your Labrador puppy to understand what is expected of them. The Labrador temperament  is one that innately wants to please, so they’ll pick things up relatively quickly. Early training is essential if you have children in the house, as for any breed.

Autres races susceptibles de vous intéresser


1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/