The Icelandic Sheepdog is a naturally lively, alert, outgoing and confident breed, without being overly pushy or aggressive. The standard published by the American Kennel Club describes them as being “cheerful, friendly, inquisitive, playful and unafraid.” They are known for having a solid, willing work ethic. Icelandic Sheepdogs are extremely social animals that will not thrive if they are separated from their people for prolonged periods of time. They are gentle, patient and especially fond of children, which make them fantastic family pets. Icelandic Sheepdogs welcome their owners as well as most strangers with exuberant tail-wagging and obvious glee. Overall, this is one happy breed of dogs.
Icelandic Sheepdogs are active, athletic, energetic animals that need lots of exercise to keep them in tip-top physical and mental shape. They enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities, such as taking long rambling walks with their owners, romping at the dog park and frolicking at the beach or along a river. They love to play with other dogs. They also love to participate in obedience, agility, utility, flyball, herding and other competitive dog sports, at which they excel.
As a breed, Icelandic Sheepdogs are smart, willing and eager to please. This makes them pretty easy to train. However, because they are so intelligent and enthusiastic, they should be kept challenged with a variety of different training, exercise and play activities, so that they don’t become bored. It can be helpful to rotate their activities every few days, to keep them alert and happy.
Icelandic Sheepdogs have been bred for centuries to manage and move livestock using their instinct, intellect and voice. Unlike some herding breeds, these sheepdogs bark while they are working. As a result, they can be a bit “barky,” especially when they are startled or playing chase with a friend. Icelandic Sheepdogs almost always get along well with others, including people and other pets. They typically are not reserved, aloof or wary, even around strangers or in unfamiliar situations. Icelandic Sheepdogs do not have a strong prey drive. This makes a lot of sense, since they were bred specifically to protect and control sheep and other livestock, rather than to hunt and kill them.