The tough and energetic Icelandic Sheepdog was mainly used by shepherds to herd livestock and to find lost sheep. These dogs have a thick double coat effectively making them weatherproof – a feature that is a necessity to all herding breeds. Since they were bred to work on their own and to figure things out for themselves, they are known to be quite independent and sometimes stubborn. Training should be firm and consistent in order for it to be effective. As pets, they are always alert, cheerful and playful. They are considered to be great with kids and gets along well with other pets. The breed has an average life span of 12 years. The Icelandic Sheepdog can grow up to 18 inches tall and weighs between 20 to 30 pounds. This is a double-coated dog which usually comes in the colors tan, reddish-brown, chocolate, gray, black and white. 
The modern Icelandic Sheepdog looks a lot like its ancestors due to the isolation of its homeland. It is believed that the dogs were brought by the Vikings to Iceland around the 9th century and were used to protect flocks from birds of prey. To this day, they retained the habit of watching the sky and barking at birds. They can be quite vocal and will surely alert their humans whenever they notice anything. However, they are said to be too friendly to be effective guard dogs. They enjoy human interaction and should not be left alone for long periods. The breed was almost wiped out in the late 19th century due to plague and canine distemper. There was even a point that the breed’s population went down to only 50 dogs. Recently, breeders in Iceland are attempting to raise the breed’s numbers although they still remain to be one of the rarest breeds today. They were only recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2010.