Dogs in Iceland

Ask IR

Dogs in Iceland

Icelandic sheep dog
An Icelandic sheepdog. Photo: Wikipedia.

Q: I know that there’s a special Icelandic sheepdog breed. As far as I’ve understood, dogs aren’t kept as pets in Iceland the same way as in Germany, where they’re kept inside apartments and considered to be members of the family.

Are other dog species being bred in Iceland, such as the dachshund?

Are there dog hotels in Iceland, or what do Icelandic dog-owners do when they travel abroad for a vacation? As far as I know, they can’t bring their dogs along, or must at least have their dogs quarantined for four weeks upon their return, right?

Genya Bieberbach, Germany


A: There are many different dog breeds in Iceland, including the dachshund. Dogs are kept as pets in Iceland the same way as in other western countries, especially in urban areas. In the countryside, dogs are more likely to have a specific role, mainly helping out with rounding up the sheep, and may not be allowed to enter people’s living quarters.

There are dog hotels in Iceland which dog owners take advantage of when they go on vacation, unless they have a designated dog sitter. You’re right that dogs, along with other pets, must be quarantined after arriving from foreign countries. The import of livestock applies to even stricter rules—horses, for example, can never return to Iceland.

If you’re interested in the Icelandic dog culture, you should follow the columns of dedicated dog owner Júlíana Björnsdóttir, who contributes to ‘Views’ on Mondays. Here’s the first column she wrote after buying her dog.