The Icelandic Sheep Dog
Discover the Icelandic Sheepdog's history and resurgence as Iceland's national dog. Join us in 2024 for the opening of our exhibition dedicated to this unique breed. Help spread the word about this remarkable breed and participate in strengthening its presence on the international stage.
Sense of smell
It's dark outside and winter has set in with the associated stormy weather. Then it's best to rummage around a bit, and today it's a questionnaire about dogs in Sarpur, a cultural historical database, that was chosen. I came across a story about the dogs' sense of direction and sense of smell, which I would like to quote here. It is a man, born in 1012 who writes: "Stories of the wisdom of dogs will be countless, but I lack the knowledge to trace them here, as it would be too long. It is certain that many people who were lost in storms or snowstorms resorted to letting the dog lead them home, and it rarely failed. It often happened that sheep were lost in storms and sometimes survived in the snow for weeks and months. Then it was good to have a dog that could find the lost sheep, and some farmers had them and were then hired for searching. These were dogs of the Icelandic breed. Some of them could distinguish whether the livestock in the snow were alive or dead. One farmer had two such dogs, one only searched for living sheep, and the other for dead." Attached is a picture from October this year.
I love books and for that reason I am incredibly pleased to have some books either about the Icelandic sheepdog or containing material related to Icelandic dogs and their history. In my collection is **The Iceland Dog 874-1956** by Mark Watson which refers to many old books and I find it fun to dig up these primary sources. Some I have found online (in digital libraries) and some I got in antiquarian bookshops, for example **Das unbekannte Island** by Wather Heering (1935), **Lýsing Íslands IV** by Þorvald Thoroddsen (1920) and the large **travel book by Eggert Ólafsson and Bjarna Pálsson 1752-1757**. So is the book **Icelandic Sheepdog** by Gísli Pálsson (1999) in which he briefly goes over the history of the Icelandic sheepdog and then gives an overview of the breeders of Icelandic sheepdogs at the time the book was published. The breeders describe their dogs their breeding is based on and it is very informative to read through this because the number of pure bred dogs is still rather small at this point in time. There are also pictures of the main coat colors of the Icelandic Sheepdog and a name bank in the book. The books by Stefán Aðalsteinsson are interesting because he has researched the origin of domestic animals in Iceland and is often referred to in recent sources. Much interesting information about Icelandic farm animals can be found in **Íslenzkir Þjóðhættir** by Séra Jónas Jónasson from Hrafnagili (1934). In the book **The Dewclaw Puzzle**, Moniku D. Karlsdóttir writes about her theory of the inheritance of dewclaws in the Icelandic sheepdog. I'm sure there is much more about Icelandic sheepdogs hidden in my book shelves that I have not yet found. If someone knows about "hidden" stories in various books, please do not hesitate to let me know and contact me by email at [email protected].
The goal 2024
About a year ago I started working on the project about the Icelandic national dog and I am pleased with the progress. I have read a lot, both in books and on the internet. I have connected with many people, both at home and abroad, and I find that most of the people I have talked to have a burning interest. I have been collecting stories and pictures and I need to keep finding interesting content in the database. It's a bit slow to get answers from local photo galleries/collections to be able to buy old pictures but I will continue to work on it. Now is the time with the shortest days of the year, which is exactly the best time for me to work on this, and next on the agenda is to set up space on the website to publish the stories I have been given. There is still a lot of work to be done but the goal is set: opening the exhibition in the summer of 2024. I look forward to bringing my ideas about the exhibition into action and of course I will continue to talk about the progress of the project here in the blog along with various speculations and interesting information.