More reflexions on the naming

Hero Image

22.03.2024Evelyn Ýr

Following my post yesterday, I decided to discuss my thoughts about the naming with the owners and friends of the Icelandic Sheepdog. I asked people on Facebook, "If the Icelandic Sheepdog were just called the Icelandic dog, what would be different?" This sparked a significant discussion that I found both necessary and interesting, and I thank everyone who shared their thoughts on this matter.

It was noted that the Icelandic Sheepdog is a working dog, used for herding sheep, cattle, or horses. But it is also good at many other things. Some can catch mice, collect eggs from nests, track scents, or serve as rescue dogs. Given the Icelandic Sheepdog's diverse roles, names like Icelandic farm dog or Icelandic herding dog were suggested, as well as watch and guard dog, though more in jest and to explore how they would sound. Nobody wants to change the name; that much is clear, and it is not what I want or am calling for either.

At some point, the name Icelandic Sheepdog was decided upon or documented, and I heard that the Agricultural Association played a role in this decision to make it more appealing as a farming dog. That was when organized breeding began, and a lot of effort was needed to prevent the dog from going extinct.

Of course, if we look at the dog's history and what it was used for through the ages, it was the work involving sheep. Hanna Kristin, who breeds Icelandic Sheepdogs at Reykjavellir, put it well:

" was most useful around the sheep. Few farmers owned many horses, and they were just outside. There was little fussing with them on a daily basis. The sheep needed to be driven to where the pasture was, brought home when the weather turned foul, kept in pens, driven out of the fields in summer, retrieved from cliffs and crags when they got stuck, searched for when they were snowed in, and dug out of the snow. It seems natural to me that the national dog is associated with the sheep, which sustained the life of the nation. It played such a significant role in the work around the sheep"

In old Icelandic texts, the term "sheepdog" is often used. In English texts, however, the term Icelandic dog is more common, and when I was searching for old books in digital libraries that mentioned Icelandic dogs, I hardly found any books with the search term Icelandic sheepdog, but I did find books when I entered Icelandic dog.

Mark Watson named his book The Iceland Dog 874-1956 and writes in the book's preface: "As there is only one true type of dog in Iceland, would it not be easier to call him simply the Iceland dog, and at the same time let it be understood that he comes under the heading of a 'working dog'? Many more authors refer to the Icelandic Dog rather than the Icelandic Sheepdog - occasionally the Danes mentioned the Islandske Spidshunde..."

It seems that this discussion is not new at all and will most likely not end here. And that is okay.



Lýtingsstaðir, 561 Varmahlíð.
Phone: +354 893 3817
[email protected]



Lýtingsstaðir, 561 Varmahlíð.
Phone: +354 893 3817
[email protected]