Mark Watson - the savior of the Icelandic Sheepdog

Hero Image

16.07.2023Evelyn Ýr

Mark Watson is known to many owners of Icelandic sheep dogs all over the world.

Watson's achievements can't be adequately summarized in a short blog post, and he will be given more space on the website and in the upcoming exhibition. But I will still summarize a few points as we approach the Icelandic Sheepdog Day on July 18, which is Mark Watson's birthday.

Mark Watson was born on July 18, 1906, in the United Kingdom. His family was very wealthy, owning an estate in Scotland and a summer house in Austria. They lived lavishly in London. Watson was well-educated and studied at the best schools in Britain and on the continent. He spoke fluent French and good German. He traveled extensively and developed an interest in Iceland from an early age. He dreamed of adventures in Iceland and made his first trip to Iceland in the summer of 1937. The following year he traveled around the country on horseback. During these trips, he took photographs and motion pictures, which were shown in London and at the World's Fair in New York in 1939.

Watson was very generous to Icelanders. He donated over a hundred watercolor paintings by Collingwood, a British painter who traveled around Iceland at the end of the 19th century, to the National Museum, along with other artworks he gifted to the museum.

In the summer of 1938, he came to Glaumbær in Skagafjörður and fell in love with the old farm. Watson wanted to buy Glaumbær, restore it to its original form, and turn it into a museum. But the farm was not for sale. When he got home, he decided to send two hundred sterling pounds to Iceland, so that repairs could begin on Glaumbær.

Watson was a great dog lover and was one of the first people to realize that the Icelandic Sheepdog breed was dying out. He therefore decided to save the breed. He had dogs collected that had the typical appearance of the Icelandic Sheepdog and bought them. Later, they were sent to California where he lived for years on the Wensum kennel farm in Nicasio.

In 1957, Mark Watson published a book on the Icelandic dog breed. The book is called The Iceland Dog 874 – 1956 and in it, Watson lists all the data he found about the Icelandic Sheepdog.

Watson helped Sigríður Pétursdóttir from Ólafsvöllur (who will receive a more detailed review on this site later) to transport Icelandic Sheepdog puppies from his breeding from England to Iceland to start important breeding work. Sigríður Pétursdóttir, along with others, founded the Icelandic Kennel Club HRFÍ in 1969. The aim of the association was the protection and breeding of the Icelandic Sheepdog breed. At the founding meeting, it was agreed to show the Iceland friend Mark Watson the respect of making him an honorary founding member, as he has initiated the protection of the Icelandic Sheepdog, in addition to writing a book about the breed.

In early 1973, Watson gave Icelanders a fully equipped animal hospital.

Mark Watson died at his home in London in March 1979.

Interested parties are referred to the booklet of the Skagafjörður Heritage Museum Mark Watson and Glaumbær and the article Mark Watson and the day of the Icelandic Sheepdog by Þórhildur Bjartmarz to learn more about him.



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



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