The fourth annual Icelandic Sheepdog Day will be celebrated across Iceland today, RÚV reports. The goal of the yearly event is to increase the breed’s visibility. The Icelandic sheepdog neared extinction in the late 20th century, but was largely saved by the work of Englishman Mark Watson, who took several dogs to England in order to preserve the breed.
The Icelandic Sheepdog breed originates from the dogs brought to Iceland by the Vikings. It is a similar breed to the Norwegian Buhund, the Shetland Sheepdog, and the Welsh Corgi. In Iceland, the dogs are commonly used to herd sheep, as well as being kept as household pets, and are known for their hardiness and resourcefulness.
A presentation of the breed will take place in Reykjavík today at the Árbær Open Air Museum at 2.00pm. Stefanía Sigurðardóttir, chairperson of the Department of the Icelandic Sheepdog, will tell the story of the national breed, as well as describing its varied colouring and its characteristics.
Icelandic Sheepdog Day is celebrated on Mark Watson’s birthday, which this year marks 113 years since his birth. The Icelandic Dog Breeder Association (HRFÍ), founded partly in order to preserve the breed, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year as well. Readers can find more information on Mark Watson’s actions and life on Hundalíf Hundaskóli’s website.