Was the Icelandic Sheepdog “Icelandic?”

The Icelandic Sheepdog was one of the few dog breeds William Shakespeare mentioned by name. It was in his play, “Henry V:” that he wrote, “Pish for thee, Iceland Dog! Thou prick-ear’d cur of Iceland.’’

But is the earliest origin of the Icelandic Sheepdog really “Iceland?”

In an effort to study the origins of the breed, DNA from blood samples of 56 Icelandic Sheepdogs were analyzed in 1983. The results suggested to researchers that “Iccies” (related to the Karelian Bear Dog, a breed that originated in Russia) arrived in Iceland from Norway, and before that, from the east  (Stefán Aðalsteinsson 1998:79; Stefán Aðalsteinsson 2005:9). Mind you, this was a very long time ago since it’s believe the breed was brought to Iceland with the first Viking settlers in A.D. 874 to 930.  As such, there is no risk to the claim that the Icelandic Sheepdog is Iceland’s only native dog breed.

Image: Icelandic Sheepdog by DJ Rogers — k9ar‘tga||ery



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