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Iceland Dogs are one of the rarest breeds in the world. I live near Southampton, which is one of the largest seaports in the British Isles - indeed in the world - and it may surprise people to know that quite often one may meet one of these rare dogs in this city. A city with well over two hundred thouseand , it hs population which exceeds the whole of Iceland, and yet in this southher part of England there are probably a dozen or more of these interesting and attractive dogs.
What is this charming breed of dogs going so far away from its native land? It was introduced by and Englishman in the 1950's, who spent two summers touring Iceland selecting suitable and typical specimens of the breed to bring home to England. This Englishman, aldready well known in Iceland, had for long admired the people and their culture, and it seemed fitting that their little national dog, which he also admired, should have been chosen by him to bring to England.
I was first indroduced to this smart breed of dog some eight years ago. A most delightful animal called Hrefna of Wensum arrested my attention, and I thought at the time that she was a small edition of the Husky type sledge dog. Later I was to become the owner of Hrefna, and found her to be gay, friendly little soul, with a tremendous amount of intelligence. Quite one of the nicest breeds I have come acress, I realized that the Iceland Dog had much to recommen it as a companion dog. England is known the world over as nation which has an overriding passion for all animals in general, but dogs in particular. All my life has been spent amongst dogs, and it fact there are few families in Great Britain who have not at some time or other had dog as a household pet. I have bred hundreds of puppies over a period of many years, and specialized in Great Daned which have been companions. Hardly a week passes by that I don not judge dogs at dog shows either in my own country or some other country in the world. I mention this in passing, as I feel it is important to make clear that my appreciation of the Iceland Dog is based on a sound knowledge of dogs, and not sentiment.
The Iceland Dog is the national dog if Iceland. A fact which should be readily grasped and proudly accepted. For many years Iceland has rigidly fefused the importation of dogs into the country. THis is an interesting factor, which makes this little breed so distinctive.
One of the Oldest Pure Breeds
There are probably as many as two hundred diffrent breeds of dogs throughout the whole world, but few breeds can trace their ancestry back to more than a hundred years. The Iceland Dog is one of the oldest pure breeds in the world, tracing its history back directly over a thousand years. Its cousin, the Norwegian Buhund, bears a close resemblance to the stock which the Englishman Mark Watson so carefully selected from Iceland when he introudeced the breed into England.
To the people of Iceland I would say that you have in your ancient little breed of dog a real treasure - part of your history. You should prize and value the Iceland Dog, for he is unique and to be cherished.
Jean Lanning is a well known judge of dogs at championship shows in Great Britain. She also judges at dog shows in U.S.A. and elsewhere.
Photo: Kolur and Píla of Ólafsvellir
© S. Pétursdóttir