Reserve Best In Show American & Canadian Champion
Stefsstells Saer Seifur
Today’s Icelandic Sheepdog could be described as an old soul in the New World.
As early as 874 dogs were finding their way to the island nation from such civilizations as Norway; so common were they that thirteenth century sagas noted “farm dog follows man wherever he goes, and that a dog always accompanies man between farms and on long journeys”. By the seventeenth century the Icelandic people had become so dependent on dogs that it was rare to see a commoner without one** ISD’s did duty as shepherds, watchdogs and general guards of home and hearth. They patrolled their owners meadows, kept pack pony trains in line, and all in all were an indispensable part of daily life.
Though history is somewhat clouded, it appears that export of the Icelandic Sheepdog started early. Shakespeare mentions the breed in Act ll / Scene 1 of Henry V, when Pistol exclaims “Pish for thee, Iceland Dog! thou prick-ear’d cur of Iceland!”, and quality puppies were sought out as chamber dogs for British ladies. Count de Buffon added them to his genealogical table in the 1755 book “Natural History”, which initially contained relatively few canine examples. The breed flourished until the end of nineteenth century, but during that time a distemper epidemic laid waste to Iceland’s dog population, and three-fourths of her canines perished. After this, such was the value on the purebred ISD that farmers would trade one horse and two sheep for a “true Iceland Dog”. Some dogs were taken to Denmark during that period and the breed was recognised by the DKK in 1900. Further rescue efforts continued on into the ’50’s, when hand-picked specimens were sent to England. Mark Watson’s “Wensum” kennel can be given considerable credit for establishing the breed off-shore; without his determination and perseverance in working with native Icelandic fanciers, it is questionable as to whether the ISD would enjoy the stability it does today.
The modern Icelandic Sheepdog may not have to work for a living, but there should be no doubt that he is ready, willing and able. He is fearless without being aggressive; his intelligence is fluid and free-thinking, which can make him a challenge to those not willing to keep one step ahead. The expression is frank; he is your partner and friend, but should never be subservient or groveling. Whether long, medium or short in length, he wears a “coat of many colours”; only a very few patterns are considered objectionable, though they should never be predominantly white. His overall impression should convey great stamina and flexibility, able to cover ground for hours at a time and have energy to spare. Bone and feet should be strong and legs should move parallel. Of special note are the rear dewclaws, which are a key feature of the breed. Knowledgeable judges will check their position, attachment and strength – a good set of “doubles” is something special! In rare occasions double ‘fronts’ will be encountered; this is a virtue, but is rarely seen.
Seifur has given us all this, and so much more. He has made a definite mark in his brief career to date, and continues to raise the bar on both sides of the border. He is the only multi Group 1st winner in CKC history (5 x), has become the first Reserve Best In Show winner of record, and to our knowledge no other ISD has taken placements in both CKC and AKC competition. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be part of Seifur’s world (and it is very much HIS world) but even more so, to have forged a lasting friendship with his breeder, Stefania Sigudardóttir, of Steffstells ISD’s. Without the encouragement of Stef and her son Edgar, we may never have started the “Seifur Story” – watch for more chapters!!!!!
Breeder/Owners: Stefania Sigurdardottir
Owner: Dawne Deeley
Tsarshadow Perm Reg’d
Handled By: Doug Belter