Herding Character
Sigríður Pétursdóttir
© Used with permission.
The herding character of the Iceland Dog is very much unlike the Border Collie. The Border Collie collects
the sheep into a group, then the man goes before the group and the Border Collie follows the man. The
man shows him where to move them. With the Iceland Dog, the man follows the dog. The Iceland Dog can
work independently, the man rides a horse and the Iceland dogs works fast.

The sheep are in the mountain in the autumn and they need to be collected and brought together for sorting
out to each farmer. The group of sheep is mixed and the dogs bring them together and bring them down the
hill. The Iceland Dog works in a horseshoe pattern, not a circle, pushing the sheep into the fold. The
Iceland dog was the worker for the farmer and is able to do the same job today.





































By Svend Otto S.”, from the [Danish] childrens book “Helgis store dag”



I watch the Iceland Dog work today on my farm bringing in the cows and it is wonderful for me to watch
them. Ólafsvellir is a farm of over 1500 acres. On my land, they work three together, one collects the
difficult ones and the male moves the whole thing. The bitches collect and he pushes. It is such a beautiful
thing to see. This is the job of the Iceland Dog. This is correct. This has been the natural way for them to
work throughout the centuries.

They can work with all animals, sheep, cows and horses. They work differently with each kind of animal. It
bears with it the special characteristic of this dog. It is not necessary for them to live this way, but they must
have the ability to herd, in form and in mind. They protect the herd. The Iceland Dog, he is collecting them,
the family, and driving them toward safety. They have to be able to trot from morning to evening without
tiring. Movement is extremely important. They rarely move slowly, they trot. If you tell an Iceland Dog to
guard something, he will give voice.

This is why it is so important to keep the Iceland Dog unchanged from what they looked like years ago,
like in the picture Mark Watson made for me. That is the correct Iceland Dog, like the copper etching. It is
a copper etching that was used around 1900 and Mark Watson bought it for me. (See below)
© Used with permission Donna R. McDermott.
Excerpt from an interview with Sigriður Pétursdóttir by Donna McDermott in Selfoss, Iceland 4, April, 2008
Copper etching © used with permission of Sigridur Pétursdóttir.
© Used with permission
About Helgis store dag

Brief summary: In the fall, when the sheep are brought down from the mountains, Helgi is getting
lost in the fells (mountains like in Iceland) and is – at the end – being saved by his steadfast
companion, Lappi, the Icelandic Sheepdog (ISD). The title indicates an eventful day – or most
likely the most eventful day - in Helgi’s life so far. Based on the content of this children's book
about the boy Helgi, his ISD “Lappi”, and his horse Sólfaxi. The "real" Helgi is 11 years old and
lives at a farm in the Skagafiord area in Iceland. The book was published in 1980 by the Danish
writer and cartoonist Svend Otto S. This book is no longer in print.
© Used with permission.