Animal lovers will be happy in April, as the third set in our series on the young of Iceland’s domestic animals is about to be released.
The Icelandic Sheepdog probably came to Iceland along with the first settlers – research has shown that it is related to the Norwegian Buhund and the Finnish Karelian Bear Dog. Their coat is extremely weather resistant (a very good quality to have in Iceland! ) Tough, hardy and energetic dogs, historically they have been used as working dogs, for rounding up sheep and preventing animals from straying – nowadays they are no longer only useful dogs but have also become very popular as a family dog.
The Icelandic Sheepdog is by nature very alert – it will bark extensively to announce the arrival of visitors, but without being aggressive. Friendly and playful, it is a good and loyal companion for the whole family.
Around the 1950s, numbers were dwindling. The breed being Iceland’s only native dog, there were big concerns about saving it from extinction and soon it became obvious that breeding was necessary to preserve the Icelandic sheepdog. The first steps in preservation were taken by Sigríður Pétursdóttir from Ólafsvöllum and Páll A. Pálsson in the 1960s. In 1969, the Icelandic Kennel Club was founded, followed by the Icelandic sheepdog breed club which was founded within the club in 1979. From that time on, it has been responsible for the development and safeguarding of the breed, and today the numbers are roughly 5000 of which about 800 in Iceland !
Another loyal companion to Icelanders over the centuries is of course the famous and very popular Icelandic horse. The settlers brought horses to Iceland more than eleven centuries ago and the breed has been kept pure ever since. There are very strict rules about importing and exporting horse related apparatus to Iceland – for instance, a horse that has once left the country is never allowed to come back again! In the same way, “foreign” horses are not allowed to enter the country to avoid illnesses being introduced. The Icelandic horse is considered by some to be a descendant of the Norwegian Fjord horse, which was common in Scandinavia – however is quite different in terms of size and shape.
The Icelandic horse is small but sturdy. Sure-footed and agile, it can deal with all sorts of rough terrain and resist all kinds of weather. In the wintertime, the horses that stay outside in the fields grow an extra layer of hair and they end up looking quite fluffy!
The Icelandic horse is one of the only breeds in the world which can naturally perform five gaits – as well as the typical gaits of walk, trot and gallop, it can perform two additional gaits: a special ambling gait called tölt and a pace called skeið. It has gained great popularity for its friendly nature and equanimity.
For Icelandic horse lovers, spring is an exciting time when the foals are born. It takes around 11 months for a foal to fully develop inside of the mare and birth often happens very quickly. Within a few hours, foals can be seen standing and frolicking around their mothers, and they can even gallop after 24 hours! They certainly make a joyful sight in the Icelandic landscape!
Issue 680A-B – Issue date 11.04.2019
Design: Hlynur Ólafsson
Photos: Bára K. Kristinsdóttir
Printer: Cartor Security Printing
Process: Offset Litho
Stamp size: 30×30 mm
Sheet configuration: 10 stamps
Paper: 247 gsm self-adhesive
Price: 50g domestic (195 ISK)
50g to Europe (225 ISK)
You can order these stamps, as well as First Day Covers from our webstore or you can contact our offices by phone Mondays to Fridays from 9 am to 4pm (Icelandic time!) at +354-580-1050
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