|Country of origin
|Classification and breed standards
||Group 5 Section 1 #274
||Group 3 - Working Dogs
|Not recognized by any major kennel club
|This breed of dog is
The Greenland Dog is a large
breed of dog bred
as a sled dog.
This is an ancient breed, thought to be directly descended from dogs brought to
by the first Inuit
settlers more than 4,000 years ago.
The Greenland Dog is a powerful, heavy-built dog. It has a broad,
wedge-shaped head, slightly tilted eyes and small, triangular ears covered with
thick fur that prevents frostbite. It has strong, muscular, short-haired legs.
The tail is usually rolled along/across its back, but it may also hang down in a
wolf like manner. When it lays down and curls up to rest, the tail often covers
the nose. Its coat is middle length and consists of two layers. The inner layer
consists of short wool like fur, the outer layer of longer, coarser,
water-repellant fur. The thick, stand-off outer coat and dense underwool allow
them to withstand constant outdoor living in temperatures that can reach -50 or
even -75 degrees Fahrenheit.
A characteristic of most Greenland Dogs is the "úlo", a triangular shaped
area on the shoulders. It is named after a common woman’s-knife from Greenland
which is of the same shape.
Dogs are significantly larger than bitches at between 58 and 68 cm (23-27 in)
at the withers;
bitches are between 51 and 61 cm (20-24 in).
The Greenlanders used this dog-breed as a sled-dog, and it is still used for
that purpose. It is also the dog that is closest related to the wolf. The
Greenland Dog is closely related to other northern hauling huskies. At one time,
there were dozens of breeds and varieties, but many have disappeared due to
modern use of snowmobiles and other machinery, which has supplanted the use of
these dogs. Much crossing of types occurred as the modern settling of northern
areas provided contact between previously remote areas. The Greenland Dog is one
of the breeds saved and fostered by fanciers, especially in the Scandinavian
countries. Sadly, the breed is no longer as numerous as before, even in its
Before use of the more recent method of chaining sled dogs when not working,
the practice among the natives was to keep them tethered with thongs of seal
hide. Of course, dogs chewed through their ties, so most working sled dogs had
their incisors broken (the small cutting teeth in the front of the canines),
which necessitated cutting their meat. Since most of the dogs were fed frozen
meat or fish, the rations were chopped into small pieces which could be
swallowed whole. In The Voyage of the Fox., McClin-tock recalls how he once cut
65 pounds of seal meat into small pieces, and his 29 hungry Eskimo dogs devoured
every morsel in 42 seconds!
Greenland Dogs were also used by the natives as hunting dogs, utilizing their
keen sense of smell to find seals' breathing holes in the ice. Once the hole was
found, the dog and master sat back to wait, as sooner or later the seal came up
for air and it would be speared. In the summer months, the dogs carried
backpacks of supplies up to 33 pounds.
The breed remains principally a working dog. They have the typical Nordic,
good, loyal, affectionate temperament, but when the dogs work in teams, they
don't have the opportunity to develop a relationship with one master. They are
independent and self-willed, and rowdy and boisterous in their play. One must
immediately show these pack dogs who is the alpha male or they will try and take
charge to fill that gap. Like the
Siberian Husky, the Greenland Dog has a tendency to attack and kill small
animals, like cats, squirrels and rabbits. It is also little suspicious when it
comes to strangers. Training must be firm, but gentle and it takes a lot of
patience as the Greenland breed still retains a lot of its
qualities. The Greenland Dog is not a good first-time dog, since it takes one
who really understands dog behaviour.
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