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Greenland Dog
Greenland Dog
Alternative names
Country of origin
Common nicknames
Classification and breed standards
FCI: Group 5 Section 1 #274  
CKC: Group 3 - Working Dogs  
KC (UK): Working  
UKC: Northern Breeds  
Not recognized by any major kennel club
This breed of dog is extinct

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 Greenland 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 native environment.

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 wolf-like qualities. The Greenland Dog is not a good first-time dog, since it takes one who really understands dog behaviour.

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