Courtesy of Bert-Jan Elfrink
Greenland Dog (Gronlandshund)
Considerable difference of opinion still exists concerning the names of the arctic sledge-hauling dogs. The Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky have been successfully separated in name, classification and recognition by the major canine authorities, but there is still some confusion concerning the Gronlandshund and the Eskimo Dog, some authorities still dividing the two. The FCI however recognises the Gronlandshund, whilst the Canadian Kennel Club recognise the Eskimo Dog. He is big, up to twenty-five inches at the shoulder and strong and well-built with it, his stand-off coat making him look even more massive.
As a sledge-hauling dog he played his part in the exploration of the Arctic regions, and is still used competitively in sledge races. The Eskimoes used dogs for work for centuries before mechanisation took over, and in addition to the actual hauling that he did, the Greenland dog proved to be an excellent guard, and watchdog. His coat is long and hard, and he has a thick soft undercoat which affords him protection from the weather. He is extremely hardy, capable of existing on the minimum of sustenance and out of doors in the worst weather. His colour is not considered to be an important feature, but white, grey, black and little tan in almost any proportions are acceptable.
He is reserved with strangers but becomes attached to those with whom he lives.
The Eskimo Dog is one of the most famous working dogs in the world, but unfortunately has suffered from confusion as the result of other, smaller and less popular sledge dogs being credited with his name. The Eskimo Dog proper originated in Greenland and is the most generally useful of the hauling dogs of all the Arctic countries. He is very much part of the heritage of northern Canada, and known to the Inuit people as the ‘Kingmik’, he was the only breed of domestic animal know to the early Arctic peoples. He hauled sledges, carried packs and was used for hunting.
He guarded the camps and property, was the plaything of the children when he was young, and whilst working hard he lived frugally and made little inroad into the limited resources of the people with whom he lived. These dogs were first encountered by explorers who immediately found them the only answer to their transport problems. He was first written about one hundred and fifty years ago and was accepted as a separate breed by the Canadian Kennel Club before the turn of the century. Although mechanisation has restricted the absolute need for these magnificent dogs, they are still used competitively. There was at one time danger that the breed would disappear, but recent efforts to ensure its continuance are proving entirely successful. He is a large strong dog of rugged build with a weatherproof coat, and the more attractive marked ones that are appearing in the show rings of the world are gaining the breed new friends all the time.
He is a very intelligent and good-natured dog.