The Greenland Dog is a primitive Arctic breed originating along the coastal areas of Northern Siberia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland. Archaeological remains suggest that this breed can be traced back 9,000 - 12,000 years to the dogs which accompanied the ancestors of the Inuit from Siberia. Since ancient times they have been utilized for transportation and hunting: hauling heavy sleds, packing supplies, locating seals’ breathing holes, and tracking bear. Known by various names over the years: Eskimo Dog, Inuit Dog, Husky, Esquimaux, the name Greenland Dog was adopted in 1990 to conform with Europe where it is known as the Gronlandhund. The transition from traditional methods of transportation to mechanization has resulted in a decline in numbers, and as a companion and show dog the breed has tended to be overshadowed by the more popular and easier to handle Northern dogs such as the Siberian Husky, the Samoyed, and the Alaskan Malamute. First recognized by the Kennel Club in 1880.
Used for centuries as a team worker without the opportunity to form a close bond with one person the Greenland Dog is unlikely to show particular allegiance to any individual family member, rather he will share equally his great affection for people. Basically friendly, completely unaggressive toward people, and with minimal protective instincts, the breed is unsuited for guarding. A true working dog, renowned for his stamina and endurance, the idle life is anathema to him - he needs a job to do, and if he is not given one he will use his initiative to find himself one, which may have unwanted consequences. Naturally extroverted and with a tendency to dominance they can be boisterous and rowdy in play, which may be rather overwhelming for children and other dogs. Secure fencing is necessary in the home environment as they will roam for miles once free and may not find their way back. Such fencing should be sunk into the ground and have an overhang to prevent digging or climbing out. While not out of the question for a novice owner the breed is perhaps more suited to those who have experience in the care and management of dogs, particularly the Spitz types.
The Greenland Dog thrives on work, so vigorous exercise is essential for the physical and mental well-being of the adult dog. Space to move, long walks, secure areas in which to run, participation in hiking expeditions, sports such as sledding, etc. will keep the dog fit and mentally stimulated. Lack of appropriate exercise will lead to boredom which may result in digging, destructive behaviour, and howling. The exercising of Arctic breeds in the heat of the day should be avoided. Due to their heavy skeletal structure pups should be allowed to develop before any strenuous exercise is undertaken in order to prevent permanent damage to joints and bones.
Being an independent and somewhat stubborn breed training a Greenland Dog may present a challenge. However, if leadership is established through respect, and the owner is prepared to invest time, and to apply patience, perseverance, consistency, and determination the rewards will be worthwhile. Positive reinforcement using food rewards, toys, and praise will bring far more satisfactory, and speedy, results than any harsh verbal or physical corrections. As with all breeds, socialization from an early age is most important to ensure that the pup grows into a confident, well-mannered, and socially acceptable adult.
- Generally healthy
- May have lowered resistance to disease due to Arctic origin where disease-carrying organisms are unable to survive the cold.
Some photographs of the Greenland Dog...