Description & History

The Eskimo Dog is a member of the Spitz group of northern dogs. The breed, which has great strength and stamina, has lived and worked in north west Canada, Alaska and in Greenland for well over a thousand years.

The Inuits used them as sled dogs as did early traders, trappers and missionaries who depended upon them.

As a breed they have been used by explorers in the Arctic and Antarctic. In 1911 teams of Eskimo dogs helped the Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen, in his dash to reach the South Pole before Captain Robert Scott.

Eskimo Dogs have long been favoured by teams of surveyors when working in the Antarctic. A team of dogs can pull loads of up to 300 kg for as much as eight hours at a time, and are preferred to motor transport as they can often reach places which are inaccessible to vehicles. However, there is now a move to return these dogs from the Antarctic to their original home territories in the north.

The breed began to decline in numbers in the 1920's from many thousand to just a few hundred due to the introduction of the ski-plane and the snowmobile. Since the 1970's with the help of the authorities in Greenland and the Canadian Kennel Club, efforts have been made to re-establish the breed.

In order that the traditions of the Eskimo people do not die out many schools in north-west Canada have dog sleding as one of the subjects on the curriculum. It is becoming a popular sport in the British Isles with sled dog rallies taking place in Scotland and north Wales.

The Eskimo Dog is one of the few breeds which does not bark. It does however make a noise sounding like "wow wow" - as if they are trying to be conversationalists!

The breed's feeding habits are also different from most other breeds. When on the trail if food is available they are fed every day, while at the home they are probably only fed once or twice a week.

Rosamund Walters.

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