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The Greenland Dog (Danish: Grønlandshunden, "The Greenland's Dog") is a large breed of husky-type dog kept as a sled dog and for hunting polar bear and seal. This is an ancient breed, thought to be directly descended from dogs brought to Greenlandmarker by the first Inuit settlers.



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 wolflike manner. When it lies down and curls up to rest, the tail often covers the nose. Its coat is of medium length and consists of two layers. The inner layer consists of short wool-like fur, the outer layer of longer, coarser, water-repellent fur.

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.

Male are significantly larger than females at between 58 and 68 cm (23-27 in) at the withers; females are between 51 and 61 cm (20-24 in).


In Greenland this breed exists in much the same condition as it had when originally arriving there, and is kept as chiefly as a working dog valued for its strength and speed rather than a malleable temperament. As a result of living in a pack structure very much similar to their wolf forebears, the Greenland dog takes a very firm and confident owner to make a good pet. Once one has won their respect, however, they can be very loyal and protective of their owners, especially if in a pack.


As is common among sled dogs, Greenland Dogs are able to traverse very difficult terrain with ease and with a high tempo. As working dogs they are especially valued for their physical strength and endurance.


The Greenland Dog originates from the coastal area of the Arctic regions of Northern Siberia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland. Archaeological evidence has proven the dog first reached Greenland with the Sarqaq people between 4000 and 5000 years ago. Sundry artifacts found within the Eskimo people's areas confirm that the Eskimo people, along with their sledges and dogs originated from Siberia. Remains have been found in the New Siberian Islandsmarker that have been carbon dated to around 7000 BC. This makes the Greenland dog one of the oldest breeds in the world.

The Vikings were the first Europeans to settle in Greenland and subsequently became aware of these dogs. Then others like the early European whalers, explorers and fur traders in Canada and North America trained dog-sledding skills from the natives of the Arctic region, (Eskimos),and used with great success the Greenland dog when hunting, exploring and traveling across the Arctic regions.

Greenland dogs belong to the Spitz breeds, a group of dogs characterized by their prick ears, curly tails and thick coats and are among the oldest known dog breeds in the world today. The Greenland dog has been a draught animal in the Arctic regions for centuries and consequently they have developed a powerful body and heavy coats, with a natural capacity for load pulling and endurance in a harsh working environment.

It is thought that the first dogs were brought to Britainmarker around 1750; an Esquimaux bitch was exhibited at one of the earliest dog shows held in Darlington on 29th of July 1875, which was reported in the Live Stock Journal and Franciers Gazette published on the 6th of August 1875. They were recognized by the Kennel Club at its foundation in 1880.

Greenland dogs have been used on many expeditions by explorers, the most famous being Fridtjof Nansen. Nansen recorded in his book "På ski over Grønland", Greenland dogs being used as working dogs by the Greenland Native. Nansen was a successful polar explorer and used the dogs on his famous voyage across the arctic ocean in the equally famous ship "Frammarker". Roald Amundsen used the Greenland Dogs as well on his expedition to the Antarctic. Amundsen carefully chose 97 Greenland dogs to accompany him and his team on his expedition to the Antarctic and the subsequent capture of the South Pole.. Both men started with more dogs than they technically needed to pull as sledge, intending to feed the weakest dogs to the strong ones during the voyage.

See also


  1. Dog Breed Info
  2. National Geographic "Arctic Hunters"
  3. The Greenland Dog Club of Great Britain

External links

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