The Greenland Dog originates from the coastal area of the Arctic regions of Northern Siberia Alaska, Canada and Greenland and is one of the oldest breeds in the world. Remains have been found in the New Siberian Islands that have been carbon dated to around 9,000 years old. It is known that the dog first reached Greenland with the Sarqaq people around 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. The breed has been known in the past by a variety of names including Eskimo Dog, Husky, Inuit Dog, Esquimaux and settled on it’s current name Greenland Dog in 2000 to fall in line with the rest of Europe where it is known as the Gronlandhund. Unfortunately, due to the decline of dog-drawn transport, they have suffered a great fall in numbers since the turn of the last century. This trend has not been helped by the success of more domesticated and eye catching sled dog breeds such as the Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky and the Samoyed for racing, exploration, dog showing and as pets.
It is believed that the first Greenland Dogs were brought into the UK in around 1750, and they were first exhibited at one of the earliest dog shows at Darlington in 1875. The breed was recognised by the Kennel Club at it’s foundation in 1880.
Despite the increasing use of Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies and Samoyeds from the early 1900s, many explorers continued to use the Greenland Dog. In fact, the Antarctic surveyors and explorers appeared to favour the qualities of the Greenland Dog. Roald Amundsen recorded the earliest known data for Greenland Dogs being used as working dogs and it was his use of the dogs that is widely credited as giving him the edge over Scott in capturing the South Pole in his expedition of 1910-1912.
The owner of a Greenland Dog today must be both patient and determined when training, particularly in the early months of a dog’s life, but will find the rewards wholly worthwhile. They are an independent and dominant breed and will challenge their owner so training must be persistent, patient and consistent in correcting the dog throughout it’s adolescence and into it’s maturity at around 3 years of age. This is essential for a dog of this size possessing immense power and strength. The Greenland Dog has the independent and stubborn nature shared by all of the Spitz breeds but they are adaptable, intelligent, good natured and affectionate, and are known to be happy extroverts. They are a breed for the experienced and enthusiastic dog owner rather than the novice, but are by no means impossible.The Greenland Dog is not a ‘one man dog’ showing no particular loyalty to a family member and also does not make for a good guard dog. Although their size and appearance could deter any potential burglar, they should not show aggression towards people. Their dominance however is more apparent with other dogs of the same sex; they may not start any trouble but they also may not back down. The Greenland Dog is a pack animal and much closer than other Spitz breeds to the wild state. The Greenland Dog, like the Alaskan Malamute, has a waterproof double coat and should be cared for in the same way. The Greenland Dog is a natural breed which on no account should have it’s coat trimmed or clipped. With this coat, which is common to all Nordic dogs, the Greenland Dog is equally happy to live inside or outside. Should the decision be made for the dog to live outside, adequate shelter from the elements should be provided to avoid suffering discomfort in the wind and rain, or from heat stroke.
Secure fencing is essential, therefore a 6ft fence turned over at the top and sunk into the ground to prevent digging out is essential. Regardless of where they are living, they must have sufficient stimulation to keep them occupied. The Greenland Dog is a highly intelligent yet stubborn breed which not only makes them a challenge to train, but also they can become easily bored. This could lead them to become destructive, take to digging or excessive howling. They may of course do any of these to challenge the owner from time to time which must be swiftly and consistently corrected to show the dog who is in charge. They are a pack animal and will respect a hierarchy once it is established.It is very important that a mature Greenland Dog is exercised every day. It is equally important however that a young puppy is not over exercised as the breed’s heavy bone structure can be irreparably damaged by doing this. Instead, a puppy’s exercise should be built up slowly and steadily for as little as 10 minutes each day for one around 3 months of age, as they are already using up considerable levels of energy in play. In the same manner, it is vital not to under feed a puppy as it is this large intake of food at an early age that helps them develop their bone structure. You can always take excess weight off a puppy at a later stage but can never put bone on if it is not there.