Greenland Dog (Grønlandshund)
The Greenland Dog is a robust, loyal, handsome working breed that has served Arctic inhabitants from times immemorial. With the invention of modern transportation this ancient dog lost most of its usefulness and today its numbers are very low. Because of its sizeable exercise requirements the breed will be a bit of a handful for a novice dog owner.
The Arctic areas of Canada, Northern Siberia, Alaska and Greenland are the homeland of powerful and tough Greenland Dog. It’s believed that the age of this dog amounts to thousands of years. During early part of its history there were a few types of this breed as well as it was known under different names, including the Husky, Eskimo Dog, Inuit Dog and Esquimaux. The present-day name was granted to it only in 1990. Archaeologists discovered in the New Siberian Island the remains of Greenland Dogs, which was estimated to be approximately 9 000 years old. Nevertheless the breed is thought to be initially brought to Greenland by Saqqaq people about 5 000 years ago.
Sleds are the predominant transport facility for the Eskimos and the Greenland Dog specialises in dragging a heavily loaded sled over great distances. In the past the dog also assisted these people in hunting, which was their only way to earn subsistence. With its excellent nose the breed was effective at finding the seal’s breathing hole in the snow. A pack of these canines was capable of bringing down even such ferocious creatures as polar bears and walruses.
The Greenland Dog not only made the every-day life of the Eskimos easier it was absolutely vital for their survival in these extremely challenging conditions. The working characteristics of this dog were appreciated by many Antarctic and Arctic explorers. It was deemed that Roald Amundsen owed its triumph over Scott in his expedition to the South Pole partially to incredible endurance of his Greenland Dogs.
With the spread of snowmobiles and other motorised vehicles the breed lost its main role of a sled animal and therefore its population shrank very substantially. Additionally other Nordic dogs (the Alaskan Malamute, the Samoyed and the Siberian Husky) came into fashion. By now the Greenland Dog reached all European countries where it’s kept exclusively as a pet. But it hasn’t won wide popularity in this capacity and its population is still very small.
Some canine organisations consider the Eskimo Dog and the Greenland Dog to be the same breed while others recognise their uniqueness. For example, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale) (FCI) gave its recognition to the Gronlandshund but the Canadian Kennel Club registers only the specimens of the Eskimo Dog.
For centuries the Greenland Dog was a staunch companion of Northern folks and became ideally adapted to their lifestyle. As it was expected to function independently it wasn’t prone to strongly attach to their human masters. However the modern-day breed member is widely known for its gentle, patient yet somewhat refractory personality. It’s well-suited for families with children who immensely enjoy its playfulness and adventurous nature. Be aware though that this dog resembles a wolf in its desire to have a pack and make sure to show your pet its place in a pecking order as early as possible.
The Greenland Dog is very trustworthy around unknown people as it’s almost totally deprived of human aggressiveness. Unfortunately it also means that it commonly greets all intruders as dear guests and should not be tasked with responsibilities of a guardian. Some basic training can make this attentive dog with acute hearing and nice scent a wonderful watcher that will let its masters know about any peculiar activity in the neighbourhood of their dwelling.
In general, the Greenland Dog treats its counterparts with due respect although it will never evade confrontation if other canine acts belligerently. This breed will consider those dogs that it gets to know in its puppyhood as members of its pack. It is also accepting of familiar household cats and other pets but it will enthusiastically chase any homeless animal that catches its eyes.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· hip dysplasia;
· elbow dysplasia;
· eye problems;
· gastric torsion;
· weight problems;
· ear infections.
The grooming of the Greenland Dog is a simple task. Its gorgeous double coat needs periodic, yet infrequent brushing to look well-kept. Thanks to its thickness this dog fits for outdoor keeping all the year round. Bear in mind that it’s absolutely intolerable to hot weather and offer your pet a proper shelter to avoid probable heat stroke.
Other essential care procedures comprise of weekly brushing of the dog’s teeth, rare bathing and monthly nail clipping. As the breed's ears are susceptible to infections, devote sufficient attention to cleaning of this part of the dog’s body.
The training of the Greenland Dog is considered to be a task of a moderate difficulty. Persistence, patience and consistency are essential conditions of adequate results in the work with this dog. Trainer should strike a confident and firm attitude to it but he should avoid using physical enforcement in its methods.
Don’t expect unquestionable obedience from the breed since it shares wilful and independent temperament of all Spitz-type dogs. Whip up the interest of your pet to lessons with its favourite food and kind words and don’t punish it for its minor blunders.
The Greenland Dog got used to pull an extremely heavy load through rough terrain for hours on end so it’s no wonder that it needs a great deal of exercises in the role of a family dog. At the same time too strenuous physical activity may be harmful for its puppy because it may cause distortion of the dogs’ bone structure.
It’s crucial to offer this breed a daily chance to play and roam in a well-fenced territory otherwise it may begin destroying your possessions or simply become restless and unruly indoors.