The Utonagan is a companion breed with a unique wolf-like conformation and easy-going personality of a domesticated dog. This intelligent, frisky and highly trainable canine thrives on human companionship and makes a wonderful addition to families with older kids. Nonetheless its owners must be sufficiently committed to provide it with lots of physical and mental stimulation.
Photo: © Kalamaki Utonagan (kalamakiutonagan.webs.com)
From the first look on the Utonagan it becomes clear that its creators were inspired by a beautiful yet fierce predator, a wolf. Nonetheless it doesn’t have any blood relationship with this wild animal as the breed was produced by crossing the members of the Alaskan Malamute, the Siberian Husky and the German Shepherd. The original foundation stock of the Utonagan consisted of 5 dogs of uncertain origin that was imported to the UK from America in 1987. Above-mentioned breeds were used in the breeding program in order to refine its appearance as well as to enlarge its gene pool.
The first breeder of the Utonagan, Edwina Harrison, nicknamed the result of her work a wolf-dog. But this name never took on and several years later it was altered to the Northern Inuit. Shortly afterwards a few breeders made a decision to rename their canines Utonagan and create a new strain. This variety of the Northern Inuit owes its name to an ancient Chinook Indian story and it’s translated as «spirit of the wolf».
In 2007 a few British fanciers of the Utonagan organised a club whose goal was to enhance its robustness, to sort out all available information about the breed and to guarantee proper record keeping hereafter. Unfortunately in 2011 these breeders had a clash of interest with other members of the club and finally stepped out of it. Presently the British Utonagan Association sells a new type of the breed that has very little to do with its original version.
The Utonagan is not only a wonderful companion animal but it’s also capable of becoming a very good therapy dog and participant of various canine sports, especially agility and flyball. However, the breed hasn’t yet achieved recognition of any reputable canine organisation.
The formidable look of the Utonagan may be highly deceptive as this dog is endowed with the kind and gentle temperament. It definitely has a strong pack mentality and the masters become pack members for this breed. It also means that this dog must learn its place in the packing order since its puppyhood. In most cases a first-time owner can’t assume necessary leadership over this dog so he should carefully consider all the pros and cons before adopting it. This sociable and frisky breed is usually fine with older children but should be closely monitored around small ones since it can easily knock a toddler down while playing.
The Utonagan is prone to greet equally cordially both familiar and strange people. Timely and thorough socialisation will ensure that your pet won’t feel itself uneasy or shy in the company of a new person. Because of its friendly attitude to everyone this breed is ill-suited for guarding tasks. At the same time it has all essential prerequisites to become a rather dependable watcher.
The properly socialised specimen of the Utonagan will use every chance to interact with its counterparts. As with any other dog it may clash with strange dogs of the same gender but on the whole it’s very accepting of other canines. Street cats and other small creatures are sometimes perceived by this dog as prey objects so make sure to release your pet off-leash only in a safely enclosed area. Nonetheless it has very little aggressive issues with those separate pets (including household cats) with which it has shared its life since a very young age.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· hip dysplasia;
· elbow dysplasia;
· degenerative myelopathy (DM);
· Addison’s disease;
· bloat or gastric torsion;
· multifocal retinal dysplasia (MRD).
The maintenance of the Utonagan will consume moderate amount of your time. Its long beautiful coat should be brushed twice a week in order to look shipshape. This dog sheds averagely and seasonally so it’s better to resort to daily brushing of its fur during these times. Bathe your pet as rarely as possible since water can wash off natural oils that protect its skin and fur from nasty weather.
Grooming routine should also include weekly teeth brushing and monthly nail trimming. Regular ear cleaning will effectively stave off the most of infections in this area.
The Utonagan is both a smart and docile breed that usually make a very capable learner. Be mindful though that it’s also an excellent problem solver and can occasionally apply to selective listening if it thinks that your command disagrees with current situation. This dog will completely disregard your orders if you failed to win its recognition as a strong leader.
Reward any progress of the Utonagan with its favourite dog food and it will be always impatient to training sessions. On the other hand, this breed becomes irresponsive and often even aggressive when the handler tries to use physical coercion to dictate its will.
The Utonagan is remarkable for great vitality and will be never satisfied with one or two potty walks per day. This dog needs at least an hour of playtime in a securely enclosed yard. It also willingly takes part in such canine contests as flyball and agility. Good stamina makes it an excellent companion for a runner or bicyclist.
Be aware that this breed possesses very thick coat and can overheat really fast during summer time. So it’s recommended to minimise the level of the Utonagan activity in hot periods. If the dog receives insufficient vents for its excessive energy it can begin entertaining itself by gradually destroying your house or just becomes hyper active indoors.