Information about the Canadian Eskimo Dog

The Canadian Eskimo Dog is an Arctic breed of dog (Canis lupus familiaris), which is often considered to be North America’s oldest and rarest remaining purebred indigenous domestic canine. Other names include Qimmiq (Inuit for “dog”). Although once used as the preferred method of transportation by Inuit in the Canadian Arctic, traditional working dog teams became increasingly rare in the North after the 1960s. This is often cited a result of snowmobiles becoming more popular, however it may also be the result of the alleged organized and systematic mass slaughter of Inuit sled dogs in the Eastern Arctic between 1950 and 1970 by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police

The Canadian Eskimo Dog should always be powerfully built, athletic, and imposing in appearance. It should be of “powerful physique giving the impression that he is not built for speed but rather for hard work.” As is typical of spitz breeds, it has erect, triangular ears, and a heavily feathered tail that is carried over its back. Males should be distinctly more masculine than females, who are finer boned, smaller, and often have a slightly shorter coat.

Its superficial similarity to wolves was often noted by explorers during the Coppermine Expedition of 1819-1822. They noted that the ears of the Eskimo dogs they encountered were similar to those of American wolves, and their forelegs lacked the black mark above the wrist characteristic of European wolves. The most sure way to distinguish the two species was said to be through the length and posture of the tail, which was shorter and more curved in the dog.

The coat is very thick and dense, with a soft undercoat and stiff, coarse guard hairs. The Eskimo Dog has a mane of thicker fur around its neck, which is quite impressive in the males and adds an illusion of additional size. This mane is smaller in females. Eskimo Dogs can be almost any colour, and no one colour or colour pattern should dominate. Solid white dogs are often seen, as well as white dogs with patches of another colour on the head or both body and head. Solid liver or black coloured dogs are common as well. Many of the solid coloured dogs have white mask-like markings on the face, sometimes with spots over the eyes. Others might have white socks and nose stripes with no eye spots or mask.

There is significant variance in size among Canadian Eskimo Dogs, and the weight and height should be proportionate to each other. The average size of Canadian Eskimo Dogs is:

Height (at the withers):
Males: 58-70 cm (23-28 in)
Females: 50-60 cm (19½ – 23½ in)
Males: 30 – 40 kg (66 – 88 lb)
Females: 18-30 kg (40 – 66 lb)

The Canadian Eskimo Dog’s temperament reflects its original work and environment. It is loyal, tough, brave, intelligent, and alert. It is affectionate and gentle, and develops a deep bond with its owner and is intensely loyal. When used as sled dogs, they were often required to forage and hunt for their own food. Consequently, many Canadian Eskimo Dogs have stronger prey drive than some other breeds. Owing to their original environment, they take pure delight in cold weather, often preferring to sleep outside in cold climates. Like most spitz breeds they can be very vocal.

Canadian Eskimo Dogs need a very large amount of exercise. They cannot just be walked, they need higher intensity work, requiring more exercise than many dog owners can give. This need for work and stimulation also makes them well suited for dog sports, such as carting, mushing, and skijoring. They are very trainable and submissive, unlike many spitz breeds, as well as intelligent. The Canadian Eskimo Dog is best kept in a cold climate, and is prone to heatstroke. Its coat is fairly easy to care for most times of the year, needing brushing only one or two times a week. However when it sheds (which happens once a year) it will need grooming every day.

Historically, Inuit would put their dogs to the harness as soon as they could walk, and would acquire the habit of pulling sledges in their attempts to break free. At the age of two months, the pups would be placed with adult dogs. Sometimes, ten pups would be put under the lead of an older animal, coupled with frequent beatings from their masters, which would educate the pups.