The Greenland Dog is a primitive breed and is the only surviving native breed in Greenland. This breed came from Northern Siberia with the Sarqaq people some 4,000 – 5,000 years ago. It was also used by the Thule tribes of Alaska to hunt seals, bears and other Arctic game as well as a working sled dog to pull supplies and people. It was once assumed that the Greenland Dog had a modern wolf lineage but genetic testing proved that this dog has no such lineage. A genetic study of dogs done in 2015 revealed that the Greenland Dog and the Canadian Eskimo Dog are genetically identical.
The Vikings used the Greenland Dog to explore and travel across the vast Arctic regions, as well as the subsequent Greenland explorers after them, including the early European whalers and fur traders in North America. The breed was first introduced in England in the 1750s and recognised by the Kennel Club in 1880 during its foundation.
Although the Greenland Dog is an ancient breed, it has been a part of the everyday lives of humans for well over four millennia. Its temperament reflects the characteristics of a true working dog – tough, courageous, intelligent, loyal, and alert. It can survive in extreme cold weathers outside the house, although the case may not be the same if it was brought to humid regions. It is a courageous animal and will stand guard against intruders. The Greenland Dog can be easily trained and can recognize commands with just a few repetitions. It is highly affectionate, good-natured, and loyal that it forms a deep bond with its owner.
The Greenland Dog is a strong breed with an enormous reserve of stamina and energy, born to pull heavy loads on sleds and will gladly go all day in harness. This powerful breeding makes the Greenland Dog excellent to train for dog sports such as canicross, bikejoring, weight pulling, rallies, treks, mushing or skijoring. In the United Kingdom, Arctic breeds like the Greenland Dog and the Canadian Eskimo Dog are trained to join in many events organised within forestry commission lands which gives the owner/trainer and the dog miles of trails to run. Backpacking is also a popular activity to train the Greenland Dog for. The owner/trainer can train the dog to carry his own water or food and supplies during longer walks or camping trips in the wild. Dog agility is also a sport where the Greenland Dog can excel.
The Greenland Dog has a hard stiff outer coat and a dense inner coat that helps protect the breed in extreme weathers. Grooming is simple and easy. Regular brushing will help reduce shedding and will keep the coat healthy as well as help remove matting from the undercoat. This breed only requires bathing a few times a year. If kept as a pet, dry shampoo is recommended to keep the coat smelling fresh and clean.
It is a hardy breed with a median lifespan of 10 to 14 years. Some Greenland Dogs are prone to:
The Greenland Dog loves to work and requires an adequate amount of physical and mental activities in order to stay healthy. It needs a very large amount of exercise on a daily basis, so it is well-suited to an active family. High-intensity physical workouts are the best exercise for the Greenland Dog. It is not recommended to an owner who lives in an apartment or condominium life nor in a house situated in the city. A perfect home for this breed is a large house with a large yard where it can play and run all day without getting restricted.
The Greenland Dog is an affectionate and loyal breed but it is not generally suited for a family with young children nor to a stay-at-home owner. It will do best to a family with older kids who knows how to handle a large dog such as the Greenland Dog. It is bred to work in a pack when pulling a sled so it generally goes along well with other dogs, especially if it is socialised at an early age. However, different dogs have different attitudes and some Greenland Dogs may become dominant with other dogs particularly of the same sex.