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Often touted as North America's oldest and rarest purebred dog, the Canadian Eskimo Dog is an Arctic animal that's often referred to as the Qimmiq - an Inuit word for 'dog'. Once used as a mode of transport by indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic Circle in Canada, the increasing use of snowmobiles in the 1960s saw number of driving packs of Eskimo Dogs dwindling. However low breed numbers may also be as a result of the systematic culling of sled dogs throughout the 1950s and 1970s by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
It has been suggested that the Eskimo Dog has been resident in North America for over 4000 years. It is thought that the first examples of the breed were developed by the Thule, a race of people who are ancestors to the modern Inuit, from the Greenland Dog, and there really is very little genetic difference between the breeds. This, coupled with a lack of a breeding programme for the Greenland Dog has led some experts to state that they are one in the same animal.
Never considered a pet, the Eskimo Dog was always simply a tool to aid survival in one of the World's harshest environments. The dogs were often put to work hunting seal and other game, as well as pulling supplies and people across the Tundra. The dogs are such keen and brave hunters of both seal and polar bear that drivers would frequently encourage them to pull faster by shouting nenook, the Inuit word for 'bear'. Interestingly, despite their courage in the face of an angry polar bear, the dogs would not pursue wolves and would show fear in their presence.
Their urine was seen as medicinal by the Inuit and the fur was prized
because of its thickness and resistance to wear - the dogs would also occasionally be used for food if supplies ran low.
Average height to withers: 23" - 28" (dogs) 19.5" - 23.5" (bitches)
Average weight: 30 - 40kg (dogs) 18 - 30kg (bitches)
The Canadian Eskimo is a powerful dog, boasting boundless energy and stamina. They are imposing and not unlike a wolf in appearance. The CED is a characteristic example of the Spitz breeds, which display a thick, often white coat, with pointed muzzle and ears and a tail carried curled over the back.
Females should be far more delicate than the males and their fur is usually shorter. Built for life in the freezing Arctic wastelands the Eskimo Dog has thick, dense fur that's soft underneath and coarse on top, with a distinctive mane of much thicker hair around his neck - giving an impression of bulk and masculinity.
There are no set colourways for the Eskimo dog - solid white is common, as is white with coloured patches over the head and body. Solid brown or black examples are seen frequently and may display white markings on the face or legs.
As you would expect of a dog bred to track, hunt, survive freezing temperatures and work hard, the Eskimo Dog is brave, robust, clever, loyal and alert. These dogs are also affectionate and gentle and form a very deep connection with their handlers. Because they were usually expected to hunt for their own food they have an extremely strong hunting instinct and due to the environment they were bred for, you may find they delight in cold weather and prefer to sleep outside when the temperature drops. Like a lot of Spitz dogs, they can be quite noisy.
As a robust breed, the Eskimo Dog is not plagued with genetic conditions like some pedigree animals. Of course the dog should be vaccinated and regular check ups should be planned in - particularly if the animal is engaged in regular and strenuous activity.
Numbers of Eskimo Dogs are so low that to lose just a few would be devastating to the breed, so a carefully planned programme of veterinary care should be established. The breed has a weaker-than-average immune system as the germs and bacteria present in most countries of the world cannot survive in the Arctic, meaning they have never built up immunity to even the most straightforward illnesses.
His coat produces oils that are used to protect the skin and keep out the harsh elements, and bathing should be infrequent to ensure these oils are not disturbed. It has been suggested that these natural oils are so important that without them many dogs would die almost immediately if exposed to Arctic temperatures and water penetration was allowed to occur.
Raw bones can be given to help keep teeth healthy and provide much-needed calcium, although a dog chewing on a juicy bone should always be supervised.
Canadian Eskimo Dogs need a huge amount of exercise and walking alone is not sufficient. This is why these dogs are often not suitable for most owners - needing much more physical activity than many people can offer. Their physical and mental need for work makes them perfect candidates for sports including mushing, carting and skijoring - where a person on skis is pulled by a horse or a dog.
The Eskimo Dog should have limited exposure to hot, sunny weather as their Arctic origins mean they are prone to heatstroke - they are definitely best suited to a colder climate. Despite its thickness, the coat is relatively easy to care for, requiring grooming only once or twice a week. The dog will shed once a year and during this period will need brushing at least once a day.
The diet of a Canadian Eskimo Dog should be carefully considered as they haven't been exposed to vegetable matter though their traditional Arctic diet and therefore they do not tolerate cereals or plant matter well. High-quality commercial feeds with a high protein content and no cereal or vegetable ingredients, or homemade foods, are best for the Eskimo Dog. Fresh water should be readily available.