Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Greenland Dog
Average Cost to keep/care for a Greenland Dog
Breed Specific Buying Advice
The Greenland Dog is native to Greenland as their name suggests they were originally bred to work alongside man as a sled dog. They are very similar looking to the Siberian Husky and the Alaskan Malamute being somewhere in between the two breeds when it comes to size and height. They have always been highly prized in their native Greenland, although they have not been "domesticated" as such which, in short, means they are not the sort of dog that would suit first time owners. However, a Greenland Dog in the right hands and environment thrives in a family environment and with people who understand the specific needs of this particular Spitz-type dog.
With this said, very few Greenland Dogs are bred and registered with the Kennel Club every year which means that waiting lists tend to be long and puppies can often command a lot of money. As such anyone wanting to share their home with a Greenland would need to register their interest with breeders for the pleasure of doing so.
The Greenland Dog is thought to be among the most ancient of breeds with evidence of very similar looking dogs having been taken to the Arctic regions of the world some 5000 years ago by people who made the journey to these frozen regions of the world from Siberia. Some remains found on the New Siberian Islands were carbon dated and established that the breed existed there some 7000 years ago.
The Inuit tribes taught the Vikings and early European settlers to hunt and use sleds which saw them using these dogs as they explored the Arctic regions. This saw the Greenland becoming a valuable asset not only to the Inuit tribes but to settlers and adventurers too.
It’s thought that the Greenland made its first appearance on UK soil in the 1750's, but it was not until 1875 that a female Greenland Dog was exhibited at one of Britain’s first ever dog shows that was held in Darlington. She caused such a stir that her debut was reported in the Live Stock Journal and Fanciers Gazette which was published in August of the same year. Five years later the Greenland Dog was officially recognised by the Kennel Club as a breed in its own right.
The most famous explorer to use Greenland Dogs on his expeditions across the Arctic was native Greenlander Fridtjof Nansen, who was a famous explorer back in the day. He used the dogs during his famous voyage across the Arctic Ocean on his equally famous ship called Fram. Roald Amundsen also used Greenland Dogs during other expeditions he undertook and hand-picked 97 animals to accompany him on his trip to Antarctica for his epic expedition to the South Pole.
Today, the Greenland Dog is still highly prized in their native land, but not so well known in other parts of the world which includes here in the UK. With this said, these handsome dogs are best suited to people who are familiar with the specific needs of such intelligent, high-energy dogs and are therefore not a good choice for novice owners.
Height at the withers: Males 58 - 68 cm, Females 51 - 61 cm
Average weight: Males 34.0 - 47.5 kg, Females 27.0 - 41.0 kg
The Greenland is a Spitz-type dog with small, pricked ears, an extremely thick coat and a nice bushy tail that curves over their back. These noble dogs have been highly prized in their native Greenland for centuries where they worked alongside man pulling sleds and hunting large prey. Male dogs tend to be a lot bigger than their female counterparts. Their heads are nicely proportioned in relation to the rest of the body being wedge-shaped and broad with dogs having a moderate stop. Their skulls are flat and their jaws are powerful and strong with dogs having either black or brown noses depending on the colour of their coat. Muzzles are moderately long and they gently taper to the nose.
Their eyes can either be a dark brown or tawny colour and they are nicely set with dogs always having a keen, alert and fearless expression in them. Ears are set nicely apart being firm to the touch and quite small. Dogs carry their ears erect and pointing forwards. The Greenland has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. They have rather short, well-muscled necks with a good amount of loose skin.
Their shoulders are muscular, broad showing a good amount of bone and their front legs are powerful, heavily boned and perfectly straight. They have broad, deep chests and well sprung ribs. A Greenland's body is powerful and muscular with dogs having nice level backs which adds to their balanced, compact look. Their back legs are strong, well-muscled and broad showing a good amount of bone. Feet are large with dogs having strong nails and thick pads with a lot of hair growing between their toes. Their tails are bushy and large which dog carry over their backs loosely curled although some dogs carry it to the side.
When it comes to their coat, the Greenland Dog has a very dense double coat that consists of an extremely thick undercoat and a coarser top coat that stands well away from the body. The hair on a dog's neck, breeches, withers and on the underside of the tail is quite a bit longer than it is on the rest of the body. Their underbellies are well covered in hair too whereas the hair on a dog's head and on their legs is that much shorter. The accepted breed colours for Kennel Club registration are as follows:
It is worth noting that the accepted breed colours for Kennel Club registration can differ from those set out in the breed standard which are as follows:
The only colour that is not permitted under the Kennel Club breed standard is as follows:
When a Greenland Dog moves, they do so with a strong, powerful drive with their legs moving parallel and their backs nice and level.
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and would judge the faults on how much they affect a dog's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform.
Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that a dog can be a little lighter or heavier as well as slightly taller or shorter than set out in the Kennel Club breed standard which is only given as a guideline.
A Greenland Dog is intelligent, but they are independent characters by nature. They are definitely not a good choice for first time owners because they need to be socialised, trained and handled by people who are familiar with the needs of such a high energy Spitz-type dog. They are known to be quiet but will suddenly decide to start howling when the mood takes them which can cause problems with neighbours who live close by.
With this said, they are known to be good-natured and affectionate dogs with females being a lot more amenable than their male counterparts. They are very dignified and they boast a tremendous amount of stamina and energy. As such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise which has to be combined with a ton of mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. In their native Greenland, they are kept very much in the same conditions as they were centuries ago and are still highly prized for their working and hunting abilities when working alongside man.
With this said, they need to be handled with a firm, confident yet gentle hand so they understand their place in the pack and who is the alpha dog. These dogs are never happier than when they know who they can look to for direction and guidance. In the right hands and environment, a Greenland Dog when given the right amount of socialisation and training does make a loyal, protective and confident pet, but one that will always retain their independence.
They are naturally wary and aloof when they are around people they don't know, but rarely would a Greenland Dog show any sort of aggressive behaviour towards a stranger preferring to keep their distance until they get to know them. Because they have such weather resistant coats, they are prone to overheat during the warmer summer months which can prove deadly. As such, care has to be taken as to when these dogs are exercised and ideally it needs to be during the cooler times of the day.
Greenland Dogs are not a good choice for first time dog owners because they need to be handled, socialised and trained by people who are familiar with their specific needs. Being high-energy, intelligent dogs, a Greenland could quickly get the better of a novice owner and take on a more dominant role making them harder to handle and live with.
Greenland Dogs have a very high prey drive and will happily give chase to anything they spot in the distance or that tries to run away from them. As such, care should always be taken as to where and when a dog can safely run off the lead more especially if there is livestock and/or wildlife close by.
Greenland Dogs have a very playful side to their natures more especially when young. However, as a dog matures, they tend to take life a lot more seriously although this is not to say that they often have their “mad moments” too.
Greenland Dogs are much better suited to people who live in a rural setting and who have large, well-fenced back gardens a dog can safely roam in to really let off steam.
Although Greenlands form strong ties with their families and are very protective of them, they are independent thinkers by nature and as such do not typically suffer from separation anxiety. However, any dog that’s left to their own devices for longer periods of time could develop some unwanted and destructive behaviours around the home. It is their way of relieving any stress they are feeling and a way to keep themselves entertained rather than being “naughty”.
Greenland Dogs are known to be “howlers” when the mood takes them which can be a problem with the neighbours. However, they are not known to be “barkers” being quiet most of the time which is why they make such great watchdogs.
Most Greenlands like getting their feet wet and will take to the water whenever they can more especially when the weather is hot. However, if anyone who owns a dog that does not like water should never force them to go in because it would just end up scaring them. With this said, care should always be taken when walking a Greenland off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case a dog decides to leap in and then needs rescuing because they cannot get out of the water on their own.
Greenland Dogs are natural watchdogs and always aware of what is going on in their surroundings. They are quick off the mark when it comes to letting an owner know when something they don’t like is going on or when they are strangers about. A Greenland will stand their ground and prevent anyone from getting passed them if they are not happy about a situation.
The Greenland Dog is an independent thinker by nature and they are never happier than when they are working. This can make them quite challenging to train and why they are better off living with people who are familiar with the specific needs of this type of high-energy dog rather than first time owners.
Their socialisation and training has to start when dogs are young and even then, a Greenland can be quite disobedient when the mood takes them. Their training has to be consistent throughout a dog’s life and it has to always be fair. A Greenland has to know their place in the pack and who is the alpha dog in a household or they might quickly take on this role themselves making them a lot harder to handle and live with.
Like many other breeds, they respond well to positive reinforcement training, but don’t like to be corrected too harshly when they get things wrong which would only achieve a negative response from such intelligent dogs. The key to successfully training a Greenland Dog is to keep their training sessions short and as interesting as possible so that dogs stay more focussed and are therefore more likely to understand what is being asked of them.
Like all puppies, Greenland Dogs are incredibly cute when young and it is all too easy to spoil them when they first arrive in new homes. As soon as a puppy is nicely settled owners must start out as they mean to go on by laying down ground rules and boundaries so that a puppy understands what is expected of them. It helps establish a pecking order and who the alpha dog is in the household. The first commands a puppy should be taught are as follows:
They are not the best choice as family pets especially in households where there are young children. The reason being that a Greenland can be quite boisterous when in a home environment. Any interaction between a dog and children should always be well supervised by an adult to ensure things stay calm and that playtime does not get too rough bearing in mind that Greenland Dogs like nothing more than to play “rough”.
Being pack animals, they are generally good around other dogs more especially if they have been correctly socialised from a young enough age. Care has to be taken when they are around smaller animals and pets because it would be a mistake to trust a Greenland dog with them. As such, any contact is best avoided.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Greenland Dog is between 10 and 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Like so many other breeds, the Greenland Dog is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active, handsome dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
Greenland Dog puppies would have been given their initial vaccinations before being sold, but it is up to their new owners to make sure they have their follow-up shots in a timely manner with the vaccination schedule for puppies being as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets these days recommend waiting until dogs are slightly older before spaying and neutering them which means they are more mature before undergoing the procedures. As such they advise neutering males and spaying females when they are between the ages of 6 to 9 months old and sometimes even when a dog is 12 months old.
Other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old, but never any earlier unless for medical reasons. With this said, many breeds are different, and it is always advisable to discuss things with a vet and then follow their advice on when a dog should be spayed or neutered.
As with other breeds, some Greenland Dogs gain weight after they have been spayed or neutered and it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline just in case they do. If a dog starts to put on weight, it's important to adjust their daily calorie intake and to up the amount of exercise they are given. Older dogs too are more prone to gaining weight and again it's essential they be fed and exercised accordingly because obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years. The reason being that it puts a lot of extra strain on a dog's internal organs including the heart which could prove fatal.
Greenlands are not known to suffer from allergies but it's important for a dog to see a vet sooner rather than later if a problem flares up. Allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers can be challenging. With this said, a vet would be able to make a dog with an allergy more comfortable while they try to find out the triggers which could include the following:
All responsible Greenland Dog breeders would ensure that their stud dogs are tested for known hereditary and congenital health issues known to affect the breed by using the following schemes:
Apart from the standard breeding restrictions that are in place for all Kennel Club registered breeds, there are no other breed specific breeding restrictions in place for the Greenland Dog.
Apart from the standard breeding advice and restrictions for all Kennel Club recognised breeds, there are no other Assured Breeder requirements for the Greenland Dog.
As with any other breed, Greenland Dogs need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Greenland puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing, confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said, any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to pick a puppy up when people are going to be around for the first week or, so which is the time needed for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping. It's also a good idea to keep "playtime" nice and calm inside the house and to have a more active "playtime" outside in the garden which means puppies quickly learn to be less boisterous when they are inside.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Greenland puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out making them withdrawn, timid and shy.
As previously mentioned, Greenland puppies would have been given their first vaccinations by the breeders, but they must have their follow up shots which is up to their new owners to organise. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be fully up to date.
Older Greenlands need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a dog's muzzle may start to go grey, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Living with a Greenland Dog in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include looking at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth.
Older dogs need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older dogs is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older Greenlands don't need the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
The Greenland Dog boasts having a very plush, thick but short coat which is relatively easy to keep looking tidy and in good condition. A twice weekly brush is all it takes to keep their coats free of any dirt and debris which they pick up when out on a walk. They tend to shed throughout the year, only more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent brushing is usually necessary to remove dead and loose hair. It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
The Greenland Dog is a high energy, intelligent dog and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. They need to be given a minimum of 2 hour's exercise a day with as much off the lead time as possible. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, a Greenland Dog would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these high-energy, active dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble.
With this said, Greenland puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.
If you get a Greenland puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be fed a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
Because Greenland Dogs have been known to suffer from bloat, it is really important for them to be fed twice a day instead of giving a dog just one larger meal a day. It's also a good idea to invest in a stand for their feed bowls which makes it easier for these large dogs to eat comfortably without having to stretch their necks down to reach their food. Dogs should never be exercised just before or just after they have eaten either because this puts them more at risk of suffering from gastric torsion.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, a Greenland Dog puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 15 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature, an adult Greenland Dog should be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult Greenland can be fed the following amounts every day:
If you are looking to buy a Greenland Dog, you would need to register your interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because very few puppies are bred and registered with The Kennel Club every year. You would need to pay anything upwards of £500 for a well bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Greenland Dog in northern England would be £19.49 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £45.91 a month (quote as of July 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £40 - £50 a month. On top of all of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Greenland Dog and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £1000 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Greenland Dog would be between £70 to £110 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree or other puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
Greenland Dogs are rarely seen in the UK which means that well-bred puppies can often command a lot of money. As such, with Greenland Dogs there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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