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Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Northern Inuit
Average Cost to keep/care for a Northern Inuit
Breed Specific Buying Advice
The Northern Inuit is a relatively new breed that was first developed during the 1980's in the UK. In the short time these handsome dogs have been around, they have gained popularity not only here in the UK, but elsewhere in the world too. With this said, anyone wishing to share their homes with one of these handsome dogs would need to register their interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because so few well-bred puppies are available every year.
The Northern Inuit may look very much like a wolf, but they are not related whatsoever and they make wonderful companions and family pets for people who have the time to dedicate to an active, intelligent canine companion. As such, a Northern Inuit is not the best choice for first time dog owners.
The Northern Inuit first appeared on the scene in the late 1980's when they were developed by a breeder in the UK named Eddie Harrison. He wanted to create a dog with wolf-like looks that would be a faithful and loyal companion. Several breeds were introduced into the mix which included the Siberian Husky, the Alaskan Malamute and the German Shepherd Dogs. The result was the Northern Inuit which turned out to be exactly what the breeder wanted to create.
Since the Northern Inuit was first developed, these handsome dogs are now being bred in other parts of the world other than here in the UK and they have gained popularity with many people thanks to their wild-like looks and gentle, loyal natures. For the last 20 years many breeders including the Northern Inuit Society of Great Britain has carefully and selectively bred NIs to other Northern Inuits without outcrossing to other breeds. The result is a dog that is very much a breed with its own specific characteristics and looks.
Northern Inuits at one time were only being bred in the United Kingdome and Ireland, but since 2014 the breed's popularity means that breeders are now found in other countries of the world which includes the US, Europe and South Africa. With this said, finding breeders can still be challenging and anyone wanting to share their home with a Northern Inuit would need to go on a waiting list for the pleasure of doing so.
As yet, the Northern Inuit is not recognised as a breed by The Kennel Club or other international breed organisations. However, many local breed clubs have been established in various countries of the world with an end goal being to stardardise the breed.
Height at the withers: Males 58 - 81 cm, Females 58 - 71cm
Average weight: Males 36 - 50 kg, Females 25 - 38 kg
The Northern Inuit is bred to look and move very much like their wild wolf cousins although there is no wolf DNA in their blood. They are athletic, lean and medium sized dogs that boast having very weather resistant coats. Their heads are nicely in proportion with the rest of their body with dogs having slightly domed skulls that are never too broad. Their muzzles are strong with flat cheeks and they gently taper to the nose which is typically black in colour, although some dogs can have what is known as a "snow nose" which is acceptable. They have a slight stop which is never too pronounced and wide, large nostrils with their lips being tight fitting and black in colour.
The Northern Inuit has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Ears are set fairly wide apart and never too low or too big which dogs carry upright. They have oval shaped eyes that are set a little obliquely and which can be of any colour. They have muscular, strong necks with well-defined napes.
The Northern Inuit has flat shoulders and strong, straight front legs that show a good amount of bone. Their feet are oval shaped with open, well knuckled toes and firm, black pads nicely cushioned with hair. They have lean bodies with nice level toplines, long ribs and short, deep loins. Their bellies are not too tucked up, but just enough to add to a dog's overall lean, athletic appearance. Croups are quite short and broad with tails being a continuation of the croup. Dogs carry their tails upright when alert or excited, but in the shape of a sickle when they are on the move. Their hindquarters are strong and lean with dogs having well-muscled back legs with well-developed first and second thighs. Back feet are oval shaped with some dogs having five toes and dewclaws.
When it comes to their coat, the Northern Inuit boasts having an extremely dense, weather resistant double coat that consists of a coarser top coat and a much softer undercoat. The hair on a dog's neck and on the backs of their legs is longer forming a ruff and breechings. Tails are well covered in hair giving them a bushy appearance. The most commonly seen colours include the following:
Dogs can have white faces no matter what colour coat they have and they can have masks or cap-like markings on their faces providing their coats are not white. Any white on a dog's legs and feet must be gradual.
When a Northern Inuit moves, they do so with a purposeful, far reaching, easy stride covering a lot of ground when they do.
Prospective NI owners should be wary of any puppies or dogs that show any sort of exaggeration whether in their looks or conformation. A responsible breeder would always ensure that puppies they produce are of a good size and conformation and would ensure parent dogs have been health tested for relevant hereditary disorders known to affect the breed.
Other faults include curly tails, single or long coats as well as dogs with Ink Marked or black and tan coloured coats. Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums.
The Northern Inuit is a friendly, outgoing and calm dog even though they look a lot like their wild wolf cousins. They are very people-oriented by nature and love nothing more than to be in the company of humans so much so that they can often suffer from separation anxiety when they find themselves left alone for any amount of time. As such they are best suited to people who are familiar with their specific needs and in households where one person usually stays at home when everyone else is out of the house.
They form strong bonds with their owners and thrive in a family environment, although the Northern Inuit is not the best choice in households where the children are very young. The reason being that they can be a little boisterous when they play which could result in a dog knocking a toddler over, albeit by accident.
They are highly intelligent and in the right hands and environment, the Northern Inuit is very easy to train because they love to please. However, they are known to have a bit of a stubborn streak in them which is another reason why they are not the best choice for first time owners because these clever dogs need to be handled and trained by people who understand their particular needs.
They are active, energetic dogs, but less so than many other Spitz-type dogs and as long as they are given the right amount of daily exercise and enough mental stimulation, the Northern Inuit is just as happy to chill out with their owners in the home. Because they are so people-oriented, they make superb PAT therapy dogs in schools, hospitals and hospices.
They are best suited to people who live in more rural environments and in homes that boast secure, large back gardens which they can run around in whenever possible. However, the Northern Inuit is known to be an extremely good escape artist and is more than capable of digging their way out which is something that owners need to bear in mind.
These smart dogs need to know their place in the pack and who is alpha dog in the household or they may take on the role of dominant dog which can make them unruly and wilful to live with. They are never happier than when they know who they can look to for direction and guidance. It's really important for Northern Inuits to be well socialised from a young age which should include introducing a dog to lots of new situations, noise, people, other animals and dogs once they have been fully vaccinated so they grow up to be well-rounded mature characters.
Northern Inuits are not the best choice for novice owners because they need to be socialised, trained and handled by people who are familiar with their specific needs bearing in mind they are highly intelligent, high-energy dogs that need to be kept busy both mentally and physically to be truly happy characters.
The Northern Inuit as previously mentioned is an intelligent dog and they can be trained to walk off the lead. However, they have a high prey drive and a very acute sense of smell which means that if they pick up an interesting scent, they are liable to take off after it. As such, care should always be taken as to where and when an NI can run off the lead more especially when there is livestock or wildlife close by.
NIs have a very playful side to their natures and love to entertain and be entertained. They are known to be a little mischievous when the mood takes them and being so clever they quickly learn what pleases an owner and how to get their own way. They adore playing interactive games and are especially good at many canine activities which includes cani-cross and agility to name but two.
Northern Inuits are better suited to people who lead active, outdoor lives and who have ultra-secure back gardens a dog can safely roam around in whenever possible, bearing in mind that fencing must be high enough so a dog cannot jump out or dig their way out. As such, they are not well suited to apartment living and would quickly get bored which could result in an NI developing destructive and unwanted behavioural issues which includes howling.
NIs form strong ties with their families and dogs are never very happy when they find themselves left on their own for longer periods of time. They are better suited to people who either work from home or in households where one person stays at home when everyone else is out so they are never alone for any length of time which could see a dog suffering from separation anxiety. This can lead to them being destructive around the home which is a dog's way of relieving any stress they are feeling and a way to keep themselves entertained.
Northern Inuits like to voice an opinion whenever they can and often at the slightest sound, although many prefer to howl rather than bark and have a rather unique voice all of their own. This can be gently nipped in the bud when puppies are still young, but there is never any guarantee that an NI won't howl when the mood takes them anyway.
Most Northern Inuits love swimming and will take to the water whenever they can whether the weather is hot or not. 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 an NI 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.
The Northern Inuit is not a natural watchdog because they tend to be far too inquisitive and friendly by nature. This is not to say that they won't bark at something they don't like or when strangers are about, but it would be fair to say that they would more likely howl to alert an owner rather than bark.
The Northern Inuit is an intelligent dog and one that can often show a more dominant side to their nature if they are not taught their place in the pack. Their training must start as soon as puppies arrives in their new home when they need to be taught the basics and boundaries. Once they have been fully vaccinated, their training can start in earnest and one good way of doing this is to enrol a Northern Inuit into puppy classes. Not only is this a great way of socialising a dog, but it's the best way to start their education in a safe and controlled environment surrounded by other dogs and people.
The key to successfully training one of these smart dogs is to make the training sessions short and very interesting. This helps dogs stay more focused on what is being asked of them. A Northern Inuit would find it hard to concentrate when a training session is long and too repetitive which in short means it can prove harder to train them. They are quite sensitive dogs by nature and as such they do not respond well to any sort of harsh correction or heavier handed training methods.
They do answer well to positive reinforcement which always brings the best out of these clever, handsome dogs. Some Northern Inuits are being used as PAT and assistance dogs thanks to their good natures and their intelligence. They thrive on being kept busy and enjoy activities like hiking, agility, scootering and cani-cross all of which they are especially good at.
Like all puppies, NIs are incredibly cute and it is all too easy to spoil them when they first arrive in a new home. However, as soon as a puppy is settled, it's important to lay down ground rules so they understand what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. NI puppies quickly grow up to be impressive large dogs so it's important for their education to start early which in short means owners should always start out as they mean to go on by laying down rules and boundaries as early as possible. The first commands a puppy should be taught are as follows:
The Northern Inuit is known to be a great choice as a family pet. However, they are not the best choice for families with very young children because of their size and the fact they can be quite boisterous when they play which could result in a dog knocking a toddler over, albeit by accident. They are suited to families where the children are older and who therefore know how to behave around dogs.
Being social dogs by nature, the Northern Inuit generally gets on well with other dogs, more especially if they have been well socialised from a young enough age. However, care must be taken when they are around any small animals and pets which includes cats because of their high prey drive and the fact a Northern Inuit might just see them as "fair game" with disastrous results. 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 Northern Inuit is between 12 and 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Like so many other breeds, the NI 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 and good-looking dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
NI 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.
Like other dogs, NIs can gain weight after they have been spayed or neutered, although given their light, athletic build this is not always the case. However, 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.
Some Northern Inuits suffer from allergies, bearing in mind that they can also suffer from delicate digestive systems and it's important for a dog to see a vet sooner rather than later if one 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 Northern Inuit breeders would ensure that their stud dogs are tested for known hereditary and congenital health issues which are as follows:
There are not breed specific breeding restrictions for the Northern Inuit because the breed is not for the moment Kennel Club recognised (January 2018).
The Northern Inuit is not KC recognised and as such there are no Assured Breeder requirements in place. However, prospective owners should always make sure that breeders follow the advice given by the Kennel Club when it comes to breeding practices.
As with any other breed, Northern Inuits 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.
NI 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 Northern Inuit puppies, bearing in mind that they are known to be quite sensitive to loud sounds by nature. 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 which could result in them being timid and shy.
As previously mentioned, NI 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 NIs 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:
Older dogs change mentally too which means their response time tends to be slower as such they develop the following:
Living with a Northern Inuit in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include taking a look 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 Northern Inuits 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 NIs don't need to be given 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 Northern Inuit boasts having a thick double coat that consists of a harsher top coat and a much softer undercoat. However, they are not that high maintenance on the grooming front and ideally only need to be brushed a few times a week to remove dead and loose hair from their coats. They shed profusely throughout the year only more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent grooming is usually necessary to stay on top of things. It's a good idea to keep an eye on the hair that grows between a dog's paw pads and to trim it when it gets too long especially during the wetter and muddier winter months.
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 Northern Inuit, as previously mentioned is an intelligent, energetic dog but unlike other Spitz-type dogs they don't need to be given an excessive amount of exercise. With this said, they still need daily walks for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. Ideally, they should be given anything up to 1 hour's exercise every day and because they are so intelligent, the Northern Inuit should be given enough stimulation on a daily basis to avoid boredom setting in.
In the right hands and environment, these dogs are easy to train and love the one-to-one attention they get when they are being put through their paces. Some dogs are trained in agility, flyball and other canine sports which they excel at because they thrive on being with their owners and doing things whether it's competing or just hiking through the countryside.
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 must be extremely secure to keep these inquisitive, energetic dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble, bearing in mind that Northern Inuits are extremely good escape artists.
With this said, NI 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 Northern Inuit 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. The Northern Inuit can sometimes suffer from a sensitive stomach which is something that owners need to bear in mind when trying to change their diet for whatever reason.
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.
It is worth noting that some NIs are known to have quite sensitive stomachs which in short means they tend to do a lot better when fed a raw food diet or top-quality kibble providing the protein content is high.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, an NI 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 Northern Inuit should be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult NI can be fed the following amounts every day:
If you are looking to buy a Northern Inuit, you would need to register your interest with breeders and agree to being put on a waiting list because very few puppies are bred every year. You would need to pay anything upwards of £500 for a well-bred puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Northern Inuit in northern England would be £23.22 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £48.11 a month (quote as of January 2018). 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 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 this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with an NI 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 Northern Inuit 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 responsibly and well-bred, Northern Inuit puppy from health tested parent dogs.
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.
Over recent years, the Northern Inuit has become a popular family pet and companion both in the UK and elsewhere in the world which means that well-bred puppies command a lot of money. As such, with Northern Inuit there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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