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Greenland Dog

Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021

The Greenland Dog is a large purebred from Greenland also called Canis lupus familiaris borealis, Esquimaux Dog, Grønlandshund, qimmiat (Qimmeq), Grünlandshund, Kalaallit Qimmiat and Greenland Husky. It has a life span of 12 to 14 years and is a husky type dog used for hunting polar bear and seal and for pulling sleds. The ancestors were brought over one thousand years ago by the Thule people (as was the Canadian Eskimo Dog to whom the Greenland Dog is related). It is still a hard working dog and can also be a family dog, it is intelligent, gentle and affectionate.

The Greenland Dog at a Glance
Name Greenland Dog
Other names Canis lupus familiaris borealis, Esquimaux Dog, Grønlandshund, qimmiat (Qimmeq), Grünlandshund, Kalaallit Qimmiat, Greenland Husky
Nicknames GD
Origin Greenland
Average size Large
Average weight 66 to 72 pounds
Average height 20 to 27 inches
Life span 12 to 14 years
Coat type Double, thick, medium length, inner is soft outer is coarse
Hypoallergenic No
Color White, red, black, grey and brown
Popularity Not yet recognized by the AKC
Intelligence Very good – very smart dog
Tolerance to heat Low to moderate – not good in the heat
Tolerance to cold Excellent – does very well even in extreme cold conditions
Shedding Average to above averge – gets heavier at seasonal times
Drooling Average to above average – especially when drinking and chewing
Obesity Average – measure food and track exercise
Grooming/brushing Average – brush two to three times a week unless it is seasonal shedding time where daily brushing will be needed
Barking Occasional to frequent – can also go into howling frenzy
Exercise needs Very active – needs to be working, active and busy
Trainability Difficult – experience needed
Friendliness Very good to excellent
Good first dog Low – need experienced handling
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Very good to excellent with socialization
Good with other dogs Good to very good with socialization
Good with other pets Good but need socialization due to prey drive
Good with strangers Very good to excellent with socialization
Good apartment dog Low – needs space and a yard if not land
Handles alone time well Low – does not like being left alone and can suffer from separation anxiety
Health issues Hardy breed in general but some issues can include hip dysplasia, bloat and working injuries
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health care and insurance
Food expenses $270 a year for a good quality dry dog food and treats
Miscellaneous expenses $245 a year for miscellaneous items, toys, basic training and license
Average annual expenses $1000 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $800
Rescue organizations Help Greenland Dogs, Northern Lights Sled Dog Rescue, also look at local shelters and rescues
Biting Statistics None reported

The Greenland Dog’s Beginnings

Dogs started to appear in Greenland about 4000 years ago and it is believed that just as with the Canadian Eskimo Dog the Greenland Dog descends from canines the Thule people brought with them. They were used for pulling sleds and were developed to have a thick coat and be able to withstand the extreme cold of the country and to have a lot of stamina so it could work all day. It also has a powerful body to make it strong. It spent hundreds of years working alongside man, and being a companion and was unknown outside of Greenland.

The Vikings were the first people outside to come in contact with them when they came to settle there. They were followed by whalers, fur traders and explorers. It has been used by many explorers in many expeditions. An example of that is Nansen on his polar exploration across the Arctic Ocean or Amunsen going to the Antarctic. A rather grim fact about their use of the Greenland Dog is that both started with more dogs than they really needed as some of the dogs were used as food. Then in the 1750s it made an appearance outside of its native land, when it was brought to Britain. In the late 1800s a Greenland Dog finally appeared in a show and the British Kennel Club recognized it in 1880 classified as a Spitz type of dog.

New Lease on Life

Today the Greenland Dog remains very rare outside of Greenland and it is still not recognized by the AKC though some other clubs do, the British one, the Canadian, the FCI and the UKC. In its homeland though it is still popular and beloved and is used the same way it has been for over a thousand years.

The Dog You See Today

The Greenland Dog is a large dog weighing 66 to 72 pounds and stands 20 to 27 inches tall. Males are clearly a lot larger than females. It is a powerfully built dog, heavy set and muscular with strong legs covered in short hairs. Its tail is long and curls over its back. It has an ulo or triangular shaped region on the shoulder and its coat is double, with a thick, soft and warm under layer and a coarse, longer outer layer that is weather proof. Its broad head is wedge shaped and broad with small triangle shaped erect ears and eyes that are slanted slightly. Both the ears and the tail are covered in thick fur. Common colors are black, grey, red, white and brown.

The Inner Greenland Dog


The GD is mainly a working dog first, in Greenland where it is most common it is kept as such for its speed and strength and then its good temperament and companionship are second to that, though still valued. It needs experienced and firm owners, this is not a breed for new dog owners as it is independent and stubborn at times. When raised well it should respect you as its leader and be loving, loyal and protective of you. However with those it does not have respect for it is more aloof and watchful. It can be a boisterous and playful dog and will not be happy just lasing around a house all day. It needs jobs to do and to be active and mentally engaged. In fact in Sweden and Norway hikers like to keep them and hike with them.

When this dog is kept as part of a pack or team it tends to not bond as closely wit hits owners because there is less opportunity to do so, but if it is the only dog or one of just a few it does form close bonds with its owner. This is not a guard dog, it is very friendly, some even so to strangers in many cases, so it is not always a great watchdog either. It is intelligent, some are more mild mannered and calm and some are more likely to have bursts of howling frenzy!

Living with a Greenland Dog

What will training look like?

As mentioned the Greenland Dog is intelligent but it is also stubborn and has a strong mind of its own which means training can be difficult. It needs experienced owners who are great and firm leaders. Consistency is vital as is patience, commitment and confidence. This dog has very strong alpha and pack instincts and you need to be very dominant with it to make sure it accepts you as the pack leader. This dog is bred to work, to follow the commands of a strong owner so you need to set rules and stick to them, keep it in control and start its socialization and training early. Training should be done positively, encourage and motivate it. Socialization means getting it used to different people, places, sounds, situations and animals and such and making sure it knows how to react to them appropriately.

How active is the Greenland Dog?

The Greenland Dog is very active and hard working and it needs to be busy all the time or it becomes hard to live with, destructive, hyper, unhappy and unhealthy. If you want a dog who is happy chilling in the home and just want to take a dog for a 20 minute stroll twice a day, this is absolutely not the breed for you. It is great on difficult terrain and in difficult climates and it has a great deal of stamina and endurance. It should be kept as a working dog of some kind, or be taken out daily for very long and brisk walks, have lots of physical play and mental stimulation and go on hikes regularly, and have other jobs to do or training to do to keep it busy. It can join you for jogging, cycling, running and expect to give it over an hour a day, really it needs closer to a minimum of 2 hours a day.

Caring for the Greenland Dog

Grooming needs

They have a dense double coat and this sheds an above average amount usually and then heavy amounts seasonally. It will need to be raked regularly, at least two to three times a week, and then daily when it is heavier. It will not need professional grooming unless you opt to use one, but the fur on the paws should be clipped when it gets too long to prevent it tangling. Give it a bath when it really needs one, roughly every two to three months. Bathing too often damages its natural oils as will using a shampoo that is not meant for dogs.

Its nails will need to be clipped when they get too long if it does not wear them down with its level of activity. Use dog nail clippers or scissors not any old ones, and take care not to cut into the quick of the nail which is about half way down. Where you see a change in color is where the blood vessels and nerves start and cutting them will hurt the dog and cause bleeding. Other needs will involve checking its ears weekly for redness, irritation, bad odor and other infection signs, and if they are good then giving then a clean. Wipe the area you can reach easily with a damp cloth or use a dog ear cleaning solution, do not put anything into its ear like a cotton bud, this hurts it and can cause damage. Then two to three times a week give its teeth a brush using a dog toothpaste and toothbrush.

Feeding Time

The GD will eat about 3 to 4 cups of a good to excellent quality dry dog food each day, split into at least two meals to avoid issues with bloat. It should also have access to water that is freshened as much as possible. The amount a dog needs to eat is affected by its level of activity, rate of metabolism, age, health and size.

How is the Greenland Dog with children and other animals?

Around children when it is well socialized and has a strong leader in its owner it should be friendly, affectionate and even playful. Make sure the children know how to properly touch and play with dogs so they do not hurt them or tease them. Its boisterousness can mean younger children should be supervised as they can get knocked over, but this happens accidentally not aggressively. It is not as suited to being in a home with non-canine pets as its high prey drive tells it they should be hunted. With dogs that are a part of its pack it is great but it can see strange dogs as a challenge especially ones who are the same sex and have not been fixed.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

The Greenland Dog has a life span of about 12 to 14 years and is a hardy and healthy dog. There are some issues to be prepared for, some in part that come with dogs of its size. These include bloat, joint dysplasia, ear infections, work injuries and eye problems.

Biting Statistics

In reports of attacks against people by dogs in North America that have caused bodily harm in the last 35 years there is no mention of the Greenland Dog. It is not people aggressive and is unlikely to be drawn into such a thing, but the fact is all dogs have some possibility of being involved in an attack, even the friendliest of breeds, and size only impacts the damage a dog can do. There are things you can do to help lessen the chances of your dog being involved, good training and socialization, supervision as needed, give it the exercise, stimulation and attention it needs.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Greenland Dog puppy will cost around $800 from a respectable breeder with knowledge and experience, and a lot more if you are looking at top breeders and want show dog potential. Take the time to research your options, do not be tempted to go for quicker but less respectable options like backyard breeders, puppy mills or even many pet stores. Another option is to look at rescues and shelters and offer a dog a new home. These dogs may not all be purebred but they have a lot of love and loyalty to offer. Fees for adoption tend to range from $50 to $400.

When you have found the place you want to get your dog from and it is ready to come home to you there are some things to get for it in preparation. A crate, carrier, bowls and collar and leash for example will cost about $240. There are health needs the dog will need taken care of when it comes home like a vet check up and full exam, vaccinations, blood tests, spaying or neutering, deworming and micro chipping. These will cost about $290.

Once the dog is home there will be a variety of costs in terms of care, feeding, entertainment and such! Yearly costs for basic health care like shots, flea and tick prevention and pet insurance will be $485. Miscellaneous costs like basic training, toys, license and miscellaneous items will be about $245 a year. Then a good to excellent quality dry dog food and dog treats will cost about $270 a year. This gives an annual cost of about $1000.


Looking for a Greenland Dog Name? Let select one from our list!

The Greenland Dog is best suited for very active and experienced owners looking for a working dog. It is best in cold climates, it excels at sled pulling and working in the snow, it does not do well in hot climates. It can be great with children when it knows its place in the pack but it does shed so there will be hair around the home to deal with. It is actually a fairly rare type of husky so is not common beyond its homeland and colder parts of Europe.

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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