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Greenland Husky Breed Description

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Breed Organization

United Kennel Club (UKC)

Native Country
Scandinavian Countries

Other Names
Groenlandhund, Esquimaux Dog, Grunlandshund, Kalaallit Qimmiat, Greenland Dog, Qimmeq, Perro de Groenlandia

Life Expectancy
Approximately 11-13 Years

Litter Size
Average 4-6 Puppies

Breed Group
FCI-Spitz and Primitive Types

General Description

Today the breed is considered as nationally and culturally important to Greenland and efforts are made to safeguard its purity. In western Greenland north of the Arctic Circle and entire eastern Greenland, it is illegal to import any dog from outside (except for police and assistance dogs with a special permit), and since 2017 all dogs have to be microchipped and registered in the Greenland dog database. In the southwest, such restrictions are not in place and the purity of dogs is not monitored. As the population has been falling (c. 15,000 in Greenland as of 2016), a number of projects have been initiated in an attempt of ensuring that Greenland's dog sledding culture, knowledge and use, along with the breed itself, are not lost.

The Greenland Dog is a powerful, heavy-built dog. It has a broad, wedge-shaped head, slightly tilted eyes and small, triangular ears covered with thick fur that prevents frostbite. It has strong, muscular, short-haired legs. The tail is usually rolled along/across its back, but it may also hang down in a wolflike manner. When it lies down and curls up to rest, the tail often covers the nose. Its coat is of medium length and consists of two layers. The inner layer consists of short wool-like fur, the outer layer of longer, coarser, water-repellent fur.

Breed Standard

Head: Wolf-like. Broad, slightly domed skull. Pronounced stop. Straight, broad nose bridge. Wedge-shaped muzzle. Nose must be black in summer but may be flesh colored in winter. Thin, close-fitting lips.
Ears: Rather small, triangular, rounded at the tips. Held erect.
Eyes: Set slightly oblique in the skull. Preferably of a dark color.
Body: Strong and muscular. Very strong, rather short neck. Very wide chest. Belly not tucked up. Straight back. Croup slightly sloped.
Tail: Thick and rather short. Set high and carried curled over the back.
Hair: Dense, straight, harsh. Short on the head and legs, longer on the body. Thick and long on the underside of the tail. Dense, soft undercoat.
Coat: Any color, solid or parti-color, is acceptable, except albinos.
Size: Dog: at least 60 cm Bitch: at least 55 cm
Weight: Approx. 30 kg.


The first dogs arrived in the Americas 12,000 years ago. However, people and their dogs did not settle in the Arctic until the Paleo-Eskimo people 4,500 years ago and then the Thule people 1,000 years ago, both originating from Siberia. Dogs first appeared in Greenland around 4,000 years ago. The Inuit dogs from Canada (Canadian Eskimo Dog) and Greenland (Greenland Dog) descended from dogs associated with Thule people, who relied on them for transportation from Siberia. In 2015, a study using a number of genetic markers indicated that these were both the same dog and should not be treated as separate breeds, that they maintain an indigenous heritage that predates colonization and the timing corresponds with the arrival of the Thule people, and that they were distinct from Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Huskies and Malamutes. The maternal mitochondrial DNA sequences of the Inuit dogs were classified as haplotype A31 that indicates a common female ancestor, and this haplotype could not be found in other modern dogs but the nearest match was with a 1,000 year-old dog from Florida.

Nearly all dog breed's genetic closeness to the gray wolf is due to admixture. However, several Arctic dog breeds show a genetic closeness with the now-extinct Taimyr wolf of North Asia due to admixture. These breeds are associated with high latitudes - the Siberian Husky and Greenland Dog that are also associated with Arctic human populations, and to a lesser extent the Shar Pei and Finnish Spitz. An admixture graph of the Greenland dog indicates a best-fit of 3.5% shared material, however an ancestry proportion ranging between 1.4% and 27.3% is consistent with the data. This indicates admixture between the Taymyr wolf population and the ancestral dog population of these 4 high-latitude breeds. This introgression could have provided early dogs living in high latitudes with phenotypic variation beneficial for adaption to a new and challenging environment. It also indicates the ancestry of present-day dog breeds descends from more than one region.

In 2020, a genetic study found that Greenland sled dogs have been kept isolated from other breeds since their arrival in Greenland with the Inuit people 850 years ago. Their lineage traces more genomic history than other arctic-breeds to their ancestor's remains which were found on Zhokhov Island, arctic northeastern Siberia and dated to be 9,500 years old.


This rustic, exceptionally vigorous dog has remarkable endurance and can withstand even the lowest temperatures. The Greenland Dog is intelligent, lively, affectionate and sociable, making him a good pet. While he makes a good guard dog, he is not aggressive. The breed communicates emotion by making various sounds: whining to express submission, emitting a rumbling groan to express aggression, barking to express excitement, and howling to express his unity with the greater pack. The Greenland Dog is aggressive with other dogs. Firm training is required.

This dog is not suited to indoor living, nor to hot climates. This sled dog requires abundant exercise. Regular brushing is required.


Hunting Dog (seals and bear), Sled Dog, Pet.


This is a very strong and robust breed.

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