Arctic Dog Breeds
February 11, 2019
Arctic Dog Breeds
Artic dog breeds are also referred to as sled dogs, the most common amongst them being the Alaskan Husky, yet, there are plenty more breeds which you may or not already be aware of.
We’ve scoured the Arctic to bring you a comprehensive list of all the dogs which are built to withstand harsh temperatures and help out their fellow frosty human friends. Sled dogs are more than just companions in the Arctic. They are vital to keeping the wheels of arctic life turning when it comes to transport and hauling. Due to the tough and dangerous terrain of the Arctic, dogs are charged with the responsibility of getting goods and people from A to B. Some are even used to deliver the post. However, now in many regions, they are also used for racing. They may not be as fast as greyhounds, but they certainly have skills on the track.
Sled dogs are found in Lapland, Canada, Greenland, Siberia, Norway, Finland, Alaska and Chukotka. Despite coming from various places around the globe arctic dogs have numerous things in common including stamina, size, strength and endurance. You’ll normally find that they weigh in at between 16 kilograms and 25 kilograms.
Sled dogs also have the same gait, the fastest sled dog will be able to run at 28 mph easily even in thick snow, as their webbed feet act as the perfect snowshoes. To keep warm in the minus temperatures, every Arctic dog has a thick and dense double coat. The outer layer of fur will keep snow off the inner layer which is designed for insulation and waterproofing.
Ever wondered why arctic dogs tend to have a bushy tail? That’s because they use their tail to protect their nose and feet from winds and snow while they sleep. However, their highly-evolved blood vessels in their feet make it less likely for them to suffer from frostbite.
Now we know a little more about Arctic dogs, let us find out about the different breeds.
- Alaskan Husky
If there is an Arctic dog you are familiar with, it will be the Alaskan Husky which has been used for decades in dog sled racing. However, what many people do not know, is that the Alaskan Husky is actually a mongrel which was bred to be the best sled dog. The first Alaskan Huskies existed in the late 1800s, and there are now two different forms of Alaskan Husky, they are separated by their running ability. One is better suited to sprinting and one long-distance running. Some Alaskan Husky’s have been bred with Greyhounds to improve their speed. Whilst some have been bred with wolves to increase endurance. However, it is very unlikely that you will find any wolf crosses outside of the Arctic as they are incredibly difficult to control.
- Alaskan Malamute
There are many similarities between Alaskan Husky’s and Alaskan Malamutes, but there is also much that sets them apart as Alaskan Malamute’s are almost unmatched strength, and often have much softer facial features. They were amongst the first domesticated dogs in Alaska and come in pedigree and non-pedigree. Their tough feet and their strong broad chests made light work of the jobs which were given to them as a freight dog. While they may not be renowned for their speed, there’s no better option when it comes to dogs with pulling strength.
- Canadian Eskimo Dog
Canadian Eskimo Dogs were first used by the Thule tribe people in Arctic Canada, they were amongst the best sled dogs. The Canadian government even had a hand in developing the breed. As a result, they can pull a staggering 80 kilograms each for up to 70 miles. But that wasn’t all that the Canadian Eskimo Dog was good for, they also come in handy helping hunters catch polar bears, musk ox and seals.
The Chinook breed’s lineage first begun in the early 1900s in New Hampshire, the breed was recognised as a working breed by the AKC in 2013, they are renowned for their athletic ability and their ability to not tire easily. This was a result of crossbreeding between Belgian Shepherds, German Shepherds, Greenland Huskies and Mastiffs.
- Greenland Dog
As you can expect, the Greenland breed originated in Greenland. They are another example of arctic breeds which are built for endurance and not speed. They are the perfect dogs for long and arduous sled adventures and expeditions. They may not be popular in all corners of the globe, but in Greenland, there are currently 30,000 of them! They are used as the main mode of transport in Greenland in the winter due to their determination and reliability. They have also been strongly favoured by dog sled teams for this reason too.
While most arctic breeds and sled dogs look remarkably similar, the Samoyed is the exception, they tend to be much smaller and fluffier than your average arctic breed, however, that’s not to say that the Samoyede people didn’t come to depend on them. They were a necessity for their ability to herd reindeer, and it would not be uncommon to see them pulling a sledge. Usually, Arctic dogs aren’t commonly regarded as companion pets, however, the Samoyed breed found itself so favoured that they were allowed to sleep with their owners in their tents. That may not seem like a big deal to us, but it definitely was for the Samoyede tribes.
- Siberian Husky
The Siberian Husky has some similarities to the Malamute; however, they tend to be a lot smaller on average. However, this breed proves that size really doesn’t matter, they can pull more weight pound for pound than the malamute, but they don’t quite match their levels of endurance as they are not able to pull for as long. But for heavy loads, the Siberian Husky is still a great option. Typically, they weigh up to 27 kilograms, however, they weren’t just bred for their pulling ability, they were also designed for appearance.