Dog Sledding Dogs: The Canadian Eskimo Dog



Canada has five indigenous breeds of dogs, one of them being the Canadian Eskimo dog.  This dog heralds a unique heritage, appearing in Canada approximately in 1100-1200 A.D.  It is the oldest and rarest purebred indigenous dog in North America.  It is also commonly called the Canadian Inuit dog or the Qimmiq, which means “dog” in Inuit.   The Canadian Eskimo was used for hunting, packing, travel and for protection by the Inuit people of the Canadian Arctic. 

Abilities and Traits

Without a doubt, the Canadian Eskimo is a dog with great heart. This dog has unbelievable stamina and ability as a sledding dog. In addition to this, it is a perfect dog for hunting as it is is extremely skilled. It has a natural talent to locate seal breathing holes in the ice and assists the hunter in bringing down and assist during the kill. They do not frighten easily, and make great protectors from other predatory animals, including polar bears. They are fearless and are able to hold musk oxen at bay until the hunters are able to finish the kill. They are playful and are known to play with polar bears, even though they are chained on the picket line.

The Canadian Eskimo is a hearty dog that has adapted to its environment in many ways. As we know, the Canadian Arctic has a harsh climate, and it is even worse during the long winter months. This dog has a two layer system for its fur. It has an outer coat consisting of long, coarse guard hair which helps deflect the snow and wind. Deep underneath this coat is a soft, thick, short undercoat which acts as insulation, and in turn keeps the animal warm. Its skin produces oil that works through its coat which makes its fur and skin water repellant. This is vital in the cold climate as the animal can freeze and die if its fur and skin becomes wet.


The Canadian Eskimo is an alert, loyal, intelligent, brave and tough animal. It is a determined dog, which is a genetic trait that it has developed for survival in its unforgiving climate. This dog is extremely strong – it can pull twice its weight in a harsh climate through uncut terrain and travel up to 70 miles per day when sledding. It is able to work even if its supply of nourishment dwindles; however, it has a very high prey drive.

This dog has a coat coloring that comes in a variety of solid or a combination of colors including black, white, red, gray, silver, and cinnamon (lighter red). The eyes are generally dark brown, black or yellow but never blue.




In the 1800s and 1900s, the Canadian Eskimo was the choice dog for many expeditions that took place in the northern Arctic and the southern Antarctica.  It is the only dog to have been used for expeditions in both cold climates.

The Canadian Eskimo dog is a Canadian treasure and has been honored with a stamp in 1988 and has also been minted on the fifty cent piece in 1997.  On May 1, 2000, the Canadian Territory of Nunavut adopted the Canadian Eskimo dog as the symbol of the territory. 

Decline in the Breed Population


In the 1950s, there were over 20,000 Canadian Eskimo dogs in the Canadian Arctic.  As technology advanced and the snowmobile was introduced, the need for the dog became less.  In addition, new breeds of dogs were introduced to the northern climate.  Along with the new breeds came diseases that the Canadian Eskimo had never encountered and much to its detriment began to cause a decline in the Canadian Eskimo’s numbers.  In 1963, there was only one purebred Canadian Eskimo dog registered with the Canadian Kennel Club.  When this dog died, there were no others registered.

By 1970, the Canadian Eskimo purebred dog breed was headed for extinction, with fewer than 200 purebred dogs remaining and living in the villages of the Inuit.  Many of the dogs had died of diseases or were cross-bred, resulting in fewer purebred dogs.  In 1972, William Carpenter and John McGrath founded the Canadian Eskimo Dog Research Foundation Kennel Club who purchased some of the remaining purebred dogs from the villages to begin the preservation of the breed.  With the help of the Canadian government, the Northwest Territories territorial government and the Canadian Kennel Club, the first dogs of this project were registered with the Canadian Kennel Club in 1986.  The goal of the CEDRF, is to maintain a diverse genetic pool to preserve this rare and unique breed.  As of today, the Canadian Eskimo dog is still near the verge of extinction with less than 300 registered dogs, which 279 are registered with the Canadian Kennel Club.

The Future

More effort of exposing this breed to ensure its survival is required. There is a flicker of hope on the horizon as more tourists to the Arctic are visiting and touring by dog sled. Most dogs used are not Canadian Eskimos, though some are. This gives rise to a hope that this majestic and loyal breed, a Canadian heritage gem, will continue to grow and regain a spot in the world of purebred dogs.



Copyright 2010

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Beth100 profile image

Beth100 3 years ago from Canada Author

Klanguedoc -- My apologies for taking such a long time to reply to your comment. No excuses, but I have not been on HP for a while.

It is sad that the Eskimo may go extinct. The breeders are doing everything they can to keep the gene pool clean and with variety. It is great news that your sister's pup had a full recovery. I am sure that she is enjoying the li'l guy immensely. :)

Thank you for sharing your family's experience with this beautiful dog!

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klanguedoc 4 years ago from Canada

Great hub Beth. I find it sad that we would leave such a beautiful animal to go nearly extinct. I really hope that one day there will be as many Eskimo as before. My Father's cousin had one which she got in Gaspe, QC. He was pure white. When she brought him to Montreal, being winter, she kept him in-doors. As a result he developed pneumonia and nearly died. The vet told her that the dog needed to be outside in the freezing cold, so with a fever and pneumonia she put the pup outside in the freezing cold and with the meds from the vet the Eskimo came around to a full recovery.

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 5 years ago from Canada Author

Tammyswallow -- Oh, I love malamutes!! My friend that I grew up with had one. She was the same: loving, loyal and stubborn! Kinda like my rotties. :) Thank you!

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tammyswallow 5 years ago from North Carolina

Outstanding hub and photos! The dog sledding life is so appealling and I guess it is because it is pure survivalism and nature. I am so fond of these dogs. I had a malamute and she was stubborn, but the most loyal, loving, sweet dog I have ever had. Thank you for making me think of her!

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 5 years ago from Canada Author

Scubadoggy -- Thank you! These dogs are wonderful -- funny, loyal, hard working and loving. :)

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scubadoggy 5 years ago

Great hub Beth, I've always loved the sled dogs, including the Siberian Husky and the American Eskimo... :)

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 5 years ago from Canada Author

Sarah (E) -- That is sooo true! People are put in our path when we need them; the trick is to see them when we need them. I can feel your love, though I don't know you either. Thanks for your loving energy! :)

Sarah(E) 5 years ago

any time ppl need help other ppl are always there for each other and love you even I don't know you

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 5 years ago from Canada Author

AliciaC - Yes, as with all life on this earth, it would be to our detriment if this species became extinct. There is work being done to preserve this breed while keeping its genetic integrity. Thank you for your support.

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thanks for a very interesting look at the Canadian Eskimo Dog. I’m glad that you are publicizing this breed and its population decline. It would be a great shame if the Canadian Eskimo Dog became extinct.

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 5 years ago from Canada Author

FeliciaM -- If you ever get the chance to hug one of these dogs, you'll take one home with you! Or, you will stay and try sledding! Add it to your list, and let me know when you've done this and I'll feature you in one of my sledding hubs. :)

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Emily -- You're fortunate to not have snow -- today, it is -39F (or -21C) here! Even for our furry friends, it's a tad bit too cold! :)

FeliciaM profile image

FeliciaM 6 years ago from Canada

Great hub! I adore these dogs. Always wanted to go on a dog sled too...something to put on my bucket list!

Emily40 profile image

Emily40 6 years ago

Thanks for sharing...cute pictures. I love dogs and these are amazing but we dont have them over here because there's no snow in Trinidad. Wish we had snow:)



Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Eric - First, welcome to HP! I'm very excited that you're coming on board to highlight this beautiful breed of dog. For everyone, Eric is a breeder of these majestic dogs!!! His pups are adorable! Yes, it is unfortunate that the mushers want the "easier" dogs. They're easier to train, but the character of the CEDs is much better. They live to pull, have great heart and are loyal. When your hubs are up, we should link them together. Thank you Eric!

Eric 6 years ago

Thanx Beth for this posting you will find there are less then 200 registered dogs with the Canadian Kennel Club now ... we have 6 Canadian Eskimo Dogs and 5 CED puppies ..... we are trying our best to keep the CED's alive musher want the fast alskan huskies (muts) CED's are a much larger dog they are great pulling a sled work all day til they drop ... they are also fun dog clown of the sled dog world ... thax again Beth for getting CED's work out there

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Mythbuster -- Thanks, it's quite the shot!

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mythbuster 6 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

Woooo love the last picture!

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada Author

Katee -- So do I! Thanks!

Katee 6 years ago

These dogs are beautiful looking and energetic. I hope the breed recuperates in time.

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