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Dog Sledding Dogs: The Canadian Eskimo Dog

Updated on May 11, 2012



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 5 years ago from Canada

      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!

    • klanguedoc profile image

      Kevin Languedoc 5 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 6 years ago from Canada

      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!

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 6 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 6 years ago from Canada

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

    • scubadoggy profile image

      scubadoggy 7 years ago

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

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 7 years ago from Canada

      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! :)

    • profile image

      Sarah(E) 7 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 7 years ago from Canada

      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

      Linda Crampton 7 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 7 years ago from Canada

      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 7 years ago from Canada

      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 7 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 7 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 7 years ago from Canada

      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!

    • profile image

      Eric 7 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 8 years ago from Canada

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

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 8 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Woooo love the last picture!

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 8 years ago from Canada

      Katee -- So do I! Thanks!

    • profile image

      Katee 8 years ago

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

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 8 years ago from Canada

      Fluffymetal -- She must be one super dog! Thanks for dropping in. :)

    • Fluffymetal profile image

      Fluffymetal 8 years ago from Texas

      I love this hub. It reminds me of my dog, but she is a mixed breed, although she has all these characteristics.

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 8 years ago from Canada

      Jen -- I'm very happy that you came here through Niteriter! Oh yes, Call of the Wild is such a classic story. I didn't read "To Build a Fire", but maybe I'll see if I can find it in the library (for me lol and then for my kids to read!). Northern Michegan!!! Definitely cold, cold there during the winters. I'm really glad that you enjoyed this hub! Thank you!

    • wyanjen profile image

      Jen King 8 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan

      Hello Beth

      I followed you here from niteriter's dog training hub. What a great hub you have written.

      It took me back to my childhood (lol). Northen Michigan was wintery enough that we could PRETEND we were Inuit, playing and making igloos. :D

      But the dogs have a place in my heart. We had a few huskies up there. Loved them.

      Your hub brings back my memories of reading Call of the Wild as a fourth grader. "To Build a Fire" was my favorite, although it ripped at my heart. Man's arrogance and the death of his loyal dog.

      Anyway - Thanks so much for this hub. I really enjoyed it.

      Jen K

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 8 years ago from Canada

      Festersporling1 -- That was a fantastic movie. I enjoyed it immensely, and to know that it was based on a true story made it even better. Man and his best friends! Thanks Daniel. :)

    • festersporling1 profile image

      Daniel Christian 8 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      I just love the eskimo dogs. That movie with Paul Walker, what was it 8 below? Great dogs!

      Great hubs. :)


    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 8 years ago from Canada

      Steven -- These Canadians are extremely lovable (as we Canadians all are) and love to please. Thanks for spreading the word, I appreciate that! And, you're awesome too! :)

    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 8 years ago

      Hmm...that's fairly interesting. I've never realized this much about eskimo dogs. in fact, i actually have a friend of mine beth that i plan to tell about this hub as she loves eskimo dogs. thanks again beth for the great read. your awesome. ;)

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 8 years ago from Canada

      PDH -- I'd send you one, but I think that you'd enjoy picking out a cute, fuzzy puppy in person! I'll send you a ticket instead to come up here (don't forget a super-duper warm parka!!!) :D

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 8 years ago from US

      can I have one, loyal dog, I like that plus intelligent too, send it here via Fedex hehe, Maita

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 8 years ago from Canada

      PegCole -- Yeah, they're like tiny versions of a polar bear! Cute, fluffy, and loving! They are extremely loyal and intelligent -- great companions!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 8 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Gorgeous dogs! Love this breed of Canadian Eskimo. My Buddy Lee looked like one of the guys in your pictures. What a faithful, loving and affectionate dog he was! Really enjoyed reading this hub and the pictures were incredible.

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 8 years ago from Canada

      CC -- You'd like that wouldn't you, especially with a side of toes! ;) xxx

    • profile image

      ralwus 8 years ago

      Are you a Musher? I think you are. Love these dogs. You can mush me anytime you want. Just don't whip me, er maybe I would like that as well so go ahead. Good hub darlin'. x

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 8 years ago from Canada

      Tatguy -- That was a great movie!!! Maybe ya should do a tat hub on dogs? Thanks Tat! xxx

    • profile image

      TattoGuy 8 years ago

      Love these dogs, one of my fav movies was Call Of The Wild written by Jack London and starring Charlton Heston. Twas an amazin movie about a sledge dog, twas really sad, ya deff gotta see it. Great hub Beth !! x

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 8 years ago from Canada

      Thanks pddm67! They are gorgeous animals and extremely loyal. With the publicity of the Iditarod races, there's hope for the breed, though breeders and the government need to expose the public more to their heritage and plight.

    • pddm67 profile image

      pddm67 8 years ago from Queens, New York

      Nice hub! Such a beautiful and powerful animal. I do hope the need for these dogs returns and they no longer remain on the verge of extinction. Rock on!

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 8 years ago from Canada

      Kimberly -- You bet! We Canadians have so much uniquenessss in our history and our culture. I, too, am proud to be Canadian! We rock! :)

      Cari Jean -- The Canadian Eskimo has been outdone by Siberians and malamutes in terms of media coverage, marketing and so forth. Come on up North of the 49th, there's so much to see and do. You should check out RedElf's hub on their dog sledding adventure at

    • Cari Jean profile image

      Cari Jean 8 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      I didn't know there were Canadian Eskimo dogs. It's always been a dream of mine to go dog-sledding which is one reason I enjoyed this hub so much. My husband is from Canada so I always enjoy reading things about our neighbor to the north.

    • profile image

      lyricsingray 8 years ago

      Beth, what a great hub. Boy are they beautiful,and strong and fast and kind. This is one thing that makes me proud to be Canadian, thanks for reminding me of that, Kimberly

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 8 years ago from Canada

      Resspenser -- You could raise one in sunny South Carolina --you just have to ensure that he doesn't get heat stroke by staying in the sun too long. They are sooo cute when they're puppies -- everyone falls in love with them!

    • resspenser profile image

      Ronnie Sowell 8 years ago from South Carolina

      I don't suppose I can raise one in sunny South Carolina???

      Good, interesting hub!

    • Beth100 profile image

      Beth100 8 years ago from Canada

      Dohn -- Again, thanks. I love these dogs too -- they're soft and cuddly and will love ya to death!!

      General -- He sounds wonderful! It's time to hitch him up for some sledding or skiijoring...he'll love it and you'll get a free ride out of it! :)

      Ken -- Yes, it's a very sad situation. There are only two other idigenous species remaining but they're doing well in population. Canada should be doing more to protect this breed.

      Blue Dog -- There are so many species of animals on the brink of extinction. This breed is only one of thousands. Its frightening to see the list of animals on the endangered list and how many actually cross over to extinct.

      Cheeky Girl -- Thank you and I am surprised too with respect to the remaining breeders. They are hoping that with more media attention to the North and sledding adventures that it will help bring attention to the breed.

      Sarah -- Thanks and I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

    • profile image

      Sarah 8 years ago

      Nice well written hub! =D

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 8 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      Nice hub here! This is interesting as a subject! I never knew much about this, I was saddened to hear their numbers dwindling. You served a decent purpose here telling this! I am surprised breeders don't do more to help increase their numbers! Thanks!

    • blue dog profile image

      blue dog 8 years ago from texas hill country

      great job, beth.

      they have such a rich history, it's frightening to know their numbers are so low.

    • Ken R. Abell profile image

      Ken R. Abell 8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Great Hub, Beth. Thank you for it. Very interesting & informative. I did not know that the breed was so close to extinction.

    • GeneralHowitzer profile image

      Gener Geminiano 8 years ago from Land of Salt, Philippines

      I love dogs too, hehehe specially the Siberian Husky... We have playful puppy at home and he what he does is run and run, lick anyone else here... Happy New Year Beth!!! Take care too...

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      Another great hub to compliment latter. Thanks again, Beth. I love these dogs!


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