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Hare Indian Dog: an Extinct Breed
Hare Indian Dog
Hare Indian Dog
Yes, the Hare Indian dog is extinct due to breeding with other dogs The Hare Indians were a tribe that lived largely in Northeastern Canada, the United States, the McKenzie River and the largest lake that is totally in Canada. The great Bear lake extends Southwest to Lake Winnipeg, Lake Superior and then West to the McKenzie River,. Although the dogs are named for the Hare Indian Tribe the Bear, Mountain, Dogrib, Cree, Slave, and Chippewa tribes also owned them. Like other working breed dogs they were found in smaller numbers in other areas.
Sometimes referred to as Trap Line Dogs the Hare Indian dogs were sometimes used for checking traps with the hunters in canoes or snow shoes who packed the beaver skins out.
They are somewhat small, 17” to 19”, longhaired dogs, very refined and lean built. They might remind one of a Collie in appearance.
Black and White
The writer of the article in Song Dog Kennels on Indian dogs states that the dogs could be related to the Viking dogs that were introduced 2,000 years ago. And probably mixed with Inuit and older Hare type dogs. And mixed with the Common Tahitian dogs to become the Plaines type. They had a very similar look and personality to the Icelandic dogs of the present. This would also be evidence of the Viking dog relationship theory. The Inuit’s dogs were also very collie like and smaller back then, as all the Indian dogs at that time. They were probably more related to each other then, unlike the differences now between the Inuit and Icelandic’s dogs. The Inuit dog has become larger and more husky like in modern times. The largest Malamutes from pre-Columbian times were never over 75 lbs. There are fake Native American dogs that are over this weight but no real ones would be over 75 lbs.
According to the Elders and early explorers the Hare dogs were very friendly, affectionate and playful, even with strangers. An early explorer explained that the Hare Dogs are fond of being caressed and rubbed on the back against you like a cat. They loved everyone they met. This was a way to identify the Hare dog years ago when finding foundation for Hare bloodlines. The modern Icelandic dogs also have this personality, which establishes another factor in the theory of the Icelandic relationship to the Hare dog. Many of the modern American Indian dogs have this quality, which was passed down from the Hare dogs.
Although very loving, docile and small the Hare dogs were very fast hunting and herding dogs that rarely barked, They were strong for their size and could be used for pulling toboggans, sleds and for packing, according to the Song dog Kennels article, although the Wikipedia article contradicts this. They could climb trees like cats and pull birds and game from the trees. They were silent hunters and could surprise game.
The Hare dog had a very slender head and elongated muzzle, large erect thickish ears pointed and broad at the base and closer together than those of the Canadian Eskimo dog. Gray eyes and light yellow, slender legs with webbed hairy feet and a bushy tail. They had longer hair around their shoulders with a ruff and britches. The fur of the muzzle was short and white, as were the legs, although it was longer and thicker at the feet.
Usually there is a dark patch above the eyes and darker sable coloring shadowed through the longer hair coats. They were found in the same colors as Plains and Tahitian Dogs.
It was somewhere between the sizes of the coyote and the American red fox.
A smaller version
There was also a shorter haired version called “the small Indian dog that was found in the warmer climates down the Atlantic coast and down into the tip of South America but they were not as numerous as the populations concentrated in the Hare Dogs territories. These dogs may have been related to Pueblo dogs, the Hare dogs or possibly both. Small Indian dogs were also used for herding fish into nets and thick forest hunters in the Amazon forests climbing trees silently after monkeys.
The Hare Indians used the dogs for coursing that is hunting by sight rather than scent. It was bred for speed and was something like a coyote. It ceased to be used as aboriginal hunting methods declined.
The breed might have originated from crossbreeding Tahitian dogs and dogs brought to North America by the Vikings during the Norse colonization of the Americas. It does have similarities to Icelandic breeds in appearance and behavior, such as a cat like body rubbing to express affection.
It appears that the Hare Indians and neighboring tribes living in Northern territories of Canada and the United States kept and used the dogs. They were not large enough to bring down large game like moose and reindeer their small size and broad feet allowed the pursuit of large animals in the deep snow. They could keep them at bay until the men arrived. A general belief among Indians was that the dog’s origins were connected to the Arctic fox. European biologist who first examined the Hare dogs found them identical to the coyote in build although the two species were not sympatric.
© 2011 Don A. Hoglund