The Inuit, an indigenous population inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada, bred several types of work dogs. Inuit dogs play a large role in the lives of Inuit peoples, helping carry goods in the summer and pulling sleds in the winter. Yearlong they help hunt game and defend against bears. Common types of Inuit dogs are the Canadian Inuit dog (the official animal of Nunavut), the Alaskan malamute, the Siberian husky and the Greenland dog. Though similar, each breed has unique characteristics.
The Canadian Inuit dog -- also known as the Canadian Eskimo dog or the Qimmiq in Inuktiat -- is one of the world's first breeds, known to have lived in the Arctic for at least 4,000 years. Built with thick necks and wide chests, Canadian Inuit dogs have dense coats, upright ears, curly tails, and come in a variety of fur colors and markings. The breed is intelligent, brave and fiercely loyal, but needs a lot of exercise. They are best kept in cold climates. The breed is unfortunately quite rare.
Originally bred by the Mahlemut Inuit tribe in northwestern Alaska, malamutes are quite similar to the Canadian Inuit dog in looks and personality. Though malamutes still see some use as sled dogs, their heavier builds make them better suited to carry heavy objects; however, as pets they still need plenty of exercise. Malamutes can be stubborn, since they are genetically predisposed to surviving extremely harsh climates. However, it is possible to train them as long as the training is not overly repetitive -- malamutes are very intelligent dogs.
The Siberian husky emerged as a breed in Siberia but were imported to Alaska as sled dogs during the Nome Gold Rush in the early 20th century. With a wolflike appearance similar to their malamute and Canadian Inuit dog brethren, Siberian huskies have striking eye colors (blue, brown and sometimes both), which the American Kennel Club accepts in the breed. The AKC does not accept blue eyes in Alaskan malamutes, for example, since it evidences crossbreeding with huskies. Also very intelligent, Siberian huskies bore easily. They are escape artists and fast runners; they might be miles away before owners realize.
The Greenland dog or Greenland husky is another ancient dog, thought to have come to Greenland by the first Inuit settlers. The Greenland dog is similar to other Inuit dogs but is a bit bigger; also, their curls might tail but may also hang down like a wolf's. A characteristic of Greenland dogs is a triangular-shaped area on the shoulders called the "úlo" (after a common Greenland woman's knife). Roald Amundsen used Greenland dogs on the first successful trip to the South Pole.
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