History of the Canadian Eskimo Dog
Written By Racheal Bailey (Akna)
The Canadian Eskimo Dog or Canadian Inuit Dog as it is known in Canada is a large breed of Arctic dog. It is considered to be one of North America’s oldest purebred indigenous dogs. The dogs were used by the migrant Inuit people as sled dogs to pull their homes and sled’s laden with their spoils from hunting. They were also used to hunt, hold at bay polar bears and in some cases for their fur. There are still people that use these dogs in the traditional ways as transport across the frozen arctic tundra but mostly teams are used for research and expedition trips. Most dog teams used today are of more popular breeds such as the Alaskan Malamute or Siberian Husky and also many teams that race dogs use crossbred/Alaskan Husky teams. This is also because they can be difficult to handle and in large groups can be quarrelsome.
The CED featured on one of four stamps with the indigenous breeds of Canada.
The CED “Stern of Churchill” featured on a Canadian coin. This dog was owned by Brian Ladoon of Churchill who passed away in 2019. He once had the largest colony of purebred Canadian Eskimo Dogs.
The Canadian Eskimo Dog is known to have been resident in the Arctic for at least 4000 years. The Canadian Eskimo Dog was first bred by the Thule People. The people of the Thule originally resided in Alaska in 500AD, and later Nunavut, Canada.
In the 1800s and early 1900s this breed was in demand for polar expeditions. When snowmobiles came into use, the population numbers started rapidly declining, because snowmobiles are faster and need less care. In the 1920s there were approximately 20,000 dogs living in the Canadian Arctic, and the breed was accepted for showing by both the AKC and CKC; however, in 1959 the AKC dropped the breed from its registry because of extremely low numbers. The CKC still maintain its registry to this day. The numbers of dogs declined rapidly during the 60’s and 70’s, many reasons were given for this decline but they dropped form their thousands to a few hundred.
It probably would have gone extinct if not for the Eskimo Dog Research Foundation (EDRF). The EDRF was founded in 1972 by William Carpenter and John McGrath. The EDRF purchased dogs from the Inuit remaining in the Canadian Arctic then began breeding dogs in order to increase numbers. The re-registration of the CED by the Canadian kennel Club was in 1986.
Dogs were sold to other breeders who then started programs to help with raising the numbers of dogs. The CEDF ran by Brian Ladoon also had aims to breed dogs of pure origins to keep the genetic pool alive. There are also other breeders who insist on the registration of their dogs as most of the CED’s alive today are not registered, even though their parentage is traceable.
The Canadian Eskimo Dog is still very rare; however, it is becoming more popular in many areas including Arctic tourism, with an increasing number of sled dog teams that entertain tourists. This new-found popularity is because tourists often enjoy seeing the dogs in their natural environment doing what they are meant for. On May 1st, 2000, the Canadian territory of Nunavut officially adopted the “Canadian Inuit Dog” as the animal symbol of the territory, thus sealing the name of their traditional dog, Qimmiq in the Inuktitut language
Canadian Eskimo Dogs have been around in the UK for longer than people realise, wealthy victorians such as WG Taunton bought many specimens from zoo’s and from returning expeditions from Hudson Bay and Baffin Island. Eskimo Dogs or Esquimaux as they were known were used as attractions at the British zoological gardens, most notably London Zoo as early as 1828. Many of these dogs were exhibited at early dog shows such as Crystal Palace and were classified as Foreign Dogs and then moved into Any Variety. In the late 1990’s Ann Allen (Shepherdsway) imported two dogs from Canada along with Walt and Kath Howarth who also imported two. To begin with they were shown alongside the Greenland Dog, both dogs were called ‘Eskimo Dogs’ and many of the early dogs came from Hudson Bay and Baffin Island and not Greenland. Later other dogs were imported from Greenland and Norway but within a year they were split into two separate breeds, their names changed to “Greenland Dog” and Canadian Eskimo Dog and they were also given their own classes.
The first Canadian Eskimo Dogs brought into the UK in the 1990’s were imported from Jo Kelly in Canada, they were High Lonesomes Polar Bear at Shepherdsway (Panda) and High Lonesomes Finn at Shepherdsway (Finn)
The other pair (which the female was never bred from due to paperwork problems) were High Lonesomes Tiuk and High Lonesomes Little Sinner. Tiuk was used by Ann Allen and you will find him in some of the pedigree’s of dogs born in the UK.
The CED are considered a rare breed although numbers are increasing to over 200 dogs registered in the UK since 2000. Although numbers are growing slowly with imports and litters already on the ground. Their popularity has grown and previously they were generally shown in Any Variety or Rare breed classes, only being given their own classes at a few championship shows in the year, including Crufts. There are now many shows that list them and racing, weight pull and events abroad are growing their popularity. They have not yet gained championship status. They are highly prized as working dogs due to their excellent working attitude and strength.
In 2005 explorers including Tom Avery sponsored by The Barclays Capital Ultimate North Expedition – traveled to the North Pole with Canadian Eskimo Dogs belonging to Matty McNair a well known female polar guide and explorer from the Northwinds Kennel. The journey was to recreate that taken by Robert Peary on April 6th 1909 and sledges laden with nothing more than what Peary himself would have taken they managed to beat Robert Pearys record by just 4 hours. Napu Of Northwinds *** @ Akna (IMP CAN) shCM imported by Racheal Bailey in 2011 is the grandson of dogs used on Tom Averys team.
The Canadian Eskimo Dog has gone from strength to strength in the UK. It has proven popular with race owners and has won many times in its classes. They are also doing well in the show ring with dogs placing Best Of Breed also going into the Working Groups and placing too! The Canadian Eskimo Dog in short is a challenge to own but is loyal, loving, hard working and tough. A dog to be respected and enjoyed but also to be protected.