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Canadian Eskimo dog
The Canadian Eskimo dog, known as Qimmiq (also spelled as Kingmik) in the Inuit language Inuktitut, is a large, wolf-like dog, taller and more heavily boned than the Siberian Husky.

It is one of the only eight indigenous breeds of Canada and one of the only seven living ones - the Tahltan Bear Dog being extinct.

The Eskimo Dog was once included in the AKC Miscellaneous classes, but dropped in the 1950's due to lack of interest. American sledding enthusiasts preferred the smaller, faster huskies, and considered the Canadian Eskimo dog too large and heavy to be competitive in dog sled racing.
Due to the lack in popularity the breed also remained genetically more stable than its faster cousins. Many of the other sled dog breeds became largely interbred and crossbred with European hound and gun dog breeds, while the Eskimo dog remained relatively pure. Dna evidence links the Eskimo Dog with the Australian Dingo, the New Guinea Singing dog, the Greenland dog and the Shiba Inu. Many consider the Canadian Eskimo dog to be he most genuinely diligent sled dog of all the northern dog breeds.

Definition and Etymology

There has been some confusion over this breed. First, because the term 'Eskimo dog' has long been used in a general sense to refer to any sled dog used by the Inuits. We use the term here in the strict sense of the breed originating from the stock primarily bred by the Eskimo Dog Research Foundation. Second, while the breed is sometimes referred to as 'Canadian Inuit dog', it should not be confused with the Northern Inuit dog, which is a breed of domestic dog selectively bred to resemble wolves, similar to the Utonagan and the Tamaskan dog. Some confusion arises from the fact that Inuit do not call themselves "Eskimo", and many find the latter term highly offensive.

While the exact context of the word "Eskimo" is still debated it is widely accepted to mean "eater of raw meat" and not in the pejorative context of "cannibalism" as some people have implied. The terms "Eskimo" and "Inuit" are frequently used interchangeably, however the term "Inuit" does not properly include the Alutiiq, Inupiaq, Sug'piak, and Yup'ik Eskimo populations of Alaska, or the Yupik population of Eastern Russia. "Inuit" refers to Arctic Native populations in Canada. The speakers of the Yupik languages don't usually find the term offensive, and may self-identify as Eskimo.

As a result the Canadian Eskimo Dog foundation has concluded that "the official name 'Canadian Eskimo Dog' is not a pejorative or derogatory term when describing a dog and is an entirely appropriate descriptive compilation of words that accurately describes the species. The Canadian Eskimo Dog does indeed eat 'raw meat' exclusively in its natural environment and thus the descriptive term 'eater of raw meat' dog is entirely appropriate. Therefore the CEDF will respectfully continue to refer to the dog known as 'Canis familiaris borealis' by its official name, the 'Canadian Eskimo Dog'."


The first Canadian Eskimo Dogs called "Qimmiq" (which simply means dog) by the Inuit, arrived approximately 1100-1200 A.D. with the migration of the Thule Inuit throughout Canada's Arctic Region. These extremely versatile dogs were used for transportation, hauling sleds and hunting. They are capable of locating seal breathing holes and served as a protection dog holding at bay musk ox and polar bears and attacking them if necessary. The breed has survived in the harshest terrain in the world and was very much in demand in the late 1800's and early 1900's as sled dog for expeditions. A Canadian Eskimo Dog can pull twice its weight through the harshest weather and terrain with every little feeding.

With the advent of the snowmobile the Canadian Eskimo Dog quickly started to vanish. Other breeds of dogs came to Canada's north, carrying many diseases and illnesses that the Canadian Eskimo Dog had never been exposed too. Many died, many were crossbred with other breeds.

By the 1970's the Canadian Eskimo Dog was on the verge of extinction with an estimated 200 pure dogs left in the North. In 1972 a project was initiated to try to rescue the breed. William Carpenter and John McGrath assisted by the Canadian Kennel Club created the Canadian Eskimo Dog Research Foundation Kennel Club. The foundation's work over a six year period was primarily funded by the Governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories and involved the purchase of specimens from the remnant population of dogs kept by the Inuit of the Boothia Peninsula, Melville Peninsula and parts of Baffin Island. In 1986 the first dogs from this project were registered with the Canadian Kennel Club. The collaborated efforts were instrumental in creating the foundation stock of the registered breed. However presently the number of pure Canadian Eskimo Dogs in existence is again dangerously low, with only 279 registered dogs in existence.

Little effort has been done to introduce this breed to the general public, unlike has been the case with the Siberian Husky or the Alaskan Malamute. The Canadian Eskimo Dog Club and its members play an important role in the continued preservation of this unique and rare breed. 

The Canadian Eskimo dog should confer an idea of strength, power and endurance balanced with agility, alertness and boldness.

Both males and females have a rapid growth rate reaching working size by seven months, but full maturity is only reached at three years of age.

Male: 23-27 1/2"  inches (58-70cm) at the withers
Female:  19 1/2-23 1/2' inches" (50-60 cm) at the withers

Male:   ranges from 66-95 lbs (30-40 kg), but closer to 88 lbs (39 kg) when in working condition.
Female:  the range is 60-80 lbs (28-29Kg), but closer to 65 lbs (39 kg) when in working condition.

During the winter the undercoat is covered with a thick outer coat of harsh or erect hair. The underfur is very dense and allows the dog to work in the world's harshest and coldest environments. A mane-like growth of longer hair over the neck and shoulder will appear on male specimens. Females usually have a shorter coat.

Any colour or combination of colours are permitted for the coat. The most common are all white with pigmentation aorund the eyes, nose and lips; white body with a small amount or marks of red, buff, cinnamon, grey or black; two-colored white and red or white and buff, or cinnamon and white or black with an equal distribution of the two colors; red, buff, cinnamon, sable or black body with white on chest and/or legs and underbody; silver grey body; buff to brown undercoat with black guard hairs.

The tail is large and bushy and generally carried up or curled over the back. Mature Bitches may on occasion carry their tail down.

The Eskimo Dog's pads are believed to be the toughest in the canine world: " a dog is only as good as his feet" is a popular maxim among mushers.

Eyes can be any colour except blue. The most common are dark brown, black and yellow.

The Eskimos dogs head should be broad and wedge shaped. The muzzle is tapered and medium length. Eyes are small, wide spaced and place obliquely in the head.

The ears are short, thick and have a slightly rounded end. They are carried erect, turned forward and are covered with dense short hair. It should be noted that unlike in most other breeds, the ears of the Canadian Eskimo dog do not follow the same gradual growth until they become erect around the age of four months.

Character and Temperament

The Canadian Eskimo Dog is not a pet dog, but a tough, hard-working primitive dog originally domesticated to perform specific tasks in a harsh environment. A firm but gentel training is essential for this breed as they are very determined. They have a hard-earned instinct for survival. As a result they will display an almost over response to any stimulus, be it food, work, fighting or play.

Otherwise they are very affectionate, even with strangers, and enjoy being the center of attention.

Canadian Eskimo Dog
(Qimmiq, Esquimaux, Canadian Inuit Dog or
 Inuit Sled Dog)

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by Catherine Marien-de Luca
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