The Grønlandshund- Greenland Dog
"In Greenlandic folklores and myths believed by Inuit People, it was said the Grønlandshunds were their ancestors."
"The Seven Gronlandshunds were sent out by a White Wolf, the God's messenger, to aid for the humanity to survive."
Not huskies. Not dogs. Not wolves.
Inuit dogs are a unique piece of nature.
They are the oldest and the only natural…dogs in existence.
You probably have heard many times about sled dogs and especially the main ones- Huskies and Malamutes, Samoyed and many other mixes. According to my polls, and the many people I've spoke to, used to research, I've noticed that GH(Greenland dog, Grønlandshund) is the least known Nordic breed and even rarely was mentioned... by myself I have had a very long and unique journey discovering such mysterious, ancient canines known as Grønlandshund...
... a long story which I'll never forget. Unlike many other breeds and animals that I've met, experienced and love, still GH leaves an unforgettable place in my heart. To compare... they are like dragons. Owning a dragon, amongst of dinosaurs and animals. Even researching about them, is like learning about fascinating creatures known as dragons. I feel like Daenerys Targaryen with her dragons.
I thought to share this article about who these ancient creatures are, since there is absolutely no good articles in English (besides the Fan Hitch, but it's more scientific and not so useful for the explorers who want to learn about the GH).
This ancient dog, called Grønlandshund is one of the most primitive and oldest dog breeds in the world and the least "shaped" by humans and civilization. Furthermore, recent old notes by Danish researchers where they researched how the Inuit people keep the line of Greenlandic Dogs and in many areas, to refresh the bloodline and get healthy generation for hunting, they were often mixed with wolves in West/North Greenland areas known as High Arctic.
For centuries Greenlandic dogs were working with humans of arctic regions in very extremal conditions, hunting, fighting with polar bears, making long distances on sled expeditions in the North, very far away from us...
.. they're still remaining as wild dogs in their Origin Land which is known Greenland keeping the Inuit's survival up to date. Greenlandic dogs are always fascination for researchers, travelers and even, National Geographic- where NG claimed those canines as one of the most fascinating dogs in the world.
Grønlandshund kept the oldest instincts that all other today's dogs that have lost due to evolution and breeding.
It's because they have their original land, Greenland where the real, wild and pure blood GH can be preserved in original climate, culture and environment- as well the strong tradition of many Inuits doesn't allow the civilization to take it away.Exporing/Importing dogs to/from other countries is forbidden, with a few exceptions. Greenlandic dogs were discovered by the world very late (1930-1970). In 1967, FCI claimed it as a dog breed officialy in Europe, but in the rest of the world (besides Canada) doesn't have Greenland Dogs known yet. The first discovery of GH happened when researchers needed a really and very, very good, strong and extremely capable polar sled-dogs...
In a sledge they're very dynamic workers. They almost have perfect statements for sleddog in extremal conditions.
Many of you might think on the first sight, that GH is like many other sleddog/Nordic breeds. So what makes GH so different, unique, almost like a dog from different world?
Many mushers, even experienced ones, are reclaiming that Grønlandshund is only a legend. A myth. A dog which should not be in the hands of the humans.
Their perseverance, psyche and stamina are legendary. They're so strong like Alaskan Malamutes but so fast like huskies and what they are best at is their psyche- unlike many other nordic sleddogs, GH are the most loyal and incredibly devoted dogs for their owner, like in Hachiko's Legend. In extremal situations GH are ready to give everything and do miracles of their action whenever, I have read many various stories about GH and most of them brought me to tears.
Their statements create the perfect sleddog... but...
... this dog is only great for really extremal needs and conditions, not only extremal physical weather conditions but also effective through very strong mentally capable mushers and the ones who really truly understand the GH. Greenlandic dogs have very fragile and complicated mentality. To understand their language and nature properly, we need at least years of learning, understanding, humility and training, which is much more time consuming unlike with other dog breeds. Second matter is, their hierarchy of language is very complex and agression- they have natural agression that has been shaped in arctic conditions for the selection of strongest dogs. It takes just a matter of not being cautious, or raising them impatiently, in wrong way, violence or spoiling too much - Greenlandic dog is capable to stand against the owner.
Basically, when you're going to own a GH, you have to be ready to be plunged into their enchanting world- which is not understandable for many people.
GH raised wrongly, even by experienced musher, may leave the dog and the human to the destruction where the effect may be very tragic. This dog is absolutely not for everyone, even for the experienced mushers...
The owner not only must be strong physically but also psychologically. Force and violence will never help. To set up the dogs rights is a huge politic game!
GH's personality and behaviour is quite primitive yet very intelligent, extremely similar to wolves, but they have some extremal differences to wolves. They are like... not dogs, neitherwolves. Observing a GH is quite impressive- while eating, they're selecting and sorting food and hiding it underground, and can dig it up and put it into water to clean dirty food and then eat. They are even cleaining their poops by hiding it in the ground burying it or putting leaves on top of it after doing the toilet. If you give a pile of toys to them, they usually make weird selections and do weird "rhythms" with them (basically organising them into selective sorts and into patterns ) - it's more or less like it's their own language. There will be a lot of little stuff what they do everyday is quite surprising for dog owners.
Another important aspect of GH- they're incredibly and the most emotional dogs as far I've met. Their emotional intelligence is something what is worthy to look at. Their way of expressing emotions are almost like humans, is very deep and they demonstrate a lot of signs of emotional communication, i.e. very clearly let the owner know that they feel mad at. Greenlandic dogs are sight observers- they learn very quickly by observing and can manipulate with others/dogs/and items to get what they want. They can feel incredibly strongly the owner's emotions and attitude of surrounding. Their emotional mentality is quite sensitive, so working with them requires a lot of love and passion. And also discipline, the owner must be very clear- because they are amazing at manipulating someone's feelings!
I have witnessed some dramatic stories about how traumatically a GH life ended if they were negatively psychically treated, for example about a GH named Sherpa who commited suicide (!) due to the tragic emotional breakdown. And many other stories about how dogs were self harming themselves very quickly if they felt seperated from the pack and the love.
Gronlandshund is like a diamond- the hardest dogs, extremal conditions, capable to eat very few meals and be injured and wont care at all, however they are very sensitive emotionally.
In Greenland they're treated differently than in the Europe.
A signature factor of GH - it's hierarchy.
Their hierarchy is very incredibly solid set and probably one the most dynamic out of all canine species. Even more so than wolves. If something goes "wrong", the field turns into a massive colosseum of fights. Keeping every GH seperated causes it to be even worse, the pack forgets who's the alpha dog, they start accumulating the pressure, confidence and come up with plans to beat the shit out a dog where they find to dislike. Sometimes it's helpful to let the fights to happen between dogs from time to time where they must resolve a few conflicts and set up a hierarchy positions. Their politics are complicated so, often stupid (for us), it requires absolutely lots and lots of work to keep your pack in a right hierarchy and remember, GH will respect you if you're unmistakenable and true alpha to them. If you're interested, there is a small article how sociality is working:
They're very communicative to each other. They should be chained in that a way that they could be in touch to set up their minimal position but the chain won't allow them to fight to the death.
Alpha of the team is usually covered in scars and bites.
Bear this in your mind- Grønlandshunds are doing everything with a passion. They'll work and love you with a passion. They'll work with a real passion which considers them as the most legendary sleddogs. They'll fight with a passion, which often causes fights to the death. I've heard a story about incredible GH siblings. They were raised, worked and lived all together for their whole life's. And what the worst thing for them would be to happen to them is to seperate them away, they cannot live without their siblings. However they are skilled to do murderous life-threatening fights, even within their arguments, they're ready to kill their very beloved siblings - so you'll see how unpleasant end would be if one of them would kill their close relations and perish themselves.. So that's why the owner must be very strong personally as an absolute alpha and psychically keep in control of the GH's "fucked up" psyche moments sometimes.
They're very family-like dogs. They take a great care for the puppies.
Those dogs does not haveo official "standard" coat and proportions- as a signature (s. husky is white-gray-black dog with blue eyes or Dingoes are ginger). GH have many various shapes, sizes, types and what's the most unique- they can have any fur color combination with various marking placements! We call them "forms" to classify a certain GH type- their physical appearance, shape and coat- and purpose. On East Greenland there are more long legged, skinnier ones while on West are fatter. They're very easily shape changing dogs, so they may look so far different than "classic" looking GH- they can be easily mistaken with German Shepherds, Coyotes, Akitas, Malamutes (even IDENTIC!) and wolves- plus loads more. In almost every EU GH looks different because of different needs- I'll mention about it next time.
Every color coat has different touch. Origin/Agouti formes do have between sharp and soft touch, while Gorgo (black) forme do have more sharp and smooth and white are just mostly soft and close to arctic wolf's fur.
Here is a chart of GH colors which I made quickly. I am probably missing a few coat colourations but I'll make a proper and better chart once I have my own photos for it:
Black ones (Gorgo) are such noble and majestic looking GH
Evolution and influence. (this part still requires more work!)
Dogs are changing very dramaticaly due to evolution of civilization and human's needs- so what is responsible for the most, is the breeding factoer. Did you know the real and original Siberian Huskies were so far different than ones which we see now? They weren't so sleek-looking, with pretty and elegant coat before and even more- their personality where different. To gain an example, Balto was the husky from the past (closer to GH looking, so technically, for the most people we'd say just "uglier") which was very very different than nowadays.
What's responsible of the "evolution"?
In the past, people's needs were different- they needed a real survival dog to serve humanity with long expeditions and reach to unreachable places on snowy terrains... so what now?
In our civilized parts of world, aka. "West Civilization" or cities, dog breeding is becoming more and more as only entertainment thing. It's mostly for business and fun. Utility dogs are no more needed in this civilization because machinery and technology has replaced- such, sled dogs are completely not needed by this part of the world. Dog shows, breeding for business, olympic sports and trendies ... are the most destructive ones. That part about mushing races, as long as the mushing won't be considered as Winter Olympic Sports, is all fine. Once the fame, gold and money will knock to GH's world... I've witnessed a lot of chaos and cheating GH's bloodline, forming into sporting "mixes" which are nothing like original GH's.
I'd like you to dedicate a few moments to watch the documentary how dog shows influence dog breeds.
Greenlands used in the races. Almost ready for start.
Today we have classified GH into many types where purposes are quite various- sleek and racing lines are (Germany, Poland, Switzerland), Nordic GH (Norway and Scandinavia) and real, pure GH (Greenland), as well mixed. Personalities and physical appearances are adjusted to it's environment.
While picking a GH, we need to find out for what we are looking for, so I do think a big role is playing to understand GH bloodlines. If we have a documentation, such like known as pedigree and or databases will tell you a lot about your GH- the biggest matter is how far is your GH from it's original form (a GH from Greenland) and location from their original land (Greenland) - if we care about purity of this breed. Nowadays is very rare to find a GH... as we call it, with "empty boxes" on paper documentations.
Their howl is on lower tones and don't howl as often as huskies. They howl when is necessary and before feeding.
Due to their raw nature, they are known due with aggressive behaviour and brave fighters. They are even capable to attack people or stand against the owner. That part is the most difficult with that breed- and this is why many people don't want to deal with.
I will admit, by owning a GH and worked with many ones, I do see it as a difficult problem. Many people know that huskies and in spitz type dogs are very weak with fights, however they misunderestimate Greenlandic Dogs- where their bite force is very enormously powerful. Even most of pitbulls stand no chance with my Greenland dog.
Next time I plan to write an article about it- because within many situations, people blame GH as aggressive dog breed, thus, their aggression has nothing to do with human's term of aggression as a wrong thing, but natural selective one for building the borders and hierarchy (NOTHING is for no reason)- and nearly on 100% situations are caused by human's mistakes, misinterpretations and misunderstanding with other dogs.
Interesting video clip how their nature of brave fighter is like (someone uploaded a clip from documentary film):
The War Dogs.
Grønlandshunds are one of seven dog breeds that are considered as Military Dogs. They served a lot of important roles in World War 2 as transportation, survival and alert dogs due to very strong working personalities and psyche. Today they are used only in Sirius Patrol. More of it will come.
Did you know not a long time ago GH could've been an extinct animal? They used to share a terrible fate of being in the danger of extinction...
Since when the civilization from cities and people from south invaded Greenland, many of the dogs were killed for fur and for trades. They were killed alive for fur! Due to all chaos, many greenlandic villages and towns were provided with technology that can replace what dogs did, many of people lost respect to animals, treated them as an unimportant thing, the more of law was forming on this country the harder was to keep GH, and the whole thing has started the cruelty on dogs.
All we thought the slander was just in the past...
Not a long time ago we got updated with the information that GH are yet, still killed or getting negative treatment (no water or food for weeks and chained forever). I plan to make a seperate article about all the research about the horrifying cruelty of the GH and how we are able to help. We shouldn't ignore this. I'll leave a link for the interested people, but beware, the pictures are VERY graphic... if you're very sensetive, I really recommend you to not view them...
So, for whom is Grønlandshund?
For not everybody.
All of it is really a matter of your passion and love for GH and you'll consider them as the best friend. And understanding animals and canindaes very well.
Other than a beautiful passion or a greaaat knowledge about animals, wolves, behaviour and loving Greenland dogs in general, what is mostly required is strong discipline, dedication, a lot of responsibility, healthy/sporting people, strong self personality, physically strong and "yes-I-will-go-out-with-a-dog" in the rain. No excuses.
GH ar quite a smart dog and emotionally intelligent, so practically they learn things very quickly. Good things and bad things. Raising them is like having a small children and even you'll have many moments of downhills with your doh. You'll meet with many troublesome situations, despite you feel like you gave everything for your dog. But sooner or later, all the hard effort will be paid off. That dog will be the greatest companion for long hiking trips, spending in nature, best friend, help you in difficult times, for mushing career, you might turn your life into a dream... everything is in your hand and picking a right GH
Many people who started with a GH as companion dog has changed their lives. They changed many people's lifes in unexpected ways...
It's often said that Grønlandshund is the best wild friend for human.
Love and passion is not enough at all, like as I said it requires lot's of work but also to have right living conditions.
The Fan Hitch:
Greenland dog Base- the biggest GH database: (only Norsk language, use google translate)
Greenland Dog photo gallery (Poland/Europe)
Video of working GH in greenland:
www.youtube.com/user/tinkasin (it's the mystery of famous Laila the climbing GH!)
(will update more later)
All photos which I used here aren't mine and are belonging to their owners. Sadly they were in my hard drive and collected long time ago so I no longer can find the source. Either, I used them for only education and no other goals.
Some texts, knowledge, quotes I gained from various books and mostly from GH mushers experience as well from my own- thanks to Andrzej Wilczopolski's quotes, Monika Stawowczyk, Herwig Schellauf and GH forums.
EDIT: I'd be grateful if anyone would kindly spot any gramatic mistakes in this text or even share with your knowledge.