The Canadian Eskimo Dog is a large breed of Arctic dog, which is considered to be North America’s oldest purebred indigenous dog. Other names include Qimmiq (Inuit for “dog”) or what is considered to be the more politically correct Canadian Inuit Dog. The name Eskimo translates to ‘Flesh Eater’, in Canada and Greenland the term ‘Eskimo’ has fallen out of favour as it is considered insulting. It has been replaced by the term Inuit.
However, while Inuit describes all of the Eskimo people in Canada and Greenland, that is not true in Alaska and Siberia who retain the Eskimo name. The dogs were mainly used by the Inuit for hunting and for transportation in the Canadian Arctic, traditional working dog teams became increasingly rare in the North after the 1960’s, as snowmobiles became more popular, and tended to be faster and more efficient, also a massive cull of the dogs has led to the breed falling into the category of an endangered species.
After the Canadian Eskimo Dog Research Foundation (CEDRF) was formed in the 1970’s purebred dogs were taken from around pockets of Northern Canada and then later registered with the CKC in 1986, these foundation dogs were chosen on their phenotype as the parents of these dogs did not have registration papers with any kennel club or organisation.
The Inuit did not care for papers to prove their dog’s worth. They needed dogs that were tough and reliable, very different to what we expect of our dogs today. Those dogs were the foundation for many lines of the CED to this day however in the far north still pockets of purebred dogs exist. They are used in expeditions, there are races where only Inuit and their dogs can take part and some still use the dogs for sledding whether for recreational or for the tourist business.
The Canadian Eskimo Dog is registered by the CKC – country of origin kennel club. It is also registered in Great Britain by the Kennel Club, USA has several registering bodies one of which the United Kennel Club (UKC) accepts them and more recently the FCI who reinstated them (breed number 211).
Sadly over the years the breed has attracted many undesirable owners and breeders which along with all the politics has aided the probable demise of the increasingly rare Canadian Eskimo Dog. The registered CEDs in the UK, have increased since 2011. Over 200 dogs have been bred or imported in the UK to date. They are not dogs for the novice owner nor should they be kept purely as pets. They have a natural working drive and are strong, powerful dogs described as freight dogs rather than fast sprinters such as the Siberian Husky.
In the 1800s and early 1900s this breed was in demand for polar expeditions. Used by famous explorers such as Captain William Peary, Roald Amundsen and more recently dogs supplied by Matty McNair of the Northwinds kennel used by Tom Avery for the Barclays Capital Ultimate North expedition and of course for arctic film crews and documentaries.
In the 1920s there were approximately 20,000 dogs living in the Canadian Arctic, today we probably have less then a thousand registered and unregistered dogs worldwide.
Written by Racheal Bailey. Sources CKC, FCI, Matty McNair, CEDCGB database, UK KC, CEDCC
These are a selection of images of Canadian Eskimo Dogs. If you want to know more about any of the dogs you see please contact us.