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The Greenlandic sled dog

Inspiration / Wildlife / The Greenlandic sled dog

The Greenlandic sled dog is known for its tremendous willpower. The dogs can pull heavy sleds over long distances, and they can live outside in the cold, arctic weather, which they also prefer.

In Greenland, you will find only one type of sled dog, namely the Greenland dog, Canis Lupus Familiaris. It is one of the purest and most isolated dog breeds in the world because it is not allowed to mix the Greenland dog with other dog breeds. These lovely sled dogs are very patient. We love these beautiful dogs from nose to tail.

Two sled dogs enjoying the summer in Ilulissat
Sled dog near Ilimanaq in the summer months

How many types of sled dogs are there?

In total, there are five major types of sled dogs in the world. The Greenland dog, the Siberian husky, the Alaskan husky, the Samoyed dog, and Alaskan Malamute.

The sled dog is only allowed in East Greenland and the northern part of West Greenland. Most of the year, there is not enough snow for sledding south of the Arctic Circle, which is why the dogs can’t be active there for long periods throughout the year. They can for that reason only be kept in the areas with longer winters, as an inactive dog usually is everything but friendly and can be dangerous to children especially.


How many sled dogs live in Greenland?

In general, we see a decrease in the number of sled dogs in Greenland. That is very unfortunate, since this beautiful animal is a big part of the Greenlandic culture.

The decreasing sled dog population is mainly due to two things. The use of motor vehicles is one major factor as it makes the sled dog superfluous in transport contexts in some areas. Also, climate changes reduce the amount of ice and snow, and sleds cannot be used as much as before. Overall, the need to have a large dog team or breed on them is slowly fading away. Also, prices on food to the dogs have gone up, which makes it more expensive to keep dogs.

Can sled dogs be aggressive?

Yes, and you have to show respect for the sled dog. They are not necessarily dangerous, but their closest relatives are wolves; they are certainly not lap dogs. The Greenlandic sled dog is considered to be strong and tough when used as a working dog. You should always consult with the dog handler first before approaching the dogs as they are not domesticated dogs like our pets.


Dog sledding is an incredible experience

You should try riding a dog sled if you get the chance as it is an amazing experience which gives you a lot of impressions.

The hunter/dog handler and his dogs are close, and especially when running with the dog sled, there is a close bond between them. Sometimes, the dog handler has to be tough on the dogs, so they know who the boss is. Do not be fooled by this, as there is an incredible amount of love between him and his dogs. The dogs appreciate when he tells them who is in charge; often this means that they get to run at full speed, which you can see they love.

Read more about animals in Greenland