Greenland Dog

Table of Contents

greenland dog portrait
Meet the Greenland Dog, a powerhouse of strength and stamina that's as captivating as the icy landscapes they hail from! These incredible canines are known for their impressive endurance, unwavering loyalty, and striking appearance.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Greenland Dog is best suited for active individuals or families with a love for the great outdoors. Their high energy levels and robust physique demand plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, making them an ideal companion for hiking, camping, or even sled-pulling enthusiasts.


OTHER NAMESGreenland Husky, Grønlandshunden, Kalaallit Qimmiat
HEIGHT21-27 inches
WEIGHT55-100 lbs
LIFESPAN12-15 years
greenland dogs as sled pullers resting on the snow
Photo: RubyRascal/Getty Images


The Greenland Dog is a robust and sturdy breed, exuding both power and agility. These dogs possess a muscular build that is well-suited to their demanding Arctic lifestyle, where they have been bred to pull heavy sleds across vast expanses of ice. Their strong, rectangular body is built for endurance, with a deep chest and well-developed, sloping shoulders.

In terms of height and weight, male Greenland Dogs typically stand between 23 to 27 inches at the shoulder, while females measure slightly smaller at 21 to 24 inches. Males can weigh anywhere from 65 to 100 pounds, with females weighing in at 55 to 85 pounds.

The head of the Greenland Dog is broad and wedge-shaped, featuring a slightly rounded skull and well-defined stop. Their expressive eyes are almond-shaped and set moderately apart, exhibiting a range of colors from dark brown to amber. The ears are medium-sized, triangular, and pricked, giving the breed an alert and spirited expression.

One of the most notable features of the Greenland Dog is their bushy tail, which is carried high and curled over their back when the dog is active. This distinctive tail not only adds to their striking appearance but also serves a practical function, as it helps to keep their face warm when they curl up in the snow.

The coat of the Greenland Dog is a double-layered masterpiece designed to withstand the harshest of conditions. The outer coat is comprised of thick, weather-resistant guard hairs that protect the dog from snow, ice, and wind, while the dense, soft undercoat provides insulation and warmth.

The coat may appear in various shades, including white, black, grey, and reddish-brown, often exhibiting a combination of colors or markings.

Overall, the Greenland Dog is an impressively built breed with a powerful, muscular body and distinct features that reflect their Arctic heritage. Their striking appearance, coupled with their practical double coat, makes them well-adapted for life in cold, challenging environments.

greenland dogs looking alert
Photo: Anne Koesters/Getty Images


The Greenland Dog is an intelligent, loyal, and spirited breed, known for its strong work ethic and independent nature. These dogs have been bred over thousands of years to work closely with their human companions in the harsh Arctic environment, which has shaped their unique temperament and personality.

Greenland Dogs are known for their unwavering loyalty to their family. They form strong bonds with their owners and are highly protective of their loved ones. This makes them excellent guard dogs, always vigilant and ready to defend their territory and family from potential threats.

However, their protective instincts can sometimes lead to wariness around strangers, so early socialization is essential to ensure they grow up to be well-adjusted adults.

When it comes to children, Greenland Dogs can be good companions, provided they are raised together and the children are taught to interact with the dog respectfully. These dogs are robust and energetic, which can make them a great playmate for older kids who can handle their exuberant nature.

However, due to their size and strength, they may not be suitable for families with very young children, as they could accidentally knock them over during play.

Greenland Dogs possess an innate curiosity and intelligence that makes them quick learners and eager to explore their environment. However, their independent streak means they may not always be as obedient as some other breeds.

Owners will need patience and persistence when working with these dogs, as they are not naturally inclined to follow commands blindly. Instead, they prefer to think things through and make decisions based on their own assessment of a situation.

This breed’s independent spirit also means they can be somewhat stubborn at times. It’s essential to establish yourself as the pack leader early on and maintain consistent boundaries to prevent any unruly behavior. Positive reinforcement methods, such as praise and treats, tend to be most successful in motivating these intelligent canines.

In terms of their interactions with other pets, Greenland Dogs have a strong prey drive due to their hunting background. They may not be the best choice for households with smaller animals, such as cats or rabbits, as they may view them as prey. However, if raised together from a young age and properly socialized, it is possible for them to coexist peacefully with other pets.

Greenland Dogs are generally friendly and sociable with other dogs, especially if introduced to them during their formative years. They are pack animals by nature, so they often enjoy the company of other canines. However, it’s important to monitor their interactions, as their strength and size can sometimes lead to unintentional rough play.

One unique personality perk of the Greenland Dog is their incredible resilience and adaptability. These dogs have been bred to survive and thrive in some of the world’s most challenging environments, making them exceptionally hardy and resourceful.

This characteristic is often evident in their ability to quickly acclimate to new situations and environments, as well as their capacity to endure physically demanding activities.

Ideal Environment

The ideal environment for the Greenland Dog is one that caters to their specific physical and mental needs, as well as their adaptability to various climates. These dogs are best suited for active owners who can provide them with ample opportunities for exercise and mental stimulation.

Ideal Owner

The ideal pet parent for a Greenland Dog is someone who is experienced in handling dogs, particularly those with an independent streak. These dogs require consistent training and boundaries from an early age, so a confident and assertive owner is essential.

They are best suited for individuals or families who lead an active lifestyle and can involve their dog in outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, or even sled-pulling.

Other Pets

When it comes to other pets, Greenland Dogs can coexist peacefully with other dogs, especially if properly socialized from a young age. However, due to their strong prey drive, they may not be suitable for households with smaller animals such as cats or rabbits, unless raised together and closely supervised.

Physical Environment

Physically, the Greenland Dog thrives in colder climates, thanks to their dense double coat and Arctic heritage. Their coat is specifically designed to protect them from harsh weather conditions, such as snow, ice, and freezing temperatures. As a result, they are well-adapted to life in regions with long, cold winters and may struggle to cope with hot weather.

In warmer climates, it’s crucial to provide them with plenty of shade, access to cool water, and monitor them closely for signs of heat stress. Additionally, exercise should be limited during the hottest parts of the day to prevent overheating.

In terms of living arrangements, Greenland Dogs are versatile and can adapt to both urban and rural settings, provided they have enough space to roam and expend their energy.

A securely fenced yard is highly recommended, as their strong prey drive and independent nature may lead them to wander off in pursuit of interesting scents or sights. However, they should not be left outside for extended periods, as they form strong bonds with their family and need regular interaction and companionship.

greenland dog howling in the snow
Photo: Vadim_Nefedov/Getty Images


The Greenland Dog’s grooming needs are relatively low-maintenance compared to some other breeds, thanks to their weather-resistant double coat. However, it’s essential to establish a regular grooming routine to keep their coat healthy, minimize shedding, and maintain their overall well-being.

Coat Care

First and foremost, regular brushing is vital for the Greenland Dog. Their dense double coat consists of an outer layer of long, coarse guard hairs and a soft, insulating undercoat.

Weekly brushing with a slicker brush or a long-toothed comb will help remove loose hair, prevent matting, and distribute natural oils throughout the coat, keeping it in optimal condition. In doing so, you’ll also minimize the amount of fur that ends up on your furniture and clothing.

During the seasonal shedding periods, usually in spring and fall, Greenland Dogs will “blow” their undercoat, meaning they shed their fur more profusely than usual. During these times, daily brushing may be necessary to manage the abundant shedding and prevent mats from forming. A deshedding tool, like a Furminator, can be particularly helpful in removing loose undercoat efficiently during these periods.

Bathing a Greenland Dog should be done on an as-needed basis, typically every few months or when they become dirty or smelly. It’s important not to over-bathe this breed, as doing so can strip their coat of natural oils and cause dryness or irritation. When bathing, use a mild, dog-specific shampoo and ensure that you thoroughly rinse out any soap residue, as leftover shampoo can also cause skin issues.

Dental Care

Dental care is another crucial aspect of grooming for the Greenland Dog. Regular tooth brushing, ideally daily or at least a few times a week, is essential in preventing tartar buildup, gum disease, and bad breath.

Using a dog-specific toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush, gently brush your dog’s teeth in a circular motion, paying special attention to the gum line. In addition to brushing, dental chews or toys can also help maintain good oral hygiene.

Nail Trimming

Nail trimming is an essential part of your Greenland Dog’s grooming routine. Overgrown nails can cause discomfort, affect their gait, and even lead to injuries. Depending on your dog’s activity level and the surfaces they walk on, you may need to trim their nails every 3-4 weeks.

Use a pair of dog-specific nail clippers or a grinder, and be cautious not to cut the quick, which is the blood vessel within the nail. If you’re unsure about trimming your dog’s nails, consult with a professional groomer or your veterinarian for guidance.

Additional Grooming Tips

Lastly, it’s important to check and clean your Greenland Dog’s ears regularly, aiming for once a week. Use a soft, damp cloth or cotton pad to gently wipe away any debris or wax buildup, being careful not to insert anything deep into the ear canal. If you notice signs of infection or irritation, such as redness, swelling, or a foul odor, consult your veterinarian for proper treatment.

By establishing a consistent grooming routine for your Greenland Dog, you’ll not only keep their coat healthy and minimize shedding but also improve their overall well-being. Regular grooming sessions also provide an excellent opportunity to bond with your dog and check for any potential health issues, ensuring that your loyal companion stays happy and healthy throughout their life.

greenland dogs pulling sled
Photo: RubyRascal/Getty Images


Greenland Dogs are a highly energetic and athletic breed, known for their exceptional stamina and endurance. As such, they have substantial exercise needs that must be met to keep them healthy, happy, and well-behaved.

Failing to provide adequate exercise for these dogs may lead to boredom, which can manifest as destructive or problematic behaviors.

Exercise Amount & Types

To ensure your Greenland Dog’s exercise needs are met, plan for at least one to two hours of physical activity per day. This should include a combination of walks, playtime, and other forms of exercise that engage both their body and mind.

Long walks or hikes are an excellent way to keep your Greenland Dog active and mentally stimulated. These dogs love exploring new environments and will relish the opportunity to accompany you on outdoor adventures. If you’re an avid hiker or camper, your Greenland Dog will make a fantastic trail companion, thanks to their incredible stamina and adaptability.

In addition to walks and hikes, consider incorporating activities that tap into your Greenland Dog’s natural working instincts. For example, sled-pulling or weight-pulling exercises can be an enjoyable and challenging way for your dog to expend energy while engaging in tasks similar to those performed by their ancestors in the Arctic.

Interactive playtime is another essential component of your dog’s exercise routine. Games like fetch, tug-of-war, or even hide-and-seek can provide mental stimulation while keeping them physically active. You can also try agility training or other dog sports to challenge your Greenland Dog’s mind and body further.

Dog Sports

Given their working background and impressive physical abilities, Greenland Dogs can excel in various dog competitions, such as weight pulling, sled racing, or skijoring. Participating in these events can be an exciting way to bond with your dog and showcase their unique talents.

Remember that consistency is key when it comes to exercise. Establish a regular exercise routine and stick to it, ensuring your Greenland Dog receives adequate physical activity every day. By doing so, you’ll not only keep your dog in peak physical condition but also maintain a strong bond with them and prevent potential behavioral issues stemming from boredom or pent-up energy.


Training a Greenland Dog can be both rewarding and challenging, owing to their intelligence, independence, and strong work ethic. While they are quick learners and eager to explore their environment, their independent nature means they may not always be as obedient as some other breeds.

Greenland Dogs are highly intelligent, which allows them to grasp new concepts and commands quickly. However, their independence can sometimes make them stubborn or resistant to following instructions. As such, it’s important to approach their training with patience, persistence, and an understanding of their unique temperament.

Consistency is crucial when training a Greenland Dog. Establishing clear boundaries and expectations from the start will help your dog understand their role within the family and prevent any confusion or unruly behavior. Be firm but fair in your approach, ensuring you maintain your position as the pack leader while also fostering a strong bond with your dog.

Positive reinforcement techniques, such as praise, treats, or playtime, are generally the most effective methods for training Greenland Dogs. These dogs respond well to rewards and encouragement, so using these incentives can help motivate them to learn and obey commands. Avoid harsh training methods, as they can damage the trust between you and your dog and potentially lead to behavioral issues.

Early socialization is another essential aspect of training for the Greenland Dog. Exposing your dog to various people, animals, and environments during their formative months will help them grow into well-adjusted, confident adults. This is particularly important for this breed, as their protective instincts can sometimes cause wariness around strangers or unfamiliar situations.

Due to their strong prey drive, it’s crucial to work on recall training with your Greenland Dog. Teaching them to reliably come when called can help prevent them from wandering off or chasing after wildlife during off-leash outings.

greenland dog puppy walking
Photo: Lurens/Pixabay

Diet & Nutrition

What to Feed & How Much

A balanced and nutritious diet is critical for maintaining the overall health and well-being of your Greenland Dog. These dogs are energetic and have specific nutritional requirements to support their active lifestyle.

When selecting food for your Greenland Dog, it’s important to choose high-quality options that meet the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines, as these ensure the food contains all necessary nutrients.

There are various types of dog food available in the market, including dry kibble, wet food, and raw food diets. Each type has its advantages and drawbacks, and the best choice for your Greenland Dog will depend on factors such as their age, activity level, and any specific dietary needs or preferences. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the most suitable diet for your individual dog.

The amount of food you should feed your Greenland Dog will vary depending on their age, weight, and activity level. Puppies typically require more frequent meals, usually three to four times a day, to support their growth and development. As they grow older and reach adulthood, you can transition to feeding them two meals per day.

An adult Greenland Dog’s daily caloric intake will depend on their size and activity level. Generally, an average-sized adult Greenland Dog will require approximately 1,500 to 2,500 calories per day. However, this may vary based on factors such as age, metabolism, and exercise routine. It’s essential to monitor your dog’s weight and adjust their food intake accordingly to prevent overfeeding or underfeeding.

Treats & Water

Treats can be a useful tool for training and rewarding your Greenland Dog, but they should be given in moderation. Treats should not make up more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake, as too many treats can lead to weight gain or imbalances in their nutrition.

Fresh water should always be readily available for your Greenland Dog. Ensure they have access to clean water at all times, and check and refill their water bowl regularly. Proper hydration is crucial for maintaining your dog’s overall health, particularly during hot weather or after physical activity.


The Greenland Dog is a robust and hardy breed, known for its resilience and ability to withstand harsh conditions. They have a life expectancy of around 12-15 years, which is relatively long for a dog of their size.

However, like all breeds, they can be prone to certain health issues. Providing a healthy diet, regular veterinary check-ups, and staying up-to-date on vaccinations can help keep your Greenland Dog in optimal health.

Some common health issues associated with the Greenland Dog breed include:

Hip Dysplasia: This is a genetic condition where the hip joint doesn’t develop correctly, leading to arthritis and pain over time. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian and maintaining a healthy weight can help manage this condition and reduce its impact on your dog’s quality of life.

Elbow Dysplasia: Similar to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is a developmental disorder affecting the elbow joint. It can cause pain, lameness, and arthritis if left untreated. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment are essential to minimize discomfort and maintain your dog’s mobility.

Eye Disorders: Greenland Dogs can be prone to various eye issues, such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) or cataracts. Regular eye exams by your veterinarian can help detect these conditions early, allowing for prompt treatment and potentially preserving your dog’s vision.

Ear Infections: Due to their floppy ears, Greenland Dogs may be more susceptible to ear infections. Regular ear cleaning and check-ups can help prevent infections and ensure any issues are treated promptly.

Obesity: While not a breed-specific issue, obesity can be a concern for Greenland Dogs if they don’t receive adequate exercise or are overfed. Maintaining a balanced diet and providing regular exercise can help prevent obesity and the related health issues it can cause.

To keep your Greenland Dog healthy, ensure they receive a nutritious and balanced diet that meets their specific needs based on age, size, and activity level.

Regular veterinary check-ups, typically once or twice a year, are essential for monitoring your dog’s health and detecting any potential issues early. Additionally, staying up-to-date on vaccinations and parasite prevention can protect your dog from various illnesses and infections.

By providing proper care, nutrition, and regular veterinary visits, you can help your Greenland Dog enjoy a long, healthy life as your loyal companion.

two greenland sled dogs on an open field
Photo: Anne Koesters/Getty Images


The Greenland Dog is an ancient and fascinating breed with a rich history that spans thousands of years. Believed to be one of the oldest dog breeds in the world, the Greenland Dog has played a vital role in the survival and culture of Arctic peoples for millennia. Their story begins in the harsh and unforgiving Arctic regions, where they have been bred and used as sled dogs by the Inuit people.

The origins of the Greenland Dog can be traced back over 12,000 years to Siberia, where early ancestors of the breed were domesticated by indigenous Arctic peoples. These early dogs were interbred with wolves, resulting in a unique combination of physical traits and instincts that allowed them to thrive in the extreme conditions of the Arctic.

As Arctic peoples migrated across the polar region over thousands of years, these dogs accompanied them on their journeys, eventually reaching Greenland around 5,000 years ago.

In Greenland, the breed was further developed and refined by the Inuit people, who relied on these dogs for their survival. The Greenland Dog, or “Qimmiq” as it is known in the Inuit language, was primarily used as a sled dog for transportation, hunting, and hauling heavy loads across the vast, frozen landscape.

Their exceptional strength, endurance, and resilience made them indispensable companions for the Inuit people, who had to navigate some of the most challenging environments on Earth.

The Greenland Dog’s role in Arctic exploration and discovery cannot be understated. From the 16th century onwards, European explorers began venturing into the Arctic in search of trade routes and new lands. These early explorers quickly recognized the value of the Greenland Dog as a sled dog and began using them on their expeditions.

Over the centuries, the breed played a crucial role in many historic Arctic expeditions, including those led by famous explorers such as Sir John Franklin, Roald Amundsen, and Robert Falcon Scott.

Despite their long history and significant contributions to Arctic exploration, the Greenland Dog remains a relatively rare breed outside of its native region. In Greenland, however, they continue to play an essential role in traditional Inuit culture and lifestyle.

Today, the Greenland Dog is still used for sled dog racing, hunting, and transportation in many Arctic communities, where their incredible strength and endurance are highly valued.

The Greenland Dog has also garnered attention in recent years due to concerns about the preservation of the breed’s genetic purity. As modern transportation methods have become more prevalent in the Arctic, the need for sled dogs has diminished, leading to a decline in the breed’s population.

Additionally, crossbreeding with other dog breeds has raised concerns about the dilution of the Greenland Dog’s unique genetic traits. To address these issues, efforts are being made by breed enthusiasts and organizations to preserve and promote the breed both within Greenland and internationally.

two greenland dogs in the snow
Photo: jordachelr/Getty Images


Acquiring a Greenland Dog requires careful consideration and preparation. Begin by researching the breed to ensure it is a good fit for your lifestyle and environment. Due to their rarity in the United States, finding a Greenland Dog may be challenging.

Consider rescuing or adopting one from a shelter or breed-specific rescue organization, as it can provide a loving home to a dog in need and support ethical animal welfare practices.

Before bringing your Greenland Dog home, prepare a comfortable space, including a bed, toys, and food and water bowls. Purchase high-quality dog food that meets the breed’s nutritional requirements. Schedule an appointment with a veterinarian for a health check-up and vaccinations.

Remember that Greenland Dogs are energetic, intelligent, and require consistent training and exercise. Be prepared to invest time and effort into creating a strong bond with your new companion, while providing the physical and mental stimulation they need to thrive.


Are Greenland Dogs good pets?

Greenland Dogs can be good pets for the right owner. They are intelligent, loyal, and hardworking. However, they require consistent training, early socialization, and regular exercise. Their independent nature and high energy levels make them more suitable for experienced dog owners or those with an active lifestyle.

Are Greenland Dogs rare?

Yes, Greenland Dogs are considered a rare breed, especially outside of their native region. While they continue to play a vital role in traditional Inuit culture, their population has declined due to modern transportation methods and crossbreeding concerns.

Do Greenland Dogs bark a lot?

Greenland Dogs are not excessive barkers, but they do have a unique vocalization known as “mushing” or “singing,” which they use to communicate with their pack or owner. This vocalization can be quite loud and may not be suitable for noise-sensitive neighbors or living situations.

How much exercise do Greenland Dogs need?

Greenland Dogs are highly energetic and require regular exercise to maintain their health and well-being. Ideally, they should have access to large, securely fenced outdoor areas where they can run and play. Daily walks, hikes, or participation in activities such as sled dog racing or skijoring can also provide the necessary physical stimulation.

Are Greenland Dogs good with children?

Greenland Dogs can be good with children if properly socialized from a young age. However, due to their size and strength, they might accidentally knock over small children during play. Always supervise interactions between dogs and children, and teach children how to interact safely and respectfully with dogs.

Do Greenland Dogs have any specific grooming requirements?

Greenland Dogs have a dense double coat that requires regular brushing to remove loose hair and prevent matting. They shed heavily twice a year, during which more frequent grooming is necessary. Additionally, trim their nails regularly, and check and clean their ears to prevent infections.

Table of Contents