Illustration by Louis Agassiz Fuertes
North Greenland Eskimo Dog
Polaris was chosen as our model of this type because he has been considered the most perfect North Greenland Eskimo dog known. He shows the light color so prevalent among the dogs of the extreme north on both continents, and the marked depth and breadth of muzzle. This seems to be a characteristic of many Asiatic dogs, the Chow and the Tibetan mastiff notably, and may point to an Asiatic connection with Greenland via the Polar ice or across Arctic America. There is a heavy, pale buff, deep-jawed dog found along the Arctic coast of America from the eastern to the western extent of land.
No white man living has had more experience with this breed than Admiral Robert E. Peary, who frankly admits that if it had not been for the sledge dogs he never would have discovered the north Pole. He is a firm believer in the pure-bred North Greenland Eskimo, which is practically a domesticated wolf, and most of the dogs which went to the Pole were of this type.
A puppy from these famous animals, secured by one of the coauthors of this article from Admiral Peary, was named “Polaris,” and he developed into what Captain “bob” Bartlett declared to be the finest living specimen of the breed.
Polaris weighed about 100 pounds, but looked much larger, owing to his wonderful coat, which at its best measured nine inches long on the shoulder. The hair of the tail was 12 1/2 inches long. He took to the sledge and to the pack-saddle without any training whatever, and pulled a sledge three miles through deep snow the first time he was put in harness.
He was extremely gentle and affectionate with people and with a little Scotch terrier of ours, but a devil incarnate toward everything else that walked, flew, or swam. From grasshoppers and wild mice, through cats and pigs to sheep and cattle, there was nothing he could not or did not kill. Yet such was the magic of his smile, the twinkle of his eye, and the wheedling wave of his tail, that no one would believe anything against him unless he was caught in the act, which he usually wasn’t.
He was finally presented to Dr. Wilfred Grenfell, and celebrated his arrival in Labrador by whipping every other dog in sight.
In appearance he is between a white spitz dog and a white Eskimo; in character he is one of the very nicest of dogs. He is of medium size, weighing about 40 pounds.
He has a little of the width of jaw that characterizes the Chow and other Asiatic types, and has the characteristic of all Arctic dogs of carrying his tail in a chrysanthemum-like pompom on his back. The fine dark eye, alertly pricked ear, and deep, soft, white coat make him every-where a conspicuous favorite. The feet are well protected from the cold by thick fur between the toes, almost covering the black pads.
While the dogs bred in England and America are all of the pure white or pale creamy type, black, black and white, and brown and white dogs are found among the wandering Samoyed people of Siberia and the Arctic shores of Russia and Nova Zembla.
The Samoyed is a compact, staunch little sledge dog, used by the Samoyed, a semi-nomadic race living in northeastern Russia and Siberia. These people keep herds of reindeer, and some of the dogs are used in rounding up and driving these animals, much as collies are used in caring for sheep and cattle.
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