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‘Close encounters* with Greenland’s dogs’ by K.J.S.Chatrath


A colourful view of  Illulisat, Greenland.

The most fascinating country that I have visited so far is the Greenland. Quite ironically it is all snow white and patches of brown during the summers – but not green at all. I went to a tiny town called Illulisat in the Arctic Circle and stayed there for a few nights. Besides the incredible beauty of the icebergs floating in front of you, I had some close friendly encounters with the dogs of Greenland.


The Greenland Dog, called Grønlandshunden in Danish, is also known as Greenland Husky. It is a large animal kept as a sledge dog and for hunting polar bear and seal.  This is an ancient breed, thought to be directly descended from dogs brought to Greenland by the first Inuit settlers. The three most common sledge dogs are: the husky, the samoyed  and the eskimo.

The Greenland Dog is a powerful, heavy-built animal and used for pulling the sledge. These sledge dogs are found just north of the Arctic Circle and in East Greenland. A total of about 25,000 sled dogs live here.


It has a broad, wedge-shaped head, slightly tilted eyes and small, triangular ears covered with thick fur that protects it from frostbite.  It has strong, muscular, short-haired legs. The tail is usually rolled along/across its back, but it may also hang down like that of a wolf.  When it lies down and curls up to rest, the tail often covers the nose. Its coat is of medium length and consists of two layers. The inner layer consists of short wool-like fur, the outer layer of longer, coarser, water-repellent fur.


These dogs rest during the short summer and work during the long freezing winter.

The famous explorer Roald Amundsen used the Greenland Dogs as well on his expedition to the Antarctic. Amundsen took 97 Greenland dogs to accompany him and his team on his expedition to Antarctica and in his subsequent expedition to the South Pole.  p1390534-2-300-50

I noticed that all the dogs around the town were securely tied with chain. However they were at ease and did feel disturbed when they found strangers passing by their domains.



(Source of this photo only-Wikipedia)



 A sledge stored on top of a cabin during the summer months.

*With respectful admiration and apologies to Mr. Steven Spielberg.

(Text with inputs from the Internet)

Photos, text & copyright K.J.S.Chatrath.

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One Response to “‘Close encounters* with Greenland’s dogs’ by K.J.S.Chatrath”

  1. sukhdev bedi says:

    Quite interesting. The Greenland dogs look like polar bears.It is amazing how these animals survive in such a harsh climate.


  1. 'Go to Ilulissat, Greenland' by K.J.S.Chatrath | - […] (ii) ‘Close encounters* with Greenland’s dogs’ by K.J.S.Chatrath; […]

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