menu icon

Canadian Eskimo Dog

Home »  Dog Breeds »  Canadian Eskimo Dog
Canadian Eskimo Dog

The Canadian Eskimo Dog is called Qimmiq by the Inuits and is actually one of the oldest purebred indigenous dogs still around, though it is also one of the rarest and is facing possible extinction. It is an Arctic breed, used to be a working dog originally and came to North America from Siberia over a thousand years ago. It was once the preferred method of travel by the Inuit until snowmobiles took over so numbers declined. It can make a good companion under the right conditions and does best with experienced owners. It is a medium to large dog and has a life span of 10 to 15 years.

The Canadian Eskimo Dog at A Glance
Name Canadian Eskimo Dog
Other names Qimmiq, Canadian Husky, Canadian Inuit Dog, Exquimaux Husky
Nicknames CED
Origin Canada
Average size Medium to large
Average weight 40 to 88 pounds
Average height 24 to 29 inches
Life span 10 to 15 years
Coat type Dense, thick, stiff
Hypoallergenic No
Color White, red, brown, cinnamon, grey or sable with white markings
Popularity Not yet ranked by the AKC
Intelligence Above average
Tolerance to heat Low to moderate – can suffer from heatstroke as overheats easily
Tolerance to cold Excellent – great even in extreme cold climates
Shedding Moderate to heavy during seasonal shedding times
Drooling Moderate – not especially prone
Obesity Average – do not over feed and make sure it gets enough exercise
Grooming/brushing Average – couple of times a week, but daily when heavier shedding
Barking Frequent – Can be a very vocal dog
Exercise needs Very active – owners need to be very active too
Trainability Easy to train for confident owners
Friendliness Very good
Good first dog Moderate – needs experienced handling
Good family pet Good to very good with socialization
Good with children Very good with socialization
Good with other dogs Excellent with those who are a part of its pack, low with 'outsiders'
Good with other pets Low – this is not a good dog to have around other pets with its high prey drive
Good with strangers Good with socialization but can be distant
Good apartment dog Low – needs space and at least a yard
Handles alone time well Low – does not like to be left alone
Health issues Needs annual shots as its immune system is not as developed as most breeds. Some issues can include hip dysplasia, bloat, heat sensitivity
Medical expenses $485 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $270 a year for a good quality dry dog food and dog treats
Miscellaneous expenses $245 a year for toys, basic training, miscellaneous items and license
Average annual expenses $1000 a year as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $3,500
Rescue organizations Canadian Eskimo Dog Breed Rescue, Eskie Rescuers
Biting Statistics None reported

The Canadian Eskimo Dog's Beginnings

The Canadian Eskimo Dog is an ancient dog and was originally bred by the Inuit people from the Arctic areas of Greenland, Canada and Alaska. The Inuits used the dog as a working breed, it was a sled dog and also helped to hunt big prey like bear and oxen and helped to keep them safe from things like polar bear. For hundreds of years the dog was a central part of Inuit everyday life, as well as their survival. It was developed to be resistant to the extreme cold conditions and to be strong and have great endurance. Their frozen urine was used in Inuit medicine and the fur was valued more than wolf fur. Also when the people were facing difficulty and famine the dogs were used as food.

There was a time when because of its looks people thought the Canadian Eskimo Dog was related to the wolf, but that is not the case. The dog was used until the 1920s for polar expeditions and it is estimated there were over 20,000 dogs until that time. However numbers went on the decline, some due to disease, and then a lot due to the invention and popularity of snowmobiles. Some Inuit people continued to use them but because the dog had not been exported to other countries this dog was facing extinction. Due to the low numbers in 1959 the AKC dropped the Canadian Eskimo Dog from its registry. There was sadly also a period of time between 1950 and 1970 when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police deliberately killed Inuit sled dogs. The Inuits say this was to intimidate them, an investigation conducted says it was for public health.

New Lease on Life

The EDRF (Eskimo Dog Research Foundation) since the 1970s has been working to improve dog numbers, it was founded in 1972 by John McGrath and William Carpenter. Working with Brian Ladoon and with Canadian government funding they bought dogs from Inuit camps and began breeding. After 30 years Ladoon still has the largest stock of CED anywhere. There are still some dogs living and working with Inuits and some are used in sled dog teams for tourists, and for polar bear hunting. It is the law in two of those territories that any polar bear hunting be done with a dog team.

In 2000 Nunavut adopted the Canadian Inuit Dog as its animal symbol. As Inuits had more interest about their cultural heritage, demand for the dogs increased. There are also English breeders working on reversing its decline and it is improving in numbers in Greenland too. There are still only about 279 dogs registered.

The Dog You See Today

The Canadian Eskimo Dog is a medium to large powerfully built dog, especially the males, whereas the females are a little finer boned. They weigh 40 to 88 pounds and stand between 24 to 29 inches tall. They are athletic dogs and have deep chests, thick necks and tails that curl over their back and are feathered. They have a superficial similarity in looks to wolves but in fact there is no relation.

It has a wedge shaped head with small triangular erect ears and dark almond shaped eyes. Its legs are medium length and it has a double coat, a soft thick undercoat and a coarse stiff outer coat to handle the harsh cold climate. There is a mane around the neck that is more obvious in male dogs. The coats can be any color common ones being solid white, white dogs with patches of color, silver, black, brown and red. Female coats are also a little shorter.


The Inner Canadian Eskimo Dog


The CED is loyal, brave, smart and affectionate, and is happiest when it has work to do everyday, and then have time spent in companionship with you. It is hard working and forms very close bonds with its owner. Because it is often kept as a sled dog and has to hunt for its own food it does have a high prey drive, it loves the snow and the cold and it can be very vocal. It also has a gentle side to it, it is a loving companion and while it can be friendlyish with strangers it tends to be reserved. It is a very pack oriented dog and will challenge other pack dogs and you for pack leadership, so owners need to have experience and be strong and confident leaders.

It is very important they are kept busy, Canadian Eskimo Dogs can become aggressive and very destructive when they are bored. They have a lot of energy and are great to go back packing or sledding with. They can become easily over stimulated so care should be taken when approaching them in such a situation. They are not especially great at being a watchdog or guard dog and they do not like being left alone. If you are not having a small pack, it is a good idea to at least have two together.

Living with a Canadian Eskimo Dog

What will training look like?

Training this dog is easy enough if you are a firm leader and have experience. It is an intelligent dog and unlike most Spitz dogs it is inclined to listen and obey any owner that shows they are the boss. In these cases there is less need for repetition and training can even go quicker. Of course if you are even a little meek, let the rules get bent sometimes or let the dog be the boss in anyway thing will be harder. Be patient, confident, consistent and in charge at all times. Use positive training methods to reach it, treats, encouragement and motivate it. Be prepared for times when it tests your authority and times when it tries to be mischievous and stubborn. As important as obedience training is good early socialization. A dog is happier and better adjusted when it has been carefully socialized by introducing it to different places, people, situations, animals, sounds and so on.

How active is the Canadian Eskimo Dog?

Canadian Eskimo Dogs are very active and need very active owners. This is not a dog that will be satisfied by just walking and play. These dogs need more activity than most people can give, they will need to be working or trained and suited to various forms of dog sports like mushing, skijoring or carting. It is not an apartment dog, it needs space, at least a large yard if not more land to roam on. It would happily join you for a jog each day, hiking, running or with you as you cycle as long as it is well trained. It does best in cool or cold climates and will need extra care in places that get too warm. Make sure they have access to shade and air conditioning if it gets hot where you are. Their work should also offer them mental stimulation.

Caring for the Canadian Eskimo Dog

Grooming needs

The CED's coat should be brushed at least a couple of times a week to keep in good condition. It does shed so some hair will be around the home at any time of the year, but then it has heavy shedding during seasonal times so then it needs daily brushing and clean up is quite a chore. When it is having its blow outs use a rake on its coat to stop clumps of hair forming mats. Bathe only when it needs one to avoid drying out its coat.


Over needs will include trimming its nails of its activity does not wear them down, cleaning and checking its ears for infection and brushing its teeth. The latter should be done at least twice a week, the ears can be done weekly, but do not insert anything into them, and the nails done as needed taking care not to cut too far down. There are blood vessels and nerves in the lower half of the nail that if nicked or cut will cause pain to the dog and bleeding.

Feeding Time

The amount a dog will eat varies even amongst dogs of the same breed because it depends on things like their size, age, health, level of activity and metabolism. A Canadian Eskimo Dog will eat between 2¼ to 4½ cups of a high quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals. It should also have access at all times to water that is often changed.

How is the Canadian Eskimo Dog with children and other animals?

With socialization and when raised with them these dogs are good with children, they will play with them and are affectionate towards them. Just make sure the children know how to play and touch nicely, and supervision is advised. It does not do well with other pets and is best in homes where there are no other pets, or where it is kept separately from them. It is a pack dog and loves to have other dogs around that are a part of its pack, but absolutely does not do well with other dogs outside of that. Even in the pack there will be issues with things like dominance fights where separation may be needed sometimes.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

A Canadian Eskimo Dog has a life span of about 10 to 15 years and does not usually mature until it is around three years old despite actually reaching full physical size at about 1 year. Its immune system is not as well developed as most dogs as it tends to live in extreme cold places like the arctic where many micro-organisms that cause issues cannot survive. This means it is likely if you get a CED that you will need to have shots done yearly. Other issues can include hip dysplasia, eye problems, intolerance to heat, arthritis and bloat.

Biting Statistics

Reports that cover dogs attacking people and doing bodily harm in the last 35 years in Canada and the US do not make any mention of this breed. However it does have aggression and dominance issues, mostly with other pets and strange dogs, which if not well exercised, socialized, trained and cared for could become a problem. All dogs have the potential to have a bad day, no dog whatever its type or size is 100% guaranteed to never become aggressive towards people. Be a responsible owner though and the chances are a lot less.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

The Canadian Eskimo Dog being rare is hard to find from decent breeders, there are waiting lists and it was not long ago ranked as once of the worlds most expensive dogs. Expect something around $3500 for dog from a decent breeder, possibly even more from a top breeder. There are rescues and shelters you can look to, most though are likely to have mixed dogs which still make great companions. Adoption fees are $50 to $400 and medical concerns are often dealt with for you. Do not be tempted to turn to unsavory options like backyard breeders, puppy mills or pet stores.


There are also initial costs to take care of. When you bring it home you should take it to a vet for some tests, procedures and such like deworming, shots, spaying or neutering, a physical, micro chipping and blood tests. These cost about $290. Another $240 will get you some items you will need for your dog like a crate, carrier, collar and leash and such.

Then there are ongoing costs like basic health care, feeding it and other miscellaneous costs. Pet insurance, shots, flea and tick prevention and check ups at a vet will cost about $485 a year. A good quality dry dog food and dog treats each year will cost about $270. Then there are miscellaneous costs, items you need, license, basic training and toys for example. These come to about $245 a year. This gives an annual starting figure of $1000.


Looking for a Canadian Eskimo Dog Name? Let select one from our list!

It is important that people support efforts being made to save this breed and increase its numbers. However this is not a dog for just anybody, it has very specific needs and challenges and that will take experience, confidence and commitment. If you want a dog you can take out for a walk or two a day and then it will be content this is not the dog for you. If you are going to use it as a sledding dog, or train it to take part in agility sports then you might be just what these dogs need. Keep in mind they are happiest when with at least one other.

More to Explore

Dog Owner Reviews