It is to the writings of Arctic explorers that one must go to gather much that is enlightening concerning the various breeds of dogs which have been used for generations by the semi-nomadic people of these latitudes for traversing the barren, trackless regions of the North.
In a general way these sledge dogs of the North may be divided into two classes-the Samoyede and the Eskimo. The Samoyede are smaller in size, less powerful, and not so wolfish in appearance as the Eskimo. They have pointed muzzles, sharply erect ears, strong, bushy tails, and short bodies. Although they are of the Spitz type, the wolf nature is always apparent, and one cannot doubt their white Arctic wolf ancestry. In general appearance they are more beautiful than the Eskimo, their thick coats being particularly decorative. Some of them are entirely black, with a patch of white on the chest, and many of the white ones have black about the head.
The Eskimo, although not so attractive in appearance, is larger and much more nearly allied to the wolf. His resemblance to his wild relative is accentuated by his long, snipy muzzle and his erect, triangular ears, although it may be noted that his Eskimo owner has a fancv for the ear carried low.
The eyes are set obliquely like those of the wolf, and the formidable jaws are well equipped with powerful teeth. They have strong, arched necks, a broad chest, excellent body qualities, muscular quarters, and splendid running gear. Their usefulness is written into their frames, and they are capable of accomplishing long journeys with tireless endurance. The tail is long and bushy, and in the adult is usually carried over the back. The coat is dense, hard, and deep, especially on the back, where it may be from two to four inches in length, with a woolly undercoat to resist the penetrating snow and cold. It is longer about the neck and thighs and shorter on the legs and head. In color the Eskimo is the same as the wolf-black, or a rusty black, with a light greyish marking on chest, belly, and tail. Often a pure white dog may be seen, as Peary’s Lion, who was very little different from the Siberian breed, and in all there is the characteristic light spots above the eyes. The height of the Eskimo dog averages 22 inches at the shoulder.
Many lupine traits are observable in the Eskimo dog. He does not habitually bark, but has a weird wolfish howl. He is remarkable for his thievishness and his destructiveness toward small animals. Possibly he inherits from the wolf, with whom he is so often crossed, his facility, noticeable even in imported specimens of his kind, in picking the flesh from a fish as cleanly as if the bones had been scraped by a surgical instrument. They will devour almost anything from their own harness to tar rope.
A pair of greasy trousers is a luxury, and they are content if they get a good meal three times a week.