This section is from the book "The Dogs Of Great Britain, America, And Other Countries. Their Breeding, Training, and Management in Health and Disease", by John Henry Walsh (Stonehenge). Also available from Amazon: The Dogs Of Great Britain, America And Other Countries.
These dogs are the only beasts of burden in the northern part of America and the adjacent islands, being sometimes employed to carry materials for hunting or the produce of the chase on their backs. At other times they are harnessed to sledges in teams, varying from 7 to 11, each being capable of drawing a hundred-weight for his share. They are harnessed to a single yoke line by a breast-strap, and, being without any guide-reins, they are entirely at lib-erty to do what they like, being only restrained by the voice of their master, and urged forward by his whip. A single dog of tried intelligence and fidelity is placed as leader, and upon him the driver depends for his orders being obeyed. In the summer they are most of them turned off to get their own subsistence by hunting, some few being retained to carry weights on their backs. Sledges are then rendered useless by the absence of snow; and, as there is a good subsistence for them from the offal of the seal and the walrus which are taken by the men, the dogs become fat at this season of the year. The Siberian and Greenland dogs are nearly similar to those of Kamtschatka, but somewhat larger, and also more manageable, all being used in the same way.
The Esquimaux dog is about 22 or 23 inches high, and varies greatly in appearance, having been crossed considerably with the Newfoundland and Labrador species. The illustration, fig. 20, represents a variety used mostly in the region about York Factory, Rupert's Rivers, and Labrador. It is generally of the Newfoundland type. The dog common to the region of the Saskatchewan River and Lake Winipeg is stone-grey, of large and bony build, with large spreading feet and with prick ears. The hair is long and wiry, and lies close to the body. The head of this dog is shown in the engraving, fig. 27, which is from a drawing by Adrian Nelson of Manitoba, who gives the following particulars in a recent letter: "The black and the yellow Esquimaux dogs are, I believe, peculiar to the American Esquimaux. These I consider the best sleigh dogs known, especially the black variety. The other variety is found in all shades of yellow, sometimes almost white. A portrait of a white dog of this variety is given on page 189. The following are the measurements of this remarkably fine specimen: Hight at shoulder, 2 ft. 6 in.; length from center between shoulder blades to center between ears, 1 foot; from latter point to end of nose, 11 in.; length from shoulders to setting on of tail, 2 ft 7 in.; length of tail, 1 foot 4 in.; measurement round head just behind ears, 2 ft; just above eyes, 1 foot 8 in.; at point of nose, 10 in.; his girth measured fairly tight, not outside the hair, 3 ft; his weight is 120 lbs.
Out of a good many hundred of the black 1 have not seen a single specimen marked with either white or brown. When skinned it is at once noticed that the skull is unusually flat; this peculiarity is hidden in the live animal by its hair. It has a heavy jaw, very small round ears, which are always erect, and the hair, which is long, hard, and wiry, invariably stands erect off the skin, very similar to that of a bear, to which the whole dog bears a very close resemblance when lying down. All of this breed are fierce, treacherous, and active. A man would be considered a fool who attempted to harness them without his whip, and that whip must have some little bells, thimbles, or pieces of tin attached, so as to constantly jingle. It would be the essence of folly to touch one of these dogs when out of his harness, except with the whip. Approaching the dog, the driver throws the lash, which is about 10 feet long, round the dog's neck, twists it until it almost chokes him, and then drags him to his collar by man strength, grasps his head between his thighs, and then slips the collar, which is very tight, over the head. From that instant the dog is quiet and submissive enough. The whips used are of plaited caribou hide, with from 2 oz. to 8 oz. of small shot woven into them, to give them weight.
Besides this, with most strains, it is necessary to carry . chains to fasten the dogs at night, and, if travelling on ice, also a spear to picket them to. Mr. Ouyon, of Fort Chippewyan, on Lake Artbabasca, has some splendid dogs of this breed. This post has the reputation of having the finest dogs in the North. A peculiar-ity in these dogs is that they all have bright, clear, yellow eyes, similar to a cat, with great powers of dilating the pupils. These dogs cannot be purchased, except at a very great expense, a good one being sold for $100, or more.
Fig. 26. - HEAD OF ESQUIMAUX DOG.
Fig. 27. - HEAD OF ESQUIMAUX DOG.
ESQUIMAUX. OR WOLF DOG.