113            Esquimaux Dog


                                 ESQUIMAUX DOG.
                             [Domestic Dog "Husky"]

                              PLATE CXIII.--MALES.

     C. magnitudine C. Terra Novae, capita parvo, auribus erectis, cauda comosa,
cruribus pedibusque robustioribus, colore cinereo, albo nigroque notato.

     About the size of the Newfoundland dog; head, small; ears, erect; tail,
bushy; legs and feet, stout; general colour gray, varied with white and dark


     CANIS FAMILIARIS, var. N. Borealis.  Desm., Mamm., p. 194.
     ESQUIMAUX DOG.  Captain Lyons, Private Journal, pp. 244, 332.
     ESQUIMAUX DOG.  Parry's Second Voyage, pp. 290, 358.
     CANIS FAMILIARIS, var. A. Borealis--ESQUIMAUX DOG.  F. B. A., p. 75.


     Head, rather small; ears, short and pointed; body, thick and well formed;
eye, of moderate size; feet, clothed with thick short hair concealing the nails;
tail, bushy, and longest at the end; hair, long, with thick wool beneath.


     Muzzle, black; inner portion of ears, blackish; top of nose, forehead, a
space around the eyes, outer edges of ears, cheeks, belly, and legs, whitish;
crown of the head, and back, nearly black; sides, thinly covered with long
black, and some white, hairs; underneath there is a shorter dense coat of
yellowish-gray woolly hair which is partly visible through these long hairs.
     The tail, like the back, is clothed with black and white hairs, the latter
greatly predominating, especially at the tip.


                                                     Feet.     Inches.

     Length from point of nose to root of tail,  .  .  4          3
     Length of tail (vertebrae),  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  1          2
     Length of tail including hair,  .  .  .  .  .  .  1          5
     Height of ear, inside, .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  0          3
     Width between the eyes,.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  0          2 1/4
     Width between the ears,.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  0          4 1/4


     So much has been written about the admirable qualities of the dog, that it
would be quite useless for us to enter upon the subject; we shall also avoid the
question of the origin of the various races, which in fact have been so
intermixed that it would be an almost Quixotic task to endeavour to trace the
genealogy of even the "noblest" of them.  Those, however, that have, like the
Esquimaux Dog, for centuries retained their general characters, and have not
been exposed to any chance of "amalgamation" with other races, exhibit habits as
well as forms and colours sufficiently permanent to warrant the naturalist in
describing them, and in many cases their history is exceedingly interesting.
     The Esquimaux Dogs are most useful animals to the savages of our Arctic
regions, and when hitched to a sled many couples together, will travel with
their master over the ice and snow at great speed for many miles without much
fatigue, or draw heavy burthens to the huts of their owners.  When on the coast
of Labrador we had the following account of the mode in which these dogs
subsist, from a man who had resided in that part of the world for upwards of ten
years.  During spring and summer they ramble along the shores, where they meet
with abundance of dead fish, and in winter they eat the flesh of the seals which
are killed and salted in the spring or late in the autumn when these animals
return from the north.  This man informed us also that when hard pushed he could
relish the fare he thus provided for his Dogs just as much as they did
themselves.  We found several families inhabiting the coast of Labrador, all of
whom depended entirely on their Dogs to convey them when visiting their
neighbours, and some of whom had packs of at least forty of these animals.  On
some parts of the coast of Labrador the fish were so abundant during our visit
that we could scoop them out of the edge of the water with a
pocket-handkerchief:  at such times the Esquimaux Dogs catch them, wading in and
snapping at them with considerable dexterity as the surf retires; when caught
they eat them at once while they are still alive.
     We were informed that when these Dogs are on a journey, in winter, should
they be overtaken by a severe snow-storm, and thereby prevented from reaching a
settlement within the calculated time, and if the provisions intended for them
in consequence give out, in their ravenous hunger they devour the driver, and
even prey upon one another.  Such cases were related to us, as well as others in
which, by severe whipping and loud cries the dogs were forced into a gallop and
kept on the full run until some house, was reached and the sleigh-driver saved.
     These animals are taught to go in harness from the time they are quite
young pups, being placed in a team along with well trained Dogs when only two or
three months old, to gain experience and learn to obey their master, who wields
a whip of twenty or thirty feet length of lash, with a short, heavy handle.
     On a man approaching a house where they are kept, these Dogs sally forth
with fierce barkings at the intruder, and it requires a bold heart to march up
to them, as with their pointed ears and wiry hair they look like a pack of wild
wolves.  They are in fact very savage and ferocious at times, and require the
strictest discipline to keep them in subjection.
     Captain LYON gives an interesting account of the Esquimaux Dog, part of
which we shall here lay before you:  "A walrus is frequently drawn along by
three or four of these Dogs, and seals are sometimes carried home in the same
manner, though I have in some instances seen a Dog bring home the greater part
of a seal in panniers placed across his back.  The latter mode of conveyance is
often used in summer, and the Dogs also carry skins or furniture overland to the
sledges when their masters are going on any expedition.  It might be supposed
that in so cold a climate these animals had peculiar periods of gestation, like
the wild creatures; but on the contrary, they bear young at every season of the
year, the pups seldom exceeding five at a litter.  Cold has very little effect
on them; for, although the dogs at the huts slept within the snow passages, mine
at the ships had no shelter, but lay alongside, with the thermometer at 42
degrees_F and 44 degrees_F (below zero!) and with as little concern as if the
weather had been mild.  I found by several experiments, that three of my dogs
could draw me on a sledge weighing 100 pounds at the rate of one mile in six
minutes; and as a proof of the strength of a well-grown Dog, my leader drew 196
pounds singly, and to the same distance, in eight minutes.  At another time,
seven of my Dogs ran a mile in four minutes, drawing a heavy sledge full of men.
Afterwards, in carrying stores to the Fury, one mile distant, nine Dogs drew
1611 pounds in the space of nine minutes.  My sledge was on runners neither shod
nor iced; but had the runners been iced, at least 40 pounds might have been
added for each Dog."
     Captain LYON had eleven of these Dogs, which he says "were large and even
majestic looking animals; and an old one, of peculiar sagacity, was placed at
their head by having a longer trace, so as to lead them through the safest and
driest places."  "The leader was instant in obeying the voice of the driver, who
never beat, but repeatedly called to him by name.  When the Dogs slackened their
pace, the sight of a seal or a bird was sufficient to put them instantly to
their full speed; and even though none of these might be seen on the ice, the
cry of 'a seal!'--'a bear!'--'a bird!' &c., was enough to give play to the legs
and voices of the whole pack.  It was a beautiful sight to observe the two
sledges racing at full speed to the same object, the Dogs and men in full cry,
and the vehicles splashing through the holes of water with the velocity and
spirit of rival stage-coaches.  There is something of the spirit of professed
whips in these wild races; for the young men delight in passing each other's
sledge, and jockeying the hinder one by crossing the path.  In passing on
different routes the right hand is yielded, and should an inexperienced driver
endeavour to take the left, he would have some difficulty in persuading his team
to do so.  The only unpleasant circumstance attending these races is, that a
poor dog is sometimes entangled and thrown down, when the sledge, with perhaps a
heavy load, is unavoidably drawn over his body.
     "The driver sits on the fore part of the vehicle, from whence he jumps,
when requisite, to pull it clear of any impediments which may be in the way; and
he also guides it by pressing either foot on the ice.  The voice and long whip
answer all the purposes of reins, and the Dogs can be made to turn a corner as
dexterously as horses, though not in such an orderly manner, since they are
constantly fighting; and I do not recollect to have seen one receive a flogging
without instantly wreaking his passion on the ears of his neighbours.  The cries
of the men are not more melodious than those of the animals; and their wild
looks and gestures, when animated, give them an appearance of devils driving
wolves before them.  Our Dogs had eaten nothing for forty-eight hours, and could
not have gone over less than seventy miles of ground; yet they returned to all
appearance as fresh and active as when they first set out."
     These Dogs curl the tail over the hip in the manner of house dogs
     Our drawing was made from a fine living Dog in the Zoological Garden at
London.  Some have since been brought to New York alive by the ships fitted out
and sent to the polar seas in search of the unfortunate Sir JOHN FRANKLIN and
his party by Mr. HENRY GRINNELL, of that city.

                           GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION.

     This animal, as the name imports, is the constant companion of the
Esquimaux, but extends much beyond the range of that tribe of Indians, since it
is found not only at Labrador, but among various tribes of northern Indians, and
was observed by travellers in the Arctic regions to the extreme north; we are
unacquainted with its western limits.

                                GENERAL REMARKS.

     We have been induced, in our account of American animals, to give figures
and descriptions of this peculiar variety of Dog, inasmuch as it appears to have
been a permanent variety for ages, and is one of the most useful animals to the
Indians residing in the polar regions.  Whether it be an original native Dog, or
derive its origin from the wolf, is a subject which we will not here discuss,
farther than to state, in opposition to the views of Dr. RICHARDSON, that our
figures do not represent these animals as very closely allied to the wolf; on
the contrary, their look of intelligence would indicate that they possess
sagacity and aptitude for the service of man, equal at least to that of many
favorite breeds of Dog.  The fact also of their breeding at all seasons of the
year, their manner of placing the tail in sport, and their general habits, give
evidence of their being true Dogs and not wolves, the only difference between
them and some other varieties consisting in their having erect pointed cars,
which are peculiar to the Dogs of savage nations, and not altogether absent in
some of our common breeds, as we have witnessed in the shepherd's Dog of Europe
and some cur Dogs in America, erect ears of a similar character.