The Fan Hitch Volume 5, Number 1, December 2002

Newsletter of the Inuit Sled Dog

Table of Contents

Editorial: Hoof Beats and Zebras
Featured Inuit Dog Owner: Merv Ehrich
Jubilee Medal Awarded to ISDI Co-Founder
Blue Eyes in Norwegian Greenland Dogs
ISD Enthusiasts Speak out on Blues Eyes
ISDI's Official Stand on Blue Eyes
Mountie, Alouette and Moose
Following Nanuk's Tracks
The Qitdlarssuaq Chronicles, Part 1
News Briefs:
New ISDI Scandinavia Web Site
Atanarjuat Update
Dog Teams in Iqaluit
Grammar Lesson
ISDs in Museum Exhibit
Poem: Lost Travellers
Book Review: first Nations.... first Dogs
ISD Enthusiast's First Novel Published
IMHO: Seeking to Answer the Wrong Question

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              Editor: Sue Hamilton
              Webmaster: Mark Hamilton
The Fan Hitch Website and Publications of the Inuit Sled Dog– the quarterly Journal (retired in 2018) and PostScript – are dedicated to the aboriginal landrace traditional Inuit Sled Dog as well as related Inuit culture and traditions. 

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Fram                                    Norsk Trekkhundklubb photo

Blue Eyes in Norway's Greenland Dogs

by Ove Nygaard, Norway

The first contact Norway had with Inuit Sled Dogs (ISD) was around the year 1900, when the arctic expeditions brought dogs back to this country. Then some enthusiastic guys wanted to register this breed with its own standard in Norsk Kennel Club, and in 1935 the standard was written with the dog Nuch Fram owned by Frithjof Nilsen Moe as a model. "Obersten", the grand grand-dad of Fram - owned by Roald Amundsen - had been part of the expedition to The South Pole in 1911. As late as the 1930s the breeding was based mostly on dogs from Amundsen's expedition. The mushers organization, Norsk Trekkhundklubb, became one of the most - the most important breeder/breeders in Norway.

The problem with blue eyes in the breed is a "modern thing", and has recently been a fact to deal with since this has not been known in the breed ever. In the 1980s some mushers tried to make a smaller, lighter type of the breed for racing them and trying to compare them to the Siberian Huskies' results in the track. It's well known that some dogs were registered as ISD/Grønlandshund even if they were crossbred. It is the very same bloodlines, coming from the very same kennel and the very same breeder, who's involved with the changes in the breed and the blue eye problem. The dogs who have blue eyes and other defects are a result of the mix breeding which is well known at that exact kennel. However, the official club for the breed in Norway - Norsk Polarhundklubb  accepts what is happening, and announced those changes as a natural genes in the breed even at their website and their magazine Polarposten.

                        Sætrang photo

My opinion about blue eyes should be very clear. I'm aware of that blue eyes may happen by inbreeding this breed (strong inbreeding/several generations). That is most likely in a small population of ISDs at Greenland. When we look to how the breeding is done there, it's natural to think that inbreeding may be a problem. The main problem is still that the official club for the breed in Norway tells this to be in the natural genes of the breed, pointing to a "plumber" on the same land that tells the same fairy tale. The other way to bring blue eyes into the breed is if someway the Merle gene has been a factor for making this problem, but then again, how did that happen? Inbreeding and the merle gene, are the only explanations that I can accept for if a pure ISD gets blue eyes.

The main question then is: why did this not appear before, and why is the problem only connected to the bloodlines of this special breeder? Norsk Trekkhundklubb has been the main breeder for many years (from 1935 to the 1990s) with a lot of litters every year, but they have never had any problems with blue eyes. Why now? 

Well, the answer to that is clear. This breeder wants to make his/her own kind of ISD, and use the friendship with some people to make this be accepted in the organization. When the documents which are telling the background of those lines, and proof of mixed breeding are being shown, the Norsk Polarhundklubb doesn't even respond to anyone who is putting this into the daylight. After several attempts to make the club listen to our view, the only reaction was that members of the Breeding Council opposed to blue eyes were removed from their positions and put under pressure to leave the club.

                            Lund photo

The Norwegian Kennel Club has got all the documents, but they have not taken any step to help with the problem, and point to Norsk Polarhundklubb as the responsible club for the breed. They have got approximately 600 members: 250 owners with Alaskan Malamutes, 250 owners of Samoyed Dogs, and the rest is a group of owners of Siberian Huskies or Alaskan Huskies,  and even some members who don't have dogs at all. And then there are a few members (30 - 50) who own ISDs/Grønlandshunds.  When all those who own Alaskan Malamutes and Samoyed Dogs as well as those who own Siberian Huskies or Alaskan Huskies have the same right to vote on matters that only concern ISDs, it's natural for them to vote with the opinion that makes them most popular as persons - together with those who get their name well known by racing their dogs and even winning a race or two. Doing their things that way, they make things easy for themselves.

There is a small group who will stand for the pure ISD whatever happens, and we're working for the breed with all our effort and strength, even if it's not easy since the leaders in Norsk Polarhundklubb never answer to any attempt to bring the problem into the daylight as an important thing for the breed's future. They never answer to anything, but only send out the opinion of the breed to be a small, thin-legged racing dog with short fur and slim bodies built for speed. Blue eyes, or even flipped ears, are well accepted in their view of the Inuit Sled Dog.

We also do know that this breeder in that special kennel, which is the real problem through the years, has broken every law and rule officially accepted by the organization Norsk Polarhundklubb (recognized by Norwegian Kennel Club!) in the attempt to make "our own kind of ISDs".  The whole thing is getting ugly.

Conclusions? Easier to sell a dog which is comparative to the dogs that are being used in races, and earning money for their daily bread and lifestyle is the main thing for those breeders. They, as well as Norsk Polarhundklubb, don't give a damn for the breed's history or the future. Those who do are of the opinion that the target is keeping the breed as origin, not develop it into something else. The target is what's best for the breed, not you're kennel's own position.

Ourko (M) owned by Jeanluc Delente     Delente photo

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