The Fan Hitch Volume 6, Number 4, September 2004

Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog

Table of Contents

Editorial: Looking for Inuit Dogs Past and Present
F.I.D.O.: Jan Erik and Barbro  Engebretsen
First Camping Adventure with Greenland Dogs
The Breeding and Maintenance of Sledge Dogs, Part II
A Cut Above the Rest
In the News
Book Reviews:
Hunting Laika Breeds of Russia
Primitive Breeds - Perfect Dogs
 IMHO: Waiting for Godot?
Index to Volume 6

Navigating This Site

Index of articles by subject

Index of back issues by volume number

Search The Fan Hitch

Articles to download and print

Ordering Ken MacRury's Thesis

Our comprehensive list of resources

Talk to The Fan Hitch

The Fan Hitch home page

ISDI home page

Editor's/Publisher's Statement
Editor: Sue Hamilton
Webmaster: Mark Hamilton
The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog, is published four times a year. It is available at no cost online at:

The Fan Hitch
welcomes your letters, stories, comments and suggestions. The editorial staff reserves the right to edit submissions used for publication.

Contents of The Fan Hitch are protected by international copyright laws. No photo, drawing or text may be reproduced in any form without written consent. Webmasters please note: written consent is necessary before linking this site to yours! Please forward requests to Sue Hamilton, 55 Town Line Rd., Harwinton, Connecticut  06791, USA or

This site is dedicated to the Inuit Dog as well as related Inuit culture and traditions. It is also home to The Fan Hitch, Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog.
Featured Inuit Dog Owners.....

Barbo, Jan Eric and Goliat enjoying each other's company                 Lund photo

Jan Erik and Barbro Engebretsen

TFH: Where do you live? 
We live about twenty Scandinavian miles (each Scandinavian mile equals six English miles) north-east of Oslo on the Swedish side of the border in a very small village called Lovstaholm, with lots of lakes and forest, plenty of roads for training dogs. The climate is sub arctic and arctic.

TFH: Tell us about yourselves?
I am a Norwegian born former professional offshore and salvage diver, now retired. My wife Barbro comes from Gothenburg, Sweden. We have been married for about twenty-three years.  We are members of the Swedish Polar Dog Club.

TFH: How long have you owned sled dogs?
For about ten years.

TFH: Were Inuit Dogs the first (or only) breed you chose?
No, because of living in a big town (Gothenburg) we bought a German Shepard in 1990 and after a while another one. With dogs a new world opened. We joined a local club for training our dogs. I also served as instructor for training dogs for the Swedish Air Force. On holidays Barbro and I were often up in the Scandinavian mountains, summer and winter,  walking and skiing with our dogs who pulled a "pulka" (Nordic style sled). 

TFH: What was the journey in your life that you brought you to owning Inuit Sled Dogs, and what attracted you to owning Inuit Dogs?
We realized that German Shepards were very good dogs but not well suited to the winter season. Living in a tent for a week or two we had to take the dogs inside the tent to keep them warm during the nights, when it was colder than minus10 degrees C. About 1994 we decided to buy our first Greenland Inuit Dog. I had read much about the Norwegian explorers and their dogs so it was a very easy choice for me. 

TFH: Where did you get your Inuit dogs and how many do you have?
We have now four male dogs. This is the maximum we have decided to have, as we want to treat them as family members and have a very close bond to each of them. Our Greenland Inuit Dogs come from Norway, the youngest from Kennel Qornoq's Arctic, owned by Marianne Lund, and the three oldest from Norsk Trekkhundklubb (NTK). NTK has for decades been working with sled dogs in the areas of Oslo, ambulance work in cooperation with Red Cross. The majority of the dogs they used were Greenland Inuit Dogs.

                                                            Engebretsen photo

TFH: How do you kennel your dogs?
We have a fenced yard about 600 square meters divided in two halves with two dogs in each. Connected to one of the yards we have a living section, about 20 m2, with doghouses for each dog. We have also a small (30 v./160 w.) heat panel for keeping the hay-beds dry when we have rainy days, etc. 

TFH: What do you feed your dogs?
With kibble and modifying with extra fat and protein according to how hard and much they work. We also get extra meat in the fall under the moose hunt from friendly neighbors, as I am not a hunter.

TFH: What kinds of harnesses and sleds do you use? 
Normally only Nome harnesses nowadays but we started with Nordic equipment since we were only skiing in the beginning. Recently I bought a new sled from Oppsal Treindustri in Oslo, recommended by Ove Nygaard. It is "high tech". It's a medium distance sled that suits me and the equipment I have for my trips. I really look forward for this winter season. 

TFH: What kind of sledding did you do with your dogs?
Often we train only two dogs at time. This gives each pair opportunity to act as leader dogs with training different commands. This season we will run mostly all four together. Fortunately we can start right out from the house into the wilderness for daytrips. Other times we move further north and west for longer trips, camping in a tent for a week or so. 

Barbo                                                 Jan Eric 
                                                                                         Engebretsen photo

TFH: What criteria do you use to select Inuit Dogs to own, to breed?
First of all it must be from a kennel with the desire to protect the pure Greenland Inuit Dog. Also a good look at the parents, and their history - genetic background as well as what they have achieved in the front of a sled.   The dog I buy shall be curious and eager to contact me when I show interest in having contact.

TFH: Do you have a special/unique Inuit Dog you'd like to talk about?
Oh yes - my leader dog seven years old Nansen, white with dark brown and black spots. He is absolutely outstanding, intelligent, and dominant but never shows any aggressive attitude. The other dogs have a great respect for him. The first time we saw him was outside Oslo at a meeting with the NTK, when Nansen and his brother were only four-weeks old. It was love at first sight. Back in Gothenburg we decided to buy Nansen. Some months later when one of our German Shepards died we also bought Nansen's black and white brother whom we named Amundsen.

TFH: What is your view of the future of the Inuit Sled Dog? 
This is not easy to answer, but my own opinion is that the Inuit Greenland dog will not be too common among mushers in Europe or up here in Scandinavia. It will exist in small numbers, but the breeders of ISD must take more responsibility to keep the breed pure, and that can only be done by information and lobbying from people who are working to preserve the breed. 

I'll hope in the future we can manage those breeders who are working seriously with ISD to go for quality and not only for making money. 

And those of us who are working with ISD must be good ambassadors to show and inform other presumptive ISD buyers what this fantastic breed stands for. 

"Amundsen" at 4.5 with his mother, Xantippe, and "Nansen"
Pup pictures taken at 4.5 weeks of age.     Engebretsen photo

Return to top of page