top of page

All about the Northern Inuit breed

The Northern Inuit Introduction

The Inuit dog has existed for thousands of years, the Inuit people needed a dog to suit their lifestyle, and as a working companion, for this, legend has it, they staked out several bitches to be mated by wolves.

By selective breeding and culling of the offspring, they eventually got what they wanted - a dog that could work long hours in cold temperatures, would live as a family pet and be obedient and loyal.

In the early 1980's, a few Inuit type dogs were imported to Britain and by following the Inuit peoples example and using northern breeds of dogs, we have arrived at the Northern Inuit dog we have today, they withhold the original characteristics and traits of the original Inuit dogs, but have had a lot of the working drive other northern breeds have, now bred out.

Although, originally having to battle against the elements for survival, they have fitted in well with our modern day lifestyle as a loyal pet capable of competing successfully in obedience, agility and also fly ball, as well as their original job of pulling sledges.

Where the Northern Inuit has not proved a success however, is as a guard dog, due to their friendly manner and a willingness to greet any visitor as a long-lost friend, sometimes you will find the odd one who becomes quite protective of his family.

With their incredible sense of smell and eagerness to please, the future of the N.I looks bright, and could provide future services, such as search and rescue, guide dogs for the blind and hearing dogs for the deaf, some are already registered PAT dogs, but all are the pride and joy of their families as their loyal pets. We ourselves are pleased to say we have bred 4 that are registered PAT dogs.

The Northern Inuit dog is generally a non aggressive breed, but you do find that when they hit the teenage years and are not guided correctly they can become quite reactive to other dogs, training is ongoing. They are the most versatile of dogs, but, they are not for the novice owner as they can be very stubborn and are very quick witted, the owner of an N.I must show themselves to be the lead member of the pack or be prepared to be the underdog, and be taken advantage of, a firm direction is most definitely needed, however, the pluses far outweigh the cons of owning an N.I as they are a joy to live with, give so much love, and attract attention where ever they go. Nice gardens don't usually exist alongside a northern Inuit as they love to dig and eat any variety of garden plant, so most owners now have gardens consisting of slabs, pot plants and concrete.

Some N.I dogs if introduced to livestock at an early age, will grow up not wanting to chase sheep and so on, but two or more N.I become a pack and pack instinct will take over, and as their prey drive is quite high, caution should be taken at all times when out near sheep, cattle or horses.

Common sense dictates that you should never leave children and dogs unsupervised. The N.I can be quite boisterous at play, and though they would never bite intentionally, they do sometimes like to 'mouth' things eg arms and hands, and can easily knock a child down. But they love children and are happy to play games for hours.

The Northern Inuit dog is also generally non dog aggressive and will usually submit when challenged. They don't like to be left alone and can often suffer separation anxiety, at these times they will destroy anything in the immediate vicinity, chairs, doors, table legs, the best solution for this is to ensure your dog is never left alone for long periods of time, another dog as a companion is a good idea, the N.I is a very sociable animal and loves the company of people or other dogs.

They are a loyal companion they make great family members and like to be included in everything the family does. They do need early socialisation otherwise they tend to spook easily when faced at new things.
This breed of ours is very addictive, so beware, because it is a great possibility that you will end up with more than one, most people i know have several and wouldn't have it any other way. Plenty of patience and a good sense of humor is a must when owning one of these dogs.

Health of the Northern Inuit Dog

Hip dysplasia,

Like many large breed dogs, the Northern Inuit can suffer from hip dysplasia, therefore when looking to buy a puppy it is wise to check that the hip scores of the parents are below that of the breed average. The current national average for the Northern Inuit is 15.

The Northern Inuit Society required that all Northern Inuits born after Jan 2006 are to be hip-scored and Northern Inuits born from Jan 2009 are to be elbow scored,and have received a satisfactory result before being bred.


Also remember that as with any large breed dog, restriction of exercise in the first year is wise, as these dogs grow at a fast rate and this will help with unnecessary pressure on all of the joints. Follow the 5 minute rule. 5 Minutes of exercise for each month of age is a great guideline. We as Breeders can only put the foundations down in creating a hip dysplacia free dog, owners play a big part in the development too.


Sensitive tummies

Northern Inuit’s can also be prone to sensitive tummies, which comes from the German shepherd heritage. This is why a lot of Northern Inuit owners choose the Raw food diet, as these dogs do very well on it. If that isn't for you then a good quality natural grain free kibble ( biscuits) or home cooked balanced food can work well with these dogs, but its normally trial and error to find the right one.


Retained testicles

Retained testicles in males are not uncommon in this breed, so this is something to think about if wanting a future stud dog, all our dogs are sold as pets only with the possibility of restriction being lifted if the dog is of stud quality.



There have been a few cases of Epilepsy in this breed and this is being monitored to see if it is a hereditary condition. I know lots of research within the Animal health trust is going on to help find the cause. We in the 16 years of breeding have only had one case, and removed the parents from our breeding program, i know many other breeders who have had more and sadly they still carry on breeding.


Degenerative Myelopathy

It has come to light that some lines have the Degenerative Myelopathy Gene ...This is not a problem if all breeding dogs are tested and no carrier to carrier or effected to carrier are bred together. If a carrier is bred to a clear then this will not cause a problem. We test all of our dogs and will never put carriers together.


Addison's disease

Addison's disease has come to light in more recently, and has been around a while, but sadly some breeders have kept this quite and its now being seen in some Northern Inuit lines, it was originally common in the British utonagan breed.


Addison’s disease, also known as hypoadrenocorticism, occurs when the adrenal glands don’t secrete enough cortisol and other steroids. There’s often no apparent cause of Addison’s disease. In some cases, however, it may be immune-mediated, or it can occur in response to drugs given to treat another condition. It may also result from damage to or destruction of the glands by some other illness or from trauma or inflammation. The hormones secreted by the adrenal glands are involved in helping to regulate normal body functions such as metabolism, fluid and electrolyte balance for kidney function, blood pressure, appetite stimulation and more. When those hormones aren’t on the job, dogs can develop a variety of health problems. Addison’s isn’t common, thank goodness, but trying to get a handle on it can really put veterinarians through their paces.


The problem is that symptoms can differ wildly from dog to dog — and in some cases, Addison’s can look like other diseases. Signs such as lethargy; muscle weakness; lack of appetite; drinking and urinating more than normal; occasional vomiting and diarrhoea; and weight loss are common to many other disorders. There’s a reason that Addison's is nicknamed “The Great Pretender.”


If the disease goes unrecognised, though, the adrenal glands become less and less functional. Eventually, dogs with the disease may suffer sudden collapse, known as an Addisonian crisis. They require immediate aggressive treatment to survive. Fortunately, with early diagnosis and treatment, dogs with Addison’s disease, can have an excellent prognosis. We have had one case in all our years of breeding, and again to air on the side of caution both parents were not bred again as health is far more important to us.


Heart Failure

Heart disease may lead to congestive heart failure. That's when your dog's heart has trouble pumping blood to the rest of its body. Heart disease can affect one side of the heart or sometimes both sides. It can progress slowly and may take years to spot.


Your dog may have been born with a heart defect. Old age, injury and infection can exacerbate it. Diet can play roles too.

The Northern Inuit Dog Breed Standard



A dog of medium build, athletic but never racy. 

HEAD: Not too broad, skull slightly domed. Muzzle equal in length to skull, strong and gently tapering. 
Cheeks flat. Nose, preferably black but a ‘snow nose’ is permitted. Nostrils large. Slight stop. Lips close fitting 

and  black. Perfect scissor bite.

EARS: Fairly wide apart but not low set. Not too large, carried erect.


EYES: Oval and set at a slightly oblique angle. any Colour permitted.

NECK: Strong and muscular with a well defined nape.


FOREQUARTERS: Shoulders flat. Moderately angulated upper arm but shoulder blades well laid back. Elbows fitting close to the chest which must not be too broad ( approx 4 finger width between front legs ) or drop below the elbow. Distance from ground to elbow slightly greater than that from elbow to withers. Oval bone, neither too heavy or too light, pasterns upright but flexible. Feet oval and toes open and well knuckled. 
Pads black and well cushioned with hair.

BODY: Topline level, Ribs long to give overall proportions of height to length as 10 – 9, well sprung from the spine but flattening on the sides to allow the elbows to move freely. Loin short and deep with no exaggerated tuck up. Croup broad and fairly short but not steep. The tail is a smooth continuation of the croup and must reach no further than the point of the hock. 

May be lifted when excited and carried upright or sickle in movement.

HINDQUARTERS: Well angulated with broad, muscular thighs, the strength being carried through to the second 

thigh. Hocks short and perpendicular to the ground. Upright when viewed from the rear. Feet oval, can have 

five rear toes. Removal of dewclaws optional.

COAT: Dense, waterproof double coat, slightly coarse in texture. Body coat 3 – 5 cm. Longer on ruff and 

breechings. Tail bushy.

GAIT: Far reaching, covering the ground with an easy stride.

SIZE: Height:
Bitches-Minimum 23” (59 cm) Maximum -28” (71 cm)

Dogs- Minimum 25” (64 cm.) Maximum 30” (76 cm)

Overall balance more important than size.

COLOUR: Pure white or any Colour, Sable from Grey or Apricot through to pure black. White faces permitted on any 

Colour. Masklike or cap like markings permitted on the faces of any Colour other than whites. Where white 

appears on the legs and feet the Colour change must be gradual.

TEMPERAMENT: Friendly, placid and out going, great with children, not aggressive.

Note. Males should have two apparently normal testicles descended into the scrotum. 

FAULTS: Curly tails, long or single coats, Ink Marked, black and tan colours. Cow or sickle hocks. Any departure from the standard should be considered a fault; the seriousness with which the fault is regarded  should be in proportion to its degree.

Taken from Honiahaka Northern Inuits, used with permission

bottom of page