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Dog sledding knowledge poster

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A 2017 study showed that 9,000 years ago, the domestic dog was present at what is now Zhokhov Island, Arctic northeastern Siberia, which at that time was connected to the mainland. The dogs were selectively bred as either sled dogs or hunting dogs, implying that a sled dog standard and a hunting dog standard co-existed. The optimal maximum size for a sled dog is 20–25 kg based on thermo-regulation, and the ancient sled dogs were between 16–25 kg. The same standard has been found in the remains of sled dogs from this region 2,000 years ago and in the modern Siberian Husky breed standard. Other dogs were more massive at 30 kg and appear to be dogs that had been crossed with wolves and used for polar bear hunting. At death, the heads of the dogs had been carefully separated from their bodies by humans and was thought to be for ceremonial reasons.

The Greenlandic Inuit have a very long history of using sled dogs and they are still widely used today. As of 2010, some 18,000 Greenland dogs were kept in western Greenland north of the Arctic Circle and in eastern Greenland (because of the effort of maintaining the purity of this culturally important breed, they are the only dogs allowed in these regions) and about half of these were in active use as sled dogs by hunters and fishers. As a result of reduced sea ice (limiting their area of ​​use), increasing use of snowmobiles, increasing dog food prices and disease among some local dogs, the number has been gradually falling in decades and by 2016 there were 15,000 Greenland dogs. A number of projects have been initiated in an attempt of ensuring that Greenland’s dog sledding culture, knowledge and use are not lost.

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