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Hare Indian dog
||Mackenzie River dog
Trap line dog
C. familiaris lagopus (obsolete)
|Country of origin
The Hare Indian dog is an extinct breed of dog, formerly found in northern Canada and originally bred by the Hare
Indians as a coursing
dog. It was built for speed, being much like a coyote, but it gradually lost its
usefulness as aboriginal hunting methods declined. The breed lost its
separate identity through interbreeding with other dogs in the 19th century.
Hare Indian dogs, as illustrated in The Gardens and Menagerie
of the Zoological Society
Hare Indian dogs, as illustrated in Historical view of the
progress of discovery on the more northern coasts of America: from
the earliest period to the present time
, James Wilson, 1836
The Hare Indian dog was a diminutive, slenderly built breed with
a small head
and a narrow, pointed and elongated muzzle.
Its pointed ears were erect and broad at the base, and closer
together than those of the Canadian Eskimo
Its legs were slender and rather long. The tail was thick and
and it curled upwards over its right hip,
though not to the extent of the Canadian Eskimo dog. The fur was
long and straight, the base colour being white with large,
irregular grayish black patches intermingled with various brown
shades. The outside of the ears was covered with short brown hair
which darkened at the base. The fur in the inside of the ears was
long and white. The fur of the muzzle was short and white, as with
the legs, though it became longer and thicker at the feet.
Black patches were present around the eyes. Like the wolves with which
it was sympatric, it had long hair
between its toes, which projected over the soles, with naked,
callous protuberances being present at the root of the toes and
soles, even in winter. In size, it was intermediate to the coyote and the American red fox.
The Hare Indian dog was apparently very playful, and readily
though it was not very docile, and disliked confinement of any
kind. It apparently expressed affection by rubbing its back against
people, similar to a cat.
In its native homeland, the breed was not known to bark,
though puppies born in Europe learned how to imitate the barking of
When hurt or afraid, it howled like a wolf, and when curious, it
made a sound described as a growl building up to a howl.
Hare Indian dog, as illustrated in The Menageries: Quadrupeds
Described and Drawn from Living Subjects
Hare Indian dogs, as illustrated in Fauna Boreali-americana,
Or, The Zoology of the Northern Parts of British America
It is thought by some that the breed originated from
crossbreedings between native Tahltan dogs and dogs brought to the
North American continent by Viking explorers during the Norse colonization of
the Americas, as it bears strong similarities to Icelandic breeds in appearance
and behaviour, such as cat-like body rubbing to express affection.
The breed seemed to be kept exclusively by the Hare
Indians and other neighbouring tribes, such as the Bear,
Mountain, Dogrib, Cree, Slavey
and Chippewa tribes living in the Northeastern
Territories of Canada and the United States around the Great Bear
Lake, Southwest to Lake Winnipeg and Lake Superior and
West to the Mackenzie River.
They were valued by the Indians as coursorial hunters, and they subsisted almost
entirely on the produce of each hunt. Although not large enough to
pose a danger to the moose and
reindeer they hunted,
their small size and broad feet allowed them to pursue large ungulates in deep snow,
keeping them at bay until the hunters arrived.
It was too small to be used as a beast of burden.
It was the general belief among the Indians that the dog's origin
was connected to the Arctic fox.
When first examined by European biologists, the Hare Indian dog was
found to be almost identical to the coyote in build (save for the
former's smaller skull) and fur length, though the two species were
The first Hare Indian dogs to be taken to Europe were a pair presented to the Zoological Society of
London, after Sir John Richardson's and
Coppermine Expedition of
1819–1822. Though originally spread over most of the northern
regions of North America, the breed fell into decline after the
introduction of firearms
made its hunting abilities redundant. It gradually intermingled
with other breeds such as the Newfoundland dog,
the Canadian Eskimo dog and Mongrels.
- ^ a
"Hare Indian dogs". Song Dog Kennels. http://www.indiandogs.com/hare.htm. Retrieved 23 February
- ^ a
Fauna Boreali-americana, Or, The Zoology of the Northern Parts
of British America: Containing Descriptions of the Objects of
Natural History Collected on the Late Northern Land Expeditions,
Under Command of Captain Sir John Franklin, R.N. By John
Richardson, William Swainson, William Kirby, published by J.
- ^ a
The Gardens and Menagerie of the Zoological Society, Published,
with the Sanction of the Council, Under the Superintendence of the
Secretary and Vice-secretary of the Society, by Edward Turner
Bennett, Zoological Society of London, William Harvey, Illustrated
by John Jackson, William Harvey, G. B., S. S., Thomas Williams,
Robert Edward Branston, George Thomas Wright. Published by Printed
by C. Whittingham, 1830.
- ^ Rural sports by
WM. B. Daniel, Vol. 1, 1801.