A relatively new breed that was only developed in 1987, the Utonagan (or Northern Inuit Dog) is a unique breed of dog with interesting parentage. Although the breed’s founder, Edwina Harrison, initially described the dog as a ‘wolf hybrid,’ the Utonagan was not in fact influenced by any wolf blood, but was developed to reflect the appearance of one as closely as possible. The name ‘Utonagan’ translates to ‘spirit of the wolf’ in Chinook Indian. While the wolf appearance was desired, the wild temperament was not, so alternative forebears were used. The Utonagan is not recognised by any major canine registries.
Handsomely reflecting both its parents, the Utonagan is a distinctive breed with unique colouring and a refined appearance. Possessing strong, well conformed legs, a bushy, un-feathered tail and a lean physique that more closely resembles the German Shepherd influence, the Utonagan is well suited to cold climes with its profuse double coat and shielding tail. Typically, the coat is a grizzled combination of greys, blacks, white and reds, and pied examples are undesirable. Due to the nature of its coat, hair is continually shed so regular grooming is essential.
Unlike its forebears, the Utonagan is neither a guard dog nor a search and rescue animal and was not developed with any working fulfilments in mind. It is however, well suited to an active and mentally enriched life within a dedicated family. Utonagan owners and enthusiasts swear by the affectionate and gentle nature of the breed, despite its somewhat imposing appearance. Laid-back with strangers and boisterous children, the Utonagan requires daily companionship, early socialisation and firm but fair leadership to thrive in a household setting. Typically weighing 25-40 kg, with an average life expectancy of 10-15 years, the Utonagan makes a unique and suitably loving addition to domestic life.
As the Utonagan is relatively rare and new, there is little documented about its general health. However, there are documented cases of the following disorders in the breed, including cataracts and other optical complaints, epilepsy, Addison’s Disease, hip and elbow dysplasia and von Willebrand’s Disease, a rare bleeding disorder.