Hare Indian Dog

He is not recognized by the F.C.I.

Origin
Canada
Translation
Francis Vandersteen
The Hare Indian Dog is an extinct domesticated dog; possibly a breed of domestic dog, hybrid coyote/dog or domestic coyote; previously found and originally bred in northern Canada by the Hare Indians for hunting. It had the speed and certain characteristics of the coyote, but the domestic temperament and other features of a domestic dog. It gradually lost its usefulness with the decline of native hunting methods and disappeared or lost its distinct identity through cross-breeding with dogs in the 19th century, although some claim the breed still exists in a modified form.

The Hare Indian Dog was a tiny domestic dog of slender build, with a small head and narrow, pointed, elongated muzzle. Its pointed ears were erect and broad at the base, and closer together than those of the Canadian Eskimo Dog. Its legs were slender and rather long. The tail was thick and bushy, curving upwards on the right hip, but not to the height of the Canadian Eskimo Dog. The coat was long and straight, the basic color being white with large irregular grayish black patches interspersed with various shades of brown. The outside of the ears was covered with short brown hairs that darkened at the base. The fur on the inside of the ears was long and white. The fur on the muzzle was short and white, as on the legs, although it became longer and thicker on the feet. Black patches were present around the eyes. Like the wolves with whom he was sympathetic, he had long hair between his toes, which protruded onto the soles of his feet, with naked, calloused protuberances present at the roots of toes and plants, even in winter. In size, it was intermediate to the coyote and the American red fox.

The Hare Indian Dog is very playful, has an affectionate disposition and is quickly won over by kindness. However, it is not very docile and does not like confinement of any kind. He loves to be stroked, rubs his back against your hand like a cat, and soon makes the acquaintance of a stranger. Like a wild animal, he's very attentive to wounds and doesn't crouch like a spaniel either; but if he's aware that he's deserved punishment, he'll spend all day around his master's tent without reaching his litter, even if he calls for it. His howl, when wounded or frightened, is that of the wolf; but when he sees an unusual object, he makes a singular attempt to bark, starting with a sort of growl, which is not unpleasant, and ending with a prolonged howl. Its voice is very similar to that of the prairie wolf (coyote). The largest dogs we had for draught at Fort Franklin, belonging to the Métis breed commonly used at fur posts, used to chase Hare Indian Dogs with the aim of devouring them; but the latter far outstripped them in speed and easily escaped.

One author believes that the breed originated from a cross between Tahltan bear dogs and dogs introduced to the North American continent by Viking explorers, as it shows strong similarities in appearance and behavior. By contrast, Sir J. Richardson of Edinburgh, who studied the breed in the 1820s, in its original form before being diluted by cross-breeding with other breeds, could detect no decisive difference in form between this breed and a coyote. it was a domesticated version of the wild animal. He wrote: "The Hare Indian Dog or Mackenzie River Dog bears the same relationship to the prairie wolf (coyote), as the Eskimo dog (Malamute) does to the great gray wolf". The breed seemed to be kept exclusively by the Hare Indians and other neighboring tribes, such as the Bear, Mountain, Dogrib, Cree, Slavey and Chippewa living in the territories of northwestern Canada and the USA around Great Bear Lake, southwest to Lake Winnipeg and Lake Superior and west of the Mackenzie River.

The Indians considered them to be river hunters, and lived almost entirely off the products of each hunt. Although not large enough to pose a danger to the moose and reindeer they hunted, their small size and wide feet enabled 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. The Indians were generally convinced that the dog's origin lay in the Arctic fox. When first examined by European biologists, the Hare Indian Dog was found to be almost identical to the coyote in shape (with the exception of the latter's smaller skull) and fur length. The first Hare Indian Dogs to be taken to Europe were presented to the Zoological Society of London, following Sir John Richardson and John Franklin's 1819-1822 Coppermine expedition. Although originally widespread in most of northern North America, the breed declined after the introduction of firearms rendered its hunting abilities useless. It gradually mixed with other breeds such as the Newfoundland dog, the Canadian Eskimo dog and half-breeds.

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