Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Northern Inuit Dog: Info, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Northern Inuit dog

Height: 23 – 32 inches
Weight: 55 – 110 pounds
Lifespan: 12 – 15 years
Colors: Pure white, pure black, or any Sable color from Gray to Apricot
Suitable for: Active individuals or families with older children
Temperament: Intelligent, friendly, gentle, and at times, a little stubborn

The origins of the Northern Inuit dog date back to the 1980s and a breeding program that involved importing many dogs from unknown origins into Alaska and then selectively mating them with Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, German Shepherds, and Samoyeds. The aim of the program was to produce a companion dog and family pet that resembled a wolf but could also be trained to carry out other tasks.

This breeding program subsequently split into several different breeding lines. It resulted in the development of the Northern Inuit dog, as well as the Tamaskan dog, the British Timber dog, and the Utonagan.

The Northern Inuit dog is not currently recognized as an independent breed by the American Kennel Club or any other major international kennel club. However, this is something that fanciers of the breed are working toward. The breed is represented by the U.K.-based Northern Inuit Society. The Society’s website contains a wealth of information that may be useful for anybody looking to purchase or adopt one of these dogs, including details of reputable breeders in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Divider 1

Northern Inuit Puppies



Northern Inuit Dogs, like many northern breeds that resemble wolves, have seen a surge in popularity in recent years due to their likeness to the fictional “Direwolves” of the popular “Game of Thrones” television series.

While increased interest in the breed is generally a good thing, quite a few puppy mills that engage in less-than-ethical breeding practices have popped up around the country. It is therefore vitally important that you do your research before agreeing to buy a puppy. Purchasing from a puppy mill only encourages unethical breeding and may result in you buying a puppy that suffers from a genetic disorder that could easily have been avoided by purchasing your dog from a reputable breeder.

Divider 8

3 Little-Known Facts About the Northern Inuit Dog

1. The breed was featured in several popular television shows

Northern Inuit dogs were selected by the producers of the popular series, “Game of Thrones,” to play both the puppy and young Direwolves during Season One. In later seasons, the adult Direwolves were played by CGI-enhanced wolfdogs.

The breed also appeared in the popular television show, “Outlander.”

2. A Northern Inuit dog completed a charity walk around the coast of Britain

In 2016, Wayne Dixon and his Northern Inuit dog, Koda, completed the 7,000-mile walk around the coast of Britain in support of several charities. The walk raised funds for Keep Britain Tidy and the Northern Inuit Society’s dog rescue program.

3. Northern Inuit Dogs are not wolves

The breed was specifically developed to have a wolf-like appearance, but they have no more connection to wild wolves than any other modern-day domestic dog.

Northern Inuit
Image Credit: 1607es, Pxhere

Temperament & Intelligence of the Northern Inuit 🧠

The Northern Inuit is typically a friendly and loyal dog that gets on well with people and other animals. They were developed specifically to be companion animals, and while they are not the easiest breed to train, they make excellent family pets.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Yes, the Northern Inuit dog was specifically bred to be a companion animal, and they make excellent family pets. Sometimes called British timber dogs, they are quite large dogs, though, and are not suitable for apartment living, and instead, they will need a home with a large and secure yard.

Northern Inuit dogs love people of all ages and get on well with children. However, due to their size, care should be taken when they are around toddlers, as they could easily knock over a young child and cause an injury.

Despite their size and wolf-like looks, the Northern Inuit dog is not a particularly good guard dog, as while their appearance may put off a potential intruder, they are much more likely to want to play with somebody trying to break in than bark at them.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

Like most dogs, how well they get on with other pets will largely depend on how well they are socialized while young. Socialization is extremely important with any large dog, as any aggression that they show toward another person or animal is amplified by their size.

Consider the difference between a small Maltese Terrier and a large German Shepherd. If you arrive at a friend’s house and their small fluffy dog barks at you and lunges at you through the fence, you’re unlikely to feel overly threatened. Yet, if a large German shepherd with a loud, deep bark does the same thing, you’re likely to feel quite hesitant about entering the property. This difference in perception is amplified even further if the dog is out in public. Therefore, there is a need for the owner of any large dog to act to appropriately socialize their dog while young.

That said, the Northern Inuit is quite a gentle dog, and they will usually get on with other pets in their household.

Divider 4

Things to Know When Owning a Northern Inuit

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

The Northern Inuit is a large and moderately energetic dog that needs a healthy diet that will provide them with all the nutrients that they need. To that end, we recommend feeding them a premium quality dry commercial dog food for large breeds. Specifically, you should look for a product that has been formulated to provide an adult dog with a complete and balanced diet.

Alternatively, you may wish to feed your dog a raw meat diet. If you wish to do this, you must keep in mind that you will need to add vitamin supplements to ensure that they stay fit, strong, and healthy. While you can research this yourself, the best place to get answers is from your vet, who will be able to advise as to what additional supplements your dog needs.

Exercise 🐕

Unlike many northern dogs, the Northern Inuit dog does not need large amounts of exercise to stay happy and healthy. The Northern Inuit dog was not developed as a working dog and can get by on a moderate amount of exercise each day. Ideally, in addition to playtime in their yard, you should take your dog for a brisk 30-40-minute walk each day.

A Northern Inuit dog
Image Credit: Pxhere

Training 🦮

Northern Inuit dogs are highly intelligent and can be trained to an extremely high standard. However, they can be quite stubborn and will quickly lose interest in any task if they get bored. Therefore, it is best to keep your training seasons short and regular and always end with a game or playtime.

Grooming ✂️

Northern Inuit dogs have a thick double coat, and they almost always shed hair. While they need little in the way of bathing, you should brush your dog’s coat at least twice a week to keep it looking its best. They will also need to have their nails clipped every month or two, and you should check their ears for any infections or foreign objects at least once a week.

Health and Conditions ❤️

The Northern Inuit dog is generally a healthy breed; however, like most large breeds, they are susceptible to a few health conditions, some of which can be avoided through careful health screening before breeding.

Health conditions that can impact the Northern Inuit dog include the following.

Minor Conditions
  • Ear infections
  • Eye infections
  • Epilepsy
  • Cataracts
Serious Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Glaucoma
  • Chondrodysplasia
  • Cryptorchidism (retained testicles) (males only)

Divider 5

Male vs Female

The debate over whether it is best to get a male or female dog has been going on since humanity first started domesticating wild dogs. However, the fact is that unless you have a particular preference or plan on breeding from your pet, you are better off choosing your puppy based on their displayed personality and behaviors.

If you are unsure how to go about doing this, speak to your breeder. They have been around the puppies since they were born, and they have a vested interest in ensuring that you select the right dog for your circumstances.

Divider 3

Final Thoughts

The Northern Inuit dog can be a great family pet and companion, but as they can be quite stubborn and more difficult to train than some other dogs, they won’t be for everybody.

Dogs like the Northern Inuit dog are extremely popular right now because they look like the fictional “Direwolves” from the “Game of Thrones” TV series. Unfortunately, this popularity has led to a situation where many adolescent and adult Northern Inuit dogs are being abandoned at shelters or given away because their owners just can’t give them the time and attention that they need.

So, if you are thinking of getting a Northern Inuit puppy, be sure to consider whether you have the physical space required to keep one and the time to train them.

Featured Image: Malfuros, Wikimedia Commons

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database