The Utonagan is a breed of dog specifically created in the 1980's to resemble a wolf, but without the addition of any wolf blood. The breed is in fact is a mix of three breeds of domestic dog; the Alaskan Malamute, German Shepherd Dog, and Siberian Husky.
The history of the Utonagan is fairly short in nature, dating back to 1987 when five rescue dogs of unknown origin were imported into the United Kingdom from America and bred. These five dogs are reported to have consisted of the breeds Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute and German Shepherd. The result of this initial breeding program created what was to later be called the Northern Inuit Dog and thus the Northern Inuit Society was created around 1998, to further the controlled breeding and development of this new breed of dog.
During the period between 1998 and 2002 the Northern Inuit Society split into two separate groups creating the "Northern Inuit Society" and the "Northern Inuit Society of Great Britain", the prior leading to the development of the modern day Utonagan and the latter focusing its efforts on the Northern Inuit Dog.
The "Northern Inuit Society" noting that there needed to be a clear delineation in the two diverging breeds of dog, decided that its breed of dog should be called the Utonagan. This was in reference to a Chinook Indian Story documented in the book "Chinook Texts by Frans Boas" in 1894 that describes the experience of a how young Indian beheld his totem, after he was instructed by his father to venture to the top of a mountain to look for Utonagan, the female guardian spirit of his ancestors (The Spirit of The Wolf). During this time the "The Northern Inuit Society" also dropped its name in favor of "The Utonagan Society" and the "Northern Inuit Society of Great Britain" dropped the Great Britain portion of its name and reverted back to the now abandoned name "The Northern Inuit Society" as there was now only one official Northern Inuit group and the Great Britain delineation was no longer necessary.
The fledgling "Utonagan Society" was again a house divided and was split in 2003 into the "The Utonagan Society" and the "British and International Utonagan Society". The latter, changed it's name to "The Tamaskan Society" in 2006, and began calling its new breed of dog Tamaskan's which were the result of breeding Utonagan to Czechoslovakian Wolfdog cross Huskies based in Finland.
Also in 2006 "The Utonagan Dog Club" was formed by an unscrupulous breeder named Nadia Carlyle, a former member of "The Utonagan Society" that had been kicked out for breaching several of its Breeder's Rules which were the precursors to the Breeder's Code of Ethics now in use by the "Utonagan Society". She would later be convicted of animal related crimes and banned by the Forest of Dean Magistrate court from owning animals for a period of two years.
In 2007 the "Utonagan Dog Club" founded by Mrs. Carlyle began to disintegrate as many of its key members resigned in lieu of continuing to associate themselves with Mrs. Carlyle and the ongoing controversy surrounding her and her ethics. These resigning members then formed the "Utonagan Association", a group that more closely mirrored the original morals, values and standards of "The Utonagan Society" and shares an interest in improving the genetic health of the Utonagan.
Also in 2007 two members of "The Utonagan Society" defected in order to form another splinter group called the "British Utonagan Association", one of which has been banned by "The Utonagan Society" for violations of its breeders code of ethics.
All of this controversy leads us to the modern day Utonagan, a companion dog that was bred with the sole intention of looking like a wolf without utilizing wolf in its bloodlines and with no working purpose in mind. Although the Utonagan Society has made great strides in promoting and preserving this breed, currently it is not recognized by any major kennel club.
The Utonagan is a slender well muscled medium to large sized dog , bred to resemble a wolf as closely as possible without actually introducing wolves into the breeding process. As per the breed standard the proper height for a male Utonagan is 26 inches and above at the withers; for females 25 inches and above. Both should be between 55-90 lbs males being toward the upper end and females toward the lower end. Like many breeds the overall build, appearance and proportion of the Utonagan is more important than its actual weight.
This breed features erect ears, a full tail and a thick double coat that varies in appearance based upon whether it is the summer or winter season. The outer coat is straight and slightly coarse to the touch similiar to that of a Husky. The coat can be cream, silver grey, or brown with a black overlay and a the characteristic wolf mask.
Although the Utonagan was bred to look like a wolf, it was also bred to have the aggression of a kitten, thus it is more of a sheep in wolves clothing. One of the most important personality traits selectively bred into this breed was that it show no sign of aggression whatsoever, even when or if the the dog is challenged and this is also an important standard when judging the quality of an individual dog of this breed.
Thus the Utonagan is a dog that posses a superb temperament; and makes for a wonderful family dog and companion. They love the company of people and get along well with cats and smaller dogs.
The Utonagan does have three working breeds in its ancestry, providing it with a certain amount of versatility when it comes to being trained for a specific purpose so long as the dog you are working with has a personality compatible with the task you desire them to complete. Unlike some more well established breeds that have a blanket set of personality attributes that encompass the majority of dogs within that breed. The Utanogan at this point in its development still consist of many individual personalities where as one may excel at a certain task, another may be completely indifferent or to skiddish to try.
This is not a dog that likes to be left alone and problems such as destructive behavior and escaping may arise if they are. This dog possesses a strong pack mentality, and it is best they have the company of other dogs, unless you are able to provide them with full time companionship. One developing consistency amongst the breed is that many have qualified as PAT (Pets As Therapy) dogs, the apparent result of breeding them to provide love and companionship and not aggression.
The coat of the Utonagan is very easy to manage requiring brushing only twice a week. However, during the spring or late summer when the dog is moulting (blowing its coat), it will require more attention.
There were no significant health issues reported to accompany this breed until about 2004, when certain dysfunctions that occur in most pedigree breeds such as cryptorchidism, and hip dysplasia began to appear. Although there were only a few reported cases and these conditions are not unique to the Utonagan, it was alarming due to the limited number of dogs currently in existence.
The Utonagan Society also reports that the vast majority of dogs carrying deficient genes have either come directly from inbred mating or are descendants of former inbred litters. This was more than likely the result of unscrupulous breeding tactics by early breeders and a failure to report and/or stop breeding dogs that were diagnosed with a health deficiency.
Luckily for this breed the leading and founding organization for the Utonagan, the Utonagan Society has banished the vast majority of these types of breeders from its ranks, and has instituted and enforced a strict breeding program to insure the continued survival of this breed and the delivery of healthy specimens free of these health defects.
The Utonagan Society requires that all breeding stock test clear on the Kennel Club and British Veterinary Association hip (BVA/KC) and eye scheme prior to breeding.
Currently the following health defects have been reported in this breed, and while the Utonagon Society is working diligently to remove specimens carrying defective genes, it is up to the potential owner to only purchase dogs from reputable breeders approved by the Utonagan Society and tested to be clear of health defects.