The Tamaskan Dog is a crossbred dog of sleddog type, created in Finland, and as of 27 November 2013, has been recognized by the American Rare Breed Association, and the Kennel Club of the United States of America, two related dog fancier and pedigree registries. It is a highly versatile dog that can excel in agility, obedience and working trials. It is also capable of pulling sleds, which is inherited from its Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute ancestors. Morphologically, Tamaskans have been bred to look like wolves and have a notable lupine appearance. Although there are a little over 400 registered Tamaskan Dogs worldwide, increasing interest has resulted in their spread throughout continental Europe, the UK and the USA, as well as Canada and Australia.
Tamaskans are large, athletic dogs; slightly taller in size than German Shepherds. With regards to build, they are substantially larger than their Siberian Husky ancestors but smaller than the Alaskan Malamute. They generally resemble grey wolves. On average, Tamaskan adults measure around 24-28 inches (60–70 cm) tall at the shoulder and typically weigh between 55-88 pounds (25–40 kg)–the heaviest recorded Tamaskan males (to date) weigh just under 50 kg. Females are usually slightly smaller and lighter than males, with a distinct feminine appearance. Males are more heavyset with broader heads and a heavier bone structure. Tamaskans have a lupine appearance with a straight bushy tail and thick double coat that comes in three main colors: Wolf Gray, Red Gray, and Black Gray. Each individual guard hair is agouti banded along its length. The almond-shaped eyes range from yellow through to amber and brown, with lighter colored eyes being very rare. Blue eyes are not acceptable, nor are mismatched eyes.
Tamaskans are intelligent and have been known to excel in agility, obedience and working trials. They also make decent sled dogs and many Tamaskan living in colder climates regularly participate in recreational, and occasionally competitive, dogsled racing as well as skijoring. They could make good search and rescue dogs due to their keen sense of smell, stamina and endurance. Tamaskans can also be successfully trained as therapy or assistance dogs due to their friendly and laid-back personality. As a breed they tend to be social and are good with people, children, and other dogs, as well as other family pets (cats, chickens, rabbits, hamsters, parakeets, etc.). However, some lines have produced shy dogs with high prey drives. Tamaskan dogs need company, and if left alone for long periods of time, they may become bored, which can lead to destructive behavior and/or escape attempts. Moreover, Tamaskan Dogs love to dig holes and can pull quite strongly on the leash; both traits they have inherited from their arctic heritage. However, unlike some of their husky ancestors, Tamaskans generally respond well off the leash and, with training, will return when called.
Overall the Tamaskan breed is healthy with only a few notable health issues, which affect a small percentage of the bloodlines to date. Roughly 10% of males suffer from cryptorchidism: undescended testes. With these cases, usually only one testicle fully descends within the scrotum, while the other testicle remains "hidden" up within the abdominal cavity. Epilepsy has been diagnosed in five dogs, affecting about 1 out of every 100 registered Tamaskan worldwide. Several dogs have been found to be carriers of degenerative myelopathy. As with all large breed dogs, hip dysplasia is a risk.
The original founders of the breed are Alba, Blustag, Blufawn and Moonstone Kennels. None of these breeders is originally Finnish, but the owner of Blustag kennel (originally British) just happened to live in Finland at the time of creation of the breed. The first litter was produced in 2002, but at the time of their birth the name 'Tamaskan' did not exist. The Tamaskan name was not chosen for the breed until later, in 2006. In 2006 the founders started the Tamaskan Dog Register to record all information about the Tamaskan and list all dogs bred. There are now many clubs, registers and societies branching off from this original TDR. This means that there is no longer a single source of information about the breed and the breeds records are scattered between these organisations. Breeds used to create the Tamaskan Dog include (but not limited to) Northern Inuit, Utonagan, Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, German Shepherd, one Saarlooswolfhond and other arctic breeds including Finnish racing huskies (unregistered huskies and husky crosses bred for competitive sled racing in Lapland).
Breed Clubs There are breed clubs the United States (US Tamaskan Dog Club), Canada (National Tamaskan Club of Canada), France (Club Français du Tamaskan), Germany (Tamaskan Club Germany), the Netherlands (Nederlandse Tamaskan Club), Croatia (Hrvatski Tamaskan Savez), and Australia.
Famous Tamaskan Dogs
In 2003, "Kenai at Blustag"" and "Sylka at Blustag" appeared, along with a litter of puppies on Blue Peter, a BBC television programme for children. Kenai also starred as a wolf in the 2005 short film, Peleus, which was produced by Real Impact Productions. In 2009, Kenai and "Heidi at Blustag" were used in promotional filming for a new product by the electrics company, Okami. They also attended the product launch and the opening of a new UK based store. In 2007, "Two Socks at Moonstone" and "Blustag Silver Moon" partook in promotional photography for the English hardcore punk band Gallows for their album Orchestra of Wolves. In October 2007, a Tamaskan named "Genghis Khan" featured as a wolf in a music video for the band Lucretia Choir. In September 2010, a TDR registered male Tamaskan named "Wave" became the official Live Mascot of North Carolina State University's football team: NC State Wolfpack. Wave (aka "Tuffy") now attends most home games and can be seen stalking around the sidelines. In September 2012, four Tamaskan Dogs were featured on the Croatian HRT 1 television program "Kućni ljubimci".