To many who hear the name, the first question that comes to mind is “what is a Tamaskan?”
The Tamaskan dog is a wolf-like dog breed and an offshoot of Northern Inuit Dog, which is also bred to look like a wolf. The Northern Inuits are famous as the dogs used to play the dire wolves in Game of Thrones. In fact, some Tamaskan puppies are the spitting image of wolf puppies!
Also called the Tam or the Tamaskan Husky, this breath-taking new breed is subject to strict health measures. It is also a gorgeous addition to an active and experienced household.
Perhaps the most famous Tamaskan, Kyoshi, belongs to Youtuber Anneka Svenska. She has popularized the breed as a pet with the wolf’s wild looks but the easy-to-manage temperament of a dog.
The Tamaskan is an offshoot of another wolf-look-alike hybrid, the Northern Inuit Dog.
In the 1980s, various mixed-breed dogs were imported to the United Kingdom from Canada and the United States.
The majority of these dogs were arctic breeds.
They included; the Alaskan Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Canadian Eskimo Dog, Labrador Husky, German Shepherd, and Siberian Husky. DNA tests also reveal some Samoyed and Greenland Dog and some actual wolf.
These dogs were bred to local wolf-lookalikes, such as the German Shepherds, Malamutes, and Huskies.
Over time, the original breeders of the Northern Inuit dog split into several splinter groups.
A breeder in one of these groups, now called the Utonagan society, named Lynn Sharkey, visited Polar Speed Kennels in Lapland. Here she discovered sled dogs that were also bred for a distinct wolfish appearance.
Polar Speed Kennels mixed Siberian and Finnish huskies with Czechoslovakian and American Wolfdogs for champion mushing dogs.
Struck by their appearance, Lynne reserved six dogs from Polar Speed and brought them back to introduce into her Utonagan lines.
Unfortunately, the Utonagan Society rejected the Finnish imports. So, Lynne began her own breed, calling it the Tamaskan.
The Tamaskan name means “mighty wolf” in the Native North American language of Munsee, a dialect of Delawarian. The word “maska” roughly translates as big or mighty, while “teme” means “wolf.”
It’s not hard to see why this name was chosen.
The original Tamaskan registry was started in Scotland in 2006. Since then, the breed has been recognized by the Kennel Club of the United States of America (KCUSA) and the American Rare Breed Society (ARBA).
They remain an informal breed in the United Kingdom since most breeders prefer to keep the studbook “open.” This means they intend to keep widening the gene pool by introducing new lines and breeds that fit the breed standard.
This helps them keep the gene pool big enough to make it easy to remove dogs with genetic problems from the breeding program.
So what is the difference between the Tamaskan, the Northern Inuit Dog, or the Utonagan?
Both the Utonagan and the Tamaskan derive from the Northern Inuit Dog. According to breeders, the main difference is the Finnish dogs added to the Tamaskan lines.
Furthermore, the Tamaskan has stricter health testing procedures than the other two breeds.
They are also stricter on coat colors and breed standards. For instance, a Tam may only have red grey, wolf grey, or black-grey agouti colors, which are typical in wild wolves.
On the other hand, a Northern Inuit Dog has a wider range of acceptable colors.
Meanwhile, the Utonagan is even less picky. They allow piebalds, long hair or blue eyes, which are not permitted in the Tamaskan.
Do Tamaskan Dogs have wolf blood in them?
The early versions of the Northern Inuit dogs had some wolf in them. In fact, some first and second generation Tamaskans can still test positive for wolf DNA.
But Tamaskan breeders want dogs that don’t have the behavioral or legal issues common in wolfdogs. Therefore, the amount of wolf left in them is no longer significant, and they can no longer be considered true wolf dogs.
What are the physical features of a Tamaskan?
24 - 29 inches
50 - 99 pounds
14 - 16 years
Red Grey, Wolf Grey and Black Grey Agouti Patterns.
Black, although may lose pigmentation in winter (called snow nose).
Black Rimmed. Eye color should be yellow, amber or brown.
The Tamaskan is a large, athletic, rangy dog with an intelligent and alert expression. Their ideal weight is between 50 and 99 pounds, and the ideal height fits between 24 and 29 inches. The males are noticeably bigger than the females.
This breed takes a long time to mature, and it can be between three and four years before they are an adult.
Although, since this is still a breed-in-progress, bigger and smaller individuals are natural.
The Tamaskan should move with effortless grace and display agility, endurance, and power.
Their coat should further their wolfish appearance. Only the red grey, wolf grey, and black grey agouti patterns found naturally in wolves are acceptable.
The coat is also a little coarse, dense, and weatherproof. It is medium length like a wolf, and it is not considered hypoallergenic.
General Care of the Tamaskan
Ranging from moderate to intense during periods of high shedding
High energy dog—requires a minimum of two hours of exercise a day
Needs a secure yard with plenty of space
Highly intelligent. Temperament can vary depending as the breed is still in development. In general, they are active, friendly and independent.
Highly trainable working dog, although they might need an experienced trainer for the best results.
Tamaskan owners report varying energy levels in their dogs, with some only needing a 30-minute walk a day. Still, it’s best to be prepared for a high energy pup that needs both exercise and tons of mental stimulation.
The Tamaskan is an attached dog that will do best living indoors, close to its owner. That said, this is definitely not an apartment dog.
Although they are being bred to be more adaptable to small spaces, they do need room to run.
Special attention needs to be given to securing any yard or space a Tamaskan might live in. Because of the amount of Husky in them, many Tamaskans are elite escape artists and can run for miles when loose.
So be careful to make sure your fences are Tamaskan-proof!
Food & Diet Requirements
The Tamaskan has a long heritage of Northern arctic breeds. This means most of their ancestors were fed high-protein meat diets such as fish and reindeer. So, Tams have notoriously sensitive stomachs.
Debby from Sylvaen Tamaskans recommends a high-quality kibble with high protein content. Be careful of allergens like corn or soy.
She also recommends the Biologically Appropriate Raw Food Diet (BARF).
The BARF diet for a Tamaskan should consist of 80% meat, 10% organs, 10% appropriate bones with certain supplements.
Like the Alaskan Shepherd, the Tamaskan has a double coat, which is harder to take care of than a dog with a single coat. Their thick coats mean that they do shed heavily. They molt in the spring and in the fall, when they should be taken to groomers for a professional “blow out.”
When not shedding, a daily brush with a handy pet grooming glove should do the trick. A bath every month or so should be all they need.
The health of a Tamaskan Dog
Tamaskans are being bred to be adaptable as good companion dogs. But their working ancestry means they are happiest with one or two hours of vigorous exercise a day.
Luckily, there are plenty of sports and activities a Tamaskan will excel at. Such activities also help you bond with your dog. These include; mushing, agility, bikejoring, service dog training, hiking, weight-pulling, or tracking.
Since Tamaskans are natural pullers, you can protect their necks with an excellent no-pull harness.
Severe Health Problems
Mild to Moderate Health problems
Occasional Health Problems
Hip and elbow dysplasia
The Tamaskan Dog breeders in the UK have done an excellent job creating a breeding strategy for healthy dogs.
All their breeding dogs are thoroughly health tested. Besides, owners are required to report any severe health problems to the registry. This way, breeders can remove problem bloodlines from their breeding stock.
Because of this, health conditions are relatively rare but not impossible. One of the problems that have cropped up in the breed includes hip dysplasia, common in large breeds.
Addison’s Disease has also occurred. This is where the adrenal gland does not properly produce hormones. There have also been a few cryptorchidism cases where the testes fail to descend from the abdomen.
Some cases of degenerative myelopathy have been reported here and there. This is a condition that usually occurs in older dogs where the back legs become paralyzed over time.
A few rare cases of restricted blood flow from the heart’s pumping chamber have also occurred. This is called subaortic stenosis.
Some other conditions include juvenile cataracts, epilepsy, food allergies, or other digestive problems.
There have also been eye problems such as distichiasis—where the eyelashes grow inwards and irritate the dog’s eye.
What is a Tamaskan Dog’s life expectancy?
A Tamaskan bought from a recognized and trusted breeder should live to between 12 and 16 years. These are also youthful dogs. Some owners report having twelve-year-old dogs that look and act like dogs half their age.
The trainability of a Tamaskan: Temperament and intelligence
The Tamaskan is highly intelligent but may be a little independent or wilful. It does have those strong-minded Malamute genes, after all.
This means that it will do best with an experienced owner and trainer. It may require strong leadership skills, firm boundaries, and loads of positive reinforcement to bring the best out of the dog.
Do not bully your Tamaskan with overbearing training methods, as they are known for being quite sensitive and will lose their trust in you.
Not all dogs are motivated by the same things. Knowing what drives your Tamaskan is the key to getting the best out of your dog. Whether it’s food, chasing a ball, or getting praise, make sure you understand what your dog responds to best.
Temperament-wise, the breed has not quite settled into a specific set of traits. Some owners report Tamaskans that howl like wolves, while others make the typical “woo woo” noises common in Malamutes. Usually, they are quite friendly and adaptable, fitting into a variety of households.
But be warned! Bored and under-stimulated Tamaskans can chew up the furniture and dig up gardens. They do not like being left alone for long periods. So they may develop separation anxiety.
Thus, this breed needs place training, mental stimulation, and exercise.
But are Tamaskan’s aggressive?
It is unlikely that a Tamaskan will ever be aggressive. In fact, if it is, something has seriously gone wrong in its breeding or how it was raised.
Despite their impressive appearance, they make terrible guard dogs and are very friendly with strangers.
Sociability with Other Pets
Most Tamaskan owners report that their dogs are sociable and get along well with other dogs.
Even so, be sure to check the bloodlines of your particular breeder, as there is still some variation in temperament. Also, socialize and train your Tamaskan from an early age to avoid problems.
With enough exercise and mental stimulation, a Tamaskan should adapt well to most homes. But they should have access to a garden.
They love children, but any interaction with smaller kids should still be supervised. After all, it is a big dog that can hurt a child by accident.
Because of their double coats and arctic heritage, it is better to keep them in colder climates.
Do Tamaskans make good family dogs?
While the Tamaskan is still a breed-in-progress, most Tams are already gentle and affectionate dogs who do well in families. As the breed progresses, it is likely to settle down further.
Breeders are aiming for a dog that is not hyperactive and that is calm, fun, and family-orientated.
Raising a Tamaskan puppy
Watch your Tamaskan puppy’s diet to avoid digestive problems and to provide joint support as they grow. Never overfeed your puppy or give calcium supplements. This is because extra-weight and calcium imbalances can cause musculoskeletal problems.
They need plenty of structured exercise, but not too much to avoid stressing the growth plates in their legs. Remember that they take up to four years to reach full maturity. So, special care needs to be taken of their growing bones and joints.
Potty and crate training should begin from the moment your Tamaskan comes home. Plenty of socialization and obedience work should follow soon after.
These are also pups that need plenty of mental stimulation. Bored Tams can develop behavioral problems such as destructive chewing or digging.
What’s the price of a Tamaskan?
In the UK, Tamaskans are still being refined with new lines and careful breeding practices. So, prices go from upwards of £ 850, while in the USA you may expect to pay upwards of $1,200.
If you want to adopt, there is also an international Tamaskan Rescue Organization. They work with the Tamaskan Dog Registry to rescue and rehome Tams.--
While they look as rugged and breath-taking as a wolf, the Tamaskan is as loyal and snuggly as any dog. Great for active owners, these dogs are remarkably healthy as well. If you have any experience with a Tamaskan or other wolf look-alikes, we'd love to hear from you!
kamikazAI MEDIA. “Sylvaen Tamaskans | PUPPY DIET.” KamikazAI MEDIA, www.sylvaen.com/diet.html. Accessed 24 Dec. 2020.
Tamaskan Dog Register. “Health.” Tamaskan Dog Register, 29 July 2020, www.tamaskandogregister.com/the-tamaskan/health/
Tamaskan Dog Register. “History.” Tamaskan Dog Register, 12 May 2019, www.tamaskandogregister.com/the-tamaskan/history.
Wag! “Give a Dog a Blowout.” WagWalking, 16 Nov. 2017, wagwalking.com/grooming/give-a-dog-a-blowout.