The Greenland dog has been a draught animal in the Arctic regions for centuries and consequently they have developed a powerful body and heavy coats, with a natural capacity for load pulling and endurance in a harsh working environment. Greenland dogs have been used on many expeditions by explorers, the most famous being Fridtjof Nansen. Nansen recorded in his book På ski over Grønland, Greenland dogs being used as working dogs by the Greenland Native. Nansen was a successful polar explorer and used the dogs on his famous voyage across the Arctic Ocean in the equally famous ship Fram
The Greenland Dog is a powerful, heavy-built dog. It has a broad, wedge-shaped head, slightly tilted eyes and small, triangular ears covered with thick fur that prevents frostbite. It has strong, muscular, short-haired legs. The tail is usually rolled along/across its back. When it lies down and curls up to rest, the tail often covers the nose. Its coat is of medium length and consists of two layers. The inner layer consists of short wool-like fur, the outer layer of longer, coarser, water-repellent fur.
A characteristic of most Greenland Dogs is the "úlo", a triangular shaped area on the shoulders. It is named after a common woman’s-knife from Greenland which is of the same shape.
Males are significantly larger than females at between 58 and 68 cm (23–27 in) at the withers; females are between 51 and 61 cm (20–24 in).