Diversity in Labrador Inuit sled dog diets: Insights from δ13C and δ15N analysis of dog bone and dentine collagen
journal contributionposted on 10.08.2020, 11:02 by AJT Harris, DA Elliott, EJ Guiry, M Von Tersch, L Rankin, P Whitridge, M Alexander, G Eriksson, V Grimes
Sled dogs were an integral part of Labrador Inuit life from the initial expansion and settlement of northeastern Canada to the present day. Tasked with pulling sleds and assisting people with other subsistence activities in the winter, dogs required regular provisioning with protein and fat. In this paper, we conduct stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratio analysis of the skeletal remains of dogs (n = 35) and wild fauna (n = 68) from sites located on the north and south coasts of Labrador to characterize dog provisioning between the 15th to early 19th centuries. In addition, we analyse bone (n = 20) and dentine (n = 4) collagen from dogs from Double Mer Point, a communal house site in Hamilton Inlet to investigate how dog diets intersected with Inuit subsistence and trade activities at a local level. We find that dog diets were largely composed of marine mammal protein, but that dogs on the north coast consumed more caribou and fish relative to dogs from the central and south coast sites. The diets of dogs from Double Mer Point were the most heterogenous of any site, suggesting long-distance movement of people and/or animals along the coast.