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20 Powerful & Effective Tips for Succesful Dog Sledding Sledding Dogs Breeds, Facts, Inuit, Training Why Sledding Dogs Live Outside & Chained? Why are husky dogs banned from the Antarctic Treaty? What do you feed a sled dog? What is a dog sled made out of? How many dogs are on a dog sled team? Yukon and Iditarod Sled Dog Races: Pictures, Photos, Videos & Movies Sledding Dogs Misconceptions Sled Dog Harness Making Instructions & Measurements Mushing Sled Dogs Breeds: Malamutes, Siberian Husky North Alaskian Dogs Race Adopt a Sled Dog Sledding Dog Tours Sledding Dogs Run in Alaska Snow Dogs Run Competition Sled Dogs Setup Team Diagrams Sled Dogs Equipment - Ganglines and Harnesses Sled Dogs History & Origins Homemade Dog Paw Wax & Balm Sledding Dogs Position Sled Dog Names DIY Dog Sled Icemobile Sled Dog Breeds
Sled dogs are working dogs, their job is to pull a sled outdoors. They live outside in subzero temps so that they are well acclimated to the extreme outdoor weather conditions. Their bodies regulate themselves to the frigid temperatures by growing sufficient coat and keeping the coat through the season.
The most commonly used dog in dog sled racing, the Alaskan Husky is a mongrel bred specifically for its performance as a sled dog. They first came into existence in the late 1800s.
Who is the Father of the Iditarod and Why is he called that? Joe Redington, Senior (February 1, 1917 - June 24, 1999) was an American dog musher and kennel owner, who is best known as the "Father of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race", a long distance sled dog race run annually from the Anchorage area to Nome, Alaska.
What is Sled Dog Racing? Sled dog racing (sometimes termed dog sled racing) is a winter dog sport most popular in the Arctic regions of the United States, Canada, Russia, Greenland and some European countries. It involves the timed competition of teams of sled dogs that pull a sled with the dog driver or musher standing on the runners. The team completing the marked course in the least time is judged the winner.
First Sled Dog Race The first documented sled dog race was in 1850 from Winnipeg, Manitoba to St. Paul, Minnesota. The Disney movie "Iron Will" features the 1917 version of that remarkable race, which was won by Alberta Campbell, a Metis from Pas, Manitoba. In 1917 as well, the first established sled dog race was begun in the "lower 48" in Ashton, Idaho, west of Yellowstone Park. The famous sled dog race beginning in Nome, Alaska began in 1908, but became a celebrated story when in 1925 Leonhard Seppala made the critical trip to deliver much needed medicine to allay a deadly diphtheria outbreak.The winning driver that year was John Hegness, with a time of 119 hours, 15 minutes, and 12 seconds. By 1910, entries had increased considerably, as had the speed of the teams. The winner of that race was John (Iron Man) Johnson, with an (as yet) unbroken record time of 74 hours, 14 minutes, and 37 seconds.
A statue exists in New York City to commemorate the lead dog, Balto, with the inscription "Endurance, Fidelity, Intelligence". Of course America's most famous sled dog race, Iditarod, has proven the worthiness of women as competitors having been won the most times by American, Susan Butcher.
The Origins of Sled Dog Racing Dog sledding has a history of over thousands year. It outdates any modern vehicle. It is believed that dog sledding has started in the arctic region. These regions are covered in ice and no transportation was possible. Horses could not last in the harsh arctic region. But the dogs were better solution to this problem. Dogs' endurance was much greater than the endurance of a horse and they could survive treacherous terrain much better. A team of six dogs could handle 500 to 700 pounds on one sled. That's why dog sledding became popular in arctic region.
Throughout Alaska and Canada, mail teams delivered the news to outlying settlements. One of the proudest chapters in sled dog history was written in 1925. In January of that year, a case of diphtheria was discovered in Nome, Alaska, and the supply of antitoxin in that city was inadequate to stave off an epidemic. A relay of 22 native and mail teams forged through the rough interior of Alaska and across the Bering Sea ice to bring the serum to a grateful citizenry.
Recent archaeological evidence suggests humans in Arctic regions have had working relationships with dogs for at least 4,000 years. Clearly, human habitation in the vast north may not have been possible without canine assistance. The Canadian Indian and Inuit were the foremost peoples to use huskies in an interdependent relationship. Unlike the iconic western horse, a Spanish import of only 400 years, the dog has been the "beast of burden" ten times longer in North America and most likely all around the globe in Arctic regions as well.
Our vast Canadian panorama was explored and charted using huskies originally belonging to the natives. By 1873, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were using sled dogs for transportation and patrol. The Yukon gold discovery of 1898 added great popularity to sled dogs after thousands of Canadians, Americans and Europeans briefly streamed into far north-western Canada. These men quickly came to realize the necessity of having a strong dog team. Many chose to bring some of their four-legged companions back home upon their return to their respective countries.
The main reason that these northern breed were chosen for pulling sleds was that other breeds could not withstand the harsh climate and terrain. There emerged several breeds of dogs specifically adapted to snow conditions sub-degree temperatures. The Canadian Eskimo Dogs, for example, have distinct, inherent characteristics differing from other huskies relating to their sense of wildlife detection and ice conditions. At Snowy Owl we are still breeding and using these bloodlines based on their unique abilities.
Modern Dog Sledding Today dog sledding are mostly used for sports event and recreational purpose. In winter, Canadian people take dog sledding holiday. Sled dog racing is very popular all around the world. The first dog sledding race was held in winter festival at Minnesota at 1886 and it continues even today. In 1920's sled dog racing were brought to England by returning gold miners where it became popular. It was included as a demonstration sport at the 1932 Winter Olympics and again at Olympics at Oslo. The popularity of dog sledding racing is increasing every year. In 2003, around 40,000 mushers participated in the annual racing.
Dog sledding is a part of a rich heritage and it seems the tradition will go a long way. Many lodges and tour guides offer dog sledding facility for the tourist in winter vacation. The deep love of human and the sled dogs towards each other have made the arctic region a place of life and the affection towards each other still exist. That's why dog sledding is still one of the most loving pastime in the arctic region.
The Modern Sled Dog The original sled dogs were chosen for their size, brute strength and stamina, but modern sled dogs are generally mixed-breed "Alaskan" huskies who have been bred for generations for their endurance, strength, speed, tough feet, good attitude and appetites, and most importantly their desire to pull in harness and their abilities to run well within a team. Some kennels still concentrate solely on pure bred sled dogs, typically Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes or Canadian or American Inuit Dogs, but the majority of modern sled dogs found in long distance races are truthfully "genetic mutts" and the name that is most commonly used to refer to them as a group today is "Alaskan Huskies".
Theses modern sled dogs come in many different shapes, sizes and a wide variety of colorings; from as small as 35 pounds up to 70 pounds or more. Typically, the modern long-distance Alaskan Huskies weigh between 45 and 60 pounds. Mushers strive for a well balanced dog team that matches all dogs for both size and gait, so that the entire dog team moves in similar a fashion which increases overall team efficiency. Mismatched teams (large and smaller dogs, different running styles and gaits) can also perform well in long-distance sled dog races, but usually mushers will try to build their teams from sled dogs of similar size, structure and gaits.
Modern Sled Dogs must have good feet. Good canine feet for long-distance sled dogs are typically closely spaced and tough. While good feet can be bred for, all sled dogs competing in long-distance races must also be provided with excellent foot care by their mushers. Booties are often worn as a protective covering, this helps the dogs naturally tough feet to cover long distances without difficulties. Extreme cold and new snow can lead to trail conditions that are abrasive to the dogs' feet and also add more friction to the trail, preventing the sleds from gliding easily.
Booties for the dogs are a necessity under these kinds of trail conditions. Dogs sweat only through the mouths (panting) and feet, and not through pores of their skin like humans, so there is a constant need for mushers to balance the use of booties for protection with the dogs' requirements for thermoregulation, or controlling their body temperatures, so mushers remove their dogs' booties upon arrival at rest stops and when trail condition are good, teams may run without booties to allow their feet to have some breathing room.
Because these sled dogs are so athletic, many people seeing long-distance sled dogs for the first time are amazed by how small or thin they look, but in fact they are in excellent physical condition much like an Olympic marathon runner would "appear thin".
Finally, mushers look for sled dogs that love to run in harness, work well in a team with other sled dogs, and who get along well with the musher and have that "special bond" that is at the core of great dog teams and their mushers. Although all the physical traits are necessary for sled dogs to be able to complete at the level of the Yukon Quest, it is often said that, "Attitude is Everything" and some dogs with lesser physical abilities, just like some less-talented human athletes, can often become superstars because of their tough mental attitude towards both life and the world of competition. The best modern sled dogs are well bred, raised with care and love and are energetic and eager to please their musher.
20 TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL DOG SLEDDING This information proudly presented by Art Stoller
Note: Although Art's 20 Tips don't follow our typical interview format, they contain some very valuable ideas which will benefit you and your dogs if you apply even some of them.
The tips are taken from Art's presentation at North Star Sled Dog Club's Summer Seminar, August, 1996. A special "thank you" to Sally Bair, editor of North Star's TugLine for permission to reprint her article here, she did the hard work of transcribing the oral presentation.
Art Stoller's 20 Tips for Successful Sled Dog Racing I've divided these twenty tips into four basic categories: Kennel Management & Dog Care
Training and Equipment
I am only going to touch on racing very briefly. Some of the points I'm going to make may seem redundant; some may seem contradictory. Bear in mind that everything is my opinion, and there are no laws or rules we can refer to that say "this is the way things have to be." Opinions are formed based on trial and error and one's own experience and successes. The things I am going to talk about are the things that have worked well for me the last couple of years, and I've been lucky enough to enjoy some success with my dogs as a result. I hope that they might be able to help you. One of my pet axioms is: "If you always do what you've always done, you've got to expect to get what you've always got." If you continue to do what you've done in the past, and that isn't getting the results you want, you've got to consider changing. You've got to look at alternative ideas.
Kennel Management & Dog Care: Trust
Tip #1: Provide clean, dry bedding. In kennel care, the primary topic is housing. By housing I mean complete houses without holes and dog trucks that are kept clean with fresh, dry straw when the dogs need it, not when you have time, even if that means changing it when it's 30 or 40 below or at 10 o'clock at night and you're tired from driving, but a dog has urinated in the dog box you do it. It's not that dog's fault. You trained that dog. You're the one who's in control. It's your job to provide clean and adequate bedding and housing for those animals. That's a big step in building that bond and trust. Sure, it's a lot of work, but that's an obligation you took on when you acquired the dogs.
Tip #2: Feed the best - with lots of fat. Feed the best diet you can possibly find and afford. Many would say that they'd go broke if they had to feed that kind of quality to their dogs. If you can't, maybe you have too many dogs. It's as simple as that. Feeding a poor diet in the summer and a good diet in the winter does nothing for your dogs. You must feed a high quality diet year around. I'm fortunate to have Eagle as my sponsor, and I also feed some meat. I feed high quality year round.
Tip #3: Drop on schedule. By dropping, I mean letting the dogs out of their boxes to relieve themselves. Dropping your dogs on schedule helps develop trust. Develop a schedule and stick to it. Hanging around for just one more beer helps to break that trust. The dogs trust that you will drop them at a given interval, and they depend on you to do it. Whether it's the 2, 4, 8 hour system, or whatever works for you, stick to it. The dogs learn it and build trust in you.
Tip #4: Provide shade. Provide shade in your kennel for your dogs. I've been able to provide shade by planting trees. I think having shade for your dogs in the summer is of prime importance. We stress our dogs continually year-round. I think most mushers underestimate the stress their dogs go through by sitting out in the open sun in a climate that gets hot as it does in Minnesota or where I live in the Winnipeg area. If the only place your dog can get shade is inside its house, then it will feel stressed. How would you like it if you had to crawl inside your house for the only shade? Would you like it? Is it really cooler in there? If you lessen the stress on your dogs throughout the summer, they are healthier going into the winter. I can't emphasize how important shade is. I planted poplars and green ash. You need trees that will tolerate the urine. Don't plant trees too close to the dogs - the dogs will destroy them.
Another idea for shade is to put a piece of plywood with two by two's on top of it on the top side of the dog house, nailed down as an overhang. I got this idea from Larry Tallman. I don't have trees for every dog, so I try to give shade to those without a tree with this plywood setup.
Tip #5: Clean up regularly. I scoop the poop twice daily every day. For good dog health, parasite control is maintained by cleaning up the feces.
Tip #6: Control flies. Dogs are defenseless against flies unless you put something on their ears. There are many products on the market. Tri-Tec 14, Defend, and Swat liquid are some of them. Most dogs act like they don't like having this stuff put on them, but after it's on and the flies aren't bothering them as much, I think they appreciate it.
Tip #7: Water consistently and on demand in summer. Water is as important or more important than anything else. I think all dogs should have a bucket of water by them all day during the summer. The transition period in the late fall when the water starts freezing is important. I'll tell you how I do it. When the temperatures start to dip below 32F and water starts to freeze, I take their buckets away and water only with their food for a few days to make them thirsty. In other words, I reduce their water for a couple of days. Then I start on the baited water. They then get into the habit of my watering schedule. I water them once a day in the morning. However, they get a lot of water mixed in with their food in the evening, too. I know a lot of people who go out in the later evening and water again, but I don't think that's necessary.
When they're training, I give them water right after a run. This fall I'm going to carry a couple of water bottles with me and water the dogs by shooting some water into their mouths during a training run on a hot day. Don't you do that for yourself when you're working on a hot day? Watering on a training run is not as important if you train in cool weather. A lot of these things which I've learned are so simple.
Be careful that you use appropriate sized pails for watering young puppies. They may drown in a deep pail.
Tip #8: Use bull snaps. I used to use the slider type brass snap. Before that I had runs. I switched to the stake-out system when I started running Alaskans rather than Irish Setters. I think the dogs like the chains better than kennels. Chains are quicker for feeding, are more economical, and make watering and cleaning up easier. But I lost a leader to a slider type snap that opened up. The snap just caught on something, opened, and the dog was gone. I learned the hard way. I've never seen a dog open a bull snap. Yes, bull snaps are harder for you to open and are more expensive, but I have not had one of these snaps break. They do wear out but not as fast as other snaps.
Tip #9: Buy dogs from the winners. Buy dogs from winners - they have fast dogs. I got mine from those who had good lines. When you breed a hybrid, you don't spit out five or six replicas. It takes time to breed what you want. It may be better for some, then, to buy from winners with winning bloodlines. You don't need seventy dogs. I have seventeen very good dogs. The best leaders are the ones that are a bit shy. Martin Buser taught me that. The crazy dog isn't always a leader. A dog that is a bit on the shy side but responds well to you will make the best leader for you.
Tip #10: Raise and train your own leaders. The best leaders are raised and trained by you. They are rarely bought from someone else as an adult, trained leader. When you do the raising and training, you build that important trust and bond. If you're desperate and buy from someone else, you're taking a chance. Cindy, my leader, is the world's greatest lead dog. She was one of the first pups I got from Mari Hoe-Raitto. Cindy's about forty-five pounds. I have a policy that I never punish lead dogs. Your trust has to be very deep with your leaders, and they need to know that they won't get blamed. If you have a dog that you think may be a leader, try it in single lead sometime for a spell. Being in single really tells you what kind of leader you have.
Tip #10: Raise and train your own leaders.
Training and Equipment
Tip #11: Leaders are NOT stake-out lines. Lead dogs are not stake-out lines for your gangline. It's really neat to be able to show off how good your leader is by making him or her stand there out in front while you hook up the rest of the team. I think that's too stressful on them. I use a steel stake to tie down the rest of the team, and I hook in my leaders last.
Tip #12: Check and replace equipment regularly. I use the cable lines. Every summer I buy a new set and throw out the oldest set. I don't wait until things break; I replace them before they break. The same goes for everything else you're using. The summer is the best time to do this.
If you're using a cable line, especially, you need to use a shock cord. The cable lines don't have any give in them. Poly lines have more give. You need to replace the cable line about every two or three years. I also put a couple of spacers into my lines.
Tip #13: Eliminate metal parts as much as possible. The fewer mechanical parts carabiners, quick links, panic snaps that you use, the better. They always break. Steel has a habit of wearing out. There's a lot less chance of something going wrong when you use a rope loop.
Tip #14: Don't use panic snaps for quick release. Panic snaps are a disaster waiting to happen. Why do you think they're called panic snaps? When you break one, I guarantee that you'll panic! In a cold climate, the metal shrinks. I saw in INFO Sled Dog Racing Magazine a better system, a rope loop with a pipe/wood stick affair. To use this, you need a rope on your sled. Hook it to your bridle (don't use the snowhook rope). That is your hookup rope. During running, it just drags along. You need another rope with a loop to the post. You loop one rope through the other one. Pull the other rope up through the loop and pass the stick through it. I use the top of a shovel handle.
Tip #15: Speed kills. If you are training your dogs to run as fast as they can run every time you hook them up, you're going to sour your dogs, bum them out, injure them, or do a combination of these things. It doesn't matter if you're a recreational musher or training for long distance or whatever, you must control the speed of your dogs. You can't let them blast out. You want them to set a pace.
It's really simple to put a piece of snowmobile track behind the sled and control the speed of the sled that way. I set my track up in such a way that I can flip it up, for instance, when I'm coming home and I want the dogs to pick up the pace. I think controlling speed on sled is an important aspect of training and racing.
Tip #16: Start dogs young. I think that you want to start dogs when they’re young even if they don't have their heads on straight. Start running your pups when they're five or six months old. Normally, if you have a spring litter and you build up their conditioning all winter with relaxed training runs, I don't see anything wrong with having those pups running eight to ten miles by the end of the winter not fast, though. Not going fast is really important unless you want to ruin them. I started that program with the first litter I had, and it's really worked well for me.
Tip #17: Rotate your dogs in early training, but reduce changes later as training/racing season progresses. Rotating dogs in training is important, especially early in the fall. Don't run the same dog in the same position all the time, especially the wheel position. Wheel is the hardest position on the dogs. I think you want to get your wheelers off that position as much as possible. The time to do this is when you first start training in the fall. You want to rotate all the time. I even rotate leaders, giving my other dogs the opportunity to run at lead.
The important point is that I do that rotating as much as I can early in the fall and as little as possible later on in training. As the season progresses, I reduce the amount of changing around. I start then to pair dogs. I start to put positions on the dogs, trying to determine where they run best. As racing season approaches, I reduce this changing so that they become familiar with where they're going to run, what their job is, who's running beside them. Then there are no surprises. When you rotate late in the season, I think you can cause more confusion.
Tip #18: Never use anything for the first time in a race. I'm talking here about a new sled that you've never used before and aren't sure as to how it handles, or a new dog, a snowhook, new boots, a gangline, a sled bag, a new pair of mittens. Everything I'm talking about should be used for the first time in a training run.
There are some pretty innovative things happening in sleds these days. Larry Tallman's sled that he brought back from France, for instance, which cost a lot, comes to mind. You wouldn't want to take a sled like that without ever having run it and put it in a race for the first time you use it.
Tip #19: Use new plastic often. The only exception to not using anything for the first time in a race is in the case of new plastic. Use new plastic often. Tim White backed up the fact that there is oil impregnated in that plastic. There is nothing faster than new plastic on a sled. I don't wax.. I haven't waxed in twenty years,but I do change plastic often when I'm in a big race. There is nothing faster.
Another piece of new equipment I like to use is the steel feeding bowl for feeding the dogs when on the road. Don't use old rusty bowls. Fleet Farm or WallMart have cheap, steel dishes. They are easily washed as well.
Tip #20: Keep the fun in what you're doing, or get out! I've managed to do that, not without some difficulty, over more than twenty-six years in this sport. I still get excited when the time for training approaches. I can hardly wait to see what those yearlings are going to do, and hopefully there will be some good races to go to, some good snow to race on this year. The important point is to keep the fun in it and you will be around a long time. If what you're doing now is more work than fun, either reduce the number of dogs you have in your kennel or get out of the sport. I am not encouraging you to get out - it's a great sport. You can have a great time at it. You just have to maintain the level that's fun for you.
SLEDDING DOGS MISCONCEPTIONS This article is proudly presented by WWW.THE PLANETD.COM and Dave And Deb
Dogs Love to Run! People seem to not realize that sled dogs are made to run. they need open space and they want to go for as long as they can. Dogsledding Huskies have the best of both worlds. They get the attention and love that they need but also get the chance to run a lot. Once they were hooked up to the sleds, they were eager to run. You have to hold them back while they hook the entire team up or else they'd take off down the trail with out you. The closer they get to take off, the more excited and loud their barks get. You feed off their energy and become excited yourself. You know you are in for an amazing day on the trail. As the barks continue, you have to quickly get on the sled and ready to go because the dogs are chomping at the bit. They are pulling on the sled so hard that you have to hold on to the brakes, and keep the snow hook firmly in the ground or they will be dragging you behind. Once you let go of the brake, they instantly go quiet and start running.
It is so much fun watching them from behind. Their tails wag away as they sniff and posture for position. Sledding dogs are an animal so much in their each element... Whenever you hear dogsledders say "My dogs love to run" you have to believe them. If you put on the brake for some reason like you need to fix your hat or organize your camera, the dogs look back at you with a look of "What are you doing?" Don't you know we have got to keep running? And run they did. If you have the chance to try dogsledding, we highly recommend it. See for yourself how happy and excited the dogs are on the trail. Our skepticism melted away during our time with Winterdance. Make sure to choose your dogsledding company wisely though. Be a responsible tourist and do your research, not all companies are created equally.
It involves the timed competition of teams of sled dogs that pull a sled with the dog driver or musher standing on the runners. The team completing the marked course in the least time is judged the winner.
The History Of Sled Dog Racing The heritage of the sled dog is a long and proud one, stretching back thousands of years. The people of the North were dependent on these animals for protection, companionship, hunting, trapping, and, most of all transportation. Sled dogs enabled explorers such as Byrd, Peary, and Amundsen to explore the frozen wastelands of two continents and played a vital role in bringing civilization to the snowbound areas of the world.
In New York City's Central Park stands a statue of Balto, who led one of the relay teams, commemorating the Nome Serum Run. The inscription reads: Dedicated to the indomitable Spirit of the sled dogs that relayed the antitoxin 600 miles over rough ice, treacherous waters, through Arctic blizzards from Nenana to the relief of stricken Nome in the winter of1925. Endurance. Fidelity. Intelligence. Today, few of the inhabitants of the Far North are dependent on dogs for basic survival. However, the same intimate relationship between driver and dog still exists and is demonstrated in the sport of sled dog racing.
Enthusiasm for sled dog racing spread rapidly throughout Canada and the United States. As early as 1909, exhibition teams were performing in the north east and a short time later, in 1917, the first race ever held in the "Lower 48" was staged in Ashton, Idaho.
The sport was briefly interrupted during the two World Wars, as dogs and drivers were pressed into the service of their countries. In spite of this, the sport was destined to emerge again and flourish. Today, the International Sled Dog Racing Association lists members from the United States, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom and around the world.
So what is a sled dog? In northern climes, sled dogs generally has a double coat for warmth, thick furry ears, and cold feet. In warmer areas, German Shorthaired Pointers and husky-hound crosses are often used. Most obvious about these dogs is that they are not bred for looks, but for stamina, speed, and acclimatization - the ability to do the job. Sled dogs can have long coats or short, brown eyes or blue (or one of each), upright or down ears, as long as they are also built to run. Sled dogs must also be intelligent, trainable, and social. They must get along with teammates and competitors' teams and have good house and kennel manners. They must know not to bite snow or chew lines and how to stand to be harnessed and have protective boots put on their feet.
Sled dogs must learn to be quiet in the dog yard and when traveling in the truck. The exceptions may include feeding and when it's time to load them in the truck for training. It's OK to bark at a moose in the woods, but not at the cat on the back porch. They bark at strangers, but not at regular visitors... who says sled dogs aren't smart?
Life around the dog truck also requires a lot of know-how. Each dog runs to the truck to be loaded before training and back to its house when training is finished. The dogs stay quietly in the truck until training begins, whether driving around town, in parking lots, or at work. When taking a break while traveling to a race, all of the experienced dogs run free. They know to take care of business first and play later, and to 'stay close' at all times. With race pros, it is possible to "drop" 30 dogs in about 15 minutes at any road-side pullout.
In the team, each dog knows its place and the special requirements of that position. Wheel dogs lean into corners, swing dogs are wizards at lines. Even young sled dog pups soon learn to stay out of lines. Some of the best dogs literally dance out of tangles when the line goes slack and wraps around their legs. Lead dogs must also know the commands 'gee' (right turn) and 'haw' (left turn), but other team members pick them up as well. All team dogs know "easy," "go faster," and "going home."
There is something mystifying that draws us towards strength. We like strong people, and we like being around them. Maybe it has something to do with the beauty of strength, maybe it has something to do with a primordial need for strong allies, or maybe we just like hanging out with the big boys, the truth of the matter is that we are drawn towards strength.
Oddly enough, we are also drawn to strong dogs, and you can see it everywhere, statuesque German Shepherds, bulky and buff bulldogs and pit bulls, sleek and powerful Dobermans, all of them having one thing in common, strength, and lots of it. Something that we tend to forget or downright neglect is the fact that the strongest of dogs are actually the dogs that put their strength to use. Sure it's nice to see a dog with muscles in places where other dogs don't even have places, but how many of these dogs do you see putting those brutish muscles to good use?
This is where the sled dog breeds come into play, because these dogs have been bred with one thing and only one thing in mind, pure unbridled power. Frankly, they needed this power in order to pull sleds around, which is no easy feat, and even though today there is no actual need for sled dogs other than the occasional competition here and there, these dogs have maintained a considerable and respectable level of strength.
Sled Breed Characteristics Sled dogs breeds are special breeds to say the least, and can easily be identified by a set of physical attributes. While the representatives of these breeds are gorgeous and quite pleasant to look at, the real challenge is dealing with the mentality of these breeds, and each and every breed manages to throw its own hurdles at the owner.
Physical Attributes: Thick coats, suited for arctic environments
Thick strong necks
Strong muscular shoulders, not particularly broad, but strong
The shoulder level is higher than the hip level
The chest is broad, muscular and strong, often giving the illusion of "pecks"
Front legs are thin at the base and broad towards the shoulders
The abdominal area is slim, allowing the dog to maneuver at high speeds and with a lot of weight being pulled
The dog's back is very muscular and at the same time lean, the upper back is more broad than the lower back, the spine is well protected underneath a thick layer of muscle, and due to the heavy muscle mass, when the dog wags his or her tail, he or she is actually wagging half his or her body.
The hind legs, the most powerful part of a sled dog's arsenal, are relatively thin at the bottom and bulky at the top. They have a lot of power behind them, meaning that their muscles are well developed.
The tail, at first sight gives the impression of thickness however that is just the coat. The tail actually has normal dimensions for a medium sized dog, however it is a bit thicker at the base.
Before moving on to the mental attributes, you must first understand that these breeds are not exactly your average dog breeds. They were bred for an active and often times demanding lifestyle, and with every generation they have become more and more accustomed to these demands. That being said, these dogs tend to be a bit on the wild side of things, and often times you will find it very hard to control your dog, simply because his or her very nature is being denied by a passive pet lifestyle.
Mental attributes: These dogs have a fairly developed pack instinct. A single dog is more or less unable to pull a sled by himself or herself, therefore they had to get accustomed to working alongside other dogs in order to pull a sled in unison. Average sled packs can get up to 12 dogs, and fighting amongst each other will bring them nowhere. That being said, these dogs can easily work and get along with other dogs, especially from their own breeds.
These dogs are very intelligent. Yet another attribute which results from hard work, mainly because pulling a sled is not a mechanical job. The dogs have to more or less assess a situation, interpret signs, negotiate terrain, and above all else manage themselves and each other as a pack. Another thing to understand here is the fact that these are working dogs, and though ones at that, so they have been bred to understand human commands and even read certain signs that the owner does in order to make things easier.
They have a very strong personality. This is more or less to be expected from working dogs that are though by nature. It is widely accepted that pulling a sled over long distances is not without its dangers, and the dogs have to be able to interpret these dangers and respond to the appropriately. Another cause for this toughness is the fact that have to deal with harsh environments, difficult weather conditions and unforgiving circumstances most of the time, so it goes without saying that these dogs come by default with enough willpower to not give up when things get hard.
They are very loyal. As mentioned earlier, these dogs have a strong pack sense, and as the owner you are the supreme pack leader. Proving yourself to these animals is not an easy feat, it takes time and it requires you and your dog(s) to be put in difficult situations, however once you manage to earn the trust of such dogs, you will benefit from it for the rest of your life.
They go stir crazy if they have nothing to do. These are very active breeds, and their entire purpose in life is to burn as much energy as possible. That being said, if they have nothing to do, or simply are not subjected to any physical activity, they will go stir crazy and they will start doing a lot of crazy stuff. They are not dangerous or anything like that, however they tend to be a bit hard to handle while in this state.
They are mischievous. The last but by no means the least item on this list, mischievousness is a trait which is native to these dogs. They are supposed to live a very active lifestyle, and as such they can get bored very easily. Combine that with the intelligence that they sport, as well as the strong personality that they come equipped with, and you have yourself a bullying about to happen. Make no mistake about it, they will prank you, they will make fun of you, they will play dumb, they will be stubborn on purpose and they will generally look for ways in which to annoy you for the sake of their amusement.
Trainability It comes as no surprise to us that these dogs are actually very easy to motivate and train. Sled dogs breeds have been designed to work alongside humans, and as such they tend to please when all the conditions are met. Granted, the training for these dogs is different from the training that your average house pet goes through, and it will require you to put a lot more effort into it that you normally would, but the end result is well worth it.
Training start at a young age for these breeds, while they are still puppies, and they have a great learning capacity, allowing them to breeze through the simple standard commands and graduate to harder and more complicated ones fairly easily. One thing to keep in mind is the fact that training is necessary for these breeds because they carry a large risk of aggression. Technically, these breeds are closely related to the dog's ancestor, the wolf, and without proper training, they be a bit on the aggressive side, not to mention the fact that they tend to get a bit overprotective without the right training.
There are a few things to bear in mind when it comes to training these dogs, and one of them is the fact that they are very intelligent. That being said, they can and they will exploit the fact that you are using treats in order to motivate them and reward them when they execute the commands correctly. This might result in our dog only executing the commands if he or she really feels like having that treat, so it is advised to keep the treat usage to a bare minimum, and be quick to switch off of it. Another good tip for training your sled dog is to always tire him or her out before training. Not to the point of exhaustion, but to the point where most of his or her energy has been burned out through exercise, so the dog is not as easily distracted and can concentrate more on the training at hand.
There is also the risk of taking it to the extreme, and there are a lot of people out there that have imposed such a strict training routine that they ended up with badly adjusted dogs that behaved more like soldiers that anything else. Discipline is a nice thing for your dog to have, however do make sure you don't overdo it in order to have a well-balanced and well-adjusted dog. Another thing you have to understand about these particular breeds is the fact that they like to venture off and take risks other dogs would not normally take. They are curious, they are intrigued and they can be easily amused at times, so don't get too surprised when your dog all of a sudden veers off into the woods or starts doing things that are out of the ordinary. It's his or her way of exploring the world, and even though it might be dangerous at times, such behavior is to be left unpunished.
Specific Breeds There are specific breeds that are labeled as being sled dogs breeds, each and every one of them different from the other apart from the way they look. Let's have a look at each individual breed and what it is so special about it.
1. Siberian Husky This is by far the most famous and the most loved sled breed of them all. Their coat has that standard tundra design which is iconic for huskies, however they are not limited to black and white. They can also be brown and white, auburn and white, or pure white which is the rarest of them all. Huskies are notorious for their mischievous nature however they are extremely loyal as well. They are probably the hardest to train out of all the sled dogs breeds, however it is by far the most intelligent and the most self-reliant of them all.
2. The Alaskan Malamute This is basically a Husky, but bigger, a lot bigger, and more powerful than one, however not as gracious and not as clever as one. Alaskan Malamutes have been bred in Alaska in order to haul heavier cargo than their Siberian cousins over longer distances. They look almost identical to huskies, the only difference being the actual size of the dogs, the Alaskan Malamute currently being classified as a giant dog. Malamutes need a lot of exercise, a lot of attention, however they are more docile and less mischievous than the huskies, and they are far easier to work with especially when it comes to training them, and they tend to be a bit more protective.
3. The Seppala Siberian sled dog Yet another one of the Siberian breeds, the Seppala is by far iconic to the Siberian Tundra. Their coat resembles a wolf more than a Husky or a Malamute, and they have often been confused with wolves in the past. They are very stubborn and gaining the respect of a Seppala is not an easy feat.
You have to show a lot of willpower and a lot of dedication in order to do so. If you fail to show leadership skills and the required determination, your Seppala will fail to see the point and will downright refuse to obey your commands. They are true pack dogs, they get along easily with other dogs, however they are not suited to an apartment life, except if you are willing and able to provide the constant training that he or she needs in order to properly live in an apartment.
4. The Greenland dog These dogs are probably some of the best dogs in the world. Imagine, if you will, a terrifying creature, charging towards you, however at the very last minute it stops and starts juggling balls at you. This is the Greenland dog in a nutshell, the proof that you don't have to be too serious in order to be a good working sled dog. Their coat is similar to that of a Siberian wolf, however over multiple generations the top darker part of the coat has grown more and more towards the lower one. Most specimens have the entire upper half of their face covered in dark fur while the lower part is covered in light fur. A small note here is the fact that unlike Huskies, Malamutes and Seppalas which have predominantly blue eyes, the Greenland dog has predominantly light brown eyes. Combine that with the coat and how the head looks and can see why it has earned the nickname "demon dog" over the centuries. The Greenland dog is actually one of the closest relatives to the wolf out there, however it comes with a bit of a twist. It is as stubborn as all the other working and sled breeds, however instead of being mischievous like the other breeds the Greenland dog is more or less a clown. That's right, it will start hopping around, doing funny things, and even try to mimic you just for the sake of being funny. It is lovable, it is easy to train but hard to earn his or her respect, and it is quite a loyal dog overall.
In Conclusion Owning a dog from sled dogs breeds is not an easy thing to do. You have to not only take an active interest in the training needed for such a dog, but also account for the little mishaps and problems that can come along the way. There will be a lot of people that downright discourage you from acquiring such a dog, and even though it's a little harder and a little tougher than an average pet dog, managing an active working breed dog is something that gets easier and easier the more training the dog receives. If you are committed and serious about acquiring such a dog, make sure you have the willpower, the dedication and the overall patience for it, and the end result will be well worth the effort.
The Beginning of The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog RaceFor Joe Redington, the Father of the Iditarod, there were two most important reasons for the Iditarod Sled Dog race. He is quoted in Nan Elliot's book, I'd Swap my Old Skidoo for You, "When I went out to the villages (in the 1950's) where there were beautiful dogs once, a snow machine was sitting in front of a house and no dogs. It wasn't good. I didn't like that I have seen snow machines break down and fellows freeze to death out there in the wilderness. But dogs will always keep you warm and they'll always get you there." He was determined to bring back the sled dog to Alaska and to get the Iditarod Trail declared as a National Historic Trail.
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race first ran to Nome in 1973. In the mid 1950's, Jo and Vi Redington were writing letters to bring rememberance to the old Iditarod Trail and it's important historical significance to Alaska's history. There were two short races using nine miles of the Iditarod Trail in 1967 and 1969 (Sprint races)
The idea of having a race over a portion of the Iditarod Trail was conceived by the late Dorothy G. Page. In 1964, Page was chairman of the Wasilla-Knik Centennial Committee and was working on projects to celebrate Alaska's Centennial Year in 1967.
Page was intrigued that dog teams could travel over land that was not accessible by automobile. In the late 1890's and early 1900's, settlers had come to Alaska following a gold strike. They traveled by boat to the coastal towns of Seward and Knik and from there, by land into the gold fields. The trail they used is today known as The Iditarod Trail, first surveyed by the Alaska Road Commission in 1908 and now one of the National Historic Trails as so designated by the Congress of the United States. In the winter, their only means of travel was by dog team.
The Iditarod Trail soon became the major "thoroughfare" through Alaska. Mail was carried across this trail, people used the trail to get from place to place and supplies were transported via the Iditarod Trail. Priests, ministers and judges traveled between villages via dog team.
Yukon Quest Race History The Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race gets its name from the "highway of the north," which is the Yukon River and the historical winter land routes travelled by prospectors, adventurers and mail and supply carriers traveling between the gold fields of the Klondike and those in the Alaska interior.
ORIGINS OF THE YUKON QUEST In 1983, four mushers sat at a table in the Bull's Eye Saloon in Fairbanks, Alaska. The conversation turned to a discussion about a new sled dog race".
What if the race followed a historical trail?
What if it were an international sled dog race?
What if the race went a little longer?
What if it even went up the Yukon River?
As early as 1976, a Fairbanks to Whitehorse sled dog race had been talked of. But it wasn't until this conversation between Roger Williams, Leroy Shank, Ron Rosser and William "Willy" Lipps that the Yukon Quest became more than an idea. The mushers named the race the "Yukon Quest" to commemorate the Yukon River, which was the historical highway of the north. The trail would trace the routes that the prospectors followed to reach the Klondike during the 1898 Gold Rush and from there to the Alaskan interior for subsequent gold rushes in the early years of the 1900s. The first Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race tested both race logistics and the talents of all involved. Twenty-six teams left Fairbanks in 1984. During the next 16 days, 20 teams arrived in Whitehorse. Six teams were forced to drop out along the way. Sonny Lindner became the first Yukon Quest champion, completing the race in just over 12 days.
Yukon Sled Dogs The Yukon Quest is powered by sled dogs. These incredible canine athletes are the heart and soul of this great race. Their ancestors made it possible for nineteenth century society to establish itself in the far North well over 100 years ago and eventually create the modern northern world we enjoy today. Excellence in canine care is one of the founding principles of the Yukon Quest. The Quest is dedicated to educating, encouraging and demanding a high level of care for all sled dogs participating in the Yukon Quest. Yukon Quest mushers are coaches, cooks, cheerleaders, and companions to their dogs. Yukon Quest sled dogs are elite, marathon athletes. Bred from stock that survived and thrived during the Gold Rush Era, no animal on earth can match them for endurance, dedication and their ability to perform in the extreme conditions of the North. Yukon Quest Veterinarians examine each dog at least six times from the pre-race Vet Check to the Finish Line. Five vet stations, in addition to the Race Checkpoints provide opportunities for professional veterinarians to monitor each dog's wellbeing throughout the race, and for mushers to remove a dog from the competition if necessary.
Yukon Mission and Core Values
Mission To organize and promote a 1,000 mile international sled dog race for qualified long distance mushers; accomplished through a partnership between Yukon and Alaska with the help of volunteers, sponsors and fan support.
Core Values Yukon Quest International's decision-making, actions and behaviours are guided by the following core values
Focus on the mushers and their dogs
Honesty and Integrity
SLED RACE SUPPORTING SITES This information proudly presented by WWW.DOGICA.COM
Adopt a Sled Dog At the end of their Outward Bound careers we strive to find all of our dogs a loving home for their retirement years. VOBS dogs have been adopted out all over the country. Take a look below and see if there is someone you'd like to bring home and please pass this page along to anyone you think might be interested in our Adopt a Sled Dog program. Click on a dog to learn more about them. If you or someone you know could provide a loving home for our furry friends, please contact Calvin Croll at email@example.com or call (218) 491-6784.
Harness Measure Instructions The measurements you'll need to take will depend on whether you want a sledding harness or a weight- pull harness. Please read the "How to Measure" section and instructions for each harness type carefully. If you are having difficulty understanding the instructions or measuring your dog you are welcome to contact us - measuring a dog correctly is not always easy. We would be happy to help you and can let you know if the measurements you have taken seem about right for the breed, weight and age of your dog.
The measurements you'll need to take will depend on whether you want a sledding harness or a weight- pull harness.
Please read the "How to Measure" section and instructions for each harness type carefully.
If you are having difficulty understanding the instructions or measuring your dog you are welcome to contact us - measuring a dog correctly is not always easy. We would be happy to help you and can let you know if the measurements you have taken seem about right for the breed, weight and age of your dog.
How to Measure: When measuring a dog for a harness, the tape measure must be held tight against the dog's skin, this is where the harness sits when the dog is pulling. Take the measurements a few times until you are getting consistent results.
Your dog must be in the standing position when he/she is measured, and your dog must be standing straight - you'll get some pretty strange measurements from a dog who has twisted around to see what you are doing!
Neck fit is critical: take neck measurements on both sides of the dog until they are equal (if they are not equal your dog was not looking straight ahead).
Do not swap harnesses between dogs unless you are sure they fit correctly - each dog has different measurements and what is comfortable for one dog may rub or even contribute to injury in another.
X-BACK SLEDDING HARNESS Sledding Harness diagramIf ordering a Sledding Harness, record your measurements on the Sledding Harness Measurement Form and enclose with your Order Form and payment.
The X-back sledding harness is designed so that, when leaning into the harness, the weight of the load being pulled is transferred through to the neck and chest area of the dog. The A-D and BDC sections are therefore load-bearing and will be tight when the dog is pulling. The X-back section over the loin is non-load bearing and should remain fairly loose so that the dog may arch its back when pulling. This section is incorporated into the harness to assist with keeping the harness on the dog and assist in handling the harnessed dog.
What to Measure: You will need to take at least 2 measurements: 1 & 2 (A-B & B-C):
Remember: Hold the tape measure as tight against the skin as possible
Measure in a direct line between the 2 points unless otherwise specified
MEASURE YOUR DOG'S STRUCTURE - DO NOT MEASURE FUR!
The fit of the harness is only as good as the measurements you provide.
WEIGHT-PULL HARNESS If ordering a Weight-Pull Harness, record your measurements on the Weight-Pull Harness Measurement Form and enclose with your order form and payment. The weight-pull harness is designed so that, when leaning into the harness, the weight of the load being pulled is transferred through to the neck and chest area of the dog. The A-D and B-G sections are therefore load-bearing and will be tight when the dog is pulling.
Weight pull harness measurements - The X section over the loin is non-load bearing and should remain firm without placing excessive pressure on the dog's back. This section is adjustable, and is incorporated into the harness to assist with keeping the harness sitting straight on the dog and to assist with holding the dog.
The weight pull harness incorporates a rear spreader bar to prevent lateral compression of the hind legs during pulls. When not under load the spreader bar should rest against the dog's hind legs. The hitching loop can side-slip and the X-section is not fixed to compensate for dogs that pull off-centre or weave during pulling.
Your dog's paws and nose can become dry and cracked when exposed to the elements. Apply this wax salve to the bottom of your dog's paw pads or on her nose to soothe the dryness. The oils will be absorbed into the pad to create a layer of protection.
2 tbsp. natural beeswax 2 tbsp. olive or coconut oil 5 drops vitamin E (for extra protection)
Melt the beeswax in a double boiler on the stove or, if using a microwave, in a shallow pan atop a water bath. Add oil when fully melted. Stir. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Snow, ice and salt can be very painful when it becomes lodged between paw pads. Instead of stopping frequently to wipe off my dog's feet, We have discovered a safe way to protect paws from cold weather elements. I just apply a coating of homemade dog paw wax before venturing outdoors for a stroll in the snow. This allows us to take longer walks without dealing with the hassle of cold, sensitive or icy paws. Best of all, the natural ingredients make it safe to use on dog's that suffer from allergies. This natural recipe for dry, cracked dog paws is simple to make and takes virtually no time at all. The hardest part is gathering all of the ingredients together.
While you may not initially have all the items in your kitchen, purchasing them and making your own is more economical than buying a commercial brand of dog paw wax. Pet owners whose dogs frequently lick at their paws won't have to worry about them consuming this all-natural remedy. My beagle will eat almost anything, so making my own non-toxic balm seemed like the smartest option. In addition to preventing damaged or chapped dog paws, this moisturizing salve also helps to soften a dog's paw pads. Although some people dress their dog in cute boots or socks to keep paws warm, my beagle is definitely not a fashionista. Dressing him in any type of clothing is like trying to bathe a cat. This easy-to-use canine paw wax works great to protect paws from snow, ice and chemicals, allowing both me and my pet to enjoy a safe, stress-free walk without the doggie boots.
DOG PAW WAX RECIPE
Paw Wax Ingredients 4 tsp. beeswax 4 tbsp. coconut oil 2 tbsp. shea butter 2 oz. avocado or almond oil 1/2 tsp. vitamin E 20 drops of peppermint essential oil (optional)
Use your imagination with paw wax tins, jars or molds to hold your creation. I like to keep some at home in a mason jar for neighborhood walks, and I also have a convenient tin which is ideal for carrying along to the park or on a winter hiking getaway. You can even find decorative holiday tins to fill with homemade dog paw wax for all your canine-loving friends. Use this recipe to fill several 1-oz. tins or pour it all in a larger container for everyday use.
COOKING INSTRUCTIONS In a small pan, melt the beeswax, oils and shea butter over a low heat. Stir mixture frequently to blend oils. When thoroughly melted, transfer liquid into chosen container. After wax has hardened, seal tin or jar and decorate if desired. You want to be sure the mixture is fully cooled and dry before sealing. Forget to do this and you may end up with a funky residue underneath your container lid. Though it is optional, I prefer to add peppermint oil to my recipe. It has a nice, fresh smell and is also an anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent. You can always select a different oil for your dog paw balm, just check to be sure that it's safe for canines. To optimize the benefits of your homemade dog paw wax, be sure to keep the hair between your dog's toes trimmed. Long hair between the pads tends to collect ice and other harmful objects more readily. I can always tell when my beagle's fur is getting too long because he will lick between his paw pads. For those who don't have the time or inclination to make their own paw protection wax, Musher's dog paw wax is the next best alternative. This is the brand I used before I began making my own. Although it does cost more, it is non-allergenic and doesn't contain any harmful ingredients. Whatever method you choose, your dog will tolerate the cold better and appreciate the extra pampering.
This multipurpose sled is a fun way to exercise high-energy dogs in the winter, have a friend tote you around behind a snowmobile, proper safety gear encouraged, or just have the coolest sled at the slope. All you need is a pair of ski's, some supplies, and some ingenuity. Problem: I recently adopted a second Husky, and our budget is tight. The dogs are confined to our small apartment and we do not have 24/7 access to a fenced in area. I need fun a way for them to get out and burn off some extra energy during the winter months.
RECOMMENDED MATERIALS & TOOLS
This project took me about two weeks of trial and error to complete. I spent about $85 total in materials. Most of which I got at Home Depot. When I was looking to purchase a new traditional dog sled, the average price I was finding was around the $300-$350 mark (shipping included). This is a great option for beginners who are looking to get into dog sledding, without breaking the bank.
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