Information on the Different Breeds and Jobs of Sled Dogs
Since the Siberian Husky is a parent breed of the Pomsky I decided to go over their most popular job. Huskies and other breeds make great sled dogs. This article will go over this important dog job in detail. Lets get started.
What Are Sled Dogs?
Sled dogs are born and bred to be workhorses, especially in the harsh winters of arctic regions, like parts of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Sweden, United Kingdom, Russia, Ireland, and U.S. Snowy parks like Yellowstone and other parks, Minnesota, and Maine. Sled dogs are used today to move supplies and people from one location to another, especially in rural areas where sleds are not used, as well as their use in tourist tours.
They are more popularly identified in the annual marathon racing seasons, known as the Iditarod, the Yukon Quest, or the International Pedigree Stage Stop. Speaking of the Iditarod, the 2015 race was won by Muscher, Dallas Seavey, who has won in the past. Mr. Seavey and his young Huskie team, which he bred and raised, ran from Safety, Alaska to Nome in 8 days, 18 hours, and 14 minutes.
Sled Dog Breeds
Modern day arctic sled dogs include, the Alaskan husky, the Siberian husky, the Alaskan malamutes, American and Canadian Intuit, and the Japanese bred Hokkaido Kens. Sled dogs are not chosen or bred for their looks and huskies are a scruffy looking breed. Generations of breeding goes into producing a special animal that loves to run, which can pull hundreds of pounds through the ice and snow, and they must work together succinctly. On dry land, different breeds of sled dogs are bred to perform the same as sled dogs on ice and snow. They all are designed to pull heavy loads.
Alaskan huskies in the arctic regions, are at the top of the list as leader in sled dog breeding. They are not your domestic bound, family pet. They are bred to openly run in wide open spaces, they are intelligent, instinctive, and affectionate, but with an independent trait. Huskies are bred to work because of the very muscular, athletic body. They form a unique bond with their mushers and family members, whom they work hard to please. However, if they are kept tied up for any length of time, their digging habits will ruin your property, plus they are the Houdini of dogs, due to their escape artist feats.
In the racing use of sled dogs, they generally work together in a team of 8, that involves the following lineup:
- Lead dogs which sets the pace of the pull, sets the right direction, and guides the other dogs based on the musher’s commands. Breeders note that Lead dogs show signs of being leaders as puppies. They are usually very curious and spunky, then as they age, they demonstrate that they like to be in charge and learn commands obediently and quickly.
- Swing dogs ensures the right turns, set by the Lead dogs. They are placed right behind the Lead.
- Team dogs helps to maintain the speed of the team pack and are the muscles of the team.
- Wheel dogs are last in line, but their role requires their steering capabilities. Well bred Wheel dogs know how to go wide on turns that involves trees and other obstacles.
Many dog sleds can include teams, from a 4 dog team, to an open team that can contain up to 10 or 11 dogs or for racing up to 16.
Sled dog breeding, involves genetics. Thus, they are different than purebreds which sets them apart from any Kennel club breeds. Sled dogs are bred for speed, thus they are bred with German or English pointers, as well as Greyhounds.
Sled dogs love running and pulling people and supplies, which is why sled dogs also include border collies and hound dogs into their breeding mix. The International Sled Dog Veterinary Medical Association, places certain requirements on sled dogs. They must be willing to be harnessed, have good personality traits, healthy, and they must be vaccinated.
Racing sled dogs need around 10,000 calories daily, which should include meat for protein, fats, carbohydrates, regular dog food, especially if they contain minerals and vitamins, as well as little doggie snacks and treats. Normal dietary requirements includes a 1,500 calorie intake.
Their toenails must be constantly trimmed, because this effects their posture and gait. Nails are kept short because of the varying terrain that these animals encounter. Long nails on sled dogs have been known to cause shoulder, and wrist fractures, as well as serious injuries if ripped off.
In dog racing, these factors are vitally important, but in everyday use, sled dogs can be assigned booties. Dog booties are available in different sizes, where some sled dogs wear different sizes on their front and back paws. When sled dogs are pulling people and equipment on wooded terrain, booties are used to protect their paws from getting cuts and scrapes.
Even though sled dogs receive hydration through their foods, keeping these animals well hydrated is vital to their health. When they are racing, sled dogs require around 6 liters of water everyday.
Modern sled dogs fur coat must remain healthy and thick. Their undercoat insulates them from cold weather because it protects sled dogs from ice, snow, cold, and wind. Arctic type sled dogs enjoy very cold temperatures, much better than hot or warm weather. Sled dogs, however, can get frostbite if not properly cared for. In this case, there are doggie coats and blankets so that they don’t become too exposed to freezing temperatures.
This is an important part of a sled dogs health maintenance. Owners and mashers massage their feet, wrist joints to check for any tenderness and is part of the dog’s proactive care treatment. Other massage areas include their shoulders to help keep them stretched.
Even though modern sled dogs are used more as working animals, they are still bred in preparation for dog sled racing. Training them to pull together takes months of training, but because they are an intelligent breed that loves to run, patience is a pay off for a well managed team.
In the arctic region’s off seasons, dogs are hitched to tourist vehicles, wheeled carts, and all-terrain vehicles. When a sled dog is trained, they are a breed that remains in top form for the rest of their life. There are many racing sled dogs that are over ten years of age. Even at retirement age, sled dogs need to be exercised to remain happy and they love close contact with family and other dogs.