Introduction to Dog Sledding

by Sleddoggin Staff on April 27, 2011

Dog sledding. What come to your mind when you hear this word? Maybe dogs, the Iditarod, or maybe even cold. In this article I will explain the history of the sled dog, the dogs of dog sledding, and the equipment used when mushing a team.

First of all, we have the history of the sled dog. The use of the sled dog started when the native tribes of many arctic regions used dogs for survival in their everyday lives. The two dogs that were mostly used were the Siberian Husky and the Alaskan Malamute. Siberian Huskies were bred by the Chuckchi people of Siberia. They were used for pulling loads, and herding reindeer. The other sledding dog, the Alaskan Malamute, came from and Eskimo people called the Mahlemuits. Since they were very large and strong, they were used for pulling heavy loads to villages. Since then, people have alwasy been coming up with new breeds, and the most common dog used for sledding today is the Alaskan Husky. Dog sledding became an official sport in 1908.

Second, there are the dogs of dog sledding. The dogs are what pull the dog sled, and without the dogs there wouldn’t be dog sledding. Of course! There are many different breeds used for sledding today like Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Samoyeds, Hounds, and any other mix of dog you can think of. In dog sledding, the dogs in the very front of the team are the lead dogs. There can either be two or one lead dog. Their job is to lead the team, and to take the commands from the musher. The pair of dogs immediately behind the lead dogs are the point
dogs. They help to swing the team out on turns, and they help the lead dogs pull the team in the right direction. Finally, behind the point dogs are the wheel dogs. These dogs are usually very strong, and they have to take the impact of the sled jarring on the ropes. They help to pull a lot of the sleds weight, and they are trained to swing out enough on a turn so the sled doesn’t cut the corners. In a larger team of eight or more, all other dogs are usually referred to as team dogs. They basically fill in the spaces in the team. All of the dogs serve a part in pulling the sled, and together, can produce amazing results of speed and endurance.

Third, there are the main pieces of equipment used in dog sledding. First there is the sled. The sled is what
carries all of the gear, and it is where the musher must stand. Next, there is the gangline. The gangline is the main term for all of the roping that the dogs use to pull the sled. It is made of three parts. The tow line, which runs down the whole length of the gangline. The tug lines, which connect the dogs to the tug line. And the necklines, which are connected to the dogs collars, and then to the tug line. The necklines keep the dogs in line and straight. Third, there are the harnesses. The harnesses are what are attached to the dogs, so the wiieght of the sled is spread across the dogs body. Fourth, is the snow hook. This is a large metal hook that is connnected to a line which is attached to the tow line. When you much get off the sled to do something, the snow hook can be placed into the snow to keep the dogs in place. The snow hook is designed so that the harder the dogs pull, the deeper the
hook digs into the ground. Fifth, is the sled bag. The sled bag is a bag that is placed on the sled to hold the equipment, and if you must, and injured dog. Sixth, and finally, are the dog booties. These are booties that are placed on the dogs feet to protect them from abrasions, cold, and other injuries. Alll of thses items of equipment that I have just explained are the basic equipment used for dog sledding. There is much more equipment used in dog sledding,
but these are the bare essentials just to get the team moving.

I hope you have enjoyed this article, and that you have learned more about the sport. I hope that you continue to learn about dog sledding, and that it might become a part of you. Dogs have been around for thousands of years, but with dog sledding, you can witness their marvelous beauty, and superb strength.

Related posts:

  1. Dog Sledding Q & A


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