Dog sled

A dog sled or dog sleigh[1] is a sled pulled by one or more sled dogs used to travel over ice and through snow. Numerous types of sleds are used, depending on their function. They can be used for dog sled racing. In Greenland the dogs pull in a fan shape in front of the sled, while in other regions, such as Alaska and Canada the dogs pull side by side in pairs.

Trond Hansen (8436514576)
A musher riding a dog sled in Røros, Norway, during a sled dog race.


Fur Trader in Toboggan oil painting by Cornelius Krieghoff
A depiction of a fur trader using a dog sled. Dog sleds have been used for over a thousand years.

Dog power has been used for hunting and travel for over a thousand years. As far back as the 10th century BCE these dogs have contributed to human culture.[2]

Assembling a dog sled team involves picking leader dogs, point dogs, swing dogs, and wheel dogs. The lead dog is crucial, so mushers take particular care of these dogs. Another important detail is to have powerful wheel dogs to pull the sled out from the snow. Point dogs (optional) are located behind the leader dogs, swing dogs between the point and wheel dogs, and team dogs are all other dogs in between the wheel and swing dogs and are selected for their endurance, strength, and speed as part of the team. In dog sledding, Siberian Huskies or Alaskan Malamutes are the main types of dogs that are used for recreational sledding because of their strength and speed and endurance as well as their ability to withstand the cold. However, Alaskan Huskies (a mix between Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes) are also a popular dog for sled dog racing, because of their endurance, good eating habits, speed, and dedication to running even when tired.

Sometimes, for sprint races, mushers use short haired hounds that are faster than the average husky. These hounds are raised from a young age to pull. It is harder to train hounds than it is to train Siberian Huskies and Malamutes to pull a sled because it is not in their nature. Training should start at around six months of age by pulling a small log behind them.

See also


  1. ^ "Collins 2012 digital dictionary". Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  2. ^ Swan, Thom. "Early Sled Dog History". Swanny's Place. Retrieved 17 October 2013.

External links

All Alaska Sweepstakes

The All Alaska Sweepstakes was an annual dog-sled race held in Alaska during April. Mushers traveled from Nome to Candle, traveling along the Bering Strait, and then return to Nome.

Between 1908 and 1917 the race was held ten times. Due to the United States' involvement in the Great War and new dog-sled races elsewhere in North America, the race was discontinued. Two commemorative events occurred in 1983 and 2008, to mark the 75th and 100th anniversaries of the first race, respectively.


Balto (1919 – March 14, 1933) was a Siberian husky and sled dog who led his team on the final leg of the 1925 serum run to Nome, in which diphtheria antitoxin was transported from Anchorage, Alaska, to Nenana, Alaska, by train and then to Nome by dog sled to combat an outbreak of the disease. Balto was named after the Sami explorer Samuel Balto. Balto rested at the Cleveland Zoo until his death on March 14, 1933, at the age of 14. After he died, his body was stuffed and kept in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, where it remains today.

Bjørnar Andersen

Bjørnar Andersen (born 1978), commonly Bjornar in English is a Norwegian refrigerator mechanic and dog musher who has won all the long-distance dog sled races in Norway, and placed fourth in the 2005 Iditarod across the U.S. state of Alaska, in his rookie outing.

Andersen was born in 1978, and began competing in dog sled races in 1991. He is the nephew of Robert Sørlie, the 2003 and 2005 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion, and together with Kjetil Backen they form Team Norway.

Andersen placed third in the 300 km (200 mi) Femundløpet dog sled race in 1999, placed second in the 500 km (300 mi) Femundløpet in 2002 and 2004, and won in 2003. Andersen also won the 1,000 km (500 mi) Finnmarksløpet in 2004.

Andersen finished the 1,868 km (1,161 mi) 2005 Iditarod dog sled race in 4th place with a time of 9 days, 19 hours, 50 minutes, and 38 seconds, and won the Rookie of the Year Award. This is the highest position a first-time competitor in the race has won since the first Iditarods in the 1970s, when all or most of the racers were rookies. His uncle Robert Sørlie took first place, for the second time. According to Andersen, "my biggest challenge in the 2005 Iditarod race is the fact that I am a rookie and consequently do not know the trail". (Cabela's, 2005)

Andersen is a full-time refrigeration mechanic, and runs dogs in his spare time. He lives in the forests to the southeast of Oslo, near Siggerud.

Charlie Biederman

Charlie Biederman (November 11, 1918 – February 22, 1995) was a musher in Alaska best known for being the last surviving dog sled mail carrier in the United States. Charlie was born in Alaska as the son of Ed Biederman, a musher born in Bohemia who immigrated to the United States in 1874 and also delivered the mail via dog sled. The date of Charlie's birth is unclear, but contemporary U.S. Censuses indicate it likely was around 1919. Charlie had four siblings. Charlie was raised in Eagle, Alaska, but lived in an isolated cabin on the Yukon River for most of his life. From an early age, he assisted his father and brother in their winter deliveries of the mail to isolated cabins in central Alaska. In winter, the family lived in Eagle and ran the mail route between that town and Circle, another small settlement approximately 158 miles (254 km) downriver. In the summer, the family lived at their Yukon River cabin, harvesting fish for subsistence and boarding the dogs of fellow mushers. In 1938, the family were underbid for the main contract for mail delivery in the area by a bush pilot. Ed Biederman retired shortly afterward and died in 1945. The final dog sled mail route was replaced in 1963. That final route was from Gambell to Savoonga and was run by Chester Noongwook. In January 1995, he donated the mail-delivery sled he used to the National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C., where it hangs today. One month after making the delivery, he died on February 22, 1995.Today, the cabin that served as Charlie Biederman's home for most of his life is a hospitality stop of the Yukon Quest, a 1,000-mile sled dog race between Whitehorse, Yukon, and Fairbanks, Alaska.

Daniel Sutherland

Daniel Alexander Sutherland (April 17, 1869 – March 24, 1955), nicknamed "Fighting Dan", was an American businessperson and politician who served in the United States House of Representatives during the 1920s as the delegate from what was then the Alaska Territory.

Sutherland was born in Pleasant Bay, Nova Scotia on Cape Breton Island in Canada. He moved with his parents to Essex in the U.S. state of Massachusetts in 1876, where he attended the public schools. He was later employed as a grocer's clerk, and subsequently engaged in the fish business.

Sutherland moved to Circle City, Alaska in 1898. When gold was discovered in the sands of Nome in 1900 he moved across the territory and became a prospector eventually becoming a co-owner of a mining company. In 1909, he moved to Juneau.

After a campaign that crossed the Alaska by dog sled, he was elected to the first territorial senate from 1912 to 1920, serving as its president in 1915. During World War I he enrolled in the United States Naval Reserve. He was very popular, and was elected as a Republican to the 67th, 68th, 69th, 70th, and 71st Congresses, serving from March 4, 1921 to March 3, 1931. He earned his nickname for his combative style on Capitol Hill. He was not a candidate for renomination in 1930.

Sutherland supported home rule for the territory, and wanted to break Alaska's dependence on shipping companies based out of the West Coast. He also promoted aircraft as a way to deliver mail and needed supplies across the Alaska Bush and Interior during the winter months, when they were inaccessible by steamship, roads, or most other forms of transportation. He lobbied for the first experimental flights by the U.S. Post Office, which were carried out in February 1924, and when a diphtheria epidemic struck Nome in 1925, he supported an air rescue. Governor Scott Bone ultimately decided to use a dog sled relay in what became known as the 1925 serum run to Nome, but in the 1930s aircraft did replace the dog sled as the primary form of transportation.

After his ten years as a delegate, Sutherland was a purchasing agent for the Ogontz School in the state of Pennsylvania from 1931 to 1950. He died in Abington on March 24, 1955, and his remains were cremated and deposited in St. Paul's Church Cemetery in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania.

David Irwin (explorer)

David Irwin (Sarcoxie, 1910 - Scotrun, 18 June 1970) was an American explorer who made the news in 1934 following a dog sled trek to the magnetic North Pole, encompassing 2,000 miles. His account was published as Alone Across the Top of The World. Irwin later became a showman, presenting Eskimo culture at the World Fair.

Dorothy G. Page

Dorothy G. Page (January 23, 1921 – November 16, 1989) was best known as "Mother of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race", the 1,049-mile (about 1,600 km) dog sled race across the U.S. state of Alaska.

Page moved from New Mexico to Alaska in 1960. She then became the president of the Wasilla-Knik Centennial Committee in 1966, and was in charge of coming up with an event to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the purchase of Alaska from Russia. In her own words, the self-described "history buff" wanted "a spectacular dog race to wake Alaskans up to what mushers and their dogs had done for Alaska."Page saw her first dog sled race in 1960. At the time, nearly every household in the rural Alaska Bush and Interior had a team of sled dogs for transportation. During the 1960s snowmachines started to replace the dogs, which all but vanished. The historic Iditarod Trail that passed through both Wasilla and Knik was an ideal stage. Dog mushing had been the primary means of communication and transportation in the Bush and Interior by Alaska Natives for centuries; remained so for the Russian, American, and French Canadian fur trappers in the 19th century; and reached its peak during the gold rushes of the late 19th to early 20th centuries.

Page was unable to get the support of a single dog musher until she met Joe Redington, Senior (the "Father of the Iditarod") at the Willow Winter Carnival. Redington used dog teams to perform search and rescue for the U.S. Air Force, and owned a large kennel. He also had been lobbying to make the Iditarod Trail a National Historic Trail since the 1950s. Redington agreed to lend his support to the event, on the condition that a purse of USD $25,000 be divided among the winners.

The money was raised. In February 1967, 58 dog mushers competed in two heats along a 25-mile (40 km) stretch of the old Iditarod Trail between Wasilla and Knik. The race was modeled after the first large dog sled race in the state, the 1908 to 1918 All-Alaska Sweepstakes (AAS) of Nome. The official name of the event was the Iditarod Trail Seppala Memorial Race, after the three-time Sweepstakes champion Leonhard Seppala. While Seppala was most famous for participating in the 1925 serum run which saved the city of Nome from a diphtheria epidemic, according to Page "Seppala was picked to represent all mushers... but it could just as easily have been named after Scotty Allan" (the founder of the AAS).

In 1968 the race was canceled due to lack of snow, and the 1969 race was the last: With a purse of only $1,000, only 12 mushers participated. The Iditarod was held in 1973, largely due to Redington's efforts. The route of the race was extended more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) to Nome, and a purse of $51,000 was raised. The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has since grown into the premiere sporting event in the state, and the largest dog sled race in the world. The popularity also caused dog mushing to revive in the 1970s as a recreational sport.

Page also helped form the Iditarod Trail Committee, which organizes the race, and the Musher's Hall of Fame in Knik. She served four terms on the Wasilla City Council, and was Mayor from 1986 to 1987. She volunteered as the President of the Wasilla-Knik-Willow Creek Historical Society, and was the curator of the Wasilla and Knik museums.

Page died on November 16, 1989. Despite her contributions to the sport, she was never a musher. After her death, the Wasilla Museum was renamed the Dorothy G. Page Museum in her honor. She is also commemorated by the Dorothy G. Page Halfway Award, given to the first musher to reach the midpoint of the race, in Cripple on even-numbered years, and the trail's namesake of Iditarod on odd-numbered years. She was named the honorary musher during the 1997 Iditarod.

Human Dog Sled Competition

The Human Dog Sled Competition is an event held in February during the Winterfest celebration of Lowell, Massachusetts, USA. Each year, a field of approximately 32 teams compete against each other in a double elimination tournament to determine the National Human Dog Sled Champion. The teams consist of six persons including four sled pullers, a sled rider, and a sled pusher. The sled race is approximately 50 meters long and takes place along a snow-covered street in downtown Lowell. Team members often dress in wacky costumes and there is a prize for the most creative of attire. The Human Dogsled Competition has been recognized for several years by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for its animal-friendly approach to winter fun.

A variety of strategies are employed to gain victory. Some teams consist of burly football players who try to win by sheer power. Other teams consist of lightly built sprinters who try to win by having a pusher who may not weigh that much.

In past years, ESPN has given brief coverage to the final matchups of the event. There is no prize money associated with this race.

John Beargrease

John Beargrease, born 1858 as the son of a minor Anishinaabe chief by the name of Makwabimidem (Beargrease), is best remembered as the winter mail carrier between Two Harbors, Minnesota and Grand Marais, Minnesota during the last two decades of the nineteenth century. John used a row boat and a dog sled to deliver the mail. His legendary dog sled runs are remembered and celebrated in the annual 411-mile John Beargrease Dog Sled Race between Duluth and Grand Portage, Minnesota. John died at his home in Beaver Bay, Minnesota in 1910.

John Beargrease Dog Sled Race

The John Beargrease Sled Dog Race is a dogsled race held along the North Shore of Lake Superior in northeast Minnesota. At 400 miles, it is the longest sled dog race in the lower 48 states. The "Beargrease" is a qualifier for the famed Iditarod race in Alaska.The name of the race honors John Beargrease, a winter mail carrier who traveled by dog sled between Two Harbors, Minnesota and Grand Marais, Minnesota during the last two decades of the nineteenth century.

The race has been held every January since 1980.

Kearney, Ontario

Kearney is a town and municipality in the Almaguin Highlands region of Parry Sound District of Ontario, Canada. With a landmass of 531 square kilometres and a year-round population of 882 in the Canada 2016 Census, Kearney claims to be the "Biggest Little Town in Ontario."

Lance Mackey

Lance Mackey (born June 2, 1970) is an American dog musher and dog sled racer from Fairbanks, Alaska, who is a four-time winner of the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest and four-time winner of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Leonhard Seppala

Leonhard "Sepp" Seppala (September 14, 1877 – January 28, 1967) was a Norwegian Sled dog musher who played a pivotal role in the 1925 serum run to Nome and participated in the 1932 Winter Olympics. Seppala introduced the work dogs used by Native Siberians at the time to the American public; the breed came to be known as the Siberian Husky in the English-speaking world. The Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian Award, which honors excellence in sled dog care is named in honour of him.

List of sled dog races

The list of sled dog races contains dozens of contests created by supporters of mushing, the sport of racing sled dogs. It is unknown when the first sled dog race was held. Humans have domesticated dogs for thousands of years, and sled dogs have been used for transportation in Arctic areas for almost as long. The first sled dog race to feature a codified set of rules was the All-Alaska Sweepstakes, which first took place in 1908. This was followed in 1917 by the American Dog Derby, which was the first sled dog race outside Alaska or the Yukon. In 1932, sled dog racing was a demonstration sport at the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, but was not included in future games.The most famous sled dog race is the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, an annual 1000-mile competition in Alaska. It commemorates the 1925 serum run to Nome but was not begun until 1973. The Iditarod helped restart worldwide interest in mushing, which had been thought of as anachronistic after the spread of snowmobiles. Since mushing's resurgence, the sport has proliferated and sled dog races are hosted in towns around the world, from Norway and Finland to Alaska and Michigan. Due to the cold temperatures needed for sled dog racing, most races are held in winter in cold climates, but occasional carting events, typically known as dryland races, have been held in warmer weather. These are not included in this list because they do not use sleds.

There are three typical types of sled dog races: sprint, mid-distance, and long-distance. These types can be broken down into sub-types. Sprint races cover relatively short distances of 4 to 25 miles/day, mid-distance races cover a total of 100 to 300 miles, and long-distance races cover 300 miles to more than 1,000 miles. Sprint races frequently are two- or three-day events with heats run on successive days with the same dogs on the same course. Mid-distance races are either heat races of 14 to 80 miles per day, or continuous races of 100 to 200 miles. (These categories are informal and may overlap to a certain extent.) Long-distance races may be continuous or stage races, in which participants run a different course each day, usually from a central staging location. Stage races are similar to cycling's Tour de France.

Generally, teams start one after another in equal time intervals, competing against the clock rather than directly against one another. This is due to logistic considerations of getting teams of dogs to the starting line for a clean timed start. Mass starts where all of the dog teams start simultaneously are popular in parts of Canada. Another mode of dogsled racing is the freight race, in which a specified weight per dog is carried in the sled.

Montana Race to the Sky

The Race to the Sky is a long-distance sled dog race held annually in Montana. There are several divisions offered at different distances. The longest race was originally a 500-mile (800 km) race but is currently 350 miles (560 km). It is a qualifying race for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and is sometimes called "The Iditarod of the Lower 48."

My Life in Dog Years

My Life in Dog Years is a non-fiction book for children written by the American author Gary Paulsen, together with his wife, Ruth Wright Paulsen. It was published first by Delacorte Press in 1997.The book contains a chapter about each different dog in his life. As he goes through each chapter, he delves into the personality of each dog as companions and not just animals.

It begins with Cookie, a dog which rescued him from a fall through the ice while dog sled racing he Cookie was helped by the other sled dogs gary had. This was ironic since the dog was sick before. How would he have saved him? It next considers Snowball, a dog he owned in the Philippines at age 7 (his first) who was killed in a military truck accident. It then discusses Ike, dog that became attached to him during a hunting trip. Ike continues to accompany him for about a year, but then disappears. Paulsen later discovers that Ike's owner had to leave him when he went to the war. When he returned with an injury, Ike returned to him.

Dirk, next, is a dog that adopted him during his adolescence, and served as a protector during a difficult period. While working on a farm, he met Rex, a rough collie, whom he considered one of the smartest dogs he ever knew after observing his activities for a day. He later adopted an exceptionally large Great Dane, Caesar (pronounced See-Zer) who was easily excited, but a gentle giant that loved hot dogs.

The author later became a dog sled racer. At one point, he traded one of his best dogs for Quincy, who was later to save his wife from a bear despite being only nine inches tall. The last chapter is about his current dog at the time, Josh. It is clear that Josh is one of the author's favorite dogs, as he has the most to write about him. At the time the book was written, Josh was about 20 years old. Josh was known as the smartest dog in the world.

Sirius Dog Sled Patrol

The Sirius Dog Sled Patrol (Danish: Slædepatruljen Sirius), known informally as Siriuspatruljen (the Sirius Patrol) and formerly known as North-East Greenland Sledge Patrol and Resolute Dog Sled Patrol, is an elite Danish naval unit. It conducts long-range reconnaissance patrolling, and enforces Danish sovereignty in the Arctic wilderness of northern and eastern Greenland, an area that includes the largest national park in the world. Patrolling is usually done in pairs, sometimes for four months and often without additional human contact.

The Sirius Patrol has the ability to engage militarily, and has done so historically. Its purpose is to maintain Danish sovereignty and police its area of responsibility. The physical and psychological demands for acceptance into the unit are exceptional. Crown Prince Frederik patrolled with the Sirius Patrol.

Sled dog

Sled dogs were important for transportation in arctic areas, hauling supplies in areas that were inaccessible by other methods. They were used with varying success in the explorations of both poles, as well as during the Alaskan gold rush. Sled dog teams delivered mail to rural communities in Alaska and northern Canada. Sled dogs today are still used by some rural communities, especially in areas of Alaska and Canada and throughout Greenland. They are used for recreational purposes and racing events, such as the Iditarod Trail and the Yukon Quest.

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.

A sled dog race was a demonstration sport at the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York and again at the Olympics in Oslo, and once more in the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, but it did not gain official event status.Sled dogs, known also as sleighman dogs, sledge dogs, or sleddogs, are a highly trained dog type that are used to pull a dog sled, a wheel-less vehicle on runners, over snow or ice, by means of harnesses and lines.

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