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Top 10 sled dog breeds

Welcome to the special world of sled dogs! Here are the top 10 breeds used for sledding. The Fédération Cynologique Internationale recognizes 6 of them (from 1 to 6), to which we have added 4 other breeds, very much used in sledding.

1- The Alaskan Malamute

The Mahlemiuts from which the dog takes its name are an Inuit people living in the Gulf of Kotzebue, Alaska. The uninitiated may confuse it with the Husky, but its tail is straightened and curved, unlike the Husky in which the tail is drooping.

It is a powerful and robust breed. Malamutes are capable of pulling heavy loads. But it is not a fast dog. For races, we prefer other breeds.

Its resistance to cold is due to its long coat that protects a dense and woolly undercoat. This density is not synonymous with softness and its coat is rough.

2- The Greenlander

The Greenlander is genetically a dog close to the wolf. This breed of dog was widely used during the great polar expeditions: the Greenlander was present alongside Admiral Robert Peary at the North Pole in 1909, Roald Amundsen at the South Pole in 1911, Knut Rasmussen between 1921 and 1924, and Paul-Émile Victor in all his expeditions. It was also used to transport the materials necessary for the construction of the Jungfrau railway in Switzerland, which was done in 1913 at altitude, in the snow.

This breed of dogs offers a good compromise between speed and endurance, an effective balance between the velocity of the Husky and the power of the Malamute.

Without the intervention of breeders who had at heart to preserve the species, the appearance of snowmobiles in the Canadian Arctic would have made this breed disappear.

3- The Siberian Husky

Known for its blue eyes, this dog was very fashionable for a while. But a sled dog is not a lap dog, and this fashion has led to many abandonments. Indeed, the Husky is a working dog, appreciated for its strength and speed. This is what makes it an excellent racing dog.

The Siberian Husky was bred by the Chukchi, a nomadic tribe in eastern Siberia. The puppies were selected on their natural taste for traction. The females were eliminated at birth, except those particularly suitable for reproduction.

It was in 1925 that these dogs became famous. That year, they were the actors of a true story. Diphtheria had broken out in the town of Nome, located in the extreme west of Alaska. In order to provide the inhabitants with medicine, the railroad did not cover the entire distance, so a relay of carriages made up of these dogs was organized over 1000 km.

4- The Samoyed

Samoyeds are not used much for races because their speed performance is poor.

It is the breed of sled dogs that barks the most, which makes it a very good guard dog. They are mischievous by nature and are playful, often tying knots in the line or disturbing their neighbor. He is probably the least aggressive of all the dogs in the carriage, being particularly confident with humans.

5- The Canadian Eskimo

This dog is also called "qimmiq", an Inuit word for a versatile working dog. The snowmobile has also threatened this breed whose number of specimens was only 200 in the 1970s. It is still rare today.

6- The Yakutian Laika

These dogs have, like the Husky, light blue eyes. They are dogs classified among the primitive dogs. Their education is therefore demanding, perhaps a little less than those required by other sled dogs. He seems to be able to adapt to life indoors, especially since he is strongly attached to his home and his master. During walks, his hunting instincts may take over and cause him to flee.

7- The Sakhalin Husky

This is a very rare dog that resists the worst conditions. A very real story proves it. In 1958, Japanese researchers organized an expedition to Antarctica. Forced to evacuate in emergency, they left 15 sled dogs of different breeds with a little food, thinking to come back for them later. Finally, it was only a year later that some men returned to the camp. Only two dogs had survived: they were both Sakhalin Husky. This story was adapted into a film released in 1983 under the title Antarctica.

Despite all the qualities inherent in these breeds, mushers continued to make crosses to obtain faster dogs. Here are 3 breeds created:

8- The Alaskan

The dogs used to create this breed are :

Husky type dogs (Siberian Husky, Sakhalin Husky, and Husky crossbreeds),
dogs like North American Indian Dogs, a kind of wolfhound, or slender European dogs, known for their speed, like greyhounds, English Pointers, English Setters, and Pointer dogs.

9- The Eurohound

The Eurohound is more commonly known as the European Sled Dog. This breed is a cross between Alaskans, English Pointers and German Shorthaired Pointer. It is particularly adapted for sprint type races: high speed over a short distance.

His gait is very different from all the dogs mentioned so far. It does not have the medium-long coat of all the others. His short coat reveals an athletic morphology and underlines a very slender look.

10- Greyster

Like the Eurohound, the Greyster has a short coat. These dogs are a cross between a Greyhound and a German Shorthaired Pointer. The size of these dogs exceeds that of other sled dogs. They are used more in tamdem than in larger groups. Running and mountain biking enthusiasts will appreciate these dogs to accompany them on their runs.

The dogs and the team

There are traces of dogs being used in carriage driving 6000 years before our era. However, it is mainly the Inuit culture that developed this practice at the end of the first millennium of our era.

In Europe, the use of dogs in carriage driving in the 19th century is proven by police regulations that prohibit these practices in Versailles and Paris, as well as by photographs. Despite the bans, these practices continue. In France and Belgium, dogs were used by the poorest social classes, small farmers and market gardeners, street traders, salesmen, and other nomadic occupations such as remoaners, ragpickers... The dog was then the horse of the poor. The dogs were also very present at the side of the gold diggers in Alaska.