On Saturday, 2022 March 5th was the start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, simply known as “the Iditarod”. The Iditarod is an annual long-distance sled dog race; mushers and their teams of dogs race from Anchorage, Alaska to Nome, Alaska over lengths of time that have historically ranged from as little as seven days to as many as twenty days.
In the Iditarod- and any dog-sledding race, the most important element is the dogs. In the Iditarod, each team is made of twelve to sixteen dogs; some may be better at endurance, while some might be better at sprinting. Several dog breeds around the world are suitable for sledding.
These are the several dog breeds for sledding:
This breed is the most used for competitive racing; the breed was bred specifically for its performance as a mid-sized working dog and has been used in both short-distance and long-distance racing.
This is a large breed, originally bred for strength and endurance; they were often used as a sled dogs to haul heavy freight.
Canadian Eskimo Dog
Known as qimmiq or qimmit in Inuit, this breed was once the preferred transport method for Inuit in the Canadian Arctic; the breed is now in decline, with a 2008 estimate putting the number of purebred dogs at only 300.
This breed was developed in New Hampshire in the late 20th century; today, it is that state’s official state dog. They are still used occasionally for sledding but are mostly used as things like family pets and for things like search and rescue and agility trials.
Chukotka Sled Dog
This spitz breed is native to the Chukchi people of Russia; they have been in use since as far back as prehistory for sledding in harsh conditions. This breed almost died out during the Soviet era but has since bounced back and been recognized as an official breed.
Often considered to be the same breed as the Canadian Eskimo Dog due to a lack of genetic divergence, the Greenland Dog is a large-breed sled dog; today, it is considered nationally and culturally important to Greenland.
These dogs are not related to the retriever of the same name, but the Canadian Eskimo Dog; there are estimated to be 50 to 60 of these dogs in the world.
These medium-sized dogs with their thick white coats are a Laika breed developed by the Siberian Samoyede people; in addition to sledding, these prized dogs have also been used to hunt and to herd reindeer.
Descended from dogs bred by the Chukchi people of Siberia, these dogs are smaller than the Alaskan Malamute but similar in appearance. Pound=for-pound, they pull more than a Malamute, they are regularly used as sled dogs for things like competitions, recreation, and tours.
This officially recognized breed has ancient origins in Far East Russia, this is a medium-sized dog with powerful muscles and a thick, winter-resistant double coat. They are well-suited for herding, hunting, and hauling freight.