Sled dogs are dogs specifically bred for one main purpose, which is pulling heavy sleds across frozen terrain in arctic temperatures for days or even for weeks. It is a very hard task and only few breeds in the world are capable of doing it. In this video i will tell you what are the TOP 10 sled dogs, what is the history of sled dogs, what makes a good sled dog and i will also show you some famous individual sled dogs. Lets jump into it!
For a long time, sledding was the main transportation of people living in Siberia, Greenland, Northern Canada or Northern Norway, Sweden and Finland. We do not know for sure, what is the exact ancestry of sled dogs, but there is a theory that suggest, that most of the sled dogs have their roots in ancient Mongolia more than 30 000 years ago, from where people migrated with their dogs to migrated north of the Arctic Circle with their dogs about 25,000 years ago, and began using them to pull sleds roughly 3,000 years ago.
In the arctic regions, sled dogs made it much much easier to transport people, goods and even just to communicate and without sled dogs, people would have it much harder to survive in these cold areas. Many sled dogs were not only used for pulling sleds, but also for hunt and to help provide food for their owners. They were truly unreplaceable companions.
Even today, sled dogs are used in Greenland and in some rural areas of Alaska and Canada, but of course, with the invention of trucks, snowmobiles, trains and airplanes, the original purpose of these dog is not so needed as it was in the past. Today, many sled dogs are used just as companions or for dog sports like mushing.
And what does make a good sled dog? Well, every sled dog must combine a great strength, stamina and endurance with speed and athleticism. Back in the past, the strength and stamina were much more important and the dogs used to be larger and heavier. Today, most competitive sled dogs are rather lighter and much faster and most of them weigh around 25 kg, which is 55 lbs.
Every sled dog must also have very thick weatherproof doublecoat which protects them from extremely cold temperatures. These dogs also must have strong work ethic, lots of energy, strong pack mentality, as they most often work in groups and they must show loyalty and devotion to the owner. And now lets take a look at the list of 10 amazing sled dogs!
10) Alaskan Malamute
The first sled dog on this list is one of the most famous of all of them and it is the official state dog of Alaska, the Alaskan Malamute. They are one of the largest and strongest of all sled dogs. Most often they were bred for stamina, rather than speed and they were commonly used as freight dogs.
9) Yakutian Laika
Laikas are typical hunting dogs of Siberia, but the Yakutian Laika is exception, as they were not only used for hunting, but also sledding and herding. These dogs come from the Russian Sakha Republic.
8) Canadian Eskimo Dog
Also known as Canadian Inuit dog, Canadian Husky or Esquimaux Husky, the Canadian Eskimo dog is extremely old breed originally used by the Thule people of Arctic Canada. These dogs can also be used for hunting and they typically have pretty high prey drive.
I said that most sled dogs are very old breeds, well the Chinook is an exception, as they were developed only in the 1900s by Arthur Welden as a mixture of Greenland dog, English Mastiff, German and Belgium Shepherd.
Samoyed is another sled dog that is quite popular these days as a companion dog. They have a long history and they were developed in Siberia by the Samoyedic tribe. In the past, they were used not only for hunting, but also for herding reindeer. This is very alert, loyal and obedient breed.
5) Greenland Dog
The Greenland dog has very old history with the Inuit people of Greenland and even today, their main purpose is sledding. In 2010 it was estimated that there is 18000 Greenland dogs living in western Greenland from which approximately half is used for working as sled dogs. They are considered to be the same breed as Canadian Eskimo dog, that only evolved in different place.
The Eurohound is the second dog on this list without long history, as they were developed only recently, specifically for the sled dog racing. They were developed in Scandinavia by crossing Alaskan Husky and German Shorthaired Pointer. They are extremely fast, but not so strong as typical sled dogs.
3) Alaskan Husky
The Alaskan Husky, just like the Eurohound is not a purebred dog breed, bur rather a dog type developed from breeding various Nordic breed for the purpose of sledding. The Alaskan Husky and the Eurohound is the most common breed that can be seen in todays sled dog racing, mushing or canicross.
2) MacKenzie River Husky
The MacKenzie River Husky is again not a breed, but rather a term, that is describing local populations of Arctic sled dog types. One of the most famous is the Yukon type, that was developed by crossing Newfoundland dogs with Saint Bernards and it is amazing powerful freight dog.
1) Siberian Husky
One of the most popular breed in the world, the Siberian Husky, is also one of the tough, endurant and resilient sled dogs. They are descendants of the sled dogs used in Siberia by Chukchi people. They were mostly famous for their use in Alaska in the late 18th and early 19th century as sled dogs.
There are some other breeds that can be called as sled dogs, like Saint Bernard, Newfoundland or Chow Chow, but i believe that the list truly include the 10 best sled dogs that have either long history in sledding or they are used for recreational sledding these days.
By the way, i made videos about most of the dog breeds mentioned in this video, so if you will be interested in any of them, just search for Rocadog + breeds name in the Youtube search and check it out!
There are few especially famous sled dogs. The most famous is probably Balto, a black Siberian Husky who was a lead dog of the sled dog team who brought the diphtheria serum on the last leg of the relay to Nome during the 1925 diphtheria epidemic. They brought this lifesaving serum from a one place to another for over 700 miles only in 6 days. There is even a movie from 1995 about this heroic act called Balto. Another famous dog from this journey is Togo, who was anoter lead dog of this sled team.
Another famous duo of sled dogs is Taro and Jiro. In 1958 several researchers have to evacuate themselves from their positions in Antarctica. They left behind 15 chained sled dogs with small supplies of water and food, because they believed, that they will return in just few days. However the weather turned bad and the team never made it back to the dogs.
A year later another expedition arrived to the outpost, finding out that two dogs, Jiro and Taro, survived. There is also a movie about their story, called Nankyoku Monogatari and Eight Below.