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Tell me about sled dogs

If you are wondering what is the right dog for you, this is the place to be. In this introductory forum we talk about topics such as breed vs. mix, size, age, grooming, breeders, shelters, rescues as well as requirements for exercise, space and care. No question is too silly here. This particular forum is for getting and giving helpful, nice advice. It is definitely not a forum for criticizing someone else's opinion, knowledge or advice. This forum is all about tail wagging and learning.

  
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Jax

1247221
 
 
Barked: Sat Aug 11, '12 9:44pm PST 
Hello! In the future (a couple of years from now), I am thinking somewhere down the line I would love to get involved with skijoring(is the j pronounced or is it said like a y?), and various other -joring sports. I love to ski in my free time, along with biking, and jogging (obviously depending upon the season).

I have done some research on the sport, and for the pulling to be enjoyed by the skier and dog, the dog would ideally have a drive to pull.

From what I have read, the primary sled dog breeds are the Siberian Husky, the Alaskan Malamute, and the Samoyed. Obviously, I would not just be getting a dog for the sports, I would want a companion that fits my lifestyle as well. I have always had a soft spot for spitz dogs. Not only do I adore how they look, but I like their independent nature. There are issues I have found with these breeds though- the husky might be too hyper for my liking, and I fear it escaping and running away. I want a dog that can relax when given sufficient exercise. I have read Alaskan Malamutes can be dog aggressive (especially same sex). This is a shame because everything else felt right with the breed. I would like to go to dog parks with my dog, and perhaps get more in the future. Also I am curious why a sled dog would have traits of dog aggression when they work in teams? Lastly, the Samoyed I read can be a bit barky. I was wondering if you guys could give me more information on these breeds, clear misconceptions, or recommend other breeds I might be interested in!

When the time comes, I definitely want an adult dog, because I understand that some dogs just don't have that drive to pull, and frankly, I think I'm done with puppies for a long time- Jax has me puppy'd out. I am thinking about adopting a retired sled dog. These dogs are typically retired around the age of 8. Could these dogs fulfill the needs of a recreational skijorer? Also if a dog at a shelter is known to pull a lot, despite the breed, does that mean it has the potential to pull?

I'm not planning on getting a new dog anytime soon, so this is more like myself getting an idea of what type of dog I would like in the future- mostly speculation!. cloud 9laugh out loud I just want to round out what I would like in the future.
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Rocky *CGC*- With the- angels.

Gone but never,- ever forgotten- xxx
 
 
Barked: Sun Aug 12, '12 10:37am PST 
Any dog that pulls on the leash has the potential to pull but sometimes, for the wrong reasons... If a dog pulls you all over the place, zig-zagging and sniffing everything, then that dog probably just has no leash manners. The difference with dogs bred to pull is that they are probably not interested in pulling and sniffing, they just want to pull puppy

I used to work with sled dogs and let me tell you, don't take this decission loosely... They are very hard work. Getting a retired sled dog may be a good idea as training a puppy to pull and pull properly is very difficult. Most of the dogs I worked with were Alaskan Huskies. These are usually Siberian Huskies crossed with pointers or other more agile breeds. They make the best sled dogs in the world (even though they are not pure-bred) and are used in The Iditarod race across 1400 miles of Alaskan wilderness in the dead of winter... Amazing dogs and no two look the same so they are all very interesting puppy

Also, because they are crossed with other breeds such as Pointers, they usually adapt better to inside living and are not as 'hyper' or 'aloof' as the other sled dog breeds....

So not only is your sled dog a rarer breed, it is the best sled dog breed on the planet puppy

At the sled dog centre I worked at, we only had two Siberian Huskies and 45 Alaskan Huskies puppy

But then again, it's up to you... But have a look at Alaskan Huskies and let me know what you think puppy
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Ginger- M.I.A.

my first and- finest
 
 
Barked: Sun Aug 12, '12 11:37am PST 
Ginger was a retired sled dog. Best dog in the world. smile Amazing sensitive, intuitive personality. I wouldn't say that Alaskan Huskies are Sibes crossed with other breeds... they have been their own separate thing for quite some time, and many have as much native Alaskan (village) dog as Siberian blood. The best sleddogs come from long established lines of racers, they are not recent crosses between AKC breeds. Like Rocky said though, they are very diverse in looks, and sprint race dogs are a whole different ballgame than endurance race dogs. Ginger was actually a Sprinter/Distance cross, though she took more after the distance type (which are a little smaller, a little thicker coat, more "Nordic" appearance.)

I am hoping my next dog will be another Alaskan Husky... I would love to train one in agility, I think they could really rock it, and there are so many things I love about this breed- their athletic beauty, intense drive, good health, longevity, sweet, sensitive personalities, I could go on and on... I think I would like to start with a pup though instead of a retiree this time around. Anyway, that's way off in the future, Bruno (who I usually post as) is plenty of dog for me right now.

I do think almost any healthy pet dog can be trained for ski- or bikejoring if you're just in it to have fun, not win races. So don't get a sledding breed just for this reason- they are not like other dogs in some ways, you need to be prepared for and WANT that, because this is a dog you have to live with full-time, dog sports are only a small amount of the total time you'll spend with one. Better make sure it's a good fit all around.
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Jax

1247221
 
 
Barked: Sun Aug 12, '12 12:11pm PST 
I have actually looked into Alaskan Huskies! It just seems hard to know what to expect from them because they are mutts. Do most share common traits or can it be varied? The nice part is because I want an adult, I will know what I'm getting. Also I was thinking if I got a dog in the future, it would be much easier to train them how to pull if I already have a dog that knows how to do it. smile

I also totally understand your concern Ginger. Jax has shown me some spitz personality. While he can be stubborn at times, he learns very quickly with positive reinforcement. I also love how hilarious his personality is, which I believe is a result from that independence. I have been trying to meet more spitz dogs to get a feel for their personalities, but that is much easier said then done. My boyfriend has a friend with a black lab/malamute mix, and she's just precious! I opened up the door to be greeted with some really deep aroos! She was adorable. While we were talking she sat more to the side, whereas their lab/jack Russel terrier mix was dropping tennis balls at my feet every five seconds.

I would love to meet some Alaskan Huskies as well, but I live in the suberbs of Chicago and haven't had luck running into any. frown I find it interesting that they settle in the house so well! I thought because they were bred specifically for running that they would have endless amounts of energy constantly. How much time is needed to tire them out?
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Bruno CGC

Honorary Kelpie
 
 
Barked: Sun Aug 12, '12 12:30pm PST 
Hmm, I think most Alaskans do share a lot of essential traits- they all have a very lean, athletic body build, with a short, weatherproof coat (though some have more/less than others.) They all live to run- it's the most rewarding thing in the world for them, more than playing, more than eating, etc. Some are friendly and very outgoing, others are more shy and reserved, but aggression is rare in this breed. If it does happen, it's more likely to be same-sex aggression with some other dogs, not generalized aggression, and definitely not human-aggression. Prey drive- usually very high (which makes sense, as sled dogs, sighthounds, and pointers, their ancestors, all have it in spades.) Ginger only hunted wild animals though, she knew not to mess with cats or livestock. Some bark a lot (like Pointers) other howl and whine (like Huskies) others are very quiet (like Sighthounds.) Ginger was the last type, I heard her bark ONCE in a whole year, and howl a couple times.

When you think about it, it's the FUNCTIONAL traits of being a sled dog that they share (like the body type and drive to run) and the superficial (coat color, ear set, vocalization type, etc) that differ.

I think these sites are great for learning about Alaskan Huskies, from people who actually sled:
http://www.dogtec.com/ (this is great for pictures)
http://sleddogcentral.com/
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Rocky *CGC*- With the- angels.

Gone but never,- ever forgotten- xxx
 
 
Barked: Sun Aug 12, '12 12:45pm PST 
I worked with Alaskan Huskies in Scotland before I travelled to Alaska for 10 months to work with one of the best mushers on the planet and his dogs (which were all Alaskan Huskies).

Alaskan Huskies first came about when mushers and people who relied on sled dogs, realised that the Siberian Huskies, Malamutes e.t.c could be made better, be made to cover a further distance at a faster speed if they bred them with Pointers and other more agile breeds. Especially today, when most races are extremely long distances.

There are not a lot of traits that are carried through every Alaskan Huskey, if any. But one thing they do have, which transfers nicely into the house, is their 'rest mode'. You can take most Alaskan Huskies out for 5 minutes or 5 hours and they will come home and sleep because in their mind, they just might be going out in a little while to cover 100 + miles.... They reserve all their energy and save it all for 'working' purposes...

I'm not saying you can get away with walking an Alaskan Husky for five minutes a day, and it'll be fine... It won't but they are sled dogs through and through and are the best in the world at what they do, therefore, they do reserve their energy for when it counts... Most of the time.

A couple of the dogs I worked with retired at the age of nine and after spending their whole life as outdoor dogs, made the transition to house pets, very easily puppy

Good luck puppy

P.S- They very much love a good cuddle too... The ultimate working dogs puppy That's why I love them puppy
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Rocky *CGC*- With the- angels.

Gone but never,- ever forgotten- xxx
 
 
Barked: Sun Aug 12, '12 12:53pm PST 
I worked with dogs that were the size of Huskies and others that weren't much bigger than Beagles (believe it or not), some had pointed ears, others have ears that lie flat, coat colours and length vary massively but like said above, deep chests are a given...

Also like said above, they can make loads of noise, or no noise at all. The Alaskan Huskies I worked with used to love howling in the middle of the night, but when they seen the harnesses and sled being laid out, they had the loudest barks I have ever heard... But they were just super excited puppy And that made me smile... They really do live to pull and work puppy
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Ginger- M.I.A.

my first and- finest
 
 
Barked: Sun Aug 12, '12 12:57pm PST 
Rocky, that is very cool you worked for a musher in Alaska! Maybe I should hit you up for contacts when I'm ready for my sled dog puppy in a few years! puppy

That is so true about "rest mode"- Ginger could curl up and sleep anywhere. She didn't waste a single calorie on pacing, jumping, barking, etc. if nothing was going on. My friends would say "Oh look- dog ball!" because she would curl up into a tiny furball. But if she thought I was going somewhere... game on!

They can get bored though... and a bored Alaskan is an escape artist. They usually cannot be trusted to stick around without very secure fencing. The kennel where I got Ginger from had lost several dogs over the years who either dug out or climbed over their fence, which was eight feet tall and buried a foot in the ground too. They had ONE dog (out of thirty) who could be let out off-leash and was trustworthy without supervision. And to my eternal shame, the reason I don't have Ginger anymore is that I didn't take her wanderlust seriously- I put her out in the yard, which was not fenced securely, so I could clean the kitchen without her underfoot. I knew she liked to roam (she had wandered before) but since she always came back in a reasonable amount of time, I figured she was fine. Nope. Never saw her again. I doubt she got lost (excellent sense of direction) and I doubt she was stolen (she didn't approach strangers, ever) I think something killed her. cry I feel more guilty about losing Ginger than anything else I've done.
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Rocky *CGC*- With the- angels.

Gone but never,- ever forgotten- xxx
 
 
Barked: Sun Aug 12, '12 1:49pm PST 
Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry about Ginger. That must have been very hard.

But you're right about them escaping and destruction should be a bored Alaskan Husky's middle name!

Off-leash training a trained sled dog is impossible almost! Although as they get older and retire, they tend not to wonder too far. The two that retired and turned house-pets when I was in Alaska were pretty good off leash. When I say pretty good, I mean that they would completely ignore you but they wouldn't wonder out of your sight puppy

Ginger, if you ever need any help training a puppy to pull, I'm here puppy I used to love training the pups!
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Ginger- M.I.A.

my first and- finest
 
 
Barked: Sun Aug 12, '12 2:20pm PST 
yeah, Ginger was good when SUPERVISED off-leash. I took her for runs on the beach and hikes in the mountains many times. Unless a prey animal crossed her path, she was good about staying in sight and checking in with me once in a while. BUT, she was 10 years old when I adopted her, and probably mellowed a lot from her younger racing days.
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